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From Memphis To Honolulu (1961)


By Ger Rijff

03After his return, from 2 years in the US Army, in March of 1960, Elvis had one hell of a busy work schedule awaiting him. A guest appearance in the Sinatra tv show, extensive recording sessions in both Nashville and Hollywood, and no less than three motion pictures: G.I.Blues, Flaming Star and Wild In The Country, completed in only 11 months time! To make up for not performing live on stage (anywhere) during those 11 months since his homecoming, 2 concerts in Memphis were set for February 25, 1961, at Ellis Auditorium’s North Hall. One in the afternoon at 3.00, and an evening performance at 8.30 pm.

The promotion for these two shows were limited to ads in both Memphis newspapers. That’s kinda curious. When a month later, in March, Presley’s management and RCA pulled out all stops placing a full page ad in one (or more?) music-biz trade magazines for the upcoming Honolulu show in Hawaii on March the 25th. That particular full page ad, sporting a 1957 photo of Elvis in his gold lame suit, is often, mistakingly, presented as the actual concert poster for the Hawaii show. As far as I know, no concert posters for that one day event were ever printed. Just the full page ad was made to promote the show. Newspaper ads however do exist, originating from Hawaii at the time.

Photo courtessy of Michael Donahue


10Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered a near identical full page ad for the two Memphis shows! Identical in its basic design to the Hawaii one, but with the information linked to the Memphis shows! I do not doubt this ad to be the real thing. Not for a split second! This is not a fake ad that has originated on a computer, made by an over active joker with a good eye for design. The question spinning in my head is: how come this ad has never turned up before among collectors and Elvis detectives worldwide?! Was it made back in 1961, by the Colonel and RCA, but not used and placed back in a drawer of the Colonel’s office desk? Did the Colonel and RCA figured out advertising cost for inclusion of both the Memphis and Honolulu ads in the Music-trade magazines would run things over budget? After all, the concerts took place only one month after each other. Besides gaining publicity for the events, the ads had no real commercial value since no film title or upcoming album was promoted in the ads …
To the left the Hawaii ad, and below the Memphis companion:



Here we have an orignal ticket (front and back) for the afternoon show:

100 101


103 102

A 1961 Memphis fanclub-magazine cover.
Plus the song round-up and short review from that same mag.


mem4 mem3

The dogs were giveaways for special guests, only used that day.


105 104

The old fox never lost his tricks, nor his Dutch roots:
leftovers from 1956 were used to promote the 1960 movie G.I. Blues during the Memphis shows.




05 06

To the left a shot from the evening show.
And to the right two shots from the afternoon show (where Master of ceremony, George Jessel, salutes The King).

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kool isn’t it?! And one mystery less to solve.

    April 22, 2013
  2. Jim #

    Very interesting guys. Like you both I never knew the Memphis show had a poster all to itself. Thanks.

    April 22, 2013
  3. Jim #

    Well done again guys. It‘s amazing what turns up after all these years.


    April 23, 2013
  4. Richard Harvey #

    Cool stuff. There was a great ETM&HM article on these shows in issue 81.

    Oh, to have been there!

    April 25, 2013
  5. SENSATIONAL find, almost too good to be true – amazing stuff. Keep up the great work.

    April 25, 2013
  6. Ian Mackay #

    So it was never used – no? Where did you find it? That would be even more interesting.

    April 25, 2013
  7. Cool addition Ger. Love the poster! Some background info on the group shot. The men in the photo with Elvis and the Colonel were/are sales associates for Paramount pictures, LtoR: Howard Nicholson, Elvis Presley, Tom Donahue, Travis Carr and Col. Tom Parker. The photo was supplied to courtesy Michael Donahue, Tom’s son.

    April 25, 2013
  8. Mister Mackay, finding the never before published 1961 Memphis concert ad is no
    big mystery… It was part of hundreds of items found in the collection of Trude Forsher,
    the colonel’s Hollywood secretary and publicist from 1956 ’till 1961. After she passed
    away in 2000, her son opened the boxes with memorabilia, office letters, contracts,
    etc. Trude had saved it all for roughly 5 years. Neither Trude’s son nor so called Ace
    Elvis collectors in the U.S. had any idea just how rare the concert poster ad was,
    and it was simply auctioned off as just another piece of Elvis paper memorabilia.
    A very small picture was reproduced in the auction catalog , many years ago.
    Nobody ever made mention of the poster ad…that is until a short while ago I came
    across some of the auction catalog pages. I clicked on the tiny image, and bingo!

    May 1, 2013
  9. Great additions guys! Love the set list.

    May 10, 2013
  10. Dick #

    This was the first Elvis related article I’ve read in 6 months and it was immediately the best in years!
    GREAT find Mr. Rijff and thanks for pointing me at this wonderful site.

    May 11, 2013
  11. Alexander Nijeboer #

    If only a sound source would appear with this concert in – say – soundboard quality. If only… Thanks for this great post Ger!

    May 11, 2013
  12. Clay #

    I love your website and I will be back daily to look at and read everything. You have done a great job here and I have bookmarked this site.

    Thank you


    May 16, 2013
  13. Erik Straver #

    Haha, George Jessel … (he gave Judy Garland her last name). Did they ever meet?

    May 20, 2013
  14. Joe #

    WOW – This was another fantastic article!

    Thanks, Joe.

    August 18, 2014
  15. Juan Luis #

    Very kool! I first saw the Hawaii benefit ad in the late 1980’s when I visited Graceland. They sold a limited edition framed print from original color separations or something. Those and the original handbill have sold for a bundle on ebay.

    October 22, 2014
  16. Ben #

    Thanks for the info! I acquired a small elvis collection, and in it was a music reporter, with a handbill in it. I was having a hard time researching til I found info on the Hawaii show ones. Trying to find sales info, I finally noticed the bill i have isnt for the Hawaii show, but for the memphis show! They look so similar I almost didnt notice!

    I am sure more has been learned since this post was written and assume some have probably turned up? If not, I can confirm the handbill for the Memphis shows was actually published and in magazines… or at least, the one I have was!

    October 14, 2020
  17. Wayne #

    This Memphis Handbill was included in the Music Reporter Trade Magazine from Feb. 1961. I have a mint copy of the Magazine with Handbill still intact. I purchased it for 600$ from a long time Elvis collector.

    April 30, 2021

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