It Was All About Big Numbers With Elvis on the Road in May 1975
Back in the 1950s, some cities were so afraid of the damage (both physical and emotionally) that Elvis Presley would do that they refused to let him perform in their communities. Montreal in 1957 is just one example. Other cities begrudgingly let Elvis use their public auditoriums but banned him from ever returning after seeing what they considered his vulgar acts on stage.
When he went back on the road in the 1970s, however, Elvis was welcomed by the city fathers wherever he went. The reason? An Elvis appearance was guaranteed to rain money on the community. A couple of good examples of this phenomenon appeared in the May 7, 1975, issue of Variety.
The first one gave the financial details of Elvis’s 1975 show in Macon, Georgia. “After making 10,242 of his Georgia fans happy,” notedVariety, “Elvis Presley left Macon about $85,000 richer from his sellout concert April 24 at the Coliseum.” The arena manager reported that Elvis’s share of the $96,000 receipts was $81,000. To that was added about $4,000 in the sale of Elvis souvenirs. In addition to the Coliseum’s $15,000 fee, Macon retailers and hoteliers profited nicely from Elvis coming to town.
A separate article in the same May issue of Variety indicated officials in Charleston, West Virginia, were already counting the loot that would flow into the city and state coffers when Elvis appeared in their town on July 11 and 12. Charleston’s Civic Center Manager announced ticket sales for Elvis’s three shows, all of which sold out hours after they went on sale, totaled $243,000. After taxes and fees, Elvis’s cut would be in the neighborhood of $205,000.
Here’s what Elvis would leave behind: $12,000 in Civic Center rent; $6,045 in city taxes; $7,560 in concession sales; $1,275 in parking fees; $1,500 for the sale of novelties; and $8,944 in state taxes. Of course, the ringing of retail cash registers would add to the trail of cash that Elvis left in his wake in Charleston.