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Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert Printer Friendly Page

According to Ernst Jorgensen and Peter Guralnick in their book, Elvis : Day By Day, the genesis of the '61 concert in Hawaii occurred on December 4, 1960, when Colonel Parker read an editorial in the Los Angeles Examiner about the effort to raise funds for a memorial to the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor.

The USS Arizona Memorial straddles the sunken battleship and is dedicated to remembering all those who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The initial fundraising efforts to build the Memorial had stalled, with only half of the funds needed raised.

In an effort to re-energize the campaign, Hawaii journalists sent out an appeal to newspaper editors across the country asking for editorial support. Elvis agreed and The Colonel held a press conference to publicly announce the coming concert on January 11, 1961, at the Hawaiian Village Hotel in Honolulu.

The next day both of the city's newspapers, the Advertiser and the Star Bulletin reported on the press conference. Parker revealed that Elvis would appear in Honolulu on March 26 at a benefit concert for the USS Arizona Memorial Fund. 'Every penny of that taken in must go to the fund', Parker explained, 'otherwise, we are not interested in doing the show. More than 4,000 fans attended the concert on March 25, 1961, purchasing tickets ranging in price from $3 to $100. The concert, which featured Elvis Presley and an all-star lineup of entertainers, raised just over $54,000 toward the $500,000 goal. Many public and private donations followed the show, and the USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated on May 30, Memorial Day, 1962.

The Bloch Arena at Pearl Harbor would be the venue. Of the 4,000 seats available, 100 'ringside' seats would be sold for $100 each. The rest of the tickets, scaled at $10, $5, $3.50, and $3, would go on sale March 13. 'Not a living soul will get a free ticket to this show', stated H. Tucker Gratz, chairman of the memorial fund commission. 'And that includes the performers, and even Colonel Parker'. Parker said he and Elvis would pay all other performers out of their own pockets, and all expenses would be donated.

'This is a little bit like a kid who has heard of Santa Claus and can't believe it', Gatz said. 'Our sincere thanks to Colonel Parker. It's hard to believe this is real'. 'It is', Parker confirmed. 'You know, Elvis is 26 (last Sunday was his birthday) and that's about the average age of those boys entombed in the Arizona'.

'I think it's appropriate that he should be doing this'.

Setting a fundraising goal for the show, Parker added, 'There's no excuse for Elvis to leave this island without his raising $50,000'. Shortly after Colonel Parker returned to Los Angles, he announced a couple of changes in the benefit concert's schedule and seating arrangements. The show date was moved a day earlier to Saturday, March 25. Also, the 'ringside' $100 ticket section was expanded from 100 to 300 seats.

It also occurred to Parker that Elvis could perform the benefit concert in Honolulu before filming of his next movie began there in March 1961. After getting the OK from Elvis, Parker began making plans.

On Monday, March 20, 1961, five days before the Pearl Harbor show, Elvis reported to Paramount studio in Hollywood to begin work on Blue Hawaii. On the same day, his single release of 'Surrender' reached #1 on Billboard's Hot 100. It was Elvis' fourth straight #1 record in less than a year.

The morning of March 25, 1961, Elvis boarded a Pan American Airways jet in Los Angeles to start what he knew would be a long, tiring day for him. Even before the plane took off from LA, an estimated crowd of 3,000 began gathering at Honolulu International Airport to greet Elvis on his arrival.

Ready For Hawaii : Los Angeles Airport, California : March 25, 1961

Elvis Presley : Ready For Hawaii : Los Angeles Airport, California : March 25, 1961.
Elvis Presley : Ready For Hawaii : Los Angeles Airport, California : March 25, 1961.

Above image, From the book : The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960-1964.

At 12:15 p.m. the plane carrying Presley touched down in Honolulu, and at 12:27 Elvis, wearing a black suit and a ruffled white shirt, appeared at the rear door. 'For 10 minutes the handsome lad with the baby blue eyes passed in review', reported a local newspaper, 'just like they do in the Army-up and down before the crowd with the wire screen and a cordon of Honolulu and military police between him and the fans. Some of them looked as though they were ready to tear him limb for limb, and take home the pieces for souvenirs ...

