Elvis Presley’s Beloved NBC TV Special ‘Elvis’ Aired 52 Years Ago Today

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Bettmann and Getty Images

Elvis Presley isn’t deemed “The King” for no reason.

The rock ‘n’ roll legend was more than that. He was also an actor and named one of the largest cultural icons of the 20th century.

His ability to create energized and catchy songs, all the while performing in his classic “sexually provocative” performances made him stand out from every other performer in his time. While Presley’s moves and sounds initially were met with controversy, he now is still adored as an icon in the industry.

Elvis and the ‘Comeback Concert’

On this day in 1968, the TV special “Elvis” aired on NBC. The show was one of the biggest television hits of the year. It received 40% of the viewing audience and great reviews from fans and critics.

According to Rolling Stone, Elvis was hardly nervous. But his faithful drummer D.J. Fontana revealed that doing that show made Elvis nervous. It was his first time in the public eye for a long time.

The show is commonly referred to as the ’68 Comeback Special. It was a televised concert by the singer and marked his return to live performances. For the prior seven years, Presley was centered on the movie industry.

The show was made up of a sit-down segment, stand-up numbers, as well as two musicals.

One of his sit-down performances was singing “That’s All Right.” This was also Presley’s debut single that he recorded in 1954.

From movies back to song, he was the comeback king.

Presley as an Influencer

While what it means to be an influencer might have changed between the ’50s and now, the intent is still the same.

Presley has always been proof as to how powerful influencers can be. Even before premiering on his hit show “Elvis” he also had other TV appearances.

For example, in 1956, Presley went on the Ed Sullivan show. It was at this time that the polio vaccine was just starting to be distributed. Teens were not quick to jump on getting the vaccine. Only .6% of them did at the time. Presley then got the shot on live television right before his performance.

Compliance went up 80%. People listened to more than just “The Kings” music. They listened to him as an influence. With modern-day celebrities, this certainly hasn’t changed.