Greatest Gigs Ever: Elvis Presley – ’68 Comeback Special, aired 9th December 1968
Usually referred to as The '68 Special or The '68 Comeback, the actual name of this landmark television special was Elvis. Taped in June 1968, it first aired the following December 3rd on NBC-TV. It stands as one of the great television moments in rock music history and a stunningly brilliant milestone in Elvis Presley's career.
Elvis rocked the world in the 1950's, a leader among musicians who brought about a revolution in music and pop culture. Through most of the 1960's he concentrated mainly on his movie career, which was very successful, but had become a grind and had not given him many opportunities to prove himself as a serious actor. By 1968, it had been more than seven years since Elvis had appeared on stage in front of a live audience. In this television special Elvis plays his greatest role – simply being h
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imself – his magnificent, incomparable self.
Appearing on stage alone and in jam sessions reuniting him with early bandmates Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, Elvis performs his classic rock and pop hits, introduces new material and reminisces about his career.
There's a rousing gospel segment, a semi-autobiographical production number, and, as the finale, Elvis' passionate performance of If I Can Dream – the voice, the energy, the moves, the look, the charisma, the attitude – to many, this show represents Elvis Presley at his very best. After this triumph Elvis poured renewed creative vigor into his recording work, wrapped up his movie contract obligations and returned full-time to the concert stage, beginning a new and exciting era of his career.
Presley's informal jamming in front of a small audience in the '68 Comeback Special is regarded as a forerunner of the so-called 'Unplugged' concept, later popularised by MTV.
The video clip features a segment from the landmark show: