December 03, 2013
In celebration of the 45th anniversary, Elvis Presley's Graceland is excited to open the newly expanded "'68 Special" Exhibit! The new exhibit features original artifacts from this legendary televised event that took place on December 3, 1968, on NBC. The expanded exhibit features an interactive video experience, never-displayed-before pages of the script with Elvis’ handwritten notes and his outfit from the club production scene, including the jacket worn during his visit with President Richard Nixon in 1970.
The show, originally named “Elvis” but now commonly referred to as the "'68 Comeback Special," the show was directed and produced by Steve Binder. The “’68 Special” opened with Elvis singing a hot new version of the gutsy "Trouble," from his 1958 film “King Creole.” This segued into “Guitar Man,” which became the underlying theme of the show. Elvis was then reunited with two of his original '50s band members, guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana for an informal jam session - considered the first of its kind. The show ended with the iconic performance of “If I Can Dream.” The song, written by the show's musical director W. Earl Brown, was in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. “If I Can Dream” describes a world full of hope and free of doubt, pain, and fear.
After hearing "If I Can Dream" for the first time, Elvis said, “I’m never going to sing another song I don’t believe in. I’m never going to make another picture I don’t believe in.” Elvis had just wrapped up his movie contract in Hollywood and was eager to return to the stage. By this time, it had been more than seven years since Elvis had appeared in front of a live audience. The special was watched by 42 percent of the viewing audience, making it the number one show for the season and giving NBC its biggest ratings victory of the year. The special received rave reviews from the critics and Elvis was indeed back on top.