I am always very happy to post Wendy's wonderful Elvis stories. In today's story, Wendy takes us back to Elvis's 1975 New Year's Eve concert, where, through her words, we experience what Wendy calls "the best night of her entire life". Thank you very much, Wendy, for sharing your cherished memories. CM
Wendy King’s New Year’s Story
In the fall of 2017, it took two attempts to implode Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan--the stadium were Elvis Presley played to his largest ever audience on New Year's Eve 1975.
Those of us who were there on that magical night think maybe it was the memories of 60 thousand plus fans that didn't want that building to be toppled. It held so much joy; it was the location of the very best night of my entire life. I took notes right after the event because I didn't want to forget a thing, so these memories come from what I recall of that evening, and not from what I have since read about the night.
At the time, the Silverdome was one of the biggest and most unique stadiums. I remember it was huge and cold, and the sound wasn't the greatest; but none of that mattered in the least to me. I was about to be in the same room (okay, super huge room) with my idol.
I remember when the strains of 2001 (Space Odyssey) started, my heart pounded with every beat of the drum. Everyone searched the stage wondering from where Elvis might enter. When he did--I believe coming up from under the stage somewhere, and in all his glory--the lights from the flashbulbs on the cameras (which is what we used back then) was like a lightning storm that lit up the entire place. I wasn't even close to the stage. I was very high up and far away, and had to use binoculars to see him, but there he was!
From the first note to the last, I felt every song and every note was sung to me. That was the magic of Elvis. Everyone felt that way. I remember him saying something such as, "We're gonna do some old songs and some new songs, and we hope we do something that you like." There were the old hits in medley form. I especially remember him doing "My Way" and saying, " I don't know the words, ladies and gentlemen, so I have to read it if you don't mind." But he really didn't need the words, and tossed the lyric sheet across the stage within seconds.
One of the highlights for the fans, and perhaps lowlight for poor Elvis, was that this was the concert where he split his jumpsuit pants. He explained to us, "I'm in front of the biggest audience of my life and I split my pants....the Stamps will sing for you, ladies and gentlemen, and I'll be right back.”
As I recall, he was back in another suit before the song ended, saying, "You didn't know I was a quick change artist, did ya'?” I thought it was great that we got to see him in two different jumpsuits--the Rainfall and the V-neck--in one night. Bonus!
When it came time for the countdown to midnight, he did the countdown with us. He wished us all a Happy New Year (which was about to be the bi-centennial year), and then introduced us to his dad and Lisa Marie who were in the audience that night. He then raised a glass to us all and sang “Auld Lang Syne” as the balloons dropped. My most vivid memory is of him standing on the stage, in the spotlight alone, singing that song as the audience was hugging and kissing their loved ones. It made me incredibly sad. He just looked so alone in that huge crowd. Perhaps, he often felt that way.
During “How Great Thou Art”, he did the ending twice saying, "Let me do that again, ladies and gentlemen, I can do it better." And of course he did. His vocals soared right to the ceiling. He said it was the best night he'd ever had. I think he was just being kind, as later reports would tell us that it was freezing cold on that stage and he couldn't hear the band because of the odd set up; but the truth of it is, it WAS the best night I ever had, before or since. No other New Year’s Eve has ever compared, and likely never will.
Thank you, Elvis, as always, for bringing so much magic to so many. The building may be gone but Elvis never really left it.
I found an audio copy on YouTube of the concert that Wendy attended in 1975. I hope it brings back some wonderful memories, Wendy. Cheers! Carolyn.