February 1, 1968
Priscilla gives birth to Lisa Marie Presley nine months
to the day after her marriage to Elvis. It is a time of
"Stay Away, Joe" opens to mixed reviews and
doesn't do well at the box office, though like all of
Elvis's films, it makes a profit.
Soundtrack recording and filming for Elvis's
twenty-eighth movie, "Live a Little, Love a
Little". It is a sexy, more adult kind of
comedy/melodrama. It, like "Stay Away, Joe" is
a real departure from the typical Presley film. It is yet
another breath of fresh air.
"Speedway" is released nationally and doesn't
do very well. The soundtrack album goes only as far up
the chart as number 82.
Mid-to-Late June, 1968
Elvis rehearses for the taping of his 1968 television
special. A press conference is held on June 25th.
Videotaping is done June 27, 28, 29, and 30. This is
Elvis's first performance before a live audience since
the U.S.S. Arizona benefit in March 1961. The name of the
show is "Elvis", but it would come to be known
as the "'68 Comeback Special".
In the '68 special, Elvis is reunited with two of his
original fifties band members, guitarist Scotty Moore and
drummer D.J. Fontana (Bill Black had died.). They sit
together on stage in the round, along with several other
friends and associates of Elvis for an informal jam
session. Parts of this session are woven throughout the
special. There are also sequences of Elvis taking the
stage alone and performing many of his greatest hit rock
and roll songs and ballads, such as "Hound
Dog", "Don't Be Cruel",
"Jailhouse Rock", "All Shook Up",
"Love Me Tender", and "Can't Help Falling
in Love" Along with singing the old hits, Elvis
introduces a new song that would become another classic,
"Memories." One can speculate that he poured
years of frustration into the performance of these songs,
along with the nervous energy of appearing live for the
first time in so long. His natural talent, charisma, and
sensuality had not been diminished by Hollywood or by the
passage of time. In fact, he looked, sounded,
moved, and grooved better than he ever had. At 33, he was
better than he had ever been. Better than anybody in the
For most of the show Elvis wears a two-piece black
leather outfit specially designed for the special, a look
evocative of the era of James Dean, of Marlon Brando type
motorcycle films of the fifties, and of Elvis' early
days, the era when he had first been proclaimed the
"king of rock and roll."
In the jam session segment, Elvis speaks of the gospel
origins of rock and roll. This segues into the gospel
music portion of the show, which has Elvis wearing a
two-piece burgundy suit, singing "Where Could I Go
But to the Lord" , "Up Above My Head", and
"I'm Saved", backed by the black female group,
The Blossoms, and accompanied by a troupe of dancers -
all of this for a rousing gospel production number.
Toward the end of the special Elvis appears in a lengthy
production number that, through song, dance, karate, and
various situations, traces a young man's journey from a
struggling guitar player, through all the challenges,
dangers and compromises on the path to his dreams of
success and superstardom. Something is lost along the
way. Once the dream is achieved, the man realizes that he
remains unfulfilled, that he has abandoned his true self.
He decides to return to his roots, where he was happiest.
The parallels to Elvis's own life are clear and
deliberate, and his doing the '68 special represents his
own return to his true self, to his roots.
At the end of the special, Elvis appears alone, wearing a
simple white two-piece suit, standing in front of the
towering backdrop of red lights that spell Elvis, and
sings a brand new song, specially written for the show,
called "If I Can Dream". The writers had
created the song based on conversations with Elvis about
his own thoughts about what was happening in the
turbulent sixties, his feelings about life, and his hopes
for mankind. It represents one of the few times Elvis
would sing a "message" song, and it stands as
one of the most brilliant moments of his singing career.
It is yet another classic, and the lyrics are as timely
today as they were in 1968.
Elvis records the theme and does filming for his
twenty-ninth movie, "Charro!", a dramatic
western, again a very different kind of role. Elvis grows
a beard for this. The theme song will be heard over the
opening credits, but there will be no other Elvis songs
used. This will be the first and only film in which Elvis
does not sing on camera.
Elvis records the soundtrack and does filming for his
thirtieth movie,"The Trouble with Girls". He
sings in this one, but in very natural situations for a
change. It is quite a bit different from the typical
"Live a Little, Love a Little" opens in the
U.S. in October and doesn't do very well.
"If I Can Dream", from the soon-to-be aired '68
special hits number 12 on the pop singles chart in
November, making it Elvis's biggest single since 1965.
December 3, 1968
"Elvis", the 1968 television special first airs
on NBC-TV on December 3, 1968 and is one of this biggest
television hits of the year, receiving rave reviews from
the public and the critics alike. The soundtrack album
will go to number eight on the pop chart. Elvis' career
is to take a dramatic and exciting turn.
Elvis wraps shooting on "The Trouble with