Flashback 1973: Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite

Forty-five years ago this week, the King, donning his iconic white sequin-studded jump suit, made history in Honolulu when more than a billion viewers in 40 countries tuned into Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite, a live broadcast seen by the (at the time) largest audience in the history of television.

The broadcast was also the most expensive TV special of the day, costing a $2.5 million to produce — peanuts by today’s production standards — with total earnings of a mere $75,000. A little quick math suggests a ticket price of around 12 bucks ($75,000 divided by 6,000 attendees). All proceeds were donated to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.

Ironically, viewers in mainland U.S. had to wait almost three months to see the concert because the live broadcast conflicted with Super Bowl VII, which pitted the Miami Dolphins against the Washington Redskins. (The Dolphins won 14–7.) NBC got around to televising a recording of the concert on April 4.

The concert is known for its dramatic use of Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathrusta” as a lead-in to the King’s entrance as he kicked off the show with a rousing version of “See See Rider.” Elvis performed two dozen songs that night, including “Burning Love,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Hound Dog,” “Suspicious Minds,” and A Big Hunk O’ Love.”

The concert has yet to be released on Blu-ray but Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii (40th Anniversary Edition) is available on DVD.

Fun fact: Elvis’ famous jumpsuit is on display at Graceland.

Jackblues's picture

Not yet ten years old at the time, I still remember how exciting it was to watch this television special. It seemed like everyone at school had watched it. I've seen the double album from this event at more people's houses than perhaps any other. A huge success any way you look at it.

He seemed a little more serious that night on stage than any other show except for maybe the "68 Special". Gone were the sometimes corny jokes he told on stage. And so too, some of his interaction with the audience. It was different than any of his other concerts. He seemed to realize (if one can) the enormity of the task at hand. Elvis, Marty Pasetta and Col. Tom pulled it off.

When viewing this now, I wish people could look at it with fresh eyes. Trying to remember that you only got to see it once "live".
That thought alone makes it more special if you can remember back to those days.

Watch and appreciate it for the night that it was. There's no need to jump ahead in time. For that night, he was still ELVIS.