This is the cover art for the upcoming Southern Comfort / Audionics double CD set "Request Box".
The introtext from the 16 pages booklet:
It was the early evening of August 20th when we landed at the Las Vegas Airport. For years my lady and I had dreamt of this moment. We were finally going to see Elvis!
We're part of a group of 250 fans travelling from the UK and Europe, organized by the Official Fan Club of Great Britain. Specially chartered coaches - 5 of them - drive the large group to their 'home' for the next seven days - the Holiday Inn on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Early the next morning we take a taxi to the Hilton Hotel in order to confirm our reservations for three Elvis shows on the 24th, 25th and 26th. On the way we spot several large billboards that scream out NOW ELVIS! It's like driving through a Hollywood movie set. Frikkin' incredible! When the taxi pulls up in front of the Hilton Hotel entrance, a feeling of total disbelief overpowers us. Is this really happening? We enter the hotel lobby, look around and freeze. Everywhere we look, hotel employees are pulling down posters and large banners from the walls. What the hell is going on here?, we ask ourselves. Around us are many fans who are crying and comforting each other. In just a few short moments, the sheer joy and excitement that had engulfed us has turned into the feeling of being at a funeral. We walk towards some sobbing fans and ask what is going on. "All shows are cancelled", we're told. "Elvis has taken ill and has left Vegas...!" What?! We feel numb...paralysed. The next few minutes are wiped from my memory. Never have we been so disappointed.
Broken hearted, we take a taxi back to the Holiday Inn where the sad news is beginning to sink in. There are crying fans everywhere.
"How ill is he? Is there any news about his condition?" I'm on the phone with Todd Slaughter from the UK fan club, still in his hotel room. "Not a word from his management. I just learned about it from watching the local TV news", he replies. "I'm going to make some calls and get back to you a.s.a.p., okay?"
Hours pass by and there's still no official news from the Presley management. No telegram, no phone call - nothing. The Colonel knew we were in Vegas. He and Todd had been in contact about the 250 fans coming over to see Elvis in concert. Just like in previous years, when the Colonel would arrange good seating for the fans visiting the showroom. They would be on the telephone with each other on an almost daily basis. The Colonel liked Todd and vice versa. And most of all, the Colonel knew the importance of having a strong and well-organized fan club with thousands of members in England.
After the initial shock of not being able to attend any shows that week, we worry about Elvis' health. When evening falls, still no news. Except that he's been hospitalized at the Baptist Memorial in Memphis. That same evening, Todd asks me if I would be willing to travel to Memphis the next morning to try and find out exactly what is happening? Some reports say it is fatique, while others talk about a serious liver infection. Still no official word from Parker or anyone else connected to the management team...
The next morning I'm back at the Las Vegas Airport waiting for my flight to Memphis. With me is a large shopping bag filled with presents for Elvis from various fans. Among them are a pair of wooden shoes and an Edam cheese...
Some six hours later I find myself in a taxi driving to Baptist Memorial. I ask the driver if he had heard about Elvis being hospitalized yesterday? He nods and asks where I'm from. "Holland", I answer. "You flew in from Holland to see Elvis in hospital?" "No, I flew in from Vegas hoping to see him". He gives me a puzzled look.
Nervous beyond words, I enter the hospital. My mind is racing: what if I actually come face-to-face with Elvis? What do I say? I feel dizzy and my breakfast is playing up seriously. At the desk I ask for Maurice Elliott (Vice President of the hospital), who'd been made aware of my arrival in Memphis via a phone call from Todd earlier that day. We shake hands and he asks me to follow him to the elevator. "How's Elvis? Is he okay?" I stutter my way through various questions. "He's resting", is his reply. "He's doing okay." The two of us leave the elevator and walk towards a room that has two XXL policemen sitting outside. They have walkie talkies and revolvers - the kind that would floor an elephant. After Mr. Elliott explains to the guards the purpose of my visit, one of them makes a call to 'somebody' inside the room behind him. My body shakes and I start having breathing problems. What if... What if he... What if he opens the door?
After a few minutes the door does indeed open to Elvis' private room. It's... It's...Charlie Hodge. Jeez, he's small. I stretch my neck to try to peek through the still half open door, but it's too dark inside to see anything. Charlie closes the door, shakes my hand, gives me his best smile and tells me Elvis is asleep. "But he told me to tell all the stranded fans in Vegas he deeply appreciates their concern and is sorry about not being able to perform his shows. He loves 'em all and hopes to see them in the near future. Right now he needs to rest for a couple of weeks." I hand Charlie the bag with gifts, stutter a few more words and tell him to give Elvis our best wishes, tell him we love him and... Charlie is back inside the room. Disappointed but relieved by the news Elvis is doing okay, we head for the elevator. In the lobby I thank Mr. Elliott for his hospitality and help.
I arrive back in Vegas later that night. Passing through the hotel lobby I spot fans wearing Elvis Summer festival foam hats. On a table are stacked a bunch of 1975 Hilton menus for grabs - the one used as a giveaway for this August engament. It's a cheap-looking thing, sporting an unflattering 'Aloha' picture. In the bar, after having hugged my lady, I break the news to the waiting fans. "Elvis is doing okay. He feels ever so sorry he's not able to perform and sends us all his love and best wishes. Hoorah for Elvis!" Due to being extremely tired from the trip over to Memphis, I feel sarcasm taking over my feeling of sorrow about the whole thing. When Todd tells me that, earlier that afternoon, boxes with souvenir menus, foam hats and 1972 'Elvis Now' pens were delivered to him with compliments from the Colonel, I cant help but laugh out loud! What a classy gesture from the Colonel! Hand the fans a few free peanuts and they'll come running back for more.
Don't forget, this was 1975. We were all a little naive and blind about the things that were happening and events that awaited us in the two years that were to come. That summer of '75 was a sad experience for all of us on that fan club trip. What remains after 33 years are the shows - complete or in part - that were captured on cassette decks by fans in the audience. These recordings reveal Elvis was still in control and singing magificently. At least that much we can still enjoy.
Will the full story of why Elvis left Vegas in such a hurry after just three nights ever be revealed? Time will tell.
The Flying Dutchman