45 Years Ago Today, Elvis Presley Would Have Performed at the Cumberland County Civic Center
August 16, 1977, is a day I still remember well, even though I was too young to know who Elvis Presley was. At the age of six, I wasn't into any music that wasn't on Sesame Street since I had only recently finished kindergarten. My mother however was behaving like she had lost a family member. That was the day that Elvis Presley died and the nation was rocked by the news that The King Of Rock N Roll was gone.
It hit Mainers particularly hard as many of them were holding tickets to his planned shows at the Cumberland County Civic Center, which has since been renamed the Cross Insurance Arena, for August 17 and August 18, the very next day after his sudden death.
He was scheduled to arrive on August 16 in Portland and stay at the Sheraton Inn Hotel, the two round buildings across from the Maine Mall, now the Doubletree, but it was not meant to be. Elvis had stayed at the hotel once already when he came to Maine for a concert at the Augusta Civic Center in May of 1977. At that time Augusta didn't have much in the way of hotels fit for the King of Rock N Roll, so he stayed at the Sheraton and traveled up the Maine Turnpike to do his show.
People who still have tickets to the show that never happened in Portland have saved them like precious gold all these years.
Look at that ticket price. $15! With inflation that is the equivalent of $73 today, which is still relatively cheap! Elvis was one of, if not THE most popular singer at the time. In comparison, the cheapest ticket for Lady Gaga at Fenway Park is almost $300.
The YouTube channel Elvis Back On Tour has a video that tours some of the locations Elvis would have been at and where he was when he came to Maine to play in Augusta three months before his death.
There was a documentary filmed back in 1981 called This is Elvis which features actual footage of Portland in 1977, including the Sheraton with the sign welcome Elvis, a shot of the Portland skyline and a Kentucky Fried Chicken with their own sign welcoming Elvis. Here's a clip of it.
Mom never did have a ticket to that show in Portland, but I bet she would have loved to go. I do remember her showing me pictures of Elvis in People magazine very well. Hard to believe it's been 45 years since we lost one of the greatest performers of all time.
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