January 14, 1973: Greatest Televised Concert in History (Admission Free!)

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A Brief History

On January 14, 1973, the world was treated to Aloha From Hawaii, a concert televised across the world live, in 40 European and Asian countries, via satellite (a first), that was watched by as many as a one and a half billion music fans, making it the most watched televised concert by a single performer in music/television history.  The icing on the cake?  The tickets for admission to the concert carried no charge!  Concert goers were permitted to make whatever donation they chose (if any) as the concert was a charity event for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.

Digging Deeper

Held in the Honolulu International Center, the white, rhinestone covered jump suit clad King of Rock and Roll performed his magic for the 8000+ live concert goers who had donated $75,000 to the charity.  His performance was great, with none of the deterioration of his later years, and the album created from the concert (I got my copy as soon as it came out!) shot to ‘numero uno,’ the first #1 album for Elvis since 1965.  The album was first released in quadraphonic, the first album to reach #1 in that format.  As insurance against technical problems with the satellite transmission, Elvis performed the entire concert a day prior that was videotaped.

The concert featured 22 of Elvis’ great hits as well as cover versions of other great songs, and The King recorded 5 more songs after the concert was over.  The original album release did not include the extra 5 songs, but later releases and the VHS tape (I got that, too!) did.  Of course, you can now get these recordings on CD and DVD.  In spite of the historic nature of the satellite broadcast, Americans did not get to see the concert on television until April 4, 1973, because the original date conflicted with Super Bowl VII between the undefeated Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins.

Elvis had trained hard to make this concert a success, losing 25 pounds and rehearsing regularly.  The show cost a staggering $2.5 million to put on, the most expensive concert in history up to that time.  The recorded rehearsal show the day prior to the televised concert also featured free admission.  Aloha From Hawaii is arguably the greatest rock concert by a single performer in history.

Elvis Presley sold between 500 million and 600 million records, almost double that of his nearest single performer competitor, Michael Jackson.  He truly is the King of Rock and Roll.  Question for students (and subscribers): If you have an interesting Elvis story, or would like to tell us your favorite Elvis song or movie, please share that information in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Hopkins, Jerry.  Elvis in Hawaii.  Bess Press, 2002.

Keogh, Pamela Clark.  Elvis Presley: The Man, The Life, The Legend.  Simon & Schuster, 2004.


About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.