The night a ‘bedecked and bejeweled’ Elvis Presley packed UD Arena

Elvis Presley brought down the house at the University of Dayton Arena more than 50 years ago on April 7, 1972.

He stepped on stage, “decked out in a blinding white outfit, bedecked and bejeweled,” accompanied by an orchestra playing the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” according to a story in the Dayton Daily News.

He performed new and old favorites for the packed crowd of 14,000 including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Don’t be Cruel” and “Love Me Tender.”

“Hell, he could do no wrong — so he didn’t,” wrote the newspaper reviewer. “He simply sang, sobbed, wailed the blues, made the patented Presley pelvic motions and knocked ‘em out.”

In recognition of the anniversary of Elvis’ death - Aug. 16, 1977 - we went into the archives for more information about arguably his most famous appearance in the region.

But that wasn’t the first or last concert the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll performed in Dayton.

His first performance was May 27, 1956, at the University of Dayton Fieldhouse, just four months after he released “Heartbreak Hotel,” his first number one single.

A review in the Dayton Daily News described 3,000 “mostly teenagers” waiting for more than two hours for that show.

“Then, when he finally appeared, they screamed and shrieked all the way through his 30-minute performance so that it’s doubtful if anyone heard more than a couple of words from him, sung or spoken,” wrote the reviewer.

For his final performance in Dayton at UD Arena on Oct. 26, 1976, Elvis flew into Dayton in the early morning hours on a white Boeing 707 named after his daughter, Lisa Marie.

He was whisked into a limousine and driven to the Stouffer’s Dayton Plaza Hotel, now the Crowne Plaza. The freight elevator took him to the ninth floor, where a suite awaited. To ensure his security the entire floor was reserved for him.

A review in the Dayton Daily News written by Vince Staten said 13,750 people “jammed into a frenzied state of spellbound anticipation.”

The story described the entrance the “King of Rock and Roll” made this way:

“Out of the darkness came the opening strains of the ’2001′ theme and the screams from the lower arena seats near the portal. The entire audience leaned forward. There was magic in the air. And then he hit the spotlight. First the jet black hair. Then the white collar, turned up. And then the body, attired in a white jump-suit with an orange and gold sunburst on the back and front. It was all screams.”

During his career, Elvis also performed at Troy’s Hobart Arena Nov. 24, 1956, and again at UD Arena Oct. 6, 1974. He performed his final concert in Indianapolis June 26, 1977. He died in Memphis Aug. 16, 1977.

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