Elvis Presley Sings 'Can't Help Falling in Love' at Final Concert - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Hear Elvis Presley Sing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ at Final Concert

The King gave his last-ever live performance on June 26th, 1977, but it also proved a historic date throughout his life and beyond

In the annals of Elvis Presley history, there are more than a few days of the musician’s exceptional life that could be considered significant. Yet, the date of June 26th marks a number of important milestones in his life and in the lives of others close to the King of Rock & Roll, not the least of which was his last-ever live performance on that date in 1977. That final performance took place just seven weeks before his death at age 42 sent shockwaves throughout the world and silenced one of the most popular entertainers of all time.

But 68 years before “Elvis has left the building” was uttered for the final time in Presley’s lifetime, signaling his exit from Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, June 26th marked the entry into the world of the man who would grow up to guide the careers of Elvis, as well as country legends Hank Snow and Eddy Arnold. On that day in 1909, Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk was born in the Netherlands. He would, of course, later be known as Colonel Tom Parker, the former carnival barker who would become a music promoter then personal manager, signing the young singer from Tupelo, Mississippi, to an exclusive contract and seeing him through his meteoric rise to fame as a performer, movie star and Las Vegas entertainer. Parker remained Presley’s manager right through to the end of Elvis’ life.

On Saturday, June 26th, 1954, a year before Presley and Parker would first meet, Elvis was summoned to Sam Phillips’ Sun Records office in Memphis, where he earning a dollar an hour working as a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. The previous summer, the young man had paid $4 to record “My Happiness” on a personal disc for his mother and had made an indelible impression on Phillips’ assistant, Marion Keisker. Phillips and Presley, accompanying himself on guitar, worked for several hours on a song called “Without You,” that Phillips had heard on a record by an African-American group called the Prisonaires. In the same session, Elvis performed several other songs as Phillips watched from the control room. He would be signed as a Sun Records artist just two weeks later.

Presley left Sun for RCA Records by the end of 1955, and would soon be at the center of a music revolution, as his hits peppered the pop, country and R&B charts. Just after wrapping filming on his third movie, Jailhouse Rock – before his second, Loving You, had even been released – Elvis purchased his Graceland mansion in Memphis, sleeping overnight there for the first time on June 26th, 1957.

Twenty years to the day he took up residence at Graceland, Presley played that final concert in Indianapolis, closing his show, as he had done often, with his 1961 hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” In the above clip, which purportedly contains that final performance from June 26th, 1977, Presley gives the song his all, in spite of the physical problems and drug dependency we now know hampered the last days of his extraordinary life. According to Peter Guralnick’s book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, the singer performed with “an energy and vitality that had been missing the entire tour.” 

In one of his most beloved songs, “My Way,” Presley sang “…and so I face the final curtain.” His death on August 16th, 1977, was global news, with mourners converging on Graceland and throughout Memphis to mourn the King. In a strange coincidence, on June 26th, 1979, two years after Elvis played that historic final show, his father, Vernon Presley, died of heart failure in Memphis.     

In This Article: Elvis Presley


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