In this series we are taking a look at the places Elvis performed and played in the event you too would like to take an "Elvis style" vacation in any of these areas. Remember that hotels often change ownership and names, as do concert venues. You might need to do further research to pinpoint some of these locations.
We begin in Cleveland, Ohio the site of Elvis's first concerts north of the Mason-Dixon line. On 2/26/55 and 10/19-20/55, Elvis performed at Circle Theater's "Hillbilly Jamboree." No longer there, old handbills place the theater at Euclid and E. 105th. Street.
During the day on 10/20/55, Elvis also performed at Brooklyn High School and St. Michael's Hall. Also performing at these shows were Bill Haley and the Comets, Pat Boone and The Four Lads. They were taking part in the making of a short film called "The Pied Piper of Cleveland," which focused on a day in the life of famed disc jockey Bill Randle. (The footage of Elvis has not surfaced publicly.)
Elvis performed at the Arena in Cleveland on 11/23/56. On 11/6/71 and 6/21/74 he appeared at the Cleveland Convention Center Public Hall. On 7/10/75, 7/18/75, and 10/23/76 he performed at the Cleveland Coliseum in nearby Richfield. During these appearances he enjoyed Cleveland's Keg And Quarter and a special menu of corn bread and greens.
On 1/23/86 Elvis was posthumously inducted into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame located in Cleveland. The Elvis exhibit and the items on loan there from Graceland, changes periodically. It is a must-see for any fan of Elvis and rock and roll music who travels to the area.
Elvis performed in Columbus, Ohio on 5/26/56 at Veteran Memorial Auditorium and at St. John Arena on 6/25/74. The venue for Elvis's concerts in Dayton was the University of Dayton. On 5/27/56 his show was at the Fieldhouse and a reporter described him as "a Tennessee fugitive from a barbershop." He performed at the University Arena on 4/7/72, 10/6/74 and 10/26/76. In 1974 he stayed at the Ramada Inn and in 1976 he stayed at the Stouffer's Dayton Plaza Hotel.
On 11/22/56 his show was at the Toledo Sports Arena and Elvis stayed at the Commodore Perry Hotel. He returned on 4/23/77 to the University of Toledo's Centennial Hall, staying at the Sheraton-Westmore Hotel. In Troy he performed at the Hobart Arena on 11/24/56.
In Cincinnati, Elvis had concerts at the Cincinnati Gardens on 11/11/71 and 6/27/73. While Riverfront Coliseum was the site for a show on 3/21/76 in which Elvis split the seat of his jumpsuit and had to leave the stage to go and change. He stayed at the Netherland Hilton Hotel. His next show at the Coliseum was on 6/25/77. This trip he was booked into a different hotel and when he had problems with the air conditioning in his room, he marched down the street to the Netherland and checked himself in there.
In Detroit, Elvis performed at the Fox Theater on 5/25/56, and ads for the show stated "The King is Coming!" Subsequent visits on 3/31/57, 9/11/70, 4/6/72, 9/29/74, 10/4/74, and 4/22/77 his shows were at the Olympia Stadium later named Joe Louis Stadium. On 4/24/77 at Ann Arbor's University of Michigan Crisler Arena RCA recorded the songs "Unchained Melody" and "Little Darlin'" which were released on the "Moody Blue" album.
In Kalamazoo Elvis performed at the Wings Stadium on 10/21/76 and 4/26/77. Saginaw Civic Center was the venue for concerts on 4/25/77 and 5/3/77. At the 4/25/77 concert, RCA recorded "If You Love Me (Let Me Know), which made their way to the "Moody Blue" album.
Elvis stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Troy while preparing for a special New Year's Eve concert at Pontiac's Silverdome on 12/31/75. Accompanying Elvis and his entourage were his father Vernon, his daughter Lisa, his girlfriend Linda Thompson and singer T.G. Sheppard and his wife. Problems with frigid weather, a two-tiered staging arrangement Elvis was uncomfortable with and poor sound in the massive venue were compounded by Elvis splitting his pants out early in the show. After the show, Elvis and his party flew home and celebrated the New Year by watching Monty Python tapes.
A show on 5/14/56 in LaCrosse at the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium brought chaos. Police and MPs from nearby Camp McCoy couldn't contain the crowd and Elvis had to run for his dressing room on the second floor. Outside fans formed a human pyramid nearly 30 feet high trying to get a glimpse of him in his dressing room. The local newspaper editor wrote to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover expressing his concerns about Elvis and his menace to society. Elvis stayed at the Stoddard Hotel.
On 4/28/77 Elvis performed in Green Bay at the Brown County Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, later renamed Brown County Expo Center. And in Madison Elvis stayed at the Sheraton Inn while performing at the Dane County Coliseum on 10/19/76 and 6/24/77. Milwaukee Auditorium Arena, a part of the Wisconsin Center Complex, was the venue for shows on 6/14-15/72, 6/28/74 and 4/27/77.
In Ft. Wayne Elvis performed at the Memorial Coliseum on 3/30/57, 6/12/72 and 10/25/76. In Bloomington he appeared at the University of Indiana Assembly Hall on 6/27/74 and 5/27/76. He stayed at the Evansville Executive Inn while performing at Roberts Stadium on 6/13/72 and 10/24/76. In South Bend, Elvis's concerts were at Notre Dame's Athletic and Convention Center on 9/30/74, 10/1/74 and 10/20/76. He performed on 7/9/75 at Terre Haute's Hulman Civic Center, later named Glenn Civic Center.
On 12/4-7/55 Elvis had shows at the Indianapolis Lyric Theater. He stayed at the Hilton Hotel while performing on 4/12/72 at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum, and again on 10/4/74 when he was at the Expo Convention Center. He stayed at the Stouffer's Indianapolis Inn before his concert on 6/26/77 at Market Square Arena. A CBS film crew filmed him as he left the plane and receiving an award from RCA as part of the TV special "Elvis In Concert" which was in production at the time. The Indianapolis show was Elvis's last concert performance. (Shows earlier on the tour were shot for the special.) Elvis died a little over six weeks later on August 16, 1977. Market Square Arena was imploded in 2001 to make room for new development.
Elvis performed for employees of the Phillip Morris company at a private party they were having on 12/8/55 at the Rialto Theater in Louisville. The Jefferson County National Guard Armory was the site of an 11/25/56 performance. He stayed at the Seal Bark Hotel. Elvis's grandfather Jesse Presley lived in Louisville and Elvis visited with him at his home during both the 1956 appearance and again in 1971 when Elvis appeared at Freedom Hall. His grandfather died on 3/19/73 and is buried in Louisville. Elvis toured there again performing at Freedom Hall on 6/26/74, 7/23/76 and 5/21/77.
We currently have some of Elvis's army artifacts on loan to the General George S. Patton, Jr. National Museum of Cavalry & Armor museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky. You can plan to view these items there until 9/24/05.
Next week we'll travel through the middle of the U.S. with the states of Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.