EUGENE, Oregon – Elvis Presley. The name says it all, especially when “the King” is still earning a reported $60 million this year and that’s an increase of $5 million from 2009, say owners of the Elvis “portfolio” who control 200 licensing and merchandise contracts.
In addition, Elvis spent what would become his last Thanksgiving during a concert in Eugene and later walking the Florence beaches to clear his head.
Elvis Rocks Eugene And Then Stays For Thanksgiving
“The fact that Elvis is earning that much money on this 75th anniversary year of his birth, and 33 years since he passed is remarkable.
It shows the staying power of this performer who called Eugene his western home,” says local Elvis fan Perry Morgan who heard yesterday news that Elvis is still earning “millions from the grave.”
Just a year before Elvis died of a heart attack at the age of 42 at his Graceland home, he was still being remembered out West in Eugene for the two concerts he gave in Eugene during what would be his last Thanksgiving celebration.
Eva Ricard and Tom Ensler remember the lights at MacArthur Court made a slanting yellow glow on the snow that said one word – “ELVIS.”
Next to this memory of their first concert, they also remember where they were at when Elvis died on Aug. 16, 1977.
“It’s funny what you remember in life and what you forget. I remember that Elvis concert and then, strangely, his death.
Such is the power and appeal of Elvis. In fact, my grandmother had, for years, three pictures hanging in her kitchen.
There was Pope John Paul and President John Kennedy, and on top of them was a portrait of Elvis,” said Eva Ricard, who will present her “oral history story about Elvis” at the Elvis Tribute in Florence on Saturday.
The year was 1976, and Elvis Presley was in Eugene, and on the University of Oregon campus where then students Ricard and Ensler were “waiting in line for tickets,” for his two Eugene shows. He would play on Nov. 25 and Nov. 27 at Mac Court.
“In those days you could get a ticket for a show on the day of the performance.
We had heard that 10,000 or something tickets had already been sold for both of Elvis’s shows, but we had student ID’s so we were cool,” remembers Tom Ensler.
“What I later learned was somewhat interesting was Elvis moving about our area.
For example, after the first concert on Nov. 25th, during our Thanksgiving break, Elvis had another show up in Portland on Nov. 26.
I learned that he flew into Eugene for the concert from a previous one in Reno.
However, he chose to drive a special tour bus from Eugene over to the Oregon coast and then up to Portland.
Then, he’s driving back down to our area for his final show on Nov. 27.
It’s just amazing to think of him doing that, I mean the concert and then all the driving,” Ensler explains.
During this period, Elvis was not well say various media reports of the time. “Elvis referenced having a cold during the Nov. 25 concert,” Ricard said.
“I then read a few days later that he walked the beach in Florence and really loved the coast.
There’s even this iconic photo that I recall from the newspaper of Elvis chasing seagulls on the Florence beach.
Next to the concert, the wide grin on his face in that photo will always stay with me. Imagine, Elvis just hanging on the Florence beach.”
University of Oregon historical records state that the Elvis concerts at MacArthur Court for those two dates in November 1976 cost an admission price of $10 for general admission and $12.50 for reserved seats.
“Yea, we had the reserved seats for what was then a bit pricey at $12.50,” said Picard with a big laugh.
“I also checked my student journal from back then and wrote that Elvis kicked off the concert with C.C.
Rider and performed about 20 or so of his hits. My gosh, all of his songs were hits.”
Elvis Walked The Beaches Of Florence, Oregon, To “Cool Out”
There are a lot of stories we’ve heard about Elvis’s last Oregon concert tour that took place just a year before his death.
One story has him walking the Florence beaches after his Portland concert to ‘clear his head,’ after a long tour.
In addition, Elvis’s close friend Red West said in a TV interview at the time “how Elvis enjoyed the small town atmosphere of Florence back in the day.”
Thus, it’s no surprise that Elvis fans from far and wide enjoyed a special Elvis “tribute” event last August before what would have been his 75th birthday.
“I’ve heard that he came out to our Oregon coast many times when he was sick and tired of all the Hollywood stuff when he made those movies.
Elvis would simply get on his motorcycle and ride up the coast highway to Oregon where he could sort of hide because in those days we didn’t have a lot of folks around here,” says long-time Elvis fan and Eugene local George Barrett.
“There’s one story that I like from when he pulled his bike into a clam chowder joint that was popular back in the Sixties near Florence.
He got out, ordered a big bowl of chowder and took a handful of soup crackers and sat on his bike and just ate it without a care in the world.
Well, don’t you know they all knew it was the King. But, they didn’t bother him because they all loved our Elvis,” Barrett added.