October 16, 1976: Elvis Presley plays—and perspires—at the Duluth Arena

On this day in Duluth in 1976, Elvis Presley performed at the Duluth Arena to a throng described by the Duluth News Tribune’s Jim Heffernan as “a mixed crowd of young, older, and even oldish” Duluthians, but mostly folks in their 30s who were fans “when ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ forever changed the course of popular music.” Heffernan reported that the King had kept Duluthians waiting for over an hour while others performed, including a gospel quartet, a comedian, and a trio of female singers emulated 1960s “girl groups.” When Elvis did take the stage—accompanied by a taped recording of Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (aka the “2001: A Space Oddity” song)—“the crowd went wild.” Heffernan went on: “Women screamed, flashbulbs—thousands of them—popped, fans tried to climb on the stage and were repelled by police, and Elvis sang. The more he sang, the more they loved him. They loved him most when he began passing out perspire-soaked silk scarves from around his neck to the few adoring fans who made it to the edge of the stage.” While he did not play “Heartbreak Hotel,” but he managed to work in most of his other hits, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,” “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and a rather odd choice for October, “Blue Christmas.” He performed for exactly one hour, but much of that time, Heffernan mentioned, was taken up by lengthy introductions of band members, followed by instrumental solo. He concluded with “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” Meanwhile at the Radisson Hotel, where the singer was staying, the News Tribune’s Tim Long reported that groups of women ranging in age from 13 to 44 were wearing out the hotel’s elevators, trying to find Elvis on the 11th floor. The hotel staff happily told Elvis hunters that the King was staying on the 11th floor. When they reached the 11th floor, they were greeted by police officers who told them to “forget it.”

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