December 12, 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.
Special Rubberneckin' Podcast dedicated to the "'68 Special" Exhibit.
In this special edition of the Rubberneckin' podcast, Elvis Presley Enterprises Alicia Dean and Kevin Kern feature an exclusive interview about the opening of the recently expanded "'68 Special" Exhibit. Graceland's Archives Director Angie Marchese joins the Rubberneckin' duo and shares details on the work that went into making the expanded exhibit possible, plus how it gives Elvis fans an entirely new experience. Learn all about the brand new wall-sized video on display and the new '68 Special artifacts now featured. Also, hear first-hand from our Elvis experts on why this legendary live performance meant so much to Elvis both personally and professionally. Fans can hear interviews with Elvis while recording the '68 Special and live excerpts from the NBC production, including the first-ever jam session featuring the king and several of his former band members. As we wrap up this special edition of the Rubberneckin' podcast, Marchese talks about why this exhibit will always remain at Elvis Presley's Graceland and offers a sneak peak at the new VIP exhibit coming in February.