Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, July 26, 2007

Elvis is outside the building — the Blaisdell, that is

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer


Friends Marli Jenkins, foreground, and Camille Watts, both 16-year-olds from Kailua, place lei on the newly unveiled statue of Elvis Presley at a dedication ceremony today at the Neal Blaisdell Center.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

spacer spacer
Elvis has returned next to the building.

A life-sized Elvis Presley bronze statue was unveiled this morning a stone's throw from where the king of rock 'n' roll gave a historic satellite-live TV concert from the then-named Honolulu International Center Arena (now the Neal Blaisdell Center Arena) on Ward Avenue.

Between 500 and 600 people, mainly diehard Presley fans — who either saw him, wished they saw him or became Presleymaniacs after his death — waited in a hot morning sun for the unveiling. They cheered when the life-like replica, featuring Presley in a singing pose and wearing a costume replicating what he wore during the historic 1973 "Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii" concert, seen globally by an audience of 1.5 billion in 40 nations. More than half of the TV viewers in the U.S. also tuned in for that Honolulu concert.

Larry Jones, president of TV Land, the cable TV network which selected Honolulu for the Presley tribute to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death (Aug. 16, 1977) at age 42, told the crowd "the true king of rock 'n' roll" was home.

The bronze statue shows Presley clutching a microphone in his right hand, in his familiar beaded costume regalia, complete with elaborate belt with eagle emblems, numerous studs on the costume, and stars at his pleated bell-bottom trousers.

He stands on a pedestal that depicts an oversized recording, with a front plaque that reads: "Elvis Aloha From Hawaii ... The World's First Satellite TV concert, Jan.14, 1973 ... With supreme talent and sincere humility, Elvis Presley made his gift the world's ... Thank you, thank you very much ... From the People of TV Land."

Mayor Mufi Hannemann, describing himself as "the tallest Elvis mayor in the world," was the first to place a maile lei on Presley's extended left arm.

"I'm so happy and thankful that the statue's here," said Lovely Kwock, who was clutching photographs of herself with Presley taken when when she was 23 and when Presley was staying at the Ilikai hotel while filming "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" here. "I had to take a half-day off from work (Kuhio Elementary School) to be there. And I can stop by to see Elvis every day after work."

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.