The Day Elvis Came Closest To Japan

By ElvisMatters / Peter VerbruggenFeb 21, 2008
The Day Elvis Came Closest To Japan

No one will disagree with you if you state that the liveshows Elvis performed on 12 and 14 January of 1973 at the Honolulu Center in Hawaii belong by far to the best performances of his carreer. They were the crowning glory of the King’s work, 35 years ago. He looked stronger and more handsome than ever: an athletic body, a breathtaking outfit, a voice that touched the very soul of everyone present, and a band that was sharper than a swiss pocket knife. Aloha From Hawaii would enter history as a milestone in the history of popular music: for the first time, an entertainer performed ‘live’, through satellite, for an audience of one billion viewers. A book was thus the logic next step.

It was no coincidence that, of all places, Elvis came to Hawaii, the sun-drenched island in the middle of the ocean. It was, off course, his favourite holiday destination, but there was more to it than that: the show was broadcasted through satellite, and, taking into account the phenomenal costs that were made, it had to attract as many viewers as possible, to give the sponsors what they wanted.
One of the countries that was aimed at, even more than the United States of America, was Japan (it is probably not surprising that the Japanese car brand Toyota was headsponsor). The reaction of Japanese viewers was unprecedented. No less than 87 percent of the people that had a television watched the live show in their living room- a record. After all, Elvis was (and is) immensely popular in Japan.

The local newspapers saved neither cost nor efforts to report on the Aloha concert. On the press conference of 20 November 1972 in the Hilton Village in Hawaii, there were more Japanese reporters present than American. Moreover, the Japanese television was the only one that was allowed to shoot extra images that would be used in the double deluxe DVD set of Aloha.

As a result, it was not at all surprising that the Japanese press paid a great deal of attention to that ‘Concert of the Century’. One of the journalists that was in Hawaii to cover the live show of 14 January, the last rehearsal of 12 January and the so called pre-rehearsal shows of 17 and 18 November 1972, was Yoshiji Kizaki. He took numerous pictures during the five shows in Hawaii and was present at the press conference. All this time, he kept these pictures for himself. Until now. After (extensive) lobbying by the Japanese fanclub, Kizaki finally gave in. He dove into his old photo files and selected his ‘forgotten’ pictures: every single picture was an example of pure craftsmanship, taken out of love for his profession and out of love for his idol. Kizaki was a professional music reporter, but just as millions of other Japanese, crazy about Elvis Presley.
You can see the result in the book "Elvis Aloha From Hawaï - The Day Elvis Came Closest To Japan". It is actually astonishing that these images were kept hidden for all these years. As this edition was meant to be a photo report, there is hardly any text. And the text that is published is written both in English as in Japanese. Moreover, the Japanese fanclub has provided a double cover: the book can be read from front to back, just as well as from back to front.

But let us begin at the beginning: 17 November 1972, the day of the first pre-rehearsal show in Hawaii. Elvis wore the so-called Black Way Down suit, from which he would remove the belt halfway the show– just as he would do during the television broadcasting. The next day, he does two shows: one in the afternoon, the other one at night. As we can derive from the colour photos in the book, here too Elvis starts the show with a belt, but ends the show without. There’s no shortage of pictures of these three concerts, even close-ups of Elvis, right next to his musicians: together with John Wilkinson, face to face with James Burton, and every once in a while next to pianist Glen Hardin, who in other concert pictures usually sat outside the screen. As Kizaki was also present at the Hilton press conference, this event is also covered. Beautiful close-ups, but also pictures of the press conference in general, to give the viewer an idea of what it was like.

The greatest part of the book consists of pictures of Elvis, wearing his infamous American Eagle suit. Kizaki keeps his lens carefully pointed at Elvis during the entire show. The assignment he got from his chief editor was clear: ‘I want Elvis, nothing else’. The pictures of the soundcheck (without Elvis) and the images from outside the stadion, Kizaki probably took for himself – even though fortunately they are concluded in the book. Our favourite picture? Let’s sum up three: at page 74 you see an unexpected, full-page image of Elvis, standing with his back towards the audience, next to John Wilkinson and James Burton (collectors of the signatures of the musicians of Elvis have a perfect image). The second one can be found on page 16/17: the great colour picture with the cape wide open (this is typically E-L-V-I-S) and the subdued double close-up at pages 76/77.

