Elvis Presley’s Legacy Celebrated in NBC Special and at Graceland [Video]

presleyIt has been 50 years since Elvis Presley’s fans thrilled to his tunes on television. To commemorate the anniversary, NBC will air “Elvis All-Star Tribute” on Feb. 17, 2019.

“The Elvis Comeback Special” aired on Dec. 3, 1968. NBC hosted the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll clad in his iconic bad boy look of black leather. Elvis the Pelvis crooned and rocked for his existing fans and fascinated a new generation of followers.

NBC recruited performers to reprise the King’s music for the all-star tribute, including, “Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes, Adam Lambert, and Kelsea Ballerini. Also joining them are the established names of Blake Shelton, John Fogerty, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, Josh Groban, John Legend, Darius Rucker, Pistol Annies, Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, and Mac Davis,” according to TV Insider.

Mendes, Rucker, Malone, Underwood, and Shelton will accompany Presley singing “If I Can Dream.” Other songs fans can look forward to hearing on the special include “Hound Dog” originally released in 1969; “Blue Suede Shoes” dropped in 1956; and “A Little Less Conversation” from Presley’s movie “Live a Little. Love a Little” in 1968.

Ken Ehrlich is the executive producer of the “Elvis All-Star Tribute.” The two-hour special recreates “The Elvis Comeback Special.” NBC reports the stage was to reproduce that legendary night. Additionally, fans will be treated to rare footage and outtakes from Presley’s 1968 special.

1968 ‘The Elvis Comeback Special’ and Big Screen Career

presleyThe 1968-special was Presley’s first live TV performance in seven years. It was a monumental TV event. He wore his black leather jumpsuit and entertained in front of a small audience. His fans tuned in to hear him sing and play his guitar with the back of a full band. The special was “the No. 1-rated show on NBC that season.”

Reports indicate the reason for his absence from live performances on TV was his acting career. Presley starred in 31 films between 1956-69, most of which were released before the special. These include, “Love Me Tender,” in 1957, “Loving You” followed by “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957.

He sang, danced, played dangerously, flirted, and kissed his way through an average of two films a year. The female co-stars in his movies include Juliette Prowse in “GI Blues,” 1960, Barbara Eden in “Flaming Star,” 1960.

Presley’s last six movies were released in 1968-69. His final film, 1969, “Change of Habit” with Mary Tyler Moore. In addition to his flicks, he made two documentary features: “Elvis That’s The Way It Is” and Elvis On Tour.”

Death of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll

presleyMillions mourned the King’s death. Presley died at his home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee on Aug. 16, 1977. He was 42 years old. Wyatt Reed, author of All That’s Interesting wrote: “For an entire generation, Elvis Presley defined rock stardom.”

When it was announced on the radio, many disbelieved he died. So much so, that DJs had to restate the fact along with telling their listeners it was not a hoax. One fan recalls that fateful day:

I was driving when the announcement came over the radio. I remember pulling over on the highway. I yelled at the radio asking why they would lie about his death. Once the DJ told his listeners it was really true, I remember crying my eyes out. He was one of my heroes. My entire family loved Elvis.

Fans Continue to Love Elvis the Pelvis

One week each August, fans from all over the globe gather to honor Presley. Elvis Week is a celebration of his music, movies, and legacy that includes the “Elvis Fan Club Presidents Event, Graceland Insiders Event, Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and an Elvis candlelight vigil plus special concerts, panel discussions, dances and much more,” according to the Graceland website.

The 42nd anniversary of Presley’s death will be commemorated Aug. 9-17, 2019. Every year during Elvis Week, fans pay their respects to the King of Rock n’ Roll during the Elvis candlelight vigil, which begins on August 15 and ends late the next day. Graceland’s website reports that tens of thousands attend the vigil.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

ELVIS AUSTRALIA: Elvis Presley’s Movies
NBCUniversal: MUSIC’S BIGGEST STARS HONOR THE KING OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IN ‘ELVIS ALL-STAR TRIBUTE’ AIRING SUNDAY, FEB. 17 ON NBC
All That’s Interesting: The Death Of Elvis Presley: A Sad, Embarrassing, Demise For The King Of Rock And Roll
Graceland: ABOUT ELVIS WEEK

Featured and Top Images Courtesy of NBC|Universal – Used With Permission
Inset Images Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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