In the June edition of Q magazine there is a feature titled "Tour Babylon" with the "fifty most insane road stories". Elvis' Las Vegas years are listed #1.
The synopsis from the original posting on the FECC messageboard (rockinrebel):
Unfortunately, whilst the article tells us that Elvis returned to the Las Vegas stage in the summer of 1969, there is no mention of the high standard of the shows from the 1969 – 70 period or Elvis’ physical appearance during this period. Instead, as the title of the feature suggests, the article concentrates solely on the excess associated with the later Las Vegas appearances, telling us about Elvis’ eating habits and prescription drug intake etc.
We are told that Elvis would ramble incoherently on stage and forget the words to his songs. I thought this was unfair as if you take Elvis’ Vegas period as a whole, there are far more good performances than the type described in this article, which gives the impression that the entire 1969 – 1976 Vegas period was devoid of any artistic merits, which we all know is definitely not the case.
Elvis is described as ‘a sweaty bloated mess, sleepwalking through his act, barely able to squeeze into one of his legendary white jumpsuits’ during his final December 12th 1976 Las Vegas show, and this I thought was particularly unfair. Admittedly the final Las Vegas engagement was not great, and Elvis certainly wasn’t at his best performance wise or physically, but from the photographs and footage that I’ve seen he certainly wasn’t grossly overweight either. The picture used to illustrate this ‘fact’ is (according to the magazine) from March 1976, and is an unflattering candid shot of Elvis in shades wearing the rainfall suit. Had they actually taken the trouble to find a picture from the December 1976 Las Vegas engagement, they might have been surprised to find out that Elvis didn’t actually look that bad, but that would have made a mess of their article.
After seeing mostly positive coverage of Elvis in the music press recently, I found this article disappointing. In fairness none of the fifty stories featured had much to do with any of the featured artists musical achievements, but most covered a much shorter time period. If Q thought the final Vegas season was the best available example of Elvis’ excesses then it really should have been written about it in isolation. Instead the approach they have taken makes the whole seven-year period seem worthless.