Memories of Cathi Avenell on Elvis performances of November 10th, 1971 at the The Boston Garden.
I was very lucky to have seen 13 Elvis Concerts in my life. There are memories from each show and I of course wish that there had been more. BUT as with any major life experience, it is the ‘First Time’ that you remember the most.
It is necessary to back up a little and explain that I was 20 years old when I saw Elvis for the first time LIVE on stage. Elvis was not considered to be the music of my generation. None of my friends wanted to listen to my Elvis records, see a movie or discuss Elvis Presley. No, all the kids were into the Beatles and everything British. Of course I liked them too but Elvis was always #1.
At the ripe old age of 13 the Beatles were coming to town and my Mother overheard my conversations with friends on how we would get tickets and go to see the Beatles Concert. My Mother put her foot down and said NO WAY. Girls were getting trampled and fainting. She was not letting me go and I was none too happy. To ease the tension she promised, “When Elvis comes to town I will take you to see him. He is your favorite anyway so wait for Elvis”. I still was not happy for after all “ Elvis is making movies he doesn’t do concerts!” It took awhile for the bratty kid to get over the disappointment but none of my friends got to see the Beatles either!
Fast forward to 1971.I had only started to form my ‘Elvis Contacts’ so I did not know about Elvis coming to Boston until it was announced in the newspaper that tickets would be going on sale. True to her word, my Mother bought tickets for the two of us. They were awful seats, as far back on the floor as you could get just about. I tried everyone I knew and ended up with 3 sets of tickets and kept the worst ones. They were on the floor and I wanted a chance to get to the stage. Shows what I did NOT know.
The day of the concert I borrowed my boss’s 35mm Nikon camera. I had never used one before but wanted decent photos of Elvis. So started my years of photography lessons while I followed Elvis.
“I” was very excited about the show. I did not know how my Mother was feeling. I thought she was just happy for me after all she had never been an Elvis fan. She was a typical parent telling me to turn the music down…stop playing the same record over and over again…. you have enough pictures on the wall. Words we all heard growing up.
Somehow we sat through all the opening acts. Bought one of everything that was being sold. Back then it was hard to come by any Elvis items at all unless you bought them from overseas. The tension built and we had intermission. I had read enough of the reports in various fan club magazines to know the routine but it was still hard to be patient.
At last the lights came down… finally the orchestra started up and seemed to go on FOREVER. I really thought I could have jumped out of my skin. It was soooo hard to wait but THEN there he was. I think I stopped breathing. There was no one else in the entire Boston Garden…just me and Elvis this man I had loved for 15 years was THERE in the same room as I was. AND he was BEAUTIFUL! I was happy to see him in a black suit and not white. All of the shows I had read about up to that point he wore white so that made this show seem extra special.
My brain started to hear noises then, someone was screaming in my ear and yanking on my arm. Who was this MAD woman? Noooo it was my refined, proper and distinguished Mother screaming, “There he is! There he is! Oh my God Cathi there he is!” I still could not speak, yell or scream. And I think it took me about 20 minutes before I even remembered the very expensive camera in my hands.
So I started my quest for the stage. But the Boston Police department had better ideas. Between the police and the security there was no getting to the stage. I could get as close as the first break after 25 rows and kneeled on the floor right there. I watched most of the show from my sticky floor spot. Oh I roamed around and tried to squirm by the guards but not for long. I managed to squeeze off several photos and hoped for the best. I was all over that arena and noticed huge cameras mounted on the ceilings. There were never any cameramen filming from the floor but something was being filmed from up high.
Elvis sounded just perfect to my ears. I do not think he was very happy with the security keeping back people from the stage. Those in the front rows did not look like fans that were into the show. They were way too well behaved.
I knew that the show was winding down and returned to my seat and my poor Mother that I had left behind. She was having a great time and seemed to be making friends. But she was waiting for Elvis to sing ‘her song’ HER song? Did she even know ANY of the songs? I had no idea what she was talking about. All too soon he started “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and she was happy…. THAT was her favorite song. But I knew better, it meant the end of the show. In a blink of an eye it was over. So fast! Too fast!
Elvis was beyond descriptions. Everyone tries but there are not any adjectives. Handsome beyond words, an Adonis? Yes all of that and more. A voice that shook the rafters of the old Garden! Clearly I was not the only one to feel this way. My Mother was now a fan for life. She attended every show with me, conventions, fan club events and Memphis too several times.
Elvis had reached out and wrapped his magnetism around us all. He never came back to Boston itself. I guess someone was not happy with the facility but thankfully there were many other places in New England that were suited for him.
The concert at the Boston Garden will forever be the most special one for me.