Al Dvorin

Announcer who dashed fans' hopes with the phrase 'Elvis has left the building'

You might think that Elvis Presley's fans would have rioted at the sound of Al Dvorin saying at the end of a concert, "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight", but they accepted it as a signal that Presley would not be giving an encore and that their hopes of an autograph were dashed. Dvorin's message, which over the years became a catchphrase, was little more than an order to clear the showroom.



Al Dvorin, tour manager and announcer: born Chicago 1923: died Ivanpah, California 22 August 2004.



You might think that Elvis Presley's fans would have rioted at the sound of Al Dvorin saying at the end of a concert, "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight", but they accepted it as a signal that Presley would not be giving an encore and that their hopes of an autograph were dashed. Dvorin's message, which over the years became a catchphrase, was little more than an order to clear the showroom.

He was almost certainly not the first to use the phrase, although he was the one to make it famous. On 16 December 1956, earlier in his career, Presley made his final appearance on the country music radio show Louisiana Hayride. It was a benefit concert for the Shreveport YMCA and at the close of events, the announcer Frank Page told the screaming fans, "Elvis has left the building."

Dvorin, who was born in Chicago in 1923, had become involved with country music in the early Fifties as a talent agent. On one occasion he booked the country star Hank Snow, and befriended Snow's manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker (he had bestowed the military title upon himself), who introduced Dvorin to his protégé Elvis Presley.

When Presley began making hit records, Parker asked Dvorin to supply the supporting acts and work as tour manager. For some unknown reason, Parker liked to place his rock'n'roll star alongside lack-lustre vaudeville acts - comedians, jugglers and acrobats - rather than among his contemporaries. At one concert early in 1956, Presley could be heard saying "Fuck you very much" to Dvorin as he realised how appalling the side acts were.

At one concert in Chicago, Parker realised to his horror that he had agreed to a 20-piece orchestra backing Elvis. He dutifully hired the musicians but ordered them to mime and told Dvorin to conduct them with his lighted cigar.

In 1958 Dvorin's agency sponsored the talent contest in New York which was won by Ral Donner, who became the first, and arguably the best, Elvis impersonator.

Just before the filming of Blue Hawaii in 1961, Colonel Parker asked Dvorin to organise a special benefit concert in Honolulu for the 1,300 sailors who had been killed on the USS Arizona as a result of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The concert raised $67,000 and a memorial was erected.

After a score of mindless films, Presley returned to live appearances in Las Vegas in 1969 and a US tour followed. In November 1971 Parker fell out with the tour announcer and Dvorin asked for a replacement. Dvorin recalled,

The Colonel said, "Al, I have a replacement." I said, "Great. Who?" He said, "You." I said, "I've done everything you asked me to do: concessions, band leader, security, lighting, sound, advance work, cheque writing. I'm not qualified to work as an announcer. I've got a voice like a sewer backing up. I'll make a fool of

myself." He said, "Al, who's the boss?" I said, "You're the boss." He said, "And you're the announcer."

True to form, Parker often booked weak and relatively cheap opening acts. When Jackie Kahane's humour failed to ignite the audiences, Dvorin was told to introduce him as "a personal friend of Elvis" and then all was well. Dvorin can be heard on several of Presley's concert albums, notably Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis (1974). He would never accept any criticism of Presley and said, "I don't think Elvis could ever do a bad show." He was more concerned about Parker's monumental losses at the roulette table.

After Presley's death in 1977, Dvorin did not want to jeopardise his friendship with Colonel Parker, but when Parker died in 1997, he became associated with Elvis tribute shows. Last Saturday night he appeared with the American Trilogy show in California. He spoke on stage, and fans cheered as he said, "Elvis has left the building." He was killed in a car accident in the Californian desert the following day.

Spencer Leigh

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn