June 17, 2021

Here are some Pittsburgh memories on Elvis Presley’s 85th birthday

Elvis Presley could have spent his last New Year’s Eve on Earth just about any place on the planet.

But, on the last day of 1976, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll was in frigid Pittsburgh performing at the Civic Arena, his third and last concert in the Steel City. The first two came during June 1973, also at the Igloo.

Presley, who would have turned 85 today, made an impact on the music world still felt by fans old and young nearly 43 years after his death. He caused a cultural tsunami when he burst onto the pop music scene in January 1956, releasing his first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Just months later, he was a millionaire.

With his voice, his sideburns and his swiveling hips, Presley had the world at his feet. Nobody had ever seen a performer quite like him.

“Nobody had ever presented themselves on stage like Elvis did,” said legendary WDVE radio disc jockey Sean McDowell. “We’re talking the 1950s when it was still black and white TV and that was almost offensive to a lot of people what Elvis was doing. It was too sexual, it was almost pornographic. Nobody had ever seen a white guy up on stage dancing and swinging his hips like Elvis did. It was groundbreaking, it was historic.”

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