- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
As the movie "Elvis," which explores the life and music of Elvis Presley, is in theaters this weekend, I am taking a look back at Elvis’ trips to El Paso.
Elvis first performed in El Paso on April 10, 1956. Tickets were $1.50 in advance, $1.75 at the Coliseum door.
April 12, 1956, Herald Post
Police Protect Singer From Bobby Soxers
Ten policemen held off a screaming mob of bobby soxers at the Coliseum last night. The youngsters were clamoring to get at their idol, Elvis Presley, who sang here.
Officers had worked out a plan ahead of time to prevent possible trouble by the enthusiastic audience.
Several police held the crowd back while others escorted the singer out the back entrance to a waiting car. Presley escaped into the night before his fans got out of the building.
Fan Club President Gets Autograph from Elvis
When Elvis performed at the Coliseum on Nov. 10, 1972, there was no concert review. The big news was that a local fan got his autograph:
Miss Bennie Steward, president of the Elvis Now Fan Club, is happy with her two souvenirs from the superstar’s recent visit to El Paso – an autograph for her club’s scrapbook and the memory of his hug.
Miss Steward, 19, and a member of the club, Becki Greene, 12, had missed Presley on his arrival last Wednesday at El Paso International Airport. However, she learned he was to fly in again, this time after his show in Tucson on Thursday.
She said she waited inside a Cessna airplane near Southwest Air Rangers until 11:30 p.m., when the party arrived.
She said a guard tried to keep her from meeting the party, and she was afraid of being arrested until she spotted Col. Tom Parker, Presley’s manager.
She was able to approach him and tell him of the fancy black sombrero the club wished to present Presley as a gift. Parker agreed to the meeting and instructed the guard to escort her where Presley was moving between airplane and limousine.
“He was beautiful, no wrinkles or anything. He was awfully tired but very polite. I told him of the club and gave him the sombrero. He said ‘Thank you’ several times and I couldn’t believe it when he leaned on and hugged my neck,” Miss Stewart said…
She said she organized the fan club here about two months ago when she discovered there was not one in Texas. She said it now has 12 members, but an upswing in interest is anticipated since the Presley show last Friday in the Coliseum.
An Excitement Frenzy – It’s Elvis Presley In Person
Elvis returned to the Coliseum June 2, 1976. Barbara Funkhouser reviewed the concert:
Elvis Presley, a living legend in show business, proved his talents again Wednesday night when 7050 people crowded into the Grand Hall of the Civic Center to clap, tap, cheer and shriek. Thousands of others would have come, but there were no more seats.
There was a frenzy of excitement about this show even before it began. Parking became scarce shortly after 8 p.m., and people hurried to the hall, although seating was reserved and the kick-off was not until 8:30 p.m.
Finally, after an intermission, at 9:40 p.m., it was Elvis, surrounded by bodyguards, being ushered onto the stage to the music of his theme song and psychedelic lighting. The crowd went wild and ultimately gave him a standing ovation even before he sang his first song, “C.C. Rider.”
In baby-blue flared pants and vest with white full-sleeved shirt and, of course, wide rhinestone belt and sparkling insets on his pants, Presley played with the audience for a minute or two, sort of testing the temperature. He found it hot and moved quickly into “I've Got a Woman” and “Amen,” the latter with audience participation.
Discarding his guitar, he began shedding his scarves into upstretched hands while singing “If You Love Me Let Me Go.” The scarf gimmick created a mob scene in front of the stage, which ultimately was controlled by police officers joining arms to form a wall to push the women back. Presley continued taking scarves off throughout the program and this undoubtedly proved distracting for most of the people on the floor.
'People of El Paso are amazing': Former Dallas Cowboys QB visits bars to promote 'Eight' beer
“I'm All Shook Up,” “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear” and “Don't Be Cruel” were in the tradition of Presley. Then there was “Just One More Mile” and his sexy rendition of “Fever,” followed by “Rockin' and Rollin'” and “How I Love You So”.
Presley spent quite a lot of time introducing the chorus and the lead players, allowing the instrumentalists an opportunity for brief solo displays. It again was apparent that the crowd had come to see and hear Presley. So, back to business, he sent the crowd home happy with some driving interpretations of “I'm Hurt,” which he repeated by popular demand, “Hound Dog” and “Take My Hand.”
Then the guards returned to escort him from the stage, the house lights went up and people walked slowly out of the building and toward their cars, some of them humming, others gyrating a bit.
It had been Elvis Presley in person.
The King of Rock and Roll stops at Union Depot
On April 20, 1960, lucky El Paso fan Joanne Van Tassel got a kiss from the King during a stop at Union Depot:
The rock ‘n’ roll troubadour's special car rolled into El Paso at 10:45 p.m. The teenagers started to file into the depot as early as 7 p.m. The train was here for an hour and 40 minutes, and the roaring, cheering fans were treated to a few smiles and hip-wiggles from Elvis.
Nearly hauled off
He was nearly hauled off the back of his private car by two women who appeared to be in their early 30s. They clutched at his clothing and grabbed at his hands. Police couldn't figure out how the pair climbed over a high rock wall and iron bar fence that held back other admirers.
But Miss Van Tassel managed to pull off the coup of the evening. She sneaked through a group of special police with a borrowed suitcase and boarded the train with other passengers getting on.
The first sight she got of Presley was when he peered warily through Venetian blind slats over a window in his private car. She managed to wangle permission to enter the car with members of the press, and then with ladylike poise, accepted a kiss on the cheek from Elvis.
'El Paso's a great town.'
Presley left the train flanked by four husky policemen and greeted the crowd at the station. He strolled down the walk and chatted with the pushing, whistling mob of fans who were separated from him by a high chain fence.
“I think El Paso’s a great town,” he said. “I’ve been through here lots of times. I’m sort of a West Texas boy, after all. I once spent some time just strolling around here and Juárez by myself. I’d sure give it a try again right now if the kids would let me!”
Trish Long may be reached at email@example.com or 915-546-6179
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Elvis Presley played El Paso in the '50s and '70s: Trish Long