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This week in history: Chicago teens ‘all shook up’ for Elvis

In 1957, the King — whose birthday is Jan. 8 — made 13 teenaged girls faint during his first concert in Chicago. One girl fainted twice.

Elvis Presley performing in Chicago
Elvis Presley was born Jan. 8, 1935. Here he is performing at Chicago Stadium in 1972.
Jack Lenahan/Chicago Sun-Times.

As published in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication to the Chicago Sun-Times:

Mobsters have body counts in Chicago, but so does Elvis Presley... kind of.

In March 1957, the prolific singer — whose birthday is Jan. 8 — arrived in Chicago for his first concert. Over 12,000 fans, mostly teenaged girls, packed the International Amphitheater to hear Elvis sing 14 songs.

A Chicago Daily News reporter — one who hopefully had some earplugs handy due to all the screaming fans — came for the singer, but stayed for the drama.

Before the King came out, manager Tom Parker tried to quiet the audience and push Elvis’ latest record, the paper said. But the crowd wasn’t having it. They chanted “WE WANT ELVIS! WE WANT ELVIS!”

Near the reporter, a girl squealed: “If he don’t come soon, I’ll have a nervous breakdown.”

Then Elvis appeared — a vision in “not only gold shoes but a gold suit of metallic cloth encrusted with glitter,” the paper said. “When he began to sing, there was a quick hush that let you hear two words — then screaming, screaming, drowning out anything else.”

The King “seemed for a moment a little scared, a little awed, quite a bit bewildered,” the reporter noted.

As the screaming passed, Elvis “tossed it off with a careless gesture, smiled, enjoyed it, gave an exuberant shiver and a jump.” Then he carried on with the show.

The paper reported that 13 girls fainted that night. One girl fainted twice. Another attempted to get on stage and knocked out an usher with her heavy purse. He was treated for a head injury at Evangelical Hospital.

By the end of the show, the Amphitheater was so packed that many fans had to crowd-surf out.

The Daily News may have covered the concert, but the Chicago Sun-Times ran photos. On the left, Elvis greets adoring fans wearing the gold glitter suit, and to the right, a fan who fainted is carried out through the crowd.

Elvis in concert in Chicago
Two photos from Elvis’ first concert in Chicago on March 28, 1957.
Mel Larson/Chicago Sun-Times