February 1, 2016

That time in 1977 when Elvis Presley got out of his limo on East Washington in Madison to break up a fist fight.

"'[T]he fight ended 'as soon as [the youths] realized who they were up against'... Still decked out in a blue jumpsuit worn during a Thursday concert in Des Moines, Ia., Presley didn't leave the service station until tempers had cooled. 'Elvis asked: "Is everything settled now?"'... [T]he rock star was later amused at his role in the episode. 'Did you see those guys' faces?'"

There's a plaque there now, marking the spot: Elvis Madison Karate Fight Memorial Plaque.

ADDED: Note that I got Iowa in there. That's all the Iowa I'm doing until caucus time. Don't want to max out on Iowa. 

29 comments:

Brando said...

If that was in 1977 when Elvis was in his "heavy" stage, that must have been quite the sight.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Wasn't Elvis dead by then?

Char Char Binks said...

I had a boss who claimed to have been there when Elvis stopped the fight. He said he and his punk friends yelled insults at Presley, things like, "Get out of here, you fat southern redneck!", or words to that effect. I'm not sure I believe him.

Gusty Winds said...

Best Post Rver. Had no idea. Will make my pilgrimage to Madison this weekend.

Ron said...

"Could Karate Fight Have Aided Death Of 'The King'?" -- hypothetical headline from the Madison Enquirer, a hypothetical tabloid.

tim in vermont said...

The 1970s are underrated as a decade.

Ann Althouse said...

"Wasn't Elvis dead by then?"

That was in June. He died in August.

madAsHell said...

George Washinton slept here.

Gusty Winds said...

True Story: I once sat next to Elvis Presley's former wardrobe manager on a 7:30am flight from Birmingham, AL to Chicago, IL. I was 17 years old. June 1986. He had pictures of him and Elvis back stage at a bunch of jumpsuit shows, and had a TCB charm on a bracelet he said Elvis gave him. Said he worked for him from 1970 to 1974.

He was drinking vodka tonics and popping valium, so as soon as he realized what a huge Elvis fan I was, I was doing the same.

He said Elvis was awesome and was a very genuine guy. He did not like Pricilla. I asked him to tell me some 'dirt', so he told me he used to loan his apartment to Jim Neighbors and Burt Reynolds to meet for their trysts.

As the flight was landing in Chicago, he asked me what my favorite Elvis song was and I told him I liked how Elvis stole "My Way" from Sinatra. So both of us, drunk, sang My Way from the back of the plane to the irritated amusement of the business passengers.

My mother was not happy when she met me at the gate despite my story.

SOJO said...

Relevant:Ryan Gosling. Too bad no cam phones for Elvis.

Limited blogger said...

I second the motion that this is the best post ever!

As with a number of things swirling around during my youth, I did not give Elvis his due at the time. I was aware of him, and I didn't hate him, but I had some many other things to attend to. I grew to love him retroactively. The more I came to know about him, his music, and his movies, the more I loved him.

This story is a cherry on top of that sundae.

Thorley Winston said...

I asked him to tell me some 'dirt', so he told me he used to loan his apartment to Jim Neighbors and Burt Reynolds to meet for their trysts.

Poor Loni, she never had a chance . . . ;)

traditionalguy said...

Elvis was a Tupelo, Mississippi red neck show off. But he sure could sing good.

madAsHell said...

That time in 1977 when Elvis Presley got out of his limo on East Washinton in Madison

I guess I'm the only spelling nazi here today, but Washinton is spelled with a 'g'.
Google Maps confirms that there is no East Washinton street in Madison.

Vinny D said...

Great and believable story, Gusty. I know Burt was pretty good friends with Jim. Burt used to go on talk shows and talk about how gorgeous a certain guy was. Always thought he probably swung both ways.

Bruce Hayden said...

My partner worked in Las Vegas during that time, and met a lot of stars. The two who stood out were Elvis and Cosby (and, no, she doesn't believe that Cosby is guilty there - he was the most family oriented star she knew back then, and one of the very few who never tried to pick her up). She and a friend got to go to an Elvis concert (comped by the King), and then backstage afterwards. Despite his age (as contrasted to hers), he was maybe the sexiest man she had ever met. He just reeked of male pheromones. He gave her a scarf to remember him by. Also to his credit, he was also one of the few stars who never tried to pick her up (which may be part of why she thought that he was so sexy).

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry about the typo.

Thanks for the heads up.

Char Char Binks said...

Ron said...
'"Could Karate Fight Have Aided Death Of 'The King'?" -- hypothetical headline from the Madison Enquirer, a hypothetical tabloid.'

My former boss claimed his insults finally did in Presley.

walter said...

Poor Loni, she never had a chance . . . ;)

Heh..I have a friend who used to work with an LA moving company who told me about packing things up at their place..must have been early 90's. Said there were huge photos etc of her all over the walls. Maybe she had Jim sing "How great thou art" for her.

Wilbur said...

Nabors, not Neighbors. An understandable mistake.

The crowd I grew up with in the 60's regarded Presley contemptuously, as a grade C- greasy singer with grade F choice of material in songs and movies, at least after the Sun Sessions. I see no reason to feel differently today.

But I have no difficulty in conceding that if his music spoke to you, then you should regard him as great.

Skipper said...

Having lived in Madison in 1977, and never hearing such a story until now, I'm skeptical.

tim in vermont said...

This tops the time Tom Cruise and his bodyguards saved that lady from a mugger in London.

tim in vermont said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/184815.stm

tim in vermont said...

Topped it because Elvis was wearing an actual superhero costume

Mac McConnell said...

That Southern redneck sacred the shit out of those Madison pajama boys.

Fabi said...

Bonus points if he sang 'Everybody was Kung Fu fighting' during the altercation.

Fabi said...

Regarding the Burt and Jim story: they did appear together in the film 'Stroker Ace'.

walter said...

Maybe this should be a conflict de-escalating technique...sending in a suitably ridiculous costume/celebrity character to defuse the situation.

chickelit said...

Very cool story, Althouse. That 1977 Elvis show in Madison was one of those coulda shoulda woulda shows for me. But you see I was too "cool" for Elvis then. Regrets are expressed here.