Elvis Presley performed outside the United States three times, once in Toronto, once in Ottawa, and once in Vancouver 64 years ago.
The King of Rock's Canadian tour stops took place on two days in April 1957 and August 31 the same year and is extensively documented in the recently published book Elvis Presley: ‘All Shook Up’ in Canada. Written by New Westminster-born Brandon Yip, the story offers a fresh interpretation of Elvis’ tour and its culmination at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium.
Befriending through fandom
Yip has been writing about pop culture figures since 2001, having been fascinated by pop culture figures like James Dean and Elvis Presley since high school. Yip describes this fascination as something that resonates with the psyche.
“We don't personally know these ‘pop culture figures,’ but in a way, because we love them so much--they become almost like a friend to us,” Yip said in a recent Q&A with Vancouver Is Awesome. “This goes back to the celebrity worship that we have seen since the deaths of film stars Rudolph Valentino and James Dean--where there was a massive outpouring of grief.”
Yip added the stars are kept alive by fans buying and treasuring any souvenirs as well as the internet preserving their music or movies.
Preserving the memories
When writing his book, Yip spoke to the late Vancouver impresario Hugh Pickett and Canadian music manager Bruce Allen. Yip also interviewed legendary Vancouver DJ Red Robinson, who emceed the King's 1957 Vancouver concert.
“They were all kind and generous with their time,” Yip said. “Red Robinson was so generous and kind to me. He gave me coffee; and during a pause, after he answered one of my questions, he said to me, ‘You're not drinking your coffee. Is it that bad?’”
Yip added that both Pickett and Allen were gracious with their stories of spending time with the King.
“What I found after interviewing all three men about their interactions with Elvis was that he was a nice, polite young man. He seemed like a regular guy,” Yip said.
Rock 'n' roll's biggest star
After over sixty years, new fans just "Can’t Help Falling In Love" with Presley, a fact Yip credits older generations with as well as, again, the internet.
“He didn't invent rock and roll. But he was rock and roll's biggest star. Elvis also tested the boundaries of how an entertainer should behave on stage,” Yip said. “Elvis had the whole package: the looks, voice, charisma--he had it all. I see so many videos on YouTube showing younger Elvis fans reacting to Elvis' music in a positive way. So, it shows you that Elvis' legacy and appeal continue to endure.”