Rapid City still feeling the affects of Elvis Presley's passing 40 years ago

Published: Aug. 16, 2017 at 6:19 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

It was 40 years ago Wednesday that the King of Rock and Roll died.

The death of Elvis Presley stunned the world and Rapid City was hit hard too.

Presley performed just a few weeks before his passing at the brand new Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. He was the first artist to perform in the building which held over 10,000 people. On June 21, 1977, Steve Beshara attended Elvis Presley’s second to last concert in Rapid City.

“Just electricity was just going throughout the building," said Beshara. "It was just, the hair was standing up on your neck, back your neck and then everyone, just the crowd, the crowd pretty much exploded trying to just to try to see Elvis when he was coming on the stage."

For the first time on video, Beshara rewatched the concert he attended live 40 years ago and still says it’s the best he’s ever been to, to this day. Music enthusiasts, Elvis fans, and even historians come back to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center because it’s more unique than all the other places Elvis performed on his final tour.

“This is the only building in tact from that last tour of his that’s still intact and hasn't been renovated so Barnett Arena and Rapid City will forever be linked with Elvis Presley in that way," said Craig Baltzer from the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Weeks after the performance on June 21st, the news of Elvis' death shocked the world.

“Well I wasn't that really big of a fan, but my wife Mary was and I know she shed some tears over him passing, but it was just a really emotional blow to all, anybody that was a fan of his," said Beshara. "It was terrible."

And Baltzer, who was 12 years old at the time, says he couldn’t really comprehend what was going on at the time but the day had a gloomy feel to it.

"That evening, I remember mom didn't really cook that day," said Baltzer. "I think we had cold sandwiches for dinner that night and things like that. I remember candlelight and Elvis Presley playing in the background late into the evening."

Beshara said the last thing he remembers from the Elvis concert, was the announcer saying 'ladies and gentlemen Elvis has left the building.'