On April 1, 1975, Elvis ended yet another engagement at the Las Vegas
Hilton. The past 6 or so months had not been easy for him. Some of the fall ’
74 shows had been disastrous, with especially the infamous College Park
shows being a “red flag moment” for many in the Presley organisation.

The star had also turned 40 recently, which had resulted in headlines like
“Fat and 40” and “What’s Ahead For The Aging King”. Nevertheless,
despite the fact that this engagement had been postponed from its original
January date due to a hospitalisation, Presley was actually in fine form
during these Vegas shows, giving solid, entertaining shows with a generous
dose of new material.

For Duke Bardwell, Elvis’ bass player since January 1974, this engagement
marked the end of the line, and there was a definite sense of relief on Duke’
s part:

“It’s like when you’re in a relationship that you know is really not going well,
and the longer you stay in, the worse it gets for everybody”. Elvis had
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sometimes belittled Duke openly on stage because of his bassplaying, and naturally Elvis’ at times crass comments had been a source of embarrassment for
Duke. Reflecting upon the situation today, he comments:  “I ain’t no Jerry Scheff. There is no other Jerry Scheff. But I was trying to do a good job, and be as
professional about it as I could. Jerry Scheff IS a bassplayer – that’s what he does. I was a guitarplaying songwriter who just happened to play some bass and
got lucky!”.  If it was checking-out time, then at least Duke did it with a bang – or rather, with a splash! During that final show, he emptied the entire contents
of a waterpistol on Elvis’ chest, much to the latter’s surprise. You can see Duke talk about the waterpistol fight here:


Despite the fact that working with Elvis hadn’t always been easy, Duke still talks about him with great affection: “I never stopped loving him. To me, he was the
Elvis of the 50s and I was always looking for that in him. That energy, that mysticism and all of that. I knew that what I had there in '74/'75 wasn't necessarily
all that, but there was enough of him still there. I was crazy about him”.

Duke will be touring Europe in May 2010 as part of ‘The Original Elvis Tribute 2010’. For a complete overview of the shows, please go to: www.elvisnews.dk

Photo: Las Vegas, March 1975