“The first time that I appeared on stage, it scared me to death.”
– Elvis Presley, 1972
In 1972, MGM released Elvis On Tour. This is a documentary that showcased Elvis’s tour and a small background of his career up to this point. While documentaries are rarely box office successes, this film reached #13 on the Variety National Box Office. The production cost $1.6 million and $1 million of that being Elvis’s fee. Yet the documentary made back the production costs after three days. Elvis On Tour was successful, not only financially but critically. With the documentary mocking Elvis’s former acting career, it finally seemed to showcase his talent. As a result, this film made the others worthwhile to some degree. Most noteworthy, Elvis On Tour won a Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary in 1972. While he made many motion pictures, this is the only one that won Elvis an award.
Polk Salad Annie
Elvis On Tour follows Elvis as he takes on a 15 city tour in the United States. This took place April 1972. Not only does this film showcase Elvis, it contains footage of fans and their thoughts on the King. There is a forty-minute interview that Elvis gave regarding his life and career. There was a scene that mocked Elvis’s film career showing different scenes from movies. As a result, Colonel Tom Parker was not happy about some of the footage. The producers indicated that this was done to show how far Elvis had come in his career and showed that he was capable of so much more. (Martin Scorsese was supervisor of the montage sequences.)
Never Been To Spain
“I’ve never gotten over what they call stage fright. I go through it every show.”
– Elvis Presley, 1972
The concerts that were used in the production of the film included dates within April:
- 9th Evening show held at The Coliseum, Hampton Roads, Virginia
- 10th The Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia
- 14th Evening show held at The Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
- 18th Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas
Big Hunk O’ Love
Some of the titles for the film included Sold Out and Standing Room Only. While both titles would have worked, as many of the concerts were sold out or standing room only. With that being said, it was best to have Elvis’s name in the title to bring the appeal of the documentary. There was a soundtrack to Elvis On Tour, but it was never released. The reason behind it being Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden was released before filming. Consequently, that album contained many of the same songs.
(I love watching this so much because seeing Elvis with the lyrics makes me think about how incredible it was to see him perform this song live for the very first time. Burning Love was one of my favorites growing up because I did not have access to a lot of Elvis songs. But this scene is just too cool not to share!)
While 1972 was a roller coaster of a year for Elvis, he was trying to find the positives. Having a financially successful film and winning a Golden Globe gave Elvis the satisfaction for fighting to go back on tour.