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The iconic and historical concert raised an unheard of $62,000 that went straight to the memorial fund for the USS Arizona.
Just over 20 years after the tragedy that shook the nation brought the USS Arizona to its final resting place at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, one of the most famous American performers appeared in a concert that honored all the lives lost that day.
In an early interview promoting the concert, Elvis Presley‘s manager, Colonel Parker, opened up about him performing for this benefit concert.
“You know, Elvis is 26 and that’s about the average age of those boys entombed in the Arizona. I think it’s appropriate that he should be doing this.” Setting a fundraising goal for the show, Parker added, “There’s no excuse for Elvis to leave this island without his raising $50,000.”
And that’s exactly what Elvis did.
Singing a medley of songs during the March 25th, 1961 concert, Elvis dazzled the thousands of fans that had paid for a ticket to the benefit and were screaming wildly for him.
In the spirit of the event, no profits were made by anyone. All expenses were donated, Elvis paid the backing musicians from his own pocket, and 100% of proceeds were donated to the USS Arizona Memorial Fund. All-in, the benefit raised more than $62,000 – which was an unheard of amount in those days!
The USS Arizona Memorial was officially dedicated on May 30th, 1962, and a plaque commemorating Elvis as one of the great contributors to the memorial was installed.
Watch the video below that contains some of the greatest songs of Elvis’ career as he sang them during his USS Arizona Memorial Fund Concert.