In the summer of 1957, Vancouver’s own Red Robinson was at the forefront of the local music scene. As a 20-year-old radio disc jockey at CKWX, he played an instrumental role in introducing rock ‘n’ roll to British Columbia. Having witnessed the likes of Bill Haley and the Comets, Fats Domino, and Little Richard perform live, Red couldn’t resist the opportunity to be part of the historic event when he learned that Elvis Presley was coming to town.
Red Robinson recorded Elvis’s press conference prior to his Vancouver concert, capturing the essence of the iconic moment. He even had the privilege of spending one-on-one time with the King himself and introducing him on stage that unforgettable evening.
Years later, in 2005, author Alan Hanson traveled to Vancouver to research his book, “Elvis ’57: The Final Fifties Tours.” During his visit, Red Robinson graciously shared more details about his experience with Elvis. Although some of Red’s accounts were included in Hanson’s book, many remained hidden away—until now. Allow me to unveil the complete interview conducted on September 28, 2005.
Behind the Scenes of Elvis’s Vancouver Concert
Alan Hanson (AH): Where did Elvis disembark the train?
Red Robinson (RR): Main Street, further down from the terminal. Only a few people knew about it, probably police or train personnel. A handful of lucky fans managed to get there and even had Elvis sign their pictures.
AH: Was there really a “paid escort” in Elvis’s hotel room?
RR: Yes, it’s true. She was a call girl, and she accompanied Elvis to Seattle as well. The show’s promoters, Zollie Volchuk and Hugh Pickett, were aware of this arrangement to prevent any scandals. They wanted to avoid a repeat of past incidents involving celebrities.
AH: Did you personally record the press conference?
RR: Absolutely. I brought my own microphone and a top-of-the-line Ampex tape recorder. The quality of the recording is exceptional because of the equipment I used. It felt like having Elvis in the studio! I didn’t ask for permission; I simply wanted to capture the encounter and preserve it for posterity.
AH: Where were you during the concert?
RR: I stood at a small area near the stage, which had a roof overhead in case of rain. From there, I had an unobstructed view of the entire show. After introducing Elvis, I simply watched the magic unfold.
AH: Can you provide some insights into the crowd dynamics?
RR: The stadium, Empire Stadium, had a capacity of 32,000 seats during a Grey Cup game, which is similar to the Super Bowl in Canada. The eager fans gathered from all directions, not just one end of the stadium. Some even sat on the grass in front of the stage, as they weren’t discouraged from doing so.
AH: Was there a riot at the concert?
RR: I would describe it more as pandemonium rather than a riot. The word “riot” has been sensationalized over the years. The gathering of thousands of people in front of the stage did create some anxiety, as it was difficult for them to breathe. However, the majority of the audience remained well-behaved.
AH: Did Elvis harbor racial prejudices?
RR: Absolutely not! Elvis was an avid admirer of black music and performers. He frequented black clubs and attended shows by black artists such as Jackie Wilson and Clyde McPhatter. The allegations of racism are unfounded and nothing more than twisted rumors.
Unraveling the Memories
While conducting his research for the book, author Alan Hanson faced the challenge of piecing together various accounts of the Vancouver concert. Memories of the event differed among those who witnessed it, making it a puzzling undertaking. Hanson’s interviews with Red Robinson and other attendees, along with newspaper articles from the time, shed light on the chaotic yet magical evening.
Please note that the original article contains additional information not included here. For the full account and further exploration into Elvis’s 1957 tours, refer to “Elvis ’57: The Final Fifties Tours” by Alan Hanson. And if you want to dive even deeper into the world of Elvis Presley, visit All about Elvis, your ultimate destination for everything Elvis-related.
Note: This article is a creative adaptation and does not contain the exact wording or structure of the original content. The purpose is to provide a fresh and engaging piece while retaining the core message.