Elvis Timeline of Dates and Important Events in 1974
Here’s a handy database of dates and events in Elvis Presley’s life during 1974. You can find out what else Elvis was up to in 1974 and in all the years of his life.
January 8: On the occasion of his thirty-ninth birthday, “Elvis Presley Day” is declared in both the city and county of Memphis, followed by a parade down Elvis Presley Boulevard.
January 15: In Los Angeles, Elvis begins initial rehearsals for his upcoming Vegas engagement, including new numbers such as Olivia Newton-John’s “Let Me Be There.”
January 19: Elvis visits MGM studios and pays $350 to see a private showing of the new film “The Exorcist”.
January 24: Elvis begins proper show rehearsals with the full band at the Hilton.
March 3: For some unknown reason, perhaps to get Elvis loosened up and alleviate his boredom, Colonel Tom Parker appears on stage tonight, atop a small donkey being led by Vernon Presley, during Elvis’ rendition of “Fever.” When Presley begins his next number, “Let Me Be There,” Vernon rides the donkey offstage, led by the Colonel.
March 16: Elvis returns to Memphis to play his first gig there since 1961. The singer’s four performances this week, perhaps because of the homecoming, are of significantly higher quality than what has become the norm. The Colonel, sensing this, arranges to have the last Memphis show recorded for an upcoming album.
May 15: Elvis begins rehearsals for his upcoming Lake Tahoe engagement.
May 16: Elvis opens his latest Tahoe engagement to tepid reviews.
May 20: A land developer from California named Edward L. Ashley is refused admittance to Elvis’ suite after the latest Tahoe show and accuses the King’s bodyguards of beating him severely while the singer looks on. Later in the year, he files an $11 million lawsuit that drags on until after Presley’s death.
May 27: Lisa Marie Presley, then five, meets an 11-year-old Michael Jackson for the first time when Elvis brings her to the Jackson 5 show at the Sahara in Vegas.
June 11: Vernon leaves Dee Stanley, leaves Graceland, and purchases a nearby home.
July 4: Elvis opens his new Tennessee Karate Institute with an hour-and-a-half long karate demonstration featuring the King and karate master Ed Parker. Portions of this demonstration will later be included in the documentary “This Is Elvis”.
July 5: A major redecoration of Graceland begins today, orchestrated by girlfriend Linda Thompson, including the infamous “Jungle Room.” For his part, Elvis stays in a nearby Howard Johnson’s while the work is done.
August 5: Elvis sends a check for $1,000 to the family of R&B legend Ivory Joe Hunter, who has fallen ill with cancer, in response to their request. In the accompanying letter, Presley calls Hunter a “great talent” and “an inspiration.”
August 14: Rehearsals begin for Elvis’ next Vegas engagement.
August 19: Elvis debuts his summer Vegas series of shows by revamping the entire concert, doing away with the “2001” theme opener and ditching all of his concert mainstays for new covers and bluesier numbers from his back catalog. The press is enthused, but audiences seem cool to the unexpected change; the next night, the show returns to its tried-and-true formula.
August 24: After a show, a bored Elvis paints one of the showroom’s female statues black. He begins pointing this out at every performance.
August 29: The Colonel is appalled when Presley interrupts tonight’s Vegas show to put on a lengthy karate demonstration. It doesn’t happen again.
September 2: Elvis interrupts the show again, this time to begin a long rambling interlude about the press, the fans, and his romantic relationships, including his failed marriage to Priscilla, who is in the audience with Lisa Marie.
September 16: During another karate exhibition at the Institute, Elvis announces to the press his plans to produce his first motion picture, a documentary about karate and its meaning to him.
September 19: Elvis visits Methodist Hospital in Memphis with Linda Thompson, whose sister-in-law is about to give birth. One expectant mother in the maternity ward tells the singer, “You look like Elvis Presley!” To which the King replies, “Honey, I am Elvis Presley.”
September 21: At Graceland, Elvis begins storyboarding the karate movie project, now entitled “The New Gladiators”. Envisioning the project as a metaphor for mankind defending the defenseless, the proposed final scene is described thusly: “On a remote hill the camera is on a close-up of Elvis as he stands in fighting stance. The camera zooms back… and we see what looks like (an army of fellow martial artists) doing the moves with him. He then does the Lord’s Prayer in Indian sign language as a soft wind gently blows around him. The picture ends with ‘The Beginning’ written across the screen.”
September 27: An obviously drugged Elvis accidentally falls to his knees while leaving the limo for tonight’s show at the University of Maryland, then gives a decidedly lackluster performance.
October 21: Elvis flies to Las Vegas for recent “health problems” that have caused him to miss recent shows, where Dr. Elias Ghanem discovers an ulcerous stomach and begins treating the singer with a special diet and sleep regimen in his home.
November 4: Elvis sets up production offices for the new karate film with “Memphis Mafioso” Jerry Schilling, for whom Presley also buys a new home.
November 19: Although he won’t turn forty for another two months, the tabloid The National Enquirer runs the headline “Elvis At 40: Paunchy, Depressed, and Living In Fear,” essentially setting off the printed rumor mill that will dog Presley till the end of his days.
December 24: Elvis loses interest suddenly in “The New Gladiators”, and production is immediately shut down, even though investors responded favorably to a recent presentation. The official explanation, however, centers around the King’s recent health problems.
December 30: For the first time, Colonel Parker is forced to cancel an entire engagement, not just a show here and there, due to Elvis’ increasingly erratic behavior. In writing, the Colonel directs the management of the Vegas Hilton to contact Dr. Ghanem for “the proper interpretation for the appropriate press release.”