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Elvis in Concert (CBS, 1977)

It was June 19, 1977 in Omaha, Nebraska, and one of the biggest music stars in the world was performing and recording what was to be a television special. This big music star was, in fact, Mr. Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, Mr. Presley was not at his best. This was actually one of his last concerts. Presley was deteriorating physically. He had gained a lot of weight and his face was extremely bloated. He was unable to remember many lyrics for numerous songs. The concert has been described as “terrible and embarrassing.” CBS had the forthright to decide not to air this special until….

Presley was supposed to fly out of Memphis to start a tour on August 16, 1977. His girlfriend at the time, Ginger Alden found him unresponsive on his bathroom floor. Attempts to revive him failed and Presley was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm instead. Controversy still surrounds his death. His official cause of death is listed as a heart attack, but his misuse of prescription drugs is well-known. The controversy surrounds whether it was the drugs that worsened his health problems (such as glaucoma, high blood pressure and the like) or if they were the cause of these health problems.

Meanwhile, back at CBS, the special Elvis in Concert had been scheduled to air in October 1977. Since Elvis was quite obviously in trouble and though they may had been planning on abandoning the special, ultimately the network did go ahead and air the special. They had also recorded a concert a few days after the Omaha concert, this one from Cedar Rapids. Thankfully, Elvis had seemed a bit better at that one. Reportedly, the network did want to get better footage from a later concert, but after these two dates, Elvis only performed in one more concert before his death (June 26 in Indianapolis). Though Presley’s estate refuses to release the special, if you’re interested you can view the entire performance thanks to YouTube (see the above link).