Visitors to Blaisdell Center have probably noticed the statue of Elvis Presley outside the arena. It commemorates his Aloha from Hawaii concert held there on January 14, 1973; claimed as the first concert televised worldwide by satellite and viewed by an estimated 1 billion people.
If you haven’t seen this concert you must! This isn’t just Blaisdell Center history. Its Hawaii history. Its American history.
The Aloha concert is considered by many the highlight of Elvis’ career. All proceeds from the show and the January 12th rehearsal were donated to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, and tickets didn’t have a set cost- any donated amount could get you in! The fundraiser raised much more than intended, even City staff working the Blaisdell (then called the HIC) volunteered their time and donated salary to the cause.
Elvis is still greatly admired today, his statue is almost always adorned with flower lei. Visitors are frequent, and Elvis fans have even inquired about entering Blaisdell Arena to take photos of its interior. And thousands of people from around the world converged on the arena in 2013 to experience the 40th anniversary screening of this concert.
Elvis was much more than a great performance artist; he was a philanthropist, a patriot, and a veteran. He donated a large portion of the funding used to construct the Arizona Memorial. Elvis fans today, in that same spirit, have also given to support the upkeep of this memorial.
Elvis, or at least his statue, has even attended one of our Project meetings- meeting by his statue, we declared him an honorary member of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center War Memorial Project. Surely he would have supported our cause- returning honor to a forgotten war memorial!