Throughout Elvis' life he often reached out to help others. One way he did this was to perform benefit concerts for various charitable causes. One such occasion was Saturday, February 25, 1961, when Elvis headlined two concerts to benefit Memphis-area charities.
Governor of Tennessee, Buford Ellington proclaimed this date "Elvis Presley Day" in the state and made Elvis an honorary colonel by giving him the title "Colonel, Aide de Camp on the Governor's Staff." Memphis Mayor Henry Loeb designated it "Elvis Presley Day" in the city.
Prior to the shows, a luncheon was held in Elvis' honor at the Claridge Hotel in downtown Memphis. The $100-per-plate event raised $17,200, thanks in part to the donation of food and service by the Claridge. At the luncheon RCA presented Elvis with a diamond watch and a plaque commemorating the sale of 75 million records thus far in his career. Numerous gold records and other awards were presented and/or displayed. After the luncheon a press conference was held. Following are just a few of the questions that were asked Elvis and the answers he gave:
Press: "I'll have to apologize to you for this first question, but everybody wants to know...how is your love life?"
Elvis: "(Laughs.) Well it hasn't progressed any. It's about like it was. Nothin' serious. I'll let you know if anything comes of it. Couldn't hide it anyway (laughs)."
Press: "Elvis, are you going to move to Hollywood eventually, or are you gonna stay here?"
Elvis: "No sir, I'll stay here."
Press: "Which one of your movies do you think you did the best job acting?"
Elvis: "King Creole."
Press: "You haven't been on stage for three years, are you a little bit nervous?"
Elvis: "Yes sir. I don't mind admittin' I am. But when I did the Frank Sinatra show in Florida, I wasn't nervous... I was petrified! I was scared stiff. (Laughter.)"
(Note: Elvis had been serving two years in the U.S. Army and, upon his return, had gone back to recording and making movies. Thus the three-year absence from the concert stage if one doesn’t count the taping of the Sinatra special in 1960.)
Elvis went on that day to perform at 3:00 PM and at 8:30 PM in the Ellis Auditorium's North Hall. Tickets cost $3.00 each. George Jessell, often referred to as the nation's "Toastmaster General," was the master of ceremonies. He introduced Elvis as "one of the greatest singer-actors of this century."
Also appearing were comedian Dave Gardner, impressionist Nip Nelson, acrobats The Ashtons & Shirley, tap dancer Frank Trent, and Larry Owens and his orchestra. Joining the orchestra to back Elvis were Scotty Moore, D. J. Fontana, Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer, and the Jordanaires.
The days events raised a total of $51,612 for twenty-six Memphis charities and the Tupelo, Mississippi Youth Center. Elvis would appear in concert once more that year – a March show at Bloch Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii to raise funds for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the World War II monument at Pearl Harbor. After that, movies and recordings would dominate his career and he would not perform live in concert again until the taping of his first television special in June 1968.