August 15, 2010

It's been 33 years since Elvis fans were all shook up

The rock world was rocked by the death of the King, who would be 75 this year, and was to perform in Portland the very next day.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Elvis fans mourn his death at a memorial at the civic center on Aug. 18, 1977, one of the two days he was scheduled to perform in Portland.

Telegram file

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Alice Dickey of South Portland is a member of True Fans for Elvis, which formed after the singer’s death in 1977, and also is the manager of Elvis tribute performer Robert Washington of Auburn.

Sarah Craig

Additional Photos Below


MARCH 1977: The Cumberland County Civic Center opens in Portland, giving local music fans hope that the venue would attract the biggest national music acts.

JULY 1977: Tickets are sold at the Civic Center for an Elvis Presley show to be held Aug. 17. The line stretches throughout the Old Port and waterfront areas, and many fans wait more than 48 hours. After the first show sells out quickly, a show for Aug. 18 is added.

AUG. 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies at age 42 at his home in Memphis, Tenn., while preparing for a tour that was to begin in Portland the next day. Fans begin showing at the Cumberland County Civic Center that afternoon and turn it into an impromptu memorial by leaving flowers, notes and other items.

OCTOBER 1977: New Hampshire-based performer Stan Anderson does an Elvis tribute show at the Civic Center.

AUG. 18, 1999: Florida Elvis performer Jack Smink does an Elvis show at the civic center, saying he wants to bring some comfort to fans who missed seeing Presley in 1977.

AUG. 17, 2002: Smink does another Elvis tribute show at the civic center in recognition of the 25th anniversary of Presley's death. He does a 22-song set of Presley songs, and wears a replica of one of Presley's famed jumpsuits. "To me, this is the ultimate, to take care of unfinished business for Elvis," Smink said at the time

Some people eventually brought tickets in for refunds, Warner said. The civic center only kept a portion of those, so people could keep the rest as mementos. At one point, True Fans for Elvis held a fundraiser at which people got their refunds from the civic center, then donated the money to the American Heart Association. That event raised about $5,000, Gonyea said.

Today, for people who still hold tickets to those Portland shows, the greater value is emotional, not monetary. Last week, a pair of tickets for the Aug. 17 concert were being offered on eBay for $29.95, a nickel less than they would have cost at the civic center in 1977.

Lea Frydman, manager of an Elvis Presley Web site,, said while tickets from any of the scheduled 1977 Presley shows "hold a special place in the hearts of Elvis fans," tickets from his early shows in the mid-'50s are the most valuable.

"In the past, we auctioned some of those tickets off for charity and got maybe $150 per ticket, but that was quite a while a go," said Gonyea. "I've kept my ticket, and there's no way I'd give it up now." 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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Additional Photos

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The Cumberland County Civic Center still has a few tickets from Elvis Presley’s scheduled 1977 Portland dates.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Elvis Presley performs at a concert in Cincinnati in June 1977.

Courtesy photo


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