Elvis Presley & Hurt 1976 live onstage audio

There is no doubt that Elvis had been “hurt” during his lifetime and every day since his beloved mother died on August 14, 1958 – when his marriage deteriorated in the early 1970s – and when he health (mentally and physically) deteriorated, along with his outlook on life and his career, over his declining depression and weight gains.

The song “Hurt” was a song that Elvis loved but it was bittersweet for him. He admired the arrangement as well as the vocal challenges (as the song required a 3 octave rang with a crescendo at the end lasting a good 30+ seconds).

Throughout 1976 and 1977 Elvis sang this song during those concerts when he was “up” (meaning happy and focused). On other shows in which his depression, monetary pressures, being upset about the book entitled “Elvis what happened?” was being written and/or published, and the constant negative press reviews about his weight.

Elvis was a proud man who took great strides to look his best. In fact, according to those who knew him the best, there were only a few times, over a few decades, in which Elvis (even at Graceland) was not groomed and/or dressed to the “9s”.

The one time, at Graceland in 1976, is my favorite as Elvis, who had severe insomnia = chronic sleepwalker – sleep apnea (since childhood), had been in his room for several days with his meals being put outside his door and the earlier dishes and glasses left outside the door when done.

Usually Elvis came down the stairs at Graceland, after first calling down from his private phone in his room to let one of the Memphis Mafia know he was up and to pass along his meal request, in the early to mid afternoon.

Everyone stated that they “knew” when Elvis was coming way before they saw him as there was an energy about Elvis that transformed/dominated every setting. Well on this specific day Elvis came downstairs in his robe, unshaven, and his hair was almost completely white (as he dyed his hair black dating back to 1956 and continued to do so for cosmetic reasons and because he had gone prematurely white) and he got to the foot of the stairs and everyone looked at him and, kept their amusement to themselves, Elvis looked around and said “{curse word} it – I’m going back upstairs” as he was embarrassed.

A few hours later Elvis returned, dressed up with freshly dyed hair and attitude, and repeated his standing at the bottom of the steps looking around. He asked “do you {curse words} like me now?” at which point he started to laugh and everyone laughed with him. He then said “the next time I come down looking like Charlie Rich (a singer he respected but also had gone completely white haired prematurely but refused to dye it) one of you {another curse words} remind me.  Elvis had a wicked sense of humor and his laugh was not only one of sheer happiness but it also was contagious.

There are several great recordings of Elvis’ singing Hurt including the one released on his albums. The CBS Elvis Special, taped a few months before he died on August 16, 1977 but aired after his death, contains one of the greatest (vocal) versions of Hurt yet, for me, it is bittersweet as it is clear (and was clear at the time) that Elvis’ health was grave and he should have been hospitalized instead of performing but if you listen to him singing Hurt it is (literally) an amazing vocal accomplishment with Elvis easily obtaining a 3 and 1/2 octave range. I love that version but yet am reminded (sadly) of his health and his death.

So, thanks to YouTube I now share Elvis Presley singing Hurt from his live concert in Pittsburgh in 1976 (audio only). Enjoy.

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