Elvis Presley is one of the most iconic and beloved musicians in history. His impact on popular culture, music, and fashion cannot be overstated. Elvis was known for his powerful voice, charismatic stage presence and electrifying performances that captured audiences around the world.
Many people have questions about his touring schedule. Did Elvis ever go on an international tour? The answer to that question is complicated, as there are a few different answers depending on what you mean by “international tour.” Let’s take a closer look at Elvis’s touring history to understand why.
Early Touring: The United States
From 1954-1961, Elvis toured extensively across the United States. He became famous for his energetic live performances that featured him gyrating his hips and singing rockabilly hits like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” and “Jailhouse Rock.” During this time he performed in countless cities throughout the US but didn’t venture abroad.
Elvis in Canada
Technically speaking, Elvis did perform outside of the United States – once! In April of 1957, he went up north to Canada with Hank Snow’s Country Jamboree Revue. They played six shows; two each night across Eastern Canada from Toronto all the way over to Halifax before returning through Quebec City which spanned approximately nine-thousand kilometers before arriving back in Toronto after thirteen days of straight travel by truck dubbed “The Big Show.”
His performance was so well-received that he was invited back to perform solo concerts later that year in both Vancouver, BC; Ottawa, Ontario; and Montreal Quebec where he also made appearances on local TV stations’ daily shows such as Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall Network Show hosted out of CBC’s studio at La Maison Radio-Canada complex downtown Montreal.
G.I Blues – Germany
Another fascinating aspect is how did Hollywood play into his touring career? At some point between film shoots or album releases, any self-respecting musician would be keen to tour and do what they love the best – perform live on stage. Elvis himself was feeling burnt out by being filmed constantly in Hollywood since 1957, so it’s not a stretch that he would sign up for something different; serving his country.
In March of 1958, having already received a deferment for six months while working on the movie “King Creole”, Elvis Presley dutifully reported to Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith Arkansas where thousands of recruits were being processed before shipping out overseas. By June same year Presley had been sworn in and stationed at Friedberg Kaserne in Germany with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team/“Blue Devils”. His life changed drastically as did his career when he stepped off the jet airliner which transported him from New Jersey across The Atlantic into Frankfurt landing during an early Monday morning snowstorm on October fourteenth eighteen-fifty-eight (roughly two weeks after his birthday). He was greeted by screaming fans who had braved freezing temperatures outside Airport Terminal No2 building better known as Hauptbahnhof train station for hours just hoping for a glimpse or handshake with The King when he arrived.
Surprisingly people recognized him almost immediately despite now wearing standard Army battle fatigues- olive drab green jacket, trousers or chinos sometimes khakis pants depending upon activities scheduled throughout their rigorous training regimen lasting six weeks called Basic Infantry Training.
During his time off duty that lasted three full years starting from March 21st until February twenty-sixth nineteen sixty-one, Elvis made multiple appearances performing live shows across both sides of divided Berlin capital – East & West- along with venue like Sports Palace (Presseballhaus).
World Stage: Japan
In November 1972, seventeen years after Canada and fourteen years following Germany tour dates ended; now marked another important gig as none other than Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s long-time manager, had booked him for what eventually became Japan’s one of several major tours that followed. Naturally, a performance in Tokyo was the perfect opportunity to introduce his music to a new audience and cement the legacy he had already carved out in American rock ’n’ roll history.
Most intriguingly this tour happened at an interesting point in time where Japanese hosts were thrilled by the possibility of showcasing traditional and Japanese-influenced attire to be featured on stage with Elvis Presley. So much so that during his rendition of “Suspicious Minds” one could see flutist playing classic tunes wearing kimono attire despite rest appearing more or less like they do during regular Las Vegas-style shows.
So did Elvis ever go on an international tour? The answer is yes – sort of! He played briefly in Canada while touring as part of Hank Snow’s Country Jamboree Revue early on in his career. Later, he served overseas with the military stationed at Friedberg Kaserne Germany performing locally including appearances across West Berlin divided city (Berlin Wall came up five weeks later). Finally, Memphis’ “king” participated heavily all throughout East and Southeast Asia during The Asian Tour Through August 1972 culminating with seven-day Bicentennial Celebration In Honolulu Hawaii which was broadcast live from Diamond Head crater before retiring into private life offstage until ultimately passing away age forty-two less than two years later following series medical emergencies stemming from various conditions resulting lifestyle choices outside professional responsibilities demands by showbiz pressures glimpses chronicled through rare archival footage available online today.