Elvis Presley — July 23, 1976

Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY

The very first concert I attended was an Elvis Presley concert on July 23, 1976, at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY. I was 12 years old and had been an Elvis fan for as long as I could remember---my mom had been a lifelong Elvis fan, and I grew up listening to Elvis. We completely wore out our 8-track tape version of Elvis's Aloha from Hawaii album.

Elvis shows in the '70s sold out very quickly, and by the time I'd even heard Elvis was going to be in Louisville, tickets had been sold out for weeks. As the show approached, a neighbor and classmate whose aunt had bought tickets decided that she didn't want to spend her money ($12.50, an outrageous amount for a concert then---tickets for Elton John and The Eagles that same week that Elvis performed were more like $7) on the concert and wanted to put it toward a pony instead. So out of the blue, I had an opportunity to purchase the ticket. (An aside here: my sister Margaret was killed in an accident on June 21, 1976; she was 11 years old. Two weeks after that, this Elvis ticket became available to me. I was convinced then, and remain convinced, that Margaret had something to do with my getting the ticket. Whatever afterlife there is or isn't, I'll always know that she was involved.) Of course, $12.50 to a 12-year-old in 1976 might as well have been $100. I didn't have it. So I cut lawns and saved up the money, and finally the night of the show arrived.

I borrowed a 35mm camera from a friend; he was convinced I wouldn't be very close, so he set the camera focus to "infinity" for me. Having never used such a fancy, expensive camera before, I wasn't going to chance messing it up! As it turns out, our seats were on the floor, about 16 rows back---closer than "infinity," and the pictures I took ended up all being out-of-focus because I was closer than anticipated.

Elvis performed for less than an hour that night, and he performed "Hurt" twice in a row. But despite the brevity of the performance, I was thrilled to no end. I had seen The King!

(Another aside here: my mother saw Elvis in Louisville in November 1956, when she was 12 years old. 20 years later, an Elvis show was my first concert.)

NEW!!!   In 2007, the Louisville newspaper The Courier-Journal ran a story about the refurbishing of Louisville Gardens. They included this photo of Elvis taken at the Gardens in November 1956, the show my mother attended!

Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore's website has a page devoted to the 1956 Louisville shows. Tons of amazing information there! Louisville 1956 @ ScottyMoore.net

And now, on July 8, 2002---26 years later---I just received a CD-R containing an audience recording of this very show! Amazing. The sound quality isn't great, but I'm simply amazed that a recording exists at all, and I've enjoyed reliving the show almost exactly 26 years to the day.

Photos from The Louisville Times, July 24, 1976

And another from their archives

NEW!!   I just found another in my collection (December 10, 2004).

NEW!! (2013-08-04)   The button I purchased at the show.
The announcement of the show appeared in the June 14, 1976, issue of The Courier-Journal.

The review from the Louisville Courier-Journal, July 24, 1976

The review from The Louisville Times, July 24, 1976

Photos by Hunter Goatley

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