Elvis Presley

The Impact of Elvis’ 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

Elvis 68 comeback special songs as the “King of Rock and Roll” and his legacy in the music industry continues to thrive even decades after his passing. One of his most iconic moments was his 1968 comeback special, which marked a significant turning point in his career. Not only did it revitalize his image and sound, but it also showcased his versatility as an artist. In this blog post, we will delve into the impact of Elvis’ 68 comeback special songs, the history behind it, and its lasting legacy.

The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

Introduction to Elvis 68 comeback special songs

The year 1968 was a pivotal time for Elvis Presley. After years of focusing on Hollywood films, his music career had taken a backseat and his popularity was declining. His management team saw the need for a change and devised a plan to revive his music career through a television special. This groundbreaking idea would become known as the “68 Comeback Special.”

The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

The special, officially titled “Elvis,” aired on December 3, 1968, and featured a mix of live performances and scripted segments. It was filmed in front of a live audience in a small studio, with the intention of showcasing Elvis’ talent and charisma as a performer. The special was a huge success, drawing in over 42% of the total TV audience that night and receiving critical acclaim.

The History of Elvis 68 comeback special songs

In the mid-1960s, Elvis’ career was at a standstill. He was still producing hit records, but his focus on film projects prevented him from actively promoting his music. In 1967, he released the album “How Great Thou Art,” which earned him his first Grammy Award. However, this success was overshadowed by the rise of the British Invasion bands, such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, saw the decline in his popularity and came up with the idea of a television special to reignite his career. He approached NBC with the concept of a Christmas TV special, but the network was hesitant due to Elvis’ declining popularity. It wasn’t until Steve Binder, a young television director, was brought on board that the project began to take shape.

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The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

Binder had a vision for the special to be more than just a typical performance by Elvis. He wanted to capture the essence and energy of his live shows and showcase his versatility as an artist. This meant incorporating different musical genres, such as rock and roll, gospel, and blues, into the special. Binder also wanted to strip away the elaborate stage sets and costumes and focus on the music and Elvis himself.

Songs Featured in the Elvis 68 comeback special songs

The 68 comeback special featured a mix of new and old songs from Elvis’ catalog. Some of the standout performances include “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Hound Dog,” which were all hits from his earlier years. However, the special also included new songs, such as “If I Can Dream” and “Memories,” which showcased a more mature and reflective side of Elvis.

One of the most memorable moments of the special was Elvis’ performance of “Guitar Man,” where he showed off his guitar skills alongside legendary guitarist Scotty Moore. It was a nod to his early days as a musician and proved that he still had the talent and passion for music.

The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

Another notable moment was when Elvis performed a gospel medley, which included “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and “Where Could I Go But to the Lord.” This segment highlighted his roots in gospel music, which played a significant role in shaping his musical style.

Elvis’ Performance in the 68 Comeback Special

Elvis’ performance in the 68 comeback special was nothing short of electrifying. After years of being confined to movie sets with scripted dialogue and dance routines, he had the freedom to perform live once again. He exuded confidence and charisma on stage, captivating the audience with his powerful vocals and mesmerizing dance moves.

One of the most iconic moments of the special was when Elvis donned his iconic black leather suit for the first time. It was a bold departure from his usual flashy costumes and added to the raw and edgy feel of the show. This outfit has now become synonymous with Elvis and is often referenced in pop culture.

His performance of “If I Can Dream” was particularly emotional and heartfelt, with lyrics that resonated with the cultural and political climate of the late 1960s. It was a powerful statement from Elvis, who had been known as a symbol of rebellion and youth, but was now using his platform to promote unity and hope.

Impact of the 68 Comeback Special on Elvis’ Career

The 68 comeback special had a significant impact on Elvis’ career and legacy. It marked a turning point in his music, bringing him back to his roots in rock and roll, and introducing him to a new generation of fans. The special also showed the world that Elvis was more than just a handsome movie star – he was a talented musician and performer.

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The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

Following the success of the comeback special, Elvis went on to produce some of his most iconic albums, including “From Elvis in Memphis” and “Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old).” He also returned to live performances, embarking on successful tours and residencies in Las Vegas.

The special also helped to revive Elvis’ image, which had become somewhat stagnant due to his focus on films. It showcased his versatility as an artist and redefined him as a musical icon, rather than just a pop culture phenomenon.

Behind the Scenes of the 68 Comeback Special

The making of the 68 comeback special was not without its challenges. Elvis had reservations about returning to live performances after years of focusing on films and was initially hesitant about the concept of the special. However, with the support and encouragement of Binder and his team, he eventually embraced the project.

The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

The special also faced resistance from NBC executives, who were unsure about the unconventional format and worried about ratings. However, once the special aired and became a success, they were proven wrong. The production team also faced budget constraints, which meant that they had to get creative with their set design and use of props.

One of the most iconic shots from the special was when Elvis sat in front of a large “ELVIS” sign made out of lights. This was actually a last-minute idea by Binder, who wanted to recreate the famous Hollywood sign but didn’t have the budget for it. Instead, they used the lights from the studio to create the iconic shot, which has now become synonymous with the special.

Reception and Legacy of the 68 Comeback Special

The 68 comeback special was met with critical acclaim and received high ratings, with over 42% of the total TV audience tuning in that night. It also earned Elvis his first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Music Show.

The special’s success had a lasting impact on not just Elvis’ career, but also on the music industry as a whole. It paved the way for other musicians to experiment with the format of television specials and helped to break down barriers between different musical genres.

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In addition to its impact on the music industry, the 68 comeback special is also remembered for its cultural significance. It aired during a time of social and political turmoil, and Elvis’ message of hope and unity resonated with viewers around the world. It also marked the beginning of a new era for Elvis, where he used his platform to speak out about issues he was passionate about.

The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

Comparison to Other Elvis TV Specials

The 68 comeback special is often regarded as one of the best television specials ever produced, not just by Elvis but in general. It has been compared to other Elvis TV specials, such as “Aloha from Hawaii” and “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is,” both of which were also successful productions.

However, what sets the 68 comeback special apart from these other specials is its rawness and authenticity. It captured Elvis at a pivotal moment in his career, where he was rediscovering his love for music and breaking away from the constraints of Hollywood. Unlike the other specials, it didn’t rely on grand sets and production, but instead focused on showcasing Elvis’ talent and charisma as a performer.

The Impact of Elvis' 68 Comeback Special Songs, History, and Legacy

Trivia and Fun Facts about the 68 Comeback Special

  • The special featured a guest appearance by Steve Binder’s pet chimpanzee, Scatters.
  • The original title for the special was “Welcome Home Elvis.” It was later changed to simply “Elvis.”
  • Some of the songs recorded for the special were never aired, including “It Hurts Me” and “Let Yourself Go.”
  • The famous “ELVIS” sign used in the special can now be seen at Graceland, Elvis’ former home in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Elvis’ iconic black leather suit was originally designed for a character in the movie “Viva Las Vegas,” but it was never used.
  • The special was filmed in two segments – the first in June and the second in August – due to scheduling conflicts with Elvis’ film projects.

Conclusion: The Enduring Influence of the 68 Comeback Special

The 68 comeback special remains an important moment in Elvis’ career and legacy. It showcased his talent and versatility as an artist, reignited his popularity, and left a lasting impact on the music industry. It also highlighted Elvis’ passion for music and his desire to connect with his audience through his performances.

Even over 50 years after its original airing, the 68 comeback special continues to be celebrated and referenced in popular culture. It is a testament to the enduring influence and legacy of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll.

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