WDBJ7 Archive: Elvis and Roanoke

Published: Sep. 3, 2023 at 6:46 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Elvis Presley is known for being the King of Rock and Roll, and even made a few appearances in the Star City. As Presley rose to fame, his music and performances were seen as controversial, but Presley was loved by many. WDBJ7 dug through the archives to August of 1977, where Presley died days before his scheduled concert in Roanoke.

Presley signed his first record label deal in 1955 with Sun Records and was quickly moved to RCA Victor. That same year Presley made his first appearance in Roanoke, where he would perform three more times: in 1972, 1974, and 1976.

In July of 1977, fans sat on the steps of the Roanoke Civic Center, now Berglund Center, as they eagerly awaited to score tickets for a newly-scheduled show. The tickets cost $15 dollars, equivalent to roughly $75 dollars in 2023.

Interviews of awaiting guests showed their excitement for Presley, with one woman exclaiming how “Nobody else puts on a show like he does.”

Another woman even recounted being kissed by the star after showing him a cake she had made for him.

However, the highly anticipated concert took an unexpected turn as Presley would die on August 16, 1977 only eight days before his scheduled concert. A memorial was held instead August 24 in the Civic Center, where six thousand fans mourned the loss of the King of Rock and Roll.

Many fans held onto their tickets as a keepsake and local record stores quickly sold out of Presley’s music.

A local woman even went as far as creating a replica of Graceland, Presley’s home, in her front yard. While fans grieved in different ways, Presley’s fame would never fade.

Now over 46 years after the star’s death, Presley’s music is still enjoyed by many.