2024 • JANUARY 8-14 • COLLINGWOOD
The True Fan Experience
True fans can immerse themselves in the full Elvis experience by purchasing a Festival Pass. This pass grants you reserved seating in advance for each night’s performance. Festival Pass holders will secure their places at every event, guaranteeing they won’t miss a moment of this unique tribute to The King.
For those looking to attend individual performances, remaining tickets are available to purchase by-the-show or as a 4-show Flex Pass. Each concert will be a stand-alone homage to a specific period of Elvis’s career, performed by different award-winning Elvis impersonators who will transport you back to the height of Presley’s fame.
MONDAY – Festival of the King Presents: The Dawn of a Legend - The Rockabilly Years
In the heart of 1953, a young Elvis Presley, with a mere $4 in hand, ventured into Sun Records to record a heartfelt song titled “My Happiness” as a gift for his beloved mother, Gladys. Little did he know, this simple act would set the stage for a legendary career. As he left the studio, clutching the 78 copy of his record, the world remained unaware of the storm that was about to hit.
Marion Keisker, the astute secretary at Sun Records, couldn't help but draw parallels between Elvis's charismatic aura and the magnetic Marlon Brando, whose visage graced the cover of Life Magazine. This resemblance was not just skin deep; it was a hint of the star power that Elvis exuded.
Fast forward to July 19, 1954, a fateful day when Elvis, accompanied by the talented Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass, entered the studio. While their initial recording of ‘That’s When Your Heartaches Begin’ didn’t quite hit the mark, a spontaneous jam session to the rhythm of Arthur Crudup's “That’s Alright Mama” caught the discerning ear of Sam Phillips. Recognizing the magic unfolding before him, Sam immediately hit record, capturing a moment that would forever change the course of music history.
The local airwaves soon resonated with the unique sound of Elvis, thanks to disc jockey Duey Phillips. This exposure paved the way for Elvis's electrifying performances on the Hayride circuit. It was here that Tom Parker, a keen-eyed promoter, witnessed the magnetic pull of Elvis, especially among female fans. Leveraging his vast network, Parker orchestrated Elvis's groundbreaking television debuts.
On Monday, January 8, 2024, join us at The Historic Gayety for a mesmerizing journey back in time. Relive the magic of Sun Studios, feel the energy of the Hayride Concerts, and witness the charisma that marked Elvis's inaugural television appearances. This is not just a concert; it's a tribute to the birth of a legend.
TUESDAY – Festival of the King Presents: The Golden Era - Elvis's Ascension with RCA Records (1956-1958)
Following his initial foray into the world of music in 1954 and subsequent local performances, a pivotal moment arrived when Sam Phillips made the strategic decision to sell Elvis's contract to RCA Records. The price? A staggering $35,000 – a sum that, when adjusted for inflation, equates to nearly half a million dollars in today's currency.
Under the shrewd guidance of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis's star began to shine even brighter. From captivating performances on the Steve Allen Show, Jack Parr, and Arthur Godfrey, Elvis's trajectory soared to new heights when he graced the stage of 'The Toast of the Town' – more famously known as the Ed Sullivan Show. This wasn't just any appearance; it was a showcase on America's premier Sunday night platform, watched by millions.
On Tuesday, January 9, prepare to be transported back to this golden era. Experience a masterful reenactment of Elvis's iconic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, complete with the harmonious backing of The Jordanaires. Revel in the nostalgia as we bring to life his chart-topping hits from 1956 to 1958, right before he took a hiatus to serve in the Army. This evening promises not just music, but a celebration of the King's meteoric rise to unparalleled stardom.
WEDNESDAY – Festival of the King Presents: The Silver Screen Serenade - Elvis's Post-Army Odyssey (1960-1965)
In 1958, as Elvis donned the uniform and stepped into his role as a soldier, many believed it might mark the end of an era. However, the ever-strategic Colonel had other plans. Ensuring that the King's voice continued to resonate across airwaves, he strategically released a cache of Elvis's records during his time in Germany. The result? Elvis remained a chart-topping sensation, even in his absence.
Emerging from the Army, Elvis's musical style underwent a transformative evolution. His experiences abroad introduced him to a rich tapestry of international sounds, which he seamlessly wove into his records. But music wasn't the only domain where Elvis was set to shine. While he had dabbled in black and white films in the 50s, the 60s heralded a cinematic renaissance for the King. Under the Colonel's astute guidance, Elvis embarked on a prolific journey, starring in three films annually from 1960 to 1969. These weren't just movies; they were musical treasures, often featuring chart-topping hits from the King himself.
On Wednesday, January 10, step into The Historic Gayety for a musical and cinematic extravaganza. Immerse yourself in the melodious hits from 1960 to 1965, and let us take you on a journey through Elvis's illustrious movie years. This night promises a harmonious blend of music and memories, celebrating the King's unparalleled versatility.
