Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Elvis Presley was nervous at the opening concert for the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Elvis Presley was nervous at the opening concert for the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
June 13, 2016

IN HISTORY: Elvis Presley Performed In Rapid City, June 21, 1977

Less than two months before his death, a concert by the King of Rock 'n' Roll celebrated the grand opening of Rapid City's new Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Ten thousand people attended the event, which took place a few days before the final concert of his life on June 26 in Indianapolis.

Presley's now well-documented drug use had become debilitating by the start of 1977, and he did not appear at some scheduled concerts. He took the stage in Rapid City but Wikipedia notes, "he was so nervous on stage that he could hardly talk," according to Presley historian Samuel Roy, and unable to "perform any significant movement."

review in the Rapid City Journal told a different story: "For the last 20 years he's been called the king of rock'n roll and there's no doubt he still wears that crown. Elvis Presley sang, swiveled his hips, played the guitar, threw scarves, cracked a few jokes and gave the capacity audience at the grand opening of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center their money's worth Tuesday night. ... the voice that continued to sell gold record after gold record sounded even better in person."

Several clips on YouTube and Vimeo document Presley's Rapid City stop, in part because the show was recorded by RCA and CBS in preparation for a planned TV special. Elvis met backstage with Mayor Art LaCroix and was presented a medallion by a young girl, Monique Brave. LaCroix gave Presley a plaque thanking him for giving the inaugural concert at the new civic center after the deadly 1972 flood. 

The local police officer who provided security to Elvis during his Rapid City visit recalled a commanding performance and told the Rapid City Journal that Presley agreed, commenting that "The King did it again" as he left the civic center stage.

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