Channeling Elvis

04 Feb, 2014

by Molly Snyder

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On June 28, 1974, the legendary Elvis Presley performed at the Arena in Milwaukee (which is now the U.S. Cellular Arena). That night, after the concert, Elvis stayed at the Pfister Hotel.

The story behind his visit is amusing. On April 25, a little more than two months prior to his gig, the Milwaukee Journal ran a four-paragraph story on page 15 of the paper with the headline “Elvis To Be Here June 28.” Tickets were available for $10, $7.50 and $5 via mail order only.

This was the only announcement about the show – no other printed, TV or radio ads. However, 4,500 requests for tickets were received within days, selling out the show and leaving many Elvis fans ticket-less.

Last summer, a Pfister employee shared with me and my family the story of Elvis’ famous stay. He told us Elvis stood on the south-end landing overlooking the lobby and waved at the crowd before retiring to his room for the night.

My family is filled with Elvis enthusiasts. My father loved The King and had to hide his blue suede shoes from his mother who despised the pelvis-thrusting hound dog. My partner’s mother is a big fan, too, and we took her to her first Elvis impersonator’s show last winter.

One of our 11-year-olds likes him so much that we bought her a pair of fake Elvis glasses, complete with sideburns, for the holidays.

On Sunday, we decided to take her photo, wearing the glasses, in the exact spot in the hotel as Elvis stood almost exactly 40 years ago. However, we quickly realized it was such a fun idea that all of us – with the exception of our 10-year-old who was at a soccer game – would partake in the photoshoot.

Even Pfister artists in residence, Stephanie Barenz, her husband, Zach, and Pfister Lobby Bar bartender Joni got in the Elvis-channeling action.

Here’s a gallery serving as our tribute to The King’s brief but unforgettable appearance in the lobby. I call it “Heartbreak Hotel, Pfister style.”

Olivia is Elvis.

Olivia is Elvis.

Stephanie is Elvis.

Stephanie is Elvis.

Royal is Elvis.

Royal is Elvis.

Joani is Elvis.

Joni is Elvis.

Kai River is Elvis.

Kai River is Elvis.

Zach is Elvis.

Zach is Elvis.

And I am Elvis, too – blowing kisses to my invisible adoring fans.

And I am Elvis, too – blowing kisses to my invisible adoring fans.

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  • J Burton

    Interesting article! I attended that concert in 1974. The ticket stub from that show remains one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia. $10 to see Elvis!

About the author

Molly Snyder

Molly Snyder has lived in Milwaukee her entire life. She started keeping a diary when she was four and published her first poem at age 10 called “The Unicorn” in the now-defunct Shorewood Herald. Today, she writes less about mythical creatures and more about Milwaukee people and places. She is a senior writer at OnMilwaukee.com, where she has worked for the last 12 years. Telling people’s stories is her passion.

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