Elvis Presley Hits the Low Point of His Career in Baltimore

Only in Baltimore would Elvis Presley leave the stage to try to take a 30 minute crap because of intestinal problems. The Elvis In Norway fan site shares this tale of one of Elvis’ worst performances of his career:

Elvis Presley before the concert in Baltimore

Elvis Presley before the concert at the Baltimore Civic Center

Baltimore May 29 1977 represents one of the absolute low-points in Elvis’ career. This day Elvis is so weak he has to leave the stage for over 20 minutes. He first sings a lot of old songs in the beginning of the concert (‘That’s Alright’, ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’, ‘Blue Christmas’ and ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Love Me’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock’). Then right after ‘You Gave Me A Mountain’ Elvis asks S. Nielsen to sing some numbers. Obviously not enough, Elvis after singing ‘Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel’ “hands over” the responsibility to the band. He then leaves the stage. Meanwhile Kathy Westmoreland, Voice and the Stamps all did their best to entertain a dismayed audience.

This concert was released on a rather poor sounding bootleg called Send Me The Light… I Need It Bad.

Elvis Presley Singing 'Unchained Melody'

Elvis Presley Singing ‘Unchained Melody’

A shocked audience was eager to hear Elvis sing. They had traveled several miles, waited for hours and paid for an Elvis-concert, and the main attraction left the stage! Elvis tries to repair by singing a powerful ‘Hurt’. After ‘Hound Dog’ he performs ‘Help Me’. However, Elvis obviously noticed the lack of excitement from the audience, and almost helplessly ask “What do you wanna hear?”. This leads to a very impressive version of ‘Unchained Melody’. I can’t help but wonder where Elvis found the energy and power to sing this song like he does here, given the overall shape he was in. But this was not enough, and Elvis managed to sing even 5 more numbers, including an incomplete version of ‘The Wonder Of You’.

There is a story that Elvis right after this concert collapsed in the elevator. I don’t know if it is true, but it is not very unlikely…

“What´s with Elvis: Walks Out Midway At Show In Balto.” – Variety

By Marty Bennett, May 1977

A physically and artistically subpar Elvis Presley walked out on a strange concert performance for half an hour here Sunday night (29), but eventually returned. A Civic Center spokesman attributed the vet rock and roll singer´s murmuring, swearing and unscheduled hiatus to the reported intestinal problem that had kayoed Presley from an earlier portion of his tour.

After the break Presley came on like gangbusters as he politely and apologetically tried to recoup his losses. He succeeded to the extent that only a handful asked for refunds but at the finale there was no ovation, and patrons exited shaking their heads and speculating on what was wrong with him.

Presley was heavy eye-lidded and appeared to most observers to be weak and tired. He announced he had to leave stage without explanation. When he returned he said he had left because of “a twisted ankle and nature calls and you don´t fool around with nature.” Later he said “there´s nothing wrong with my health.” He repeatedly thanked the audience for hanging with him and said ambiguously, “If you want us back we´ll come back” – to scattered clapping.

Presley, paunchy and apparently pained, first did 30 minutes marked by anemic singing, a few stilted attempts at his patented gyrations, bewildering patter and awkward stage movements that included having an aide hand-hold his voice mike. Program consisted of ancient hits.

Presley´s show a week earlier at Capital Centre in nearby Largo was reliably described as “even worse.” The Civic Center spokesman said Presley was on medication and was treated by a physician during the gap. While Presley was gone his troupe’s uneven filling included a vocal flight by an anonymous opera songstress that drew a partial standing ovation, more than the main attraction received at any time after his intro.

“A physically and artistically subpar Elvis Presley walked out on a strange concert performance for half an hour here Sunday night (29), but eventually returned. A Civic Center spokesman attributed the vet rock and roll singers murmuring, swearing and unscheduled haitus to the reported intestinal problems that had kayoed Presley from an earlier portion of this tour. After the break Presley came on like gangbusters as he politely and apologetically tried to recoup his losses. He succeeded to the extent that only a handful asked for refunds but at the finale there was no ovation, and patrons exited shaking their heads and speculating what was wrong with him.”

Bonus Elvis!