In honor of the Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley Photos 50th anniversary of Elvis' U.S.S. Arizona Benefit concert, March 25, 1961, we have have some great photos of Elvis' arrival in Hawaii, of the concert, and a video of Elvis and Priscilla touring the completed facility in May 1968. More than 4,000 fans attended the concert, purchasing tickets ranging in price from $3 to $100. The concert, which featured Elvis Presley and an all-star lineup of entertainers, raised just over $54,000 toward the $500,000 goal. Many public and private donations followed the show, and the USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated on May 30, Memorial Day, 1962. (Which is fitting as the film of Elvis' arrival at the airport is actually from April 7, 1962 with Elvis in Hawaii to film his movie Girls! Girls! Girls!).

Also Donna Butterworth the future co-star to Elvis in his 1966 movie, Paradise Hawaiian Style can be seen jumping among the young fans at the start of the video. The video then continues with the 1961 audio of the three presentations to Elvis in appreciation of what he was doing in giving the benefit concert. And concludes with footage of Elvis and Priscilla with Joe Esposito and Charlie Hodge touring the completed facility, May 1968.

Elvis Presley Video Video : Elvis Presley Arriving in Hawaii : March 25, 1961

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Elvis Presley’s Benefit Concert for the USS Arizona Memorial

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Above image, From the book : The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960-1964.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S.. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Above image, From the book : The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960-1964.

Soon, Elvis was weighed down with leis and smeared with lipstick (lucky girls).

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S.. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis is greeted by screaming fans and many leis upon arrival.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis is mobbed by fans upon his arrival on March 25, 1961, for the concert.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis arrives with country comedian Minne Pearl who is also booked to appear in the benefit show.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961. Elvis after arrival of Honolulu airport, where he greeted fans.

Elvis and his party didn't venture into the crowd. Looking pale, Elvis paused only twice in his march up and down outside the fence. Once he stopped to let a little girl give him a lei and he rewarded her with a sweet smile'. Then Elvis jumped into a waiting car and was escorted by police to the Hawaiian Village Hotel, where he would stay for three weeks while filming Blue Hawaii. At 3:45 p.m. Elvis entered the hotel's Carousel Room for a press conference. Local columnist Shideler Harpe reported that 'Elvis sauntered in, looking sleepy-eyed and rumpled because he'd just finished a little nap, and before you could say 'Blue Hawaii', a little girl hung a lei around his neck and wouldn't let go. Elvis looked a bit wild-eyed and Colonel Tom Parker finally disengaged him from the kid's clutch'. Then Elvis answered questions from about 100 high school newspaper reporters and Honolulu newsmen and radio DJs before returning to his hotel room to rest up before the show that evening.

Meanwhile, lines were already forming at the entrances to Bloch Arena. 'At 6:30 p.m., two hours before show time, the crowds extended for blocks', according to a news report. 'Traffic began jamming in the area about 7 p.m. as parking lots and later all available space on nearby lawns and streets filled to overflowing. The arena filled quickly when the gates were opened at 7:15 p.m'. Elvis wears the gold lamé coat for the last time.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.

The press conference was held at the Hawaiian Village Hotel.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.

Above image, From the book : The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960-1964.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.

Elvis at the press conference for his benefit for the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.

Elvis at a press conference about his benefit concert for the USS Arizona Memorial.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.

Elvis meets and poses with fans for photos at the press conference.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert : Press Confernce.

In addition to other dailies, 27 Oahu high schools and middle schools covered the press conference.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Arriving at Honolulu Airport for that evenings U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.


Hal Wallis, Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley : Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel : Honolulu, Hawaii March 25, 1961.

Above, Elvis looks a bit tired : and you could not blame him as the previous week had been a whirl wind of activity, and he still had a press conference coming next, and show to give that night!

March 21 (Tue) : Blue Hawaii sessions at Radio Recorders, West Hollywood
March 22 (Wed) : Blue Hawaii sessions at Radio Recorders, West Hollywood
March 23 (Thu) : Blue Hawaii sessions at Radio Recorders, West Hollywood
March 24 (Fri) : Band rehearsal, possibly at RCA Hollywood
March 25 (Sat) : Flight to Honolulu, press conference, benefit concert

It was an amazing time for Elvis, in the past 12 months he was an across the board #1 phenomenon in music, TV, film, commercial and critical acclaim. And he was only 26 years old.