A review of all the cuttings that were published by the Japanese press on ‘Cat King Elvis’ and Elvis’ autograph ‘To Yoshiji from Elvis’ are a welcome bonus, but that does not weigh up against the fantastic images that makes this work a must-have.

The book is available throught the ElvisMatters shop; Gold members pay: 33,96 EUR, Silver members: 35,96 EUR and Normal members: 39,95 EUR.

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Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 16, 2008report abuse
Don't mind Steve V. , folks! He's perpetually negative and carping about late period Elvis, despite having seen multiple New York concerts, including Long Island '75!

We've had years to pick it apart so among fans, we recognize that ALOHA was in some ways a stiff performance in some respects. It's been likened to being more a "recital" than a loose, free wheeling rock - or even pop concert.

That said, I agree with the comment of one "Shakingruud" regarding " Its Over, What Now My Love, American Trilogy, I´ll Remember You........ what a highlights!!!..."

Absolutely. These remaining stunning, just about perfect performances, along with some stellar other tunes like "You Gave Me a Mountain," "Steamroller Blues" (a slight edge to the rehearsal in my eyes for some reason) among others.

Let's not downplay how stunning he looked that night. It sounds trivial but he looked (and dressed) his most "Kingly" and if anything, can be forgiven for "not working so hard" but in reality, it's quite a long and demading show. I'd produced it differently and so would all of us, but this is Elvis at his iconic self. More still photos came out of these two shows than almost any other gig - years later showing up unexpectedly in t-shirts, beach towels and various other representations of "Elvis."

It was truly an "event" much -like his Dorsey and Sullivan TV performances - none of which we really think of as "perfect" today.

So let's have a little perspective, please. It reminds me of when people get to bashing the '68 Singer NBC special. It's history , folks...and like "Aloha" was a total smash!

Anyway, what a well-done review by Peter Verbruggen to what looks like a must-have book.

A minor note as presumably you're not a native English writer ( I think I have one of your movie books!) "infamous" is not what I'd call his "Aloha" suit. Surely you mean "famous" as "infamous" is the opposite of famous or if not that, means "notorious" in a negative sense. This is a common misusage among English speakers! I see it all the time.
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 28, 2008report abuse
Ok, sorry that it took me so long. But I just have to reply. I said earlier that to me Elvis in concert was more exciting than Aloha. I´ve only seen bad reactions for that, but I wouldn´t expect anything else. But, what I would like to say is that I said that the CBS special was in some ways more exciting, I didn´t say it was better. To me Aloha is boring because of the songlist. Big hits like "Hound dog", "something", "Blue Suede Shoes" It´s like he wanted the audience to know every song. Then it isn´t exciting.
Elvis in concert has more unexpected songs like "I Really Don´t want to know" and others. And I know, he didn´t look good then, but he wasn´t a worse performer than in 73. It´s time to accept it. I have. If it´s just a matter of how he looked, then we would have loved a movie like Girls! Girls! Girls! And a song like "He´s your uncle, not your dad" would have been ranked higher than "Unchained melody" . I think it´s a shame that it´s not ok to enjoy Elvis in concert but I understand your reactions, I really do
Hawaii 5-0 (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 23, 2008report abuse
At the end of the day you gotta remember that unlike TTTWII & On Tour this was a live special so Elvis wasn't going to be as laid back or relaxed as when being filmed - as nothing could be edited out! So what we get is an Artist showing his supeb range of musical styles and vocal brilliance - this was a very diverse show musically - country, power ballads, rock, blues and contempary music all in the mix - how can that be criticised? He had one hour to display his artsitry live, rather than the advantage of a various clips from various shows edited together, and he succeeded. The highlight, American Trilogy. Just watch the intensity when the horns are builing up to the final verse - a man immersed in the moment - if that isn't exciting then nothing else is!
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 23, 2008report abuse
Steve you luck dog,getting to see ELvis in concert i agree also about aloha,it wasnt a real live show as he looked rehearsed,ive always prefered the rehearsal show although thats the way it is and Elvis on Tour show the real Elvis in concert,if only On Tour and TTWII were given the sane treatment as Aloha!
Andy_Fish (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 22, 2008report abuse
Def over reaction wayup - didn't see anybody say it was sh*t as of course it wasn't. I was just reacting to the first paragraph of this article which i think the majority of people here would agree is wrong. Elvis wasn't at his peak and you're kidding yourself if you think his movements were restricted by the cameras. A difference can be seen between this show and TTWII and it isn't down to his age either, he was only 38. As we know now prescription drugs were taking a hold and for me you can see it here. Just look at footage of the press conference for Aloha, Elvis really slurrs his words at times. Anyway doesn't make me love him any less.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 22, 2008report abuse
wayup - you read way too much into these comments. I watch Aloha and enjoy it but not as much as TTWII. I also attended all the MSG shows and thought they were better. As for Burning Love being flubbed in rehearsal. Who cares? Well that show was going to go out as 'the show' in case something wnet wrong with the satellite transmission, so he should have cared a bit more. He also messed up My Way if I remember correctly.
Lex (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 22, 2008report abuse
Wayup, can't speak for the others... but I never said it was sh*t. Allthough the strongest I see below is 'boring' and a ridiculous comparision with In Concert (but in some way it was more exciting than Aloha: "Will he survive to the end of the show?" ;-)).

