The Elvis Presley comeback special was the top-rated television special of 1968, and most experts and fans agree it not only revitalized his career, it sealed his destiny as becoming a larger-than-life, almost mythical performer for the entire world. But there’s a great story behind the Elvis Presley comeback.
When talk of the comeback special in Elvis’ camp surfaced, he confessed he was nervous about playing live; after all, he hadn’t played a live concert in 7 years since he played in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on March 25, 1961! However, a short while after rehearsals began for the show a more confident Elvis Presley told his producer Bob Finkel he wanted to show the world what he could do.
And do, he did! The Elvis Presley Comeback Special was filmed over the course of five hours on June 27, 1968 in front of two separate audiences at NBC Burbank Studios, with a one hour break in between so Elvis could shower and have his black leather suit designed by Bill Belew dry cleaned.
Originally, Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker wanted the show to be a Christmas special complete with Christmas carols, but the chosen director, Steve Binder, saw this as an opportunity to re-establish Elvis Presley’s dwindling career. Steve Binder’s visionary personality played a large role in Elvis Presley’s ultimate success!
On December 3, 1968 the Elvis Presley Comeback Special aired, it became an amazing success, and it went down as one of the top moments in entertainment television history. Soon after, the slim Elvis Presley was in high demand and on his way to his legendary Las Vegas performances. He spent most of the next eight years on the road with his band. Some experts say the Elvis Presley Comeback Special revived his career in 1968, but that ironically, it also marked the beginning of the end of his life. Elvis died doing what he loved and he knew his fans loved him. Days before he passed away he said he was looking forward to to his greatest concert tour ever.
For many Elvis Presley fans, one of the most memorable moments deeply etched in their minds is watching a slim, incredibly handsome man walk onto the stage in 1968 wearing that famous black leather suit, and giving his fans “his all” as he had always done.