Aloha From Hawaii


Aloha From Hawaii

Produced by Marty Pasetta, Gary Hovey
Starring Elvis Presley
Distributed by RCA
Release date(s) February 4, 1973
Running time 85 min.
Language English

"Right after new year's we were sitting in the den when the colonel called," remembered Elvis' aid, Mary Lacker. Elvis took the call in private. When he came back in, he had this big smile on his face. He said "The colonel's made the final arrangements for the satellite TV special in Hawaii."

 An Hawaiian benefit concert had been planned several months ealier. On November 20, 1972, Elvis had given a press conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Villiage Hotel after three shows at the Honolulu international center arena. He said he wanted to do a benefit for one of Hawaii's best known song writers, Kuiokalaani Lee. Ealier, the colonel had recieved a letter from Honolulu advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman soliciting support for Lee's cancer fund, and Elvis, who had been featuringLee's Hit " I'll remember you"in his shows, readily agreed to a benefit concert. It soon became clear that this was to be no ordinary benefit,

 The colonel had arranged for the new Intelsat IV satallite to simulcast the show through out the far east with the next day trasmission in Europe. It was a challenge unlike any other Elvis had faced. Any mistake or miscue would be witnessed by billions. For his part, the colonel understood the Elvis needed to be challenged, and he understood the importace of staging events. His '68 comback television special had bee an event,his return to live performing in 1969 had been an event, and his first triumphant appearaces in New York in '72 had also been an event. This, however, would be an event like no other.

 The show came at a turning point in Elvis' life. He and Priscilla had already seperated and the divorce was pending. Health problems dogged him, and the initial excitement of being back before live audiances was starting to wane. In a surprisingly short time, though, Elvis managed to whip himself back into shape. He arrived in Honolulu on January 9, and began rehearsals the next day. RCA had already made plans tofly tapes to all the mager markets and to release the album almost immediatly. Jackets were pre printed (to which stickers with the song titles wouldlater be added). The set would be releassed as a stereo compatible quadraphonic double LP. QUAD, for those who dont rember, utilized four seperate outputs to create "surround sound."

 A dry run took place on January 12. It was taped as a backup in case anything went wrong with the actual trasmission. Elvis scrutinized the tapes and decided he didn't like his hair style, so he found someone to restyle it. January 13 was declared Elvis Presley day in Honolulu, and the actual show was broadcast at 12:30 a.m.
Honolulu time on January 14 to an estimated 38 countries. The only market not to see the show right away was North America. The colonel didn't want to conflict with the American release of the documentary Elvis On Tour, and stipulated the the album would be released in February, althou the show wouldn't be seen until April.

 By the day of the show, RCA had accumulated advance orders for more than one million records. Elvis knew he couldn't duplicate the show he had given in New York six months earlier because it had already been released and was a top-selling live album. Without much time to prepare new songs, he sttled apon standards like "I Can't Stop Loving You,"  "Welcome To My World," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." He also decided to reprise several songs he had introduced during his Vegas stint in August 1972, among the James Talor's "Steam Roller Blues." That summer he had scored a no. 2 hit with "Burning Love," so the audiance would expect to hear it. Another recent addition to the set list, Marty Robbins' "You Gave Me A Mountain," semm to take on an even greater significance in light of the daunting prospect of performing live to billions of people.

 The show aired during prime time in the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. Elvis' audiance share was astonishing: An estimated 91.8 percent of the Philippine population watched it, as did one quarter of the four million inhabitanst of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong station relayed the signal to the Portugue colony of Macao and thence to main land China. Between 70 and 80 percent of television sets in Korea were tuned to Elvis, giving him 37.8 percent share in Japan. Audiances were also vast in Thailand, Viet Nam, Australia and New Zealand. The following night the show would also be broadcasted in Europe.

 The billions of people who made up Elvis'global audiance witnessed a flawless performance. Elvis was focused and desperately intent on rising to the occasion. There were no monologs - just the barest of introductions. Elvis wanted nothing to detract from the music. Nor did the scale of the event seem to daunt him. Could this really be the same Elvis Presley who had stood apprehensively at the door of Sun Records twenty years earlier, too shy to ask for an audition?

 Right after the shoe ended, Elvis recorded five additional songs that would feature scenic footage of Hawaii, in order to lengthen the running time of the American show to 90 minutes. Four of the songs "Blue Hawaii," "Ku-U-I-Po," "No More," and "Hawaiian Wedding Song," were from Elvis' 1961 movie Blue Hawaii; the fifth was a version of Peter, Paul, and Mary's 1965 hit "Early Morning Rain." Four of the five songs would later appear on a 1978 Budget album MAHALO FROM ELVIS, and the fifth "Blue Hawaii," first appeared on the 1976 compilation A LEGENDARY PERFORMER VOLUME 2. Elvis' nerves were begining to frey by the time he wrapped up the additional songs at 3:30 am, but it barely detracted from the triumph of the evening.

 One month before the show aired in North America, RCA released "Steamroller Bues." Then at 8:30 pm on April 4, 1973, American audiences finally got to see Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite on the RCA affiliated NBC network. One month later on May 5, the album reached number 1. "Steamroller Blues" got to number 17. It would be the last Elvis Presley TV special to air during his lifetime. Every one of his carefully rationed TV appearances had carried unusual significance. During the fifties, television had introduced Elvis to a mass audience, and he
had scandalized the nation. The 1960 Frank Sinatra special had welcomed him home, reaffirmed his popularity and heralded a new direction. The '68 Comeback Special Elvis was one of the most remarkable acts of career regeneration, and Aloha From Hawaii revealed his gift for spectacle, innovation, and a sense of scale that befitted Elvis' reputation as the preeminent popular entertainer of our time.

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