Elvis Presley Performs ‘Unchained Melody’ At Concert 6 Weeks Before Passing

Aug 03, 2022 by apost team

Elvis Presley was a superstar in the truest sense of the word — he was a talented musician and performer with a larger-than-life persona. Having passed away over nearly 45 years ago on Aug. 16, 1977, he is still remembered by his fans and family, who honor him in various ways.

Each year fans mourn the icon in many ways and on various occasions, such as his birthday, which takes place on Jan. 8, or the date on which he passed away. Much of the commemorations for the king take place at his former home, famously known as "Graceland," which features all kinds of history. 

Just six weeks before his death, Elvis sang his own heart-wrenching rendition of the beloved song, "Unchained Melody.'" While the track isn't an original piece by Elvis, the performance has since gone down in history as one of his most iconic. Even with his health quickly deteriorating, the legendary singer poured all his raw emotion into the song, his voice as compelling as ever. In June 1977, although in ill health, Elvis hit the road to film a concert special.

It had been a year since the singer had released his last studio album, and his manager Colonel Tom Parker was eager to keep Elvis relevant in the industry. The "Can't Help Falling In Love" singer was only 42 years old at the time yet suffered from an enlarged intestine, bowel issues, and an enlarged heart. He was incredibly bloated and visibly depressed, and that was all thanks to his years of prescription medication abuse and questionable dietary habits. His dire state of health – both mental and physical – made no difference to neither his manager nor his fans. The show had to go on.

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For them, it was clear that the show could not end. So on June 19, 1997, Parker put together a film crew to record a concert in Omaha.

It was meant to air as a television special, and the tracks were to be released on a live album. 

Elvis Presley's final recorded concert took place in Rapid City, South Dakota, at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in June 1977. The concert is memorable since it shows one of the last times The King performed live, as well as a kind of preoccupation on his mind, which, unbeknownst to him at the time, he would die soon after. In this clip, Elvis was seen performing "Unchained Melody," and it's gripping to watch.

In front of a crowd of just over 10,000 unsuspecting individuals, Elvis took part in what would be his last recorded performance in 1977. When Elvis, best known now as the "King of Rock and Roll," took the stage at the Civic Center in Rapid City, he was wearing his most famous outfit.

The dazzling white-and-gold Chief suit, complete with the second belt, would be the way millions of individuals remembered Elvis long after his untimely death. He performed "Unchained Melody" on this fateful night, and it was a performance that haunts all of his fans. 

After his concert at the Civic Center, Elvis did perform a few more shows. However, this night was special. This show was Elvis's last professionally recorded performance. As you watch the video, you may be able to see that he is struggling to make it through the course of the song itself. 


Since his passing, this recording has continued to weigh on the minds of fans. Fans who had previously seen Elvis perform often express how energetic and full of life Elvis was. If anything, this performance carried more emotion and energy than any before. 

However, if you watch closely, there were some signs that Elvis was struggling as he performed. Records have suggested that Elvis likely died of a heart attack on Aug. 16, 1977.

Performing before he passed away, there were signs and symptoms that the artist wasn't entirely well. Critics struggle to determine whether his struggles were due to his knowledge of his bandmate, David Briggs, and his girlfriend, Linda Thompson, potentially having an affair or if he was experiencing the early signs of heart failure.

All the same, the performance that Elvis gave that evening was beautiful. Members of the audience have recalled having chills still thinking about the moment. While the video can only capture a fraction of the emotion and intensity of his performance, it is still a moment that will go down in history.

Since its original release, "Unchained Melody" has been a very notable song in musical history. The song is easily adapted so that hundreds of artists have been able to perform personal covers of the song. 

Artists such as The Righteous Brothers, Heart, Cyndi Lauper, LeAnn Rimes, and Barry Manilow have recorded and released individual covers of this song, as well as hundreds of other artists. However, none will be as powerful as this last recorded performance. 

Ultimately, Elvis displayed his talents as a musician and performer throughout his final recorded performance. At various points throughout the show, it was evident that Elvis was in emotional or physical pain — and, quite possibly, both — but it was hard to tell what was bothering him.

The King of Rock and Roll did not let any discomfort stop him, though. Instead, he performed one of the most powerful and moving recordings in musical history. Elvis has and will continue to be a musical icon and an inspiration for thousands of up-and-coming musicians. 

On June 21, just two days after the iconic performance, the same crew accompanied Elvis on the road to Rapid City, South Dakota. That same evening, he put up a show at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center with over 10,000 fans in attendance. It was his second to the last time he would ever perform. Steve Beshara, a local who was among the crowd that night, spoke to KOTA ABC News about the legendary performance in 2017.

“Just electricity was just going throughout the building," he said. "It was just, the hair was standing up on your neck, back your neck and then everyone, just the crowd, the crowd pretty much exploded trying to just to try to see Elvis when he was coming on the stage."

Forty years after attending the concert, Beshara got to relive that fateful night by watching one of the scarcely released films. He said he still thought it was the best concert he had ever been to. 

Elvis’ rendition of 'Unchained Melody' from that same night is proof that Beshara has good reason to hail it as such. His guitarist, Charlie Hodge, held up Elvis’ microphone as he delivered the emotional song with his enchanting voice. Even with his battered body, Elvis still managed to perform what is arguably one of the most powerful moments of his career. 

Rushmore Plaza Civic Center today remains one of the only locations of Elvis’ last tour that is still intact, which means many fans, historians, and culture enthusiasts still visit it regularly.

"This is the only building intact from that last tour of his that’s still intact and hasn't been renovated so Barnett Arena and Rapid City will forever be linked with Elvis Presley in that way," Craig Baltzer from the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center told KOTA.

More of Elvis’ personal life and final moments were revealed in the 2022 film “Elvis.” Directed by Baz Luhrmann, who also co-wrote the screenplay, the movie followed the life of Elvis told from the perspective of his manager. With Austin Butler in the titular role and Tom Hanks portraying Parker, the film’s release was a huge success, becoming one of the highest-grossing music biopics of all time. Elvis’ own family also praised the film for portraying the star so brilliantly.

A soundtrack was also released to coincide with the movie, sharing more of Elvis’ incredible music with the world. It’s evident that no matter how many years go by without Elvis, his music – and memory – will never be forgotten.

Did you find Elvis Presley’s performance as incredibly powerful as we did? Let us know, and be sure to pass this final recorded concert on to any Elvis fans you know.

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