First Time At The Dome
With the success of Elvis' return to the Las Vegas concert stage in August 1969 and February 1970, he and his manager Colonel Parker then branched out with a six-show engagement at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo. Held in the Houston Astrodome, the shows were scheduled as both matinee and evening performances on February 27/28 and March 1, 1970.
Elvis held a press conference around noon on February 27th at the Astroworld Hotel, where he and his entourage were staying. Following
are some of the questions he was asked and the answers Elvis gave:
Media: Elvis, can you give us - I understand with all the big engagements like Las Vegas, etc. - the reason why you selected the Livestock Show and Rodeo this year?
Elvis: Well, they asked me to do it, and I was anxious to do some live appearances. I haven't....it'd been a long time since I'd been on stage in front of anybody live, and I was anxious to do some live appearances and I thought
it would be a good opportunity to get in front of the people.
Media: Have you ever seen the inside of the [Astro] Dome before?
Elvis: Never have. It scares the…(laughs)... it's a big place man.
Media: I mean does this indicate that with your type dress and everything now, that you're changing a little bit of style, perhaps in deference to what you did a few years ago?
Elvis: I don't know. I think that you'd have to see the show. It's difficult to tell. I don't feel any different. I don't think the dress has that much to do with it. I got the idea from a karate suit because I studied karate for a long time, and I had 'em make up a couple suits like it.
Media: ...We think we're gonna set all kinds of records down here.
Elvis: I hope so. I hope I can give'em a good show. That's the most important thing.
Media: No question about that. You sure will.
Elvis: If I can give 'em a good show, I'll feel like I've done something, man.
Elvis was very nervous for the first matinee. The sound in the huge domed stadium was not good. There were only 16,708 people in the audience, and Elvis left after the show feeling very disappointed in himself. Peter Guranick in his biography CARELESS LOVE noted that Elvis went back to his hotel room and took a nap after telling his associate Gee Gee Gambill, "Well, that's it. I guess I just don't have it anymore." After his nap, they noticed out the hotel window the line of cars backed up for miles trying to get into the Astrodome. Guralnick
quotes Elvis: "Well I'll be damned, I guess I've still got it after all."
Robert Hilburn, reporter for the "Los Angeles Times" wrote of that evening's Show: "...Presley's voice was stronger, the stage rotation smoother and the pace sharper than at the matinee. Elvis himself was masterful. His voice remained the best in rock-pop music, and his stage movements, less self-conscious than last summer... were in perfect harmony with the music."
In that engagement Elvis went on to break attendance records for the Houston Livestock Show. At another press conference held on Sunday afternoon March 1, 1970, Elvis was presented with a limited edition Rolex "King Midas" watch, a Stetson hat, and a gold Houston deputy sheriff's badge. He also received from RCA five new gold record awards.