In 1968, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, staged a comeback that would forever cement his status as one of the most iconic and influential musicians in the history of music. After a few years of making mediocre movies and recording uninspired soundtracks, Elvis was in dire need of a revival. And that's precisely what he delivered with his legendary "Elvis" comeback special. This TV special, formally known as "Elvis," aired on December 3, 1968, and it remains an unforgettable moment in the history of rock 'n' roll.
By the mid-1960s, Elvis Presley's career had hit a rough patch. His music was overshadowed by the British Invasion, and he found himself trapped in a cycle of films and soundtrack albums. The energy and passion that defined his early career were fading away. He needed a fresh start, a way to reconnect with his roots and remind the world of his incredible talent.
Elvis, together with his manager Colonel Tom Parker and producer Steve Binder, decided to produce a TV special that would capture the essence of his early career. They aimed to recapture the magic of his live performances and the charisma that made him a sensation in the first place.
We watched this back recently at Soho HQ, and what struck us was an obvious one and comes with no surprise of course, just how cool Elvis looks.
Elvis's outfit is perfectly matched with his guitar and set design, making the show an experience. Something that is often overlooked within music today.
Someone that does come to mind however, and who is definitely influenced by Elvis in terms of music, clothing and aesthetic is Jack White.
The "Elvis" comeback special was divided into several segments, each showcasing a different side of Elvis:
Stand-Up Performances: In the first segment, Elvis, dressed in black leather, took the stage in front of a small, intimate audience. This segment highlighted his powerful vocal abilities and his charismatic stage presence.
Sit-Down Jam Sessions: Elvis sat down with a group of musicians for a relaxed jam session. It was a return to the kind of informal, impromptu performances that made him famous.
Gospel Medley: The special also featured a gospel medley where Elvis sang some of his favourite gospel songs, showcasing his roots and deep connection to his music.
Grand Finale: The show concluded with a grand finale, where Elvis performed "If I Can Dream," a song that symbolized his hopes and dreams for a better world.
Elvis Presley was not only a musical trendsetter but also a style icon of his era. His fashion choices were influential and left a lasting impact on popular culture. The neckerchief was a key component of his image, and he often used it as a fashion statement. Whether he was performing on stage or making public appearances, Elvis's neckerchiefs were a defining aspect of his ensemble.
For us at Soho though, he never quite rocked a neckerchief quite as much as when he did during the '68 comeback special.
Elvis Presley's 1968 comeback special was a triumphant return to form for the King of Rock and Roll. It reminded the world of his incredible talent and rekindled his passion for making music. This legendary special remains a testament to the legacy of Elvis Presley, a true music icon whose impact on the world of entertainment is immeasurable.
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