Behind The Scenes of ‘Elvis On Tour’ 1972 in Texas

On April 18, 1972. I was setting in Hemisfair Arena with Patti Sanders and Sandie Bailey as the preshow began for Elvis Presley’s concert in San Antonio.

Elvis in San Antonio, 1972.

This was my first of half a dozen times I’d see him perform and had no idea how much that concert would change my life.

My paradigm was Elvis in the movies or from the 1950s. When Also Sprach Zarathustra, the theme from “2001 A Space Odyssey” began the arena was blown away as an energetic, white jump suited- with modishly styled jet black hair– Elvis appeared with thousands of camera lights flashing. We weren’t prepared for the overwhelming response and barrier breaking performance.

Little did the audience know what had been going on behind the scenes. By April 1972, years of tension between Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, had built up to an all-time fervor of angry resentment.

During the filming of the musical documentary “Elvis on Tour,” Elvis and Parker were seen in the heat of a fierce disagreement in the hallway of the Hilton Palacio Del Rio hotel.

One police officer assigned to elevator security called it “one vicious battle of words between the two.”

Down below, while San Antonio celebrated the city’s annual Fiesta party on the River Walk, “Elvis came out of his room in his pajamas and he was not happy,” the officer told his peers later. “I wasn’t quite sure who the big man (Parker) was, but the men around Elvis all moved as far away as they could. One told me it was okay, ‘they both need to clear the air about this.’ I went back towards the elevator but could still hear the yelling.”

The night before, on April 17, Elvis, or one of his “Memphis Mafia,” (entourage) found a bugging device in the limousine taking them to the Hilton Palacio Del Rio hotel.

According to Charlie Hodge, “Elvis, by this time things were so bad, that his first thought it was the Colonel’s people spying on him.”

“Later we found out it was a hidden microphone recording dialogue for the movie ‘Elvis on Tour’,” Memphis Mafia member Hodge explained to Jack Dennis in May 1976.

Elvis in San Antonio, 1972.

Cinema Associates, an independent film company from North Hollywood was filming during his San Antonio performance. “But some of us thought Elvis had every right to blame Colonel the way things had been going.”

Somehow the argument between Elvis and the Colonel ended on a positive note that when he arrived for his performance he was prepared to give one of the best shows of his life.

“Elvis On Tour” captures many of the highlights of that prominent concert.

San Antonio, 1972

After the show, the Colonel wondered how their relationship would be the remainder of the tour. But the next day, at the Albuquerque Hilton, when he went to Elvis for a “very special request,” there was no tension. In fact, the fulfillment of the request would go down as one of the most tender in Elvis Presley’s history.


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Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Space Explorers
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.

As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.

He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.

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