For Elvis Aaron Presley, 1973 was a crossroads. He was in the midst of a career resurgence kick-started by the television special Singer Presents Elvis (aka, the ’68 Comeback Special), fortified by a string of hits recorded at Memphis studio American Sound (“In The Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Kentucky Rain”) and kicked into the stratosphere by a return to live performance after a decade mired in formulaic, unsatisfying films.
Indeed, 1973 was the year of Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite, a live concert television special broadcast in over 40 countries which later became a best-selling double LP. In the show, Elvis offered undeniable proof of his performing prowess, backed by a crack band including Telecaster master James Burton, heavenly vocalists The Sweet Inspirations, and driven by indomitable drummer Ronnie Tutt. He was also basking in the glow of two hit documentaries, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972), which offered indisputable proof that The King was in command.
However, despite outward appearances, all was not well for Presley in 1973. He was deeply depressed over his divorce to Priscilla Ann Presley, which was in its final stages. Friends and colleagues commented on his weight gain, which would ebb and flow until his death four years later. Also, it was alleged that his prescription drug dependency, which began during his Army tour of duty in Germany, had become increasingly problematic. Finally, he was at odds with his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, who seemed to care more about his prodigious gambling debts than he did about developing his client’s career.