Aloha from Hawaii
|Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite|
|Directed by||Marty Pasetta|
|Produced by||Marty Pasetta|
|Editing by||Stephen McKeown|
|Release date(s)||January 14, 1973(Worldwide)|
|Running time||85 minutes|
Aloha from Hawaii is a music concert that was headlined by Elvis Presley, and was broadcast live via satellite on January 14, 1973. It is regarded as the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history. The concert took place at the Honolulu International Center (HIC) in Honolulu(now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center) and aired in over 40 countries across Asia and Europe (who received the telecast the next day, also in primetime). Despite the satellite innovation, the United States did not air the concert until April 4, 1973 (the concert took place the same day as Super Bowl VII). Viewing figures are debatable, with several sources, including Elvis Presley Enterprises, claiming figures between 1 and 1.5 billion. However, some other sources claim that these figures are "an Elvis Myth" promoted by Colonel Tom Parker, and quoted by many biographers since. These sources suggest only several hundred million would have tuned into the broadcast. The show was the most expensive entertainment special at the time, costing $2.5 million.
On July 8, 1972, inspired by a recent visit made by U.S. President Richard Nixon to China a few months earlier, Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, announced that there would be a worldwide satellite broadcast from Hawaii to allow the whole world the chance to see a Presley concert "since it is impossible for us to play in every major city". Parker initially stated that it would take place in either October or November 1972 but this date was changed to early 1973 after MGM showed concern about it clashing with the release of their documentary film Elvis on Tour. As the show had already been planned prior to this upset, the original shows, now set for November, would still go ahead but without being filmed.Background
Parker held another press conference on September 4, 1972 in Las Vegas to confirm that the concert, now titled Aloha From Hawaii, would be broadcast on January 14, 1973. The press were told that an audience of 1 billion was expected to tune in to see the "first entertainment special to be broadcast live around the world", although Parker had not taken into account the fact that many countries, including parts of Europe and America, would not see the concert live due to the time of the broadcast.Two weeks after the Las Vegas press conference Parker received a letter from Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman. Sherman had read in news accounts that there was to be no charge for admittance to the concerts, instead a donation for charity was required. He suggested to Parker that, as Presley had recorded and was still performing the song I'll Remember You written by Kui Lee, the donations could go to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund that had been set up following the death of the song writer in 1966. Seeing the chance to publicize Presley's charitable nature once again, Parker eagerly agreed.
Producer-director Marty Pasetta had attended one of Presley's concerts at Long Beach in mid-November, and found it to be "boring" and lacking in any physical excitement. He approached Parker with ideas about the broadcast, including a runway that led out from the stage so Presley could get closer to his audience. Parker insisted that the ideas were useless, and that Presley would agree that they were useless. Pasetta, however, decided to approach Presley about the ideas anyway and was pleasantly surprised to find that he would be happy to do whatever Pasetta felt was best for the show. This was another example of the ever-growing rift between Presley and his manager.
Presley performed three shows over November 17 and 18 in Honolulu, the dates originally planned for the satellite broadcast, and gave a press conference on November 20 to promote the satellite special. He also announced officially that it would now be in aide of the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.
Presley arrived in Hawaii again on January 9, 1973 to begin rehearsals. He had lost twenty-five pounds for the show and was confident after news that his record sales were increasing and Elvis on Tour had been nominated for a Golden Globe. Rehearsals were held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village while the main set was being constructed. Although there were several technical problems, the rehearsals were an overall success.
Presley taped a January 12 rehearsal concert as a fail-safe in case anything went wrong with the satellite during the actual broadcast - however, nothing went wrong during the January 14 broadcast. For both shows, Presley was dressed in a white "American Eagle" jumpsuit designed by Bill Belew. The broadcast was directed by Marty Pasetta, who was then in charge of directing the Oscar ceremonies.
Audience tickets for the January 14 concert and its January 12 pre-broadcast rehearsal show carried no price. Each audience member was asked to pay whatever he or she could afford. The performance and concert merchandise sales raised $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in Hawaii.
Presley performed a vast array of old and recent hits like "Steamroller Blues", "See See Rider", "Early Morning Rain", "Burning Love", "Blue Suede Shoes", "A Big Hunk o' Love", "Suspicious Minds", "Can't Help Falling in Love", the Beatles' "Something", "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", "It's Over", "Welcome to my World", "I'll Remember You" and "What Now My Love". After the concert had finished and the audience had left, Presley recorded five songs on stage to be aired during the American airing of the show.
