When you’re an Elvis fan, there’s something special about visiting a place that he’s been – especially if it was a place where he performed. This month, I was fortunate enough to visit two such locations.
Elvis performed at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia, on four dates:
- April 10, 1972
- March 12, 1974
- March 18, 1974
- June 29, 1976
Though little of the footage made the final cut, MGM’s movie cameras were rolling during his April 10, 1972, performance at the Richmond Coliseum for the documentary Elvis On Tour. RCA also recorded the audio for this entire concert as part of the same project. To date, the concert has not yet been officially released.
Earlier this month, on March 12, my wife and I saw country music star Martina McBride at the Richmond Coliseum. I didn’t realize it until researching the dates just now, but it turned out to be 36 years to the day after Elvis performed there in 1974.
Anytime I see a big-time concert like that, especially at the Richmond Coliseum, I always find myself wondering before and during the show what it would have been like to see Elvis perform.
Martina put on a great show, with the highlight being an acoustic version of Kris Kristofferson‘s “Help Me Make It Through The Night.” Her studio take of the song appears on her 2005 album Timeless, a collection of classic country songs and her best release. Incidentally, Elvis covered the same song in 1971 for the album Elvis Now.
The Richmond Coliseum first opened in 1971, so the paint was probably still fresh when Elvis performed there the next year. These days, the venue is in need of serious repair and may instead be torn down altogether.
This past weekend, we saw the musical Wicked at Richmond’s Landmark Theater. As I pointed out to my very-patient-with-the-Elvis-trivia wife as we walked through the lobby, Elvis performed in this building, too, much earlier in his career. Back then, before political correctness intervened, the venue was called the Mosque. Elvis performed there on the following dates:
- May 16, 1955
- November 29, 1955 [just 8 days after signing with RCA]
- February 5, 1956 (two shows) [day after his second Stage Show TV appearance]
- March 22, 1956 (two shows)
- June 30, 1956 (two shows) [day before his Steve Allen Show TV appearance]
Photographer Alfred Wertheimer was on tour with Elvis at the June 30, 1956, appearance and took a number of now iconic photos of the 21-year-old singer while in Richmond, including at the Mosque. Check out more info and pictures at Scotty Moore’s official site and over at Elvis Australia.
I’ll never get the chance to see Elvis perform at the Richmond Coliseum or at the Mosque, though I can at least hope that the 1972 audio and film captured in Richmond for Elvis On Tour are released someday. It is nice to visit those buildings, know he was once there, too, and dream of what might have been.
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Source for dates: Elvis Day By Day: The Definitive Record of His Life and Music by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen, Ballantine Books, 1999.