I promised you a bit of Elvis, before another drugged up celebrity, driven insane by fame, hogged all the headlines. So, here he is, Elvis Presley – The King of Rock & Roll! Unfortunately, not the gold suited, beautiful Elvis, but the sweaty, fat one. The one who liked to end songs with a few karate chops and constantly gave scarves away as he sang.
Let’s go back to the 2nd of September, 1974, and it’s the last night in a long run of Elvis concerts at the Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas. Those who had arrived looking for an evening of pleasant tunes and chicken in a basket were in for a surprise. A tired, emotional and drugged up to the eyeballs Elvis was as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. He spoke his mind during this concert like he had never done before on stage, and, of course, the bootleggers tapes were rolling. Elvis openly discusses his divorce, makes jokes about Pricilla’s new boyfriend, who was also his old Karate instructor, and at one point talks candidly about a paternity suit against him:
“It’s a hoax. All I did was take a picture with that woman. She got pregnant by a Polaroid….then, she made a mistake. She named the night. And it was a night my wife was with me. No way there was any fooling around.”
Imagine that in Elvis’s trademark southern drawl and you’re getting close to what an amazing experience it must have been for the audience that night. He also blasted the media, and accused comedian Bill Cosby, who was also on the bill, of walking out of the concert:
“The s.o.b. left….I pay him $10,000 dollars, he can put it up his nose!”
It’s clear the King was flying a little high that night, yet being stoned out of his mind didn’t stop him denying his drug abuse on stage and even threatening an unusual punishment on anyone he caught spreading the rumors.
Here’s the full rant:
“I hear rumors flying around – I got sick in the hospital. In this day and time you can’t even get sick, you are strung out! By God, I’ll tell you something friend, I have never been strung out in my life, except on music. I got sick that one night, I had a hundred and two temperature, and they wouldn’t let me perform. From three different sources I heard I was strung out on heroin. I swear to God, hotel employees, jack, bellboys, freaks who carry that luggage up to your room, people, you know, maids. And I was sick, but all across town, strung out. Don’t you get offended ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking to someone else. If I find or hear the individual that has said that about me, I’m going to break your God-dammed neck, you son of a bitch! That is dangerous….I will pull your God-dammed tongue out by the roots! Thank you very much. Anyway, how many of you saw the movie Blue Hawaii?”
Well, I never saw Blue Hawaii, but it’s easy to draw a parallel between Elvis’ sad decline and the cabaret rock and roll that he was performing endlessly in Vegas. Three years later he was dead.
That should have been the end of it, but the king of mash ups, Mark Vidler of Go Home Productions, mixed a bootleg of the speech with some music, not sure if it’s an original track or taken from something else, but the result is one of my favorite mash ups ever: Strung Out King.
You can find more mash ups than you’ll ever need by Go Home Productions here at gohomeproductions.co.uk.
Next week it’s the return of For One Night Only!
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