On Saturday night, Elvis fans packed the Elks Theatre for a remarkable tribute to the King of Rock ‘n Roll by Robert Shaw and the Lonely Street Band. The live concert was timed to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of Elvis’s death in August 1977. “Heartbreak Hotel—A Salute to Early Elvis” featured 23 of the King’s iconic rock hits from the 1950’s and 60’s.
Elvis Presley’s status as the King of Rock ‘n Roll stems from his original sound, fusing elements of country western, rhythm and blues and rockabilly into what became the foundation of rock ‘n roll. His flamboyant personal style and uninhibited stage performances in the 1950’s were widely imitated and ushered in a new era in pop music. Forty years after his death he continues to hold Billboard’s record for top forty hits (115) and most Gold singles (54).
Robert Shaw’s Lonely Street Productions specializes in tributes to iconic musical stars from the Golden Age of American pop music. They were in fine form for the Elvis show. Robert Shaw’s deep, rich and seemingly effortless baritone brought to life a long list of Elvis’s biggest hits. He was very ably backed by Alex Mack on guitar, Rob Boone on piano, Evan Dain on bass, and Fred Hayes on drums.
Act 1 of the show began with Elvis’s early recordings for Sam Phillips at the legendary Sun Records studio in Memphis, which also launched the careers of such notable early rockers as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich and B.B. King.
The birth of rock ‘n roll in the 1950’s was explosive and catapulted Elvis to overnight celebrity. After less than two years with Sun Records producing regional hits such as “That’s All Right Mama”, “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and touring local theaters and radio stations throughout the South, RCA bought out Elvis’s contract with Sun and gave him national exposure.
The breakthrough year was 1956, when the hit single, “Heartbreak Hotel”, became Elvis’s first Gold Record. Other million selling 45’s followed in quick succession: “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Hound Dog”, "Don’t Be Cruel”, “Too Much” and “All Shook Up”, all became chart topping Gold Records in 1956/57 and have lived on as rock standards.
Act 2 focused on hits from Elvis’s early movies. In 1956, Elvis was featured in his first movie, “Love Me Tender”. The record was released early and topped the charts before the movie hit the theaters. “Jailhouse Rock” and “Loving You” followed in 1957, “King Creole” in 1958, with “G.I Blues” and “Blue Hawaii” in 1960.
In all Elvis made 32 movies, most of them with formulaic story lines that featured a character from humble beginnings who rises to stardom, a comic romance, a fight scene, exotic locations and lots of Elvis’ singing. Many of these movie scores featured hit records such as “Hard Headed Women” and “Trouble” (King Creole), “Teddy Bear” (Loving You), "Can’t Help Falling”, (Blue Hawaii) and “Big Hunk O’ Love” (Elvis on Tour). All were performed to perfection along with a moving encore of the gospel favorite, “How Great Thou Art.”
All in all, it was a night of fun, nostalgia, and good rockin’ for a big crowd of Elvis fans.
Robert Shaw and the Lonely Street Band will return to the Elks Theatre, September 28, with “Dream Lover” a tribute to the music of Bobby Darin. Tickets can be purchased at 928.777.1370, or at Prescott Elks Theatre.
Left to Right: Rob Boone, Robert Shaw, fan David Stringer, and Alex Mack