THURSDAY – Festival of the King Presents: The Phoenix Rises - The NBC Comeback Special
By the late 1960s, after starring in nearly 30 films with their predictable plots and saccharine storylines, Elvis felt the weight of repetition. The cinematic treadmill had taken its toll, and the King yearned for the raw energy and authenticity of live performances. December 1968 marked a pivotal moment in his career: the renaissance of Elvis Presley. Radiating charisma and in impeccable form, he made a triumphant return to television, revisiting his early hits and echoing the sentiments of the Civil Rights movement that defined the era.
Colonel Tom Parker, ever the strategist, had reservations. He envisioned Elvis crooning the festive "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" as the show's finale. But Elvis, deeply moved by the times and the message he wanted to convey, stood firm in his decision to perform "If I Can Dream." This poignant choice resonated deeply with audiences. The NBC Comeback Special LP became an instant sensation, flying off the shelves, and heralded a new phase in Elvis's career where he embraced songs with a profound social conscience.
On Thursday, January 11, join us at The Historic Gayety for a night of nostalgia and powerful performances. Experience the NBC Comeback Special in all its glory, complemented by a selection of Elvis's most impactful recordings from the late 60s. This evening is not just a tribute to the King's musical prowess, but also a testament to his enduring relevance in changing times.
FRIDAY – Festival of the King Presents: Viva Las Elvis - Live from the International Hotel
The summer of 1969 marked a monumental chapter in the annals of music history. On July 31st, the King, Elvis Presley, made a triumphant return to the live stage, choosing none other than the dazzling lights of Las Vegas, Nevada as his backdrop. Gracing the stage of the iconic International Hotel, a 34-year-old Elvis, still basking in the afterglow of his NBC Comeback Special, was met with an audience ravenous for the magic he had first conjured as a fresh-faced 19-year-old in 1954. The roar of the crowd was deafening. For many, this was a first - witnessing the King in the flesh, beyond the confines of cinema screens and television sets. It was a reunion, a homecoming of sorts, both for Elvis, who thrived on the live energy, and for his fans, who had longed for this intimate connection.
On Friday, January 12, step into The Historic Gayety for an electrifying evening. Experience the magic, the energy, and the sheer magnetism of Elvis's live performances as we recreate his iconic return to Las Vegas. This isn't just a concert; it's a journey back to a time when the King reclaimed his throne, live and in person.
SATURDAY – Festival of the King Presents: Global Serenade - Aloha from Hawaii
While the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas had embraced Elvis, the King harboured ambitions that transcended the neon lights of the Strip. He dreamt of serenading audiences across Europe, Japan, South America, and Canada. However, a shadow from Colonel Tom Parker's past posed a potential barrier, threatening to confine Elvis within the borders of the USA. But where there's a will, there's a way. The Colonel, ever the innovator, envisioned a groundbreaking solution: If Elvis couldn't go to the world, the world would come to Elvis.
The stage was set in Hawaii, and through the marvel of satellite technology, Elvis's concert would be broadcasted globally, reaching every corner of the planet. On January 14, 1973, this vision became a reality. An astounding one and a half billion people tuned in, making it an unparalleled musical event in history. The euphoria of this concert was immortalized with the release of an LP, capturing the magic for posterity.
Now, 51 years later, on Saturday, January 13, The Historic Gayety invites you to relive this monumental moment. Experience the "Aloha from Hawaii" concert in all its splendour, as we recreate the night when the King sang not just for an audience, but for the world.
SUNDAY – Festival of the King Presents: Divine Melodies - Elvis Gospel
Throughout his illustrious career, Elvis Presley's repertoire spanned genres, from rock 'n' roll to ballads, but it was in the soulful embrace of Gospel where he truly found divine resonance. Despite the myriad of hits and accolades, it was his Gospel album, released in 1968 but crafted from recordings dating back to 1960, that earned him a coveted Grammy.
The roots of Elvis's affinity for Gospel can be traced back to his beloved mother, Gladys. It was her heartfelt request that led Elvis to perform "Peace in the Valley" on the Ed Sullivan show. Initially met with resistance from the show's producers, it was Elvis's personal appeal to Ed, invoking the love for his mother, that paved the way for this iconic performance. Beyond its musical beauty, this moment also cast a new, reverent light on Elvis, countering the controversy surrounding his electrifying stage presence.
On Sunday, January 14, join us at The Historic Gayety for a soul-stirring afternoon. Immerse yourself in the spiritual depth of Elvis's Gospel hits, as we pay tribute to the King's profound connection to faith and music. This isn't just a concert; it's a celebration of the divine harmony that touched Elvis's soul and, in turn, the hearts of millions.