Elvis Presley, the iconic King of Rock and Roll, captured the hearts of millions worldwide. While he never ventured beyond North America to perform, his international allure remains unparalleled. Surprisingly, Elvis commands a more ardent following in foreign lands, with European and Australian publications and websites leading the way. It prompts us to delve into the mystery of why loyalty endures abroad for an artist whose presence was confined to vinyl, movies, and radio waves.
A remarkable testament to the enduring fascination with Elvis lies in Australian author Bob Hayden’s book, Elvis Presley’s Gold Cadillac: Tour of Australasia 1968-69. This project, dedicated to the King, showcases the kind of Elvis-themed initiative that could only emerge from an overseas community of adoring fans.
The Journey of the Gold Cadillac
Hayden’s 56-page booklet meticulously chronicles the year-long tour of an Elvis limousine throughout southern and eastern Australia. In 1968, despite Elvis himself being thousands of miles away in the United States, devoted Australian fans flocked to catch a glimpse of the extravagant vehicle, knowing it would be their closest encounter with the legendary entertainer.
Before encountering Hayden’s book, my knowledge of Elvis’s Gold Cadillac tour Down Under had been limited to a small article in Variety back in 1968. The article marveled at the immense popularity of the car, with over 400,000 people gathering to witness its brilliance in the first nine months. Moreover, the tour raised a staggering $128,000 for charitable causes in Australia.
The Gold Cadillac: A Symbol of Opulence
Hayden’s book provides intriguing details about the Cadillac and its customization process. This particular vehicle was a 1960 Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine, setting Elvis back $10,000 at the time. The King then invested an additional $65,000 to have the car personalized by renowned customizer George Barris of North Hollywood. The Cadillac became affectionately known as the “Gold” Cadillac due to its lavish gold-plated fittings both inside and outside.
However, the tale takes an unexpected turn. Repeated damage caused by fans seeking souvenirs ultimately led Elvis to retire the car from use. It was subsequently sold to Presley’s RCA Victor label for promotional purposes and intermittently displayed across the United States between 1965 and 1967.
Unveiling the Land Down Under
The grand tour of the Gold Cadillac began in Sydney on January 17, 1968, and took the vehicle across Australia, from major cities like Melbourne to quaint communities like Wagga Wagga. Hayden’s extensive documentation sheds light on nearly four dozen appearances, showcasing attendance records and captivating eyewitness accounts from over 40 years ago.
Notably, each town or city designated an attractive young lady as the “Elvis Presley Golden Girl.” These chosen hostesses warmly welcomed visitors and served as tour guides for the Gold Cadillac during its stay in their respective locations. It was an experience these girls cherished, with one enthusiastically describing it as “one of the best weeks” of her life.
A Journey beyond Entertainment
Elvis’s gold chariot graced various venues, including shopping centers, auto dealerships, civic centers, and showgrounds. It also made special stops at schools and hospitals, as Colonel Parker, Elvis’s manager, insisted on granting free access to disadvantaged and disabled children wanting to catch a glimpse of the Cadillac.
Bob Hayden’s book, while highly informative, still serves as a work in progress. He plans to release an expanded second edition, with readers generously contributing more photos and information about the tour. If you have any details to share or wish to obtain a copy of the book, feel free to contact Bob Hayden via email at email@example.com or by writing to him at PO Box 691, Young NSW, 2594, Australia.
The Power of Elvis’s Legacy
What makes the story of Elvis’s Gold Cadillac tour truly extraordinary is the overwhelming response it received in Australia during a period of decline in his career. By 1968, none of Elvis’s singles had reached higher than #30 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. His Hollywood stint had come to an end, and he was at a professional crossroads. It wasn’t until December 1968, near the conclusion of the Australian Cadillac tour, that Elvis ignited his revival with his iconic NBC-TV special.
Bob Hayden’s captivating account underscores the enduring power of Elvis’s name, even when his popularity at home seemed to wane. Countless historical tales about his legacy remain untold, awaiting dedicated fans like Hayden to unveil them to the world.
So, buckle up and join us on this thrilling journey into the world of Elvis Presley’s Gold Cadillac tour! For more fascinating Elvis-related content, visit All about Elvis and immerse yourself in the enchanting universe of the King himself.