I just think Aloha is NOT by far among the best, like is stated in the review.
Shakingruud (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 22, 2008report abuse
Wayup i TOTALLY agree! Elvis was superb in Aloha. Ok, he was not the hip shakin rock and roller anymore, no, he was a grown up artist with a fenomenal voice! Its Over, What Now My Love, American Trilogy, I´ll Remember You........ what a highlights!!! And the way he looked was amazing!! This is the way we should remember our hero.
wayup (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 22, 2008report abuse
To all below: so your conclusion is that Aloha was total sh*t, right? Oh boys.

Elvis was static? Yes he was a bit static compared to other shows that were filmed - simply because this show was broatcasted LIVE to hundreds of millions viewers.... any mistake and whole world will see it live. ALso his movements were restricted by the cameras you know. Producers expected that he will sing great, he wil look fantasticm sexy, that he will be all the time in focus, that he will controll 100% his movements, poses etc.. and this is exactly what he did.

Steve V: hell who cares about rehearsal and Burning Love from it! It was not aired. it was R-E-H-E-A-R-S-A-L as you wrote.

JLpResLey: how anyone can think that dying human displayed in Elvis I Concert is more exciting than idol in his prime Aloha... this is just unbelievable...
Steve B. (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 21, 2008report abuse
I have always wished the "Aloha" special would have been the "That's The Way Is Is" Elvis. For me, that was Elvis at is his electrifying best.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 21, 2008report abuse
Certainly agree with Lex and others. How can they be his best shows when at the rehearsal show he flubbed his biggest hit in years, Burning Love? Cmon! The MSG shows were better. and certianly any show from 1970.
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 21, 2008report abuse
I agree. Aloha was so boring. It wasn´t exciting at all. Even though he sang well and looked great this Tv special did not show Elvis in his prime. Some people think so, I can´t understand why. If you just flash back a year or so, to "Elvis on Tour", there is a huge difference. "Elvis on Tour" is exciting. I even think that some parts of "Elvis In Concert" is more exciting than Aloha. I think the best song in the Tv special is It´s Over, that´s a wonderful performance.
EspenK (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 21, 2008report abuse
I agree as well, visually it's one of the LEAST interesting concerts Elvis did, in my opinion. Static indeed, he seem uncomfortable (as he probably was, the situation with the broadcasting etc taken into account). Although one thing must be said, he did an excellent job vocally.
Andy_Fish (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 21, 2008report abuse
Have to agree with Lex, as ever i can't knock the voice but a show that didn't seem to have much energy about it and Elvis's movements seemed very laboured. Def not at his peak as seems to be suggested when anyone talks about Aloha.
Lex (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 21, 2008report abuse
I tend to disagree those were among his best shows. Probably they are among the best registered (on video) shows. In my not so humble opinion they were certainly not bad, overall well sung, but very static. Nah, give me any 1970 show over these!

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