For many years, biographers and fan sites, including the official website of Elvis Presley, have claimed that up to 1.5 billion people watched the broadcast live. This claim has been questioned by other sources who point out that, as the broadcast was only seen in around 40 countries, it would have been near impossible for that figure to have been achieved. Alan Hanson, writing for "Elvis History Blog", states that "the world's total population in 1973 was 3.973 billion. Does it sound reasonable that fully one-third of the planet's people were glued to the tube when Elvis's special aired in 1973? Hardly." He also makes the claim that the American figures were only "33.8 percent of households", approximately 70 million, and that many of the other countries watching were much less populated; "If barely a third of the U.S. population tuned in, does it seem reasonable that an equal amount would have done so in places like South Vietnam, where TV broadcasting only began in 1965?". To further debunk the claims of 1 to 1.5 billion views, Hanson states;
So how was the exaggerated number of 1.3 billion viewers of the Elvis special reached? If you add together the 1973 populations of the 38 countries the actually did broadcast the Aloha show, the total comes to—you guessed it—about 1.3 billion. In what was perhaps the greatest snow job of his career, Colonel Parker convinced four decades of Elvis experts and fans that every single living person in 38 countries tuned in to Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii in 1973.
The album containing the music from the concert was a blockbuster hit, becoming Presley's first chart-topping album in the US since the soundtrack to Roustabout in 1965. The original release of the album, however, did not include the five post-show performances.
Presley was accompanied by:
- J.D. Sumner & the Stamps Quartet (Ed Enoch, Bill Baize, Donnie Sumner, Edward Wideman) 
- The Sweet Inspirations (Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shemwell, Estelle Brown)
- Kathy Westmoreland
His TCB Band
- James Burton (lead guitar)
- John Wilkinson (rhythm guitar)
- Ronnie Tutt (drums)
- Jerry Scheff (Fender bass)
- Glen Hardin (piano/keyboards)
- Charlie Hodge (vocals/acoustic guitar)
Joe Guercio Orchestra
- Joe Guercio was Elvis's conductor and musical director and, with a few exceptions, the orchestra consisted of local musicians contracted for this particular engagement. Brass players were Patrick Houston, Thomas Porrello, Gary Grant and Forrest Buchtel (trumpets); Leslie Benedict and William Barton (trombones); Martin Harrell (bass trombone); and David Baptist (french horn). Saxophonists were Gabriel Baltazar, Jr., Robert Winn, Peter Dovidio, Wayne Dunstan and Mary Taylor, with Baltazar and Taylor also playing flute. Violinist Bertine Corimby, who performed with Elvis at the Las Vegas Hilton, headed the 12-piece string section, the rest of whom were musicians from the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra: Dale Bechtel, Marianne Fleece, Louise Solmssen, Arthur Loventhal, Mervin Whitcomb, Heidi McCole and Carol Shive (violins); Betty Deeg and Diana Mallery (violas); and William Konney and Beverly LeBeck (cellos). Rounding out the orchestra were Frank Strazzeri (Hammond organ) and Dean Appleman (percussion?). Houston, Porrello, Harrell and Strazzeri had toured with Elvis in 1972 and were brought to Hawaii for the show, as were Buchtel and Corimby. Harvey Ragsdale was the Hawaiian contractor who hired local musicians for the orchestra.   
In September 2004, "Aloha from Hawaii" (Special Edition) together with "The '68 Comeback Special" was released on DVD. The 2-Disc deluxe package includes the full-length concert broadcast around the world on January 14, as well as the full rehearsal concert given on January 12, and the extended US version shown on April 4. Additionally, the set contains an uncut 17.5 min. sequence of Elvis arriving in Honolulu and the complete post-concert session. The picture and the sound (in Dolby Digital 5.1) have been digitally remastered from the original master tapes.
Early in August 2006 the TV special was also released in a single disc version. This edition contains some new material which was not included in the original deluxe release. The new material consists of some TV news footage shot during the arrival, offering an alternate look on the event and portions of two press conferences held for the upcoming live broadcast in September and November 1972. Those film clips with an overall length of about 9 minutes are so-called "Easter Eggs" and can be found by pressing a hidden button in the menu.