For Nassau Coliseum goers, the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing will always have special meaning. The undisputed King of Rock and Roll died on Aug. 16, 1977. For many Long Islanders, that was the day the music died. Elvis was scheduled to perform a sold-out show at the Coliseum on Aug. 22.
Assorted Coliseum gigs, an Elvis matinee and some classics
Elvis Presley must have enjoyed entertaining at the Nassau Coliseum because he returned to the Uniondale arena several times throughout his career. In 1973, the “Hound Dog” singer performed three times in two days, Jun. 22 and 23 while on Long Island. Presley’s 3 o’clock matinee was a smash.
While in Uniondale, the former Sun Sessions recording idol delivered hip-shaking covers of some vintage classics, among them “See See Rider,” “I Got a Woman” and “Blue Suede Shoes.” He also pumped out several early 1970s essentials like Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and other Elvis favorites, including “Suspicious Minds” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” But the bloated karate-chopping-big-collar-cape wearing rock star was not done with the Nassau Coliseum.
More Elvis, the ’77 model and tickets please
Presley returned to Nassau on Jul. 19, 1975 for two gigs. Once again, the greatest pelvis on earth gave a 2:30 p.m. matinee performance. According to some reports, the king’s set list touched on his rockabilly-ish roots with an exciting rendition of “Mystery Train.” By all accounts, the notorious fried peanut butter and banana sandwich addict rocked the house. Apparently, the best part of Elvis’s ‘75 Coliseum outing was his stirring presentation of the tearjerker “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” with Presley at the grand piano. By that point, there was not a dry eye in the place.
If Elvis had lived, what songs would he have sung at the Nassau Coliseum in 1977? No doubt, he would have included some Presley gems from the early days. But would the Mississippi-born music titan have covered other hits from that year, like Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights” or Manfred Mann’s “Blinded By The Light?” Nobody will ever know. Nevertheless, Elvis Presley is still relevant. The unused tickets from the 1977 Nassau Coliseum show that never happened are still a hot commodity. It’s similar to those fans who revere their Beatle stubs from the historic Shea Stadium performances.
Recently, gothamist.com published “Watch New Yorkers React to Elvis’s Death In 1977” which shows the magnitude of Presley’s passing. One local area reporter in Manhattan went out and interviewed people unrehearsed right off the street about the news that Elvis had died. Even today, the King of Rock and Roll lives on in many ways.