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|ELVIS AND INDIANAPOLIS: THE LAST CONCERT REMEMBERED
June 23, 2017 - WIBC / Elvis Express Radio
The story of the King, his last concert, the people who were there and the place where it happened.
A SPECIAL called "Elvis Has Left the Building" will air Monday at 7 p.m. on 93 WIBC.
Forty years ago Elvis Presley performed for the final time. The last concert was in Indianapolis, at Market Square Arena. The arena is gone. The King is gone. But, the spirit of the
man and his last concert is alive in the memories of people who were there.
The people who were there
"I got a call in the spring of '77 and he said, 'Parker, do you know that Elvis is gonna be in Market Square Arena?' I said I hadn't heard that. He says, 'We're going!'" said David
Parker, of Anderson, whose college buddy Randy was an Elvis aficionado.
They were two people in a crowd of around 18,000 who were at Market Square Arena the night of June 26, 1977. It was about two months before Presley died.
"He really looked terrible. He really looked bad," said Jacque Quick, of Indianapolis, who went to the show that night with a friend. She was 30 at the time, with two two-year old twins
at home. She says she can't remember how she was able to get out of the house and go to the show.
"Of course we all knew that he wasn't well. But, he performed well," she said.
Quick remembers the buzz around Indy when the King was coming into town. She worked at the Hilton where he stayed.
"They snuck him in the back and the bellman who would take up room service, we'd try to bribe them with money. And they said, well, we don't even get to see him."
What the show foreshadowed
Parker remembers the overall concert being great, but said Presley's voice wasn't up to what it once was.
"I enjoyed and appreciated it. I had never seen Elvis live before. I think maybe some of them had before and they noticed the change and they wanted this to be never-ending. They
wanted Elvis to be never-ending and I think some of them had a clue that night," said Parker.
Some of them may have indeed seen Presley before. He performed at Market Square Arena the year it opened, in 1974.
The story of Market Square Arena
The story of Elvis' last concert can't be told without also telling the story of Market Square Arena. After it was built, it became a kind of visual personification of the personality of
downtown Indianapolis. After Presley performed his last show there, it became a shrine.
"Market Square Arena was the peg for growth in that sector of our city," said Dick Lugar, who was mayor when the Arena opened. "It brought enormous new vitality to the downtown
area. We began to think of ourselves as we should, as a major city, as big league."
Market Square hosted hockey teams, state championships, concerts (the first was the day the place opened in '74-Glen Campbell), and it was the home to the Indiana Pacers
"We wouldn't have gotten an NBA franchise had we not built Market Square Arena," said Bobby "Slick" Leonard, former coach of the Pacers and the man whose voice you hear now
on Pacers radio broadcasts. "So, had we not built Market Square Arena, would we have gotten the RCA dome and the Colts?"
"The Coliseum wasn't exactly the best place for the Pacers to play," said former mayor Bill Hudnut, who was in Congress when Market Square opened. "And this was terrific with its
MarKet Square Arena closed in 1999 and was imploded in 2001. It was an event that brought thousands of people to downtown. What's in its place now could make the city just as
proud. In addition to the new Cummins building is a new 30-story apartment building called 360 Market Square, which will offer tenants a panoramic view of the city through a nearly
The legend lives on
Presley didn't intend for the Indianapolis show to be his last. He had planned to go out on tour again in August. The recording that exists was taped by someone in the audience, far
back in the house. But, you can hear Presley slurring some of his words. But, people were there for the spirit of the event, says Parker.
"Magnetic was a term that I used. By the end these people were all mesmerized. When we were leaving I spent a lot of time looking at all these people and they were clearly, clearly
affected by what they'd seen," he said.
Quick, who caught a scarf and still has it, said the crowd was there to see the King, no matter the shape.
"They were manic. That was Elvis. And everybody, they were-the women were just nuts."