These clips are not from Elvis Presley’s Baltimore appearances but are still “must views”:

“Elvis Presley: Strung Out In Las Vegas” - Collector’s Music Reviews

A paranoid and neurotic Elvis attacks the press on stage in this show, going on a tirade saying, “From three different sources,” ranted Elvis, “I heard that I was strung out on heroin… I’ve never been strung out in my life…” Then Elvis explodes, “If I find or hear the individual that has said that about me”, he threatened, “I’m gonna BREAK your GODDAMNED neck, you SON OF A BITCH! These reports are dangerous,” he emphasized, “are damaging to my little daughter, to Priscilla, to my father, my doctor, my friends, everyone on stage and,” he motioned to the audience, “to you….” Then he pointed at his invisible accuser, “I will pull your GODDAMNED tongue from the ROOTS!!!” he thundered.

Continue reading “Elvis Presley – Strung Out In Las Vegas”at Collector’s Music Reviews

“Elvis Loses Control” – KLAS TV Eyewitness News

Elvis: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Bill Cosby. Elvis closed last night. I’m lighter skinned than he is.”

Continue reading “Elvis Loses Control” at Elvis World Japan

Postscript: Thanks to Al Hoff for pointing out that Elvis could not have been successful in dealing with his Baltimore intestinal problem. Elvis suffered from chronic constipation (codeine binds you up!) and in a little over 2 months after his lackluster Baltimore show he lay dead in his with a jam-packed “megacolon.” Perhaps there was still some crabcake or Berger’s cookies in the impacted chalk-like fecal matter found in his colon.

According to an account based on the report by the four doctors who performed the post-mortem examination of the entertainer:

The colon is approximately five to seven feet in length in a person Elvis’s size and should have been about two inches in diameter … however, Elvis’s colon was at least three and a half inches in diameter in some places and as large as four and half to five inches in diameter in others … [T]he megacolon was jam-packed from the base of the descending colon all the way up and halfway across the transverse colon. It was filled with white, chalklike fecal material.

Continue reading at Snopes.com

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12 Responses to Elvis Presley Hits the Low Point of His Career in Baltimore

  1. Almost Hip Guy says:

    Great post!

  2. Benn Ray says:

    I was at that show!

  3. Benn Ray says:

    He also forgot the words to a few songs.

  4. TBC says:

    sure he messed up but i think its only because he’s just joking around. elvis loved to laugh and make others laugh!! maybe he was stoned but mostly he was jus doing the jokes for the audience whom he loved!!!

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  6. Yvonne Epps says:

    i worked at a radio station W.I.T.H/B104 as the receptionist at that time. i went to the
    show with one of the dj’s Frank Diventi. i had fun. Got a buzz from all the pot smoked
    around me. don’t recall seeing another black person but im sure some were there. Elvis
    left the stage several times with the help of some of his people. he forgot lyrics and appeared to be high or sick or something. i enjoyed the show, will never forget it and still happy that i went for free. Sadly he had to die soon after. I like his music and still listen to to my cassetts and cds.

  7. Elvis died in August of that year. My father died the same week that Elvis passed away. They kinda looked the same towards the end.

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  9. HE GAVE US ALL HE HAD,EVEN WHEN HE WAS TO SICK TO GIVE..so what if he lost it a few times on stage,we all do sometimes..Not all the times he was sharing with us was he buzzed up..There were times he talked to us like we were his family. I appreciated those times..Love him always..

  10. Also let me also say that just because the man had to go to the bathroom for 15 or 20 minutes was no reason for people to go all nuts..Lordy. how many times have the rest of us had to go, and RIGHT NOW..The man was human….

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  12. Annie Purinton says:

    I was 10 years old when Elvis died. My sister and I cried for days after we heard of Elvis’s death on a little radio in our aunt’s kitchen while there celebrating our little cousin’s 1st birthday. I’ll never ever forget that day as long I live. It was like we had just lost one of our closest relatives. My whole life up until that point and after, my parent’s played Elvis’s music constantly. My mom was lucky enough to go to two of his concerts in Las Vegas and my dad would win dance contests dancing like Elvis. The crowds would go wild for even my big Irish father as he did Elvis’s dance moves! As my parents did with me, I have passed Elvis down to my own children. We sing Elvis every day as I drive them to school and back! His legacy will live on forever from all of us who loved him so much. I am 47 now & have read & watched anything I can get my hands on about Elvis. After all I have read & watched, not that it matters to anyone else, but I feel like I understand more about why Elvis died the way he did. He was just a man, but to all of us fans, he truly was a king on a pedestal. Elvis stood out in every way possible, from his humble Southern roots, his spirituality, his love & loyalty to his family & friends, his generosity, his extremely handsome face, his unique name, his open vulnerably and humility, to his extra ordinary talent, that voice that would reach inside a person and touch their soul. He was also the first person ever to experience superstardom and at such an early age from a background that could never have prepared him for what was to come. He went from being an extremely poor, innocent boy from a tiny little Southern town in Tennessee to a world famous icon overnight. He gave us all everything he had when he was up there on stage and broke barriers he didn’t even realize he was breaking with a gentle kindness towards his critics, saying in his southern accent, “Well, they have a job to do, so they do it.” He lost the biggest influence in his life, his mother, when he needed her the most. He served our country for 2 years in the middle of the beginning of his rise to the heights of fame that few experience. I know as time went on, his fame, facial recognition and absolute adoration by his fans drove him into hiding and his staggering number of performances in a year, in which I believe drove him more and more into his dependency on RX drug use, changed him. But to be honest, who wouldn’t be changed by all of that. The thing that remained the same until the day he died was his incredible voice that to this day can bring tears to my eyes, inspiration to my being and peace to my soul. I truly believe that Elvis was on the verge of changing his life for the better, but he just ran out of time and all of his excesses, good and bad, had finally taken their toll. And because of money constraints for both he and the Colonel, not to mention all of those who depended and lived off of him, he had to keep performing and at least do this one more tour before he could focus on getting his personal and at that point even his professional life back on track, wean himself off all of the RX’s he was on and decompress out of the limelight and pressure of being Elvis Presley. None of us can even begin to imagine what life was like being Elvis Presley. In one interview he said, “An image is one thing and a human being is another. It is hard to live up to an image.” And oh what an image he had and still does. But we must remember behind that image was a real human being trying to figure out why God chose him to be Elvis Presley. I do know that from the beginning until the end, he loved and appreciated his fans. In return, we, his fans, loved and appreciated him right back, maybe even a little too much. I feel none of us have a right to judge how Elvis lived and/or how he died, because none of us could possibly imagine what it was like to walk a mile in his shoes, blue suede or not. Even though he died so young, all I can think of, being much older and wiser now than I was on the day he passed away, because of what most of us thought was of a heart attack at the time, is that on August 16, 1977, he finally found the peace he was so desperately seeking. He had made his mark in the world, entertained and inspired millions. He will never be forgotten because of his talent, his personality, his generosity and because he alone paved the way for so many others that followed. On that sad August day in Memphis, he was finally free to be that humble boy from Tupelo again and most importantly be with the most significant person in his life, his beloved mother. I truly believe life for Elvis in this day and age with the 24/7 access to media, the paparazzi and all the negative stuff that some journalists are constantly trying to dig up about the famous people in our world, would have been way too much for him to handle. If his soul wasn’t already damaged, it would have been damaged beyond repair in this day and age. A poor, innocent boy from Tupelo with an incredibly extra ordinary talent, overwhelmingly handsome with an extreme sense of vulnerability to how his fans perceived him, would have no skills in helping him cope with the technology and the constant presence of the media digging as deeply as they can to get as much dirt as possible on him and thereby exposing the very private dark side of his fame that until almost the end of his life, he was able to keep hidden. I truly believe Elvis gave us all he had and he got stuck in the unnecessary evils of prescription drugs that in his lifetime there wasn’t much conscious awareness of that kind of addiction and/or places to get help. Where he was unlucky in his life was in the fact that he had an extremely addictive personality and he couldn’t get out of that spiral of need for whatever at the time he was addicted to. Not to mention, he had every resource and influence possible to get what he wanted. His only regret for him in having left the earthly plain so early in life was probably leaving his little girl and not being able to watch her grow up. However, my spirituality tells me that since the day he died, he has been with her as her guardian angel. I think that all of us were lucky to have this special and gifted man as long as we did, even though to this day I still want more!

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