The Concert : March 25, 1961

Songs performed by Elvis during this concert:

01. Heartbreak Hotel
02. All Shook Up
03. A Fool Such As I
04. I Got A Woman
05. Love Me
06. Such A Night
07. Reconsider Baby
08. I Need Your Love Tonight
09. That's Allright
10. Don't Be Cruel
11. One Night
12. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
13. It's Now Or Never
14. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
15. Hound Dog

A tape recording of this show was released by RCA in 1980 on the box-set 'Elvis Aron Presley'.

The show was opened by the Phil Ingall Orchestra, followed by an Hawaiian comedian; Sterling Mossman. Then there were performances of Boots Randolph (sax) , Floyd Cramer (piano) and The Jordanaires (vocal) before country comedian, Minnie Pearl hit the stage. Finally after the break, Rear admiral Robert L. Campbell introduced Elvis on stage. Elvis wore his gold lame jacket and black dress pants. This would be the last time Elvis would ever wear the gold lame jacket. The concert itself would become the last performance on stage till Elvis return on stage, almost 8 years later in Las Vegas in 1969. The show raised nearly $65,000 for the USS Arizona Memorial building fund. This show created one of the biggest private donations to the memorial.

Boots Randolph and Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Boots Randolph and Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Above image, From the book : The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960-1964.

The show began at 8:30 p.m., but Elvis didn't take the stage until after intermission. Among the opening acts were pianist Floyd Cramer, the Jordanaires, jazz saxophonist Boots Randolph, and comedienne Minnie Pearl. After intermission, Rear Admiral Robert L. Campbell introduced Elvis.

'When Elvis came on the teenagers screamed for 2 ½ minutes without let-up', according to an article in the Advertiser the next day. 'Elvis was wearing his famous gold jacket with the silvery glints like sequins, dark blue trousers and a white shirt and a blue string tie. He wiggles as much as he ever did. The Army didn't make him a bit conservative'. During an hour on stage, Elvis sang 15 songs: 'Heartbreak Hotel', 'All Shook Up', 'A Fool Such As I', 'I Got a Woman', 'Love Me', 'Such a Night', 'Reconsider Baby', 'I Need Your Love Tonight', 'That's All Right', 'Don't Be Cruel', 'One Night', 'Are You Lonesome Tonight', 'It's Now or Never', 'Swing Down Sweet Chariot', and 'Hound Dog'. Advertiser Managing Editor Buck Buchwach labeled Presley 'the hottest commercial attraction in the entertainment industry' in an editorial on March 27. 'Elvis is a musical Messiah', he proclaimed. 'For his fans, he has an animal magnetism that communicates itself more strongly than any entertainer we've ever seen or heard … he's much more handsome, much more appealing, much more likeable, and a much better entertainer in person … than on records, over TV, and in movies'. Elvis does 'Hound Dog' knee slide for the last time
Elvis concluded his performance by sliding six feet across the stage on his knees while singing 'Hound Dog'. The screaming and applause continued even after Elvis left the stage. Reporter Phil Mayer noted, 'This acclaim saluted more than his performance. The applause also was for a man helping build a monument the best way he knows how'. Gross ticket sales were $52,000, surpassing the $50,000 goal Colonel Parker had originally set. An additional $5,000 check from Colonel Parker and Elvis, along with concessions revenue and additional donations collected at the arena, pushed the memorial commission's proceeds over $62,000. Although the amount was not enough to complete the memorial, it was enough to prepare the memorial for dedication.

'I can assure you that on December 7 of this year there will be a memorial', stated fund chairman Gatz after all the receipts had been added up. The USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1962. Today the more than 1 million annual visitors can view a plaque (below) that recognizes Elvis Presley as one of the contributors to the memorial. Various Presley merchandise and artifacts from the 1961 benefit show are kept in the memorial archives and can be viewed by appointment.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Above image, From the book : Something For Everybody FTD Special Edition 2 CD Set.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

From the book Photographs & Memories by JAT Productions.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Elvis Presley : Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel : Honolulu, Hawaii March 1961.
Elvis Presley : Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel : Honolulu, Hawaii March 1961.

Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.
Elvis Presley : March 25, 1961 : Honolulu, HI. Bloch Arena : U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Concert.

