Schwartz Stories #1: Viva Hilton! Stephen Michael Schwartz Meets RCA Label-Mate Elvis Presley, Las Vegas 1974-EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
The elevator ride to see "The King" included another rock'n'roll legend!
The Las Vegas Hilton: Setting the Stage
“I had just finished recording my debut album [Stephen Michael Schwartz, about which more can be read here], and RCA asked me if I would like to fly to Las Vegas and attend an Elvis Presley show at the 30-story Hilton, August 27, 1974. It was a nice perk recording on the same label as ‘The King’!
“My new company thought it was a nice way to impress me, and perhaps the execs thought some of the ‘Elvis magic’ would rub off on me! I, in turn, wanted to impress my parents, so I invited them as my guests, to attend the show with me.”
“A few weeks before, I had done a performance at the Orange County theme park, Knotts Berry Farm, where I had met Wolfman Jack, who I think was hosting the show. He was a great guy and we had a short but lovely connection. This is important to the story.
“Back to Vegas: Elvis’ presence on stage was larger than life. His show was a spectacle of sights and sound.”
“Somewhere in the middle of the show, he stops and says he would like to introduce somebody he had never met before.
“For a brief moment I thought he was going to introduce me. Then he begins to talk about a gentleman who was instrumental in playing his music back in the early days. Immediately I knew it wasn’t me!
“A spotlight goes out into the audience as Elvis introduces Wolfman Jack to the crowd. The crowd goes crazy! Elvis thanks Jack for his many years of playing his records. Jack takes a bow and then the show continues.”
“After the show ends, I go to the front of the stage where a guard is standing at a podium with a book. It looks like the place guests check in to go backstage. I thought maybe I would try and go back to see Elvis. I didn’t know if my name was in the book or not.
“I mention my name, and the guard started to look through the book. All of a sudden Wolfman and his little girl, walk up behind me to get in line to go back to see Elvis. Wolfman and I greet each other as the guard is trying to find my name.
“Suddenly the guard stops looking in the book, turns to me and Wolfman, and asks, ‘are you together?’” Jack and I answer in unison, ‘Yes,’ and are immediately escorted by two police officers into an elevator, and into what feels like the catacombs of the Hilton Hotel (known since 2014 as the Westgate).
“He looked as if he had just showered, and had a towel around his neck, hair wet.”
“We reach the penthouse, the doors open up, and we step out of the elevator. The room is full, but the people seem to part as we step in, and there sitting in front of us, in a large chair, almost throne-like, in a white bathrobe, is Elvis.
“He looked as if he had just showered, and had a towel around his neck, hair wet. He takes one look at Wolfman and gets up to greet him. I remember thinking, ‘I am witnessing a true moment in rock and roll history!’ Elvis is introduced to the little girl, Joy, who is clinging close to her daddy.
“Elvis then turns to acknowledge me. I explain that I’m a new recording artist on RCA Records, and I’m so honored to meet him. He sits back down on his ‘throne,’ looking at me and says, ‘So, you’re new on the label?’ ‘Yes sir, I am,’ I reply.
“Then Elvis looks at me with a smile, and looks at the people around us and says, ‘You got a long way to go, boy!’ Everyone laughs, including me. ‘Yes sir, I do,’ was my response!
“Then, remembering my parents were waiting down in the theater, I said my goodbyes and was escorted by the guards, through the maze and back to the showroom.
“I regret not hanging out longer. What might have taken place? What might I have experienced? Drinks? Dinner? At least I might have gotten a picture, an autograph or even just a little more time with the Master.
“Elvis died three years later in 1977. I regret that I never spoke to Wolfman again. I would have loved to have reminisced about that night, and find out what happened after I left. Unfortunately, Wolfman passed away in 1995.”