While visiting the USS Arizona memorial most of us think about its origins and early making. One of the very famous faces of the music industry elvis Presley played a significant role in drawing attention to the importance of the pearl harbour national memorial through the benefit concert Contributing to its establishment. He along with others envisioned and worked towards creating the monument.
Who is Elvis Presley?
Elvis Aaron Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll,” transcends mere musical stardom. Born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, his journey to becoming an American songster and actor marked an era of cultural transformation. Presley’s fusion of influences across color lines, during a pivotal period in race relations, brought both triumph and controversy, solidifying him as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century.
Musical Genesis and Rise to Fame
Elvis’s musical odyssey began in 1954 at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, under the patronage of Sam Phillips. His collaboration with guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, and later drummer D.J. Fontana created the classic quintet that pioneered rockabilly. The release of “Heartbreak Hotel” in January 1956 marked the onset of Presley’s monumental success, with RCA Victor selling ten million of his singles. Despite controversy surrounding his performative style, Elvis became the face of the rock and roll movement.
Hollywood Ventures and Military Service
Presley’s multifaceted career took a turn when he made his film debut in “Love Me Tender” in November 1956. However, a hiatus was inevitable as he was drafted into military service in 1958. Elvis, a colonist of rockabilly, emerged post-military service with remarkable resilience. The 1968 NBC TV comeback special marked his return to the stage, leading to an extended concert residency in Las Vegas and globally broadcast solo concerts in 1973.
Elvis’s Patriotic Duty: The USS Arizona Memorial Benefit Concert
Elvis’s impact on American history extends beyond the realms of entertainment. The devastating attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 led to the tragic loss of over 1,000 sailors aboard the USS Arizona. Efforts to establish a memorial were hindered by insufficient funds. In March 1961, Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, recognized the potential for a benefit concert to garner positive publicity. On November 11, 1957, Elvis performed in Hawaii, marking his final concert before his 1958 induction into the U.S. Army. His honorable discharge in 1960 created a poignant link to the fundraiser. Colonel Parker promoted the concert on Oahu radio, and the public response was overwhelming, with 4,000 attendees filling Bloch Arena on the benefit day. Elvis’s stage presence, clad in his iconic gold lamé suit jacket, enchanted the audience.
The lack of recorded video makes the event even more exceptional. Parker’s attempts tob secure a TV special were futile, making the live audience the privileged few to witness Elvis’s post-military comeback.
Hawaii’s House of Representatives expressed gratitude through Resolution 105, and Presley’s efforts led to increased financial support, culminating in the dedication of the USS Arizona Memorial on May 30, 1962.
Presley’s Benevolence and Ongoing Impact
Elvis’s motivation for the benefit concert went beyond financial aid. The connection between Elvis and the servicemen entombed in the USS Arizona was profound. The concert, attended by 3,000 enthusiastic fans upon his arrival in Hawaii, showcased not just his musical brilliance but also his compassion.In 1961, he orchestrated a historic benefit concert at Bloch Arena, Pearl Harbor, raising over $54,000 for the USS Arizona Memorial fund. Guided by Colonel Tom Parker, this event marked a pivotal chapter in Presley’s career.
His Motivation for the Benefit Concert
Beyond financial aid, Elvis’s motivation for the benefit concert was deeply personal. Having performed in Hawaii in 1957, the connection was profound. Colonel Parker highlighted that Elvis, at 26, shared an age resonance with many servicemen entombed in the USS Arizona. This endeavor was not just a performance; it was a heartfelt tribute.
The Audience Turnout
The public response to Elvis’s benefit concert was overwhelming. Approximately 4,000 attendees filled Bloch Arena, reflecting the deep admiration and support for the iconic artist. Entry wasn’t exempt for high-ranking officials, emphasizing Colonel Parker’s insistence on no complimentary tickets.
The Effects of the Concert
Elvis’s benefit concert reverberated far beyond the applause in Bloch Arena. Hawaii’s House of Representatives expressed gratitude through Resolution 105, amplifying the awareness of the USS Arizona Memorial fund. This increased attention garnered additional support from both the public and private sectors, ultimately leading to the dedication of the memorial on May 30, 1962.
As we reflect on Elvis Presley’s multifaceted influence, his benefit concert stands as a beacon of compassion and patriotism.
In commemorating Elvis Presley, we celebrate not just the King of Rock and Roll, but a compassionate soul whose chords of generosity and patriotism continue to resonate through the USS Arizona Memorial, reminding us of the profound impact one man can have on history.