Above image, From the book : The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960-1964.


Above image, From the booklet : Something For Everybody FTD Special Edition 2 CD Set.

Elvis Presley Photos Many more photos : Elvis visiting the U.S.S.. Arizona Memorial : May 1968 New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Memphis Charity Show : Ellis Auditorium : February 25, 1961 : 3pm and 8:30pm

Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis Presley Photos Colonel Elvis Presley at Tennessee State Legislature March 8, 1961
Elvis Presley Photos Frank Sinatra Television Special : March 1960

Books

Book Elvis In Hawaii
Book Hawaii 61 Book : Elvis Presley Book / CD / Ticket
Book The Elvis Files Vol. 2 : 1960-1964

Elvis stayed in these hotels during his stays in Hawaii (Nov 1957 - March 1977):

Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel - Waikiki Beach - Ohau
Ilikai Hotel (adjacent to the Hawaiian Village) - Waikiki Beach - Ohau
Coco Palms Resort (closed / devastated by Hurricane Iniki) Wailua - Kauai

1957: Hawaiian Village Hotel : Honolulu / Shofield Baracks concert
1961: Hawaiian Village Hotel : Bloch Arena concert / Blue Hawaii (scene) / Coco Palms Resort (movie finale)
1962: Hawaiian Village Hotel : Girls, Girls, Girls
1965: Ilikai Hotel: Paradise Hawaiian Style
1968: Ilikai Hotel: Vacation (May)
1969: Ilikai Hotel / Coco Palms Resort: Vacation (May)
1969: Hawaiian Village Hotel : vacation (Oct)
1972: Hawaiian Village Hotel : Concert / press conference
1973: Hawaiian Village Hotel : Aloha from Hawaii (arrival / rehearsals)
1977: Hawaiian Village Hotel : Vacation arrival / - entourage stayed at the Rainbow Tower
(Elvis and selected friends moved to his Kailua beach house afterwards)

January 1961

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Friday, January 6, 1961 : Elvis' 26 birthday party

February

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : February 25, 1961 : Elvis Presley Day Proclaimed
Elvis Presley Photos Salaam To The King Of Rock And Roll [Same day as above]

March

Elvis Presley Photos Colonel Elvis Presley : Tennessee State Legislature : March 8, 1961
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Pearl Harbor Benefit : March 25, 1961
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : With Hal Wallis : Blue Hawaii : Paramount 1961

April

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley with Indonesia's first President Kusno Soekarno

July

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Red West's Wedding to Elvis' Secretary Pat Boyd : July 1, 1961

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : 525 Perugia Way in Los Angeles : 1961

The Movies Of 1961 In Photos

Elvis Presley Photos Inside Wild In The Country : On set & Location 1960 : 1 New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Inside Wild In The Country : On set & Location 1960 : 2 (With pat Boone) New page link
Elvis Presley Photos
Inside Wild In The Country : On set & Location 1960 : 3 New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Inside Wild In The Country : On set & Location 1960 : 4 New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Blue Hawaii New page link

The Movies Of 1961

Elvis Presleys Movies 1961, Wild In The Country, Twentieth Century Fox
Elvis Presleys Movies 1961, Blue Hawaii, Paramount

DVDs

DVD Blue Hawaii DVD
DVD Wild In The Country DVD

CDs

CD Something For Everybody : FTD Special Edition 2 CD
CD Wild In The Country : FTD Special Edition Movie Soundtrack CD
CD Blue Hawaii : FTD Special Edition Movie Soundtrack 2 CD

Books

Book Welcome Home Elvis
Book
From Memphis To Hollywood Hardcover Book
Book The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960-1964 : Hardcover Book
Book
Elvis In Hawaii
Book Hawaii 61 Book : Elvis Presley Book / CD / Ticket

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Elvis Presley Photos

Elvis Presley Photos

Elvis Presley Video Video Preview: Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet. Never before have we seen an Elvis concert from the 50's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered Unreleased Film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don’t Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. This is an excellent release no fan should be without it. The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people.

We love Elvis Presley !!!!!!!! : So ... Stop, look and listen baby that's our philosophy ... First thing in the morning, last thing at night ... look, stare everywhere and see everything inside ... Stop, look and listen!

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