The March 18 column by entertainment reporter Joshua Tehee questioned Bee readers by asking, “Who’s the biggest name to play Fresno?”
Unfortunately, although Mr. Tehee mentioned several viable candidates, he omitted the obvious answer to his question.
Overwhelming evidence via ticket sales, crowd appeal and media attention point to the person I had interviewed twice, and had traveled with during three consecutive days: Elvis Presley.
During his second appearance in Fresno, on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1974, Elvis established records that still stand. And my dear late mom, Lucille, whom I took to the concert, was among the throng that left their seats and crowded around the stage.
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According to my old friend Lawrence “Jake” Kast, Fresno’s then deputy chief of police (and Elvis’s escort during his stay), the welcoming Elvis received at the air terminal upon his arrival was greater than any presidential greeting.
Kast estimated that 25,000 fans participated in seeing Elvis at the airport, at Selland Arena and the Hilton Hotel on Van Ness where he stayed that evening.
Who’s the biggest name to play Fresno?
It’s not even a contest. Besides, I have Elvis’s autograph on three of his 1956 Sun Record labels!
Elvin C. Bell, Fresno