The Elvis Flash2 April 1957.
Concert at Maple Leaf Gardens. Toronto
Tuesday April 2, 1957, Elvis Presley would perform in the City of Toronto , Ontario at the "Maple Leaf Gardens" Auditorium (6:00 pm and 9:00 pm)Elvis always wanted to perform overseas, Europe, Japan... but unfortunately the farthest he got was Canada in 1957. Although it was believed that he was not well known enough at the time, Elvis wanted to take his show there. Although the insecurity was great and he believed he wouldn't make much money. Elvis told Ottawa DJ Gord Arkinson, who had received more mail from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal than from anywhere. So he had no hesitation in going there, it was his desire to please his fans.
The truth is that the volume of mail that Elvis received from his fans in Canada was what convinced Colonel Parker to agree to perform these concerts across the border.The plan was to perform from April 2, concerts in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, but before the deal was closed there were changes because of the authorities. Initially Elvis was going to perform at the arena in Verdun, but finally the permission to use the Arena was withdrawn, out of fear. Since they believed that his presence alone could trigger a disaster because of the crowd that could not be controlled. The local Fan Club, without any help, had already collected 2443 signatures for Elvis to perform. It was just a token, another was the receipt of 45,000 Christmas cards that Elvis had received from the Toronto area in 1956, this was a valuable background to be able to project the concerts.It was promoted through newspaper advertising on March 19 and tickets were available at popular prices.
They sold out in forty-eight hours and a second show had to be added, for two weeks the city of Toronto became "Elvisized", the city seemed bewitched by the Elvis effect, as if it was its own city, as everyone was ready to welcome him there. His popularity suddenly rose again in front of the statistics to be among the first artists, it was as if everyone had received "a lightning called Elvis", this would affect also the stores, Elvis fashion, even the official Elvis Presley Shoe was announced in Pollock stores, also for women. CHUM Radio, through the disc jockeys invited listeners to send in their reasons for wanting a date with Elvis, it was a sort of contest .Everything was party and The best entries would win the chance to meet Elvis backstage . Photographs were sold, etc.
But it was not all positive as an anti-Elvis club in Tennessee tried unsuccessfully to convince Toronto DJs to stop playing Presley records. Security was paramount and a large security force of ninety-five officers was assembled in Toronto, the largest security force ever provided to be in the arena during the show. Several special "flying squads" were organized to go around the arena and stop trouble before it could start. They were ordered to eject anyone who got out of their seat. But the tricky part was to empty the arena quickly during the first show so that at 9.00 pm the second show could take place. The funniest thing would be the mystery that Elvis' arrival in the City offered, since when April 2 dawned in Toronto, the headline of the "Toronto Daily Star" wondered. "Where is Presley! He can't be reached. The paper could not find out how Elvis would get to the city, let alone where he would be staying.
No one knew it was a secret or at least no one leaked that information so Elvis could arrive quietly without harassment. It was only known that at 06:00 p.m. Elvis would have to be at Maple Leaf Gardens for his performance, but Elvis had already arrived and was sleeping in a room on the fifth floor of the King Edward Hotel. The secrecy was short-lived, though, because the hotel secretaries gathered to head to his room, where a pair of bodyguards politely blocked their way. The show is about to start and local disc jockey Josh King takes the stage to introduce Elvis , the crowd starts screaming for thirty seconds.
"Elvis isn't coming yet," he announced. "Elvis doesn't think you're making enough noise." This would cause the crowd to roar for a few minutes louder. The lights dimmed as Elvis took the stage , camera flashes lit up the scene and it seemed to be filled with stars .The crowd knew they could take as many pictures as they wanted , so almost a third of them went with cameras and kept taking pictures throughout the performance. At the 6 p.m. show Elvis was dressed in the gold Lamé jacket, black pants and a black shirt, wearing a gold locket hanging from his neck. At the second show he was dressed in full gold attire.
The capacity was filled to 15,000 people. Elvis shows in Toronto, drew about 24,350 people at his performances. Local promoters said the next day that the profit for these Elvis concerts would be between $25,000 and $30,000, including profits from souvenir photographs.The show he performed at the two concerts lasted about forty-five minutes, he sang sixteen songs, with the opening track "Heartbreak Hotel", followed by "Long Tall Sally", "Love Me".... The loud noise that would continue throughout the show was deafening. In many moments Elvis had to cover his ears with his hands because of the screams that didn't stop and barely let him hear.
But in spite of all that racket, Elvis would manage to control the noise level with his spacing and movements on stage. At the end of the show Elvis accidentally hit his head on the microphone and the screams increased even more. Any performance on his part created a reaction from the audience, like when he stood still, raising his thumb and moving it.Thus Elvis started the show, he grabbed the microphone and began to sing, he seemed to shake from his movements , his whole body seemed to be in a hyperactive state. The lights from the cameras illuminated all the action and a shuddering roar and through it all the band and the drums.
He moved from one side of the stage to the other dragging the microphone and turning his body, screaming feverishly at times. One effect in his show that Elvis did was to suddenly stand still, frozen... the music stopped too.... Elvis looks at the audience for a few seconds of a special, as if he was in a trance, then jumps up, attacks the song again and begins to move with his legs . This would provoke the madness of the audience, again the screaming. It doesn't matter what he sings because apparently the audience doesn't want to hear it, and it doesn't matter. He says thank you and takes the microphone again by the neck, again from one side of the stage to the other. To the side his quartet ,The Jordanaires , provide the right harmony.Only when Elvis reached his arms towards the seats , the kids stretched their arms towards him , while screaming , moaning , etc.It was impossible to keep the crowd still for the security forces , but they ended up controlling.Initially every time someone got up the police arrived and dropped them again.
Three teenage girls who escaped down an aisle towards the stage , were intercepted by the police and returned to their seats with the help of Colonel Parker . During the second show , again two girls who tried to break through police lines to try to get to the stage were escorted out of the building.But all in all , everyone enjoyed Elvis' performance and control was present so as not to unleash mass hysteria. Between the two shows Elvis stayed in the stadium dressing room.
At the end of the second show around 11:10 p.m., he ran off the stage, so that the cab that was waiting for him, would take him directly to Union Station. There Elvis would take an overnight train to Ottawa. This would alleviate the action of the police to empty the stadium without problem, but curiously some fans rushed to the stage to pick up anything that had touched or brushed against their idol.
Even whatever was on the floor...Also a crowd of almost four hundred, ran outside and surrounded the north side of the building or the service entrance. But by then it was too late because Elvis had already disappeared.As always the press was contradictory , good or bad.Really the experience for the young people in Toronto was memorable and they kept remembering him. His Fans that day received a lightning bolt, called Elvis, that left them dazzled
"Following the Path of the King..."