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Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

This month marks the 40th Anniversary of Elvis Presley’s return to live concert performances in Las Vegas in 1969. 

It had been 8 years since Elvis last performed a live benefit concert in Honolulu, his first post-Army appearance, and after 8 years of recording sessions at American Studios and movie making he started his record breaking engagement in July of 1969. When he opened at the International Hotel for a four-week, 57-show engagement, it broke all existing Las Vegas attendance records.  At the time it was the largest showroom in Las Vegas, holding more than 2000 people.

elvis_enthusiastYou don’t have to drink the Elvis cool-aid to know he enjoy Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Elvis became a lifelong bike enthusiast and was a member of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).  Sometime in 1955 after earning a regular income he purchased his first H-D.  It was a small ’56 ST165.  Your basic entry level model with 165cc that was sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Harley Hummer.

In January 1956 he bought a new Model KH from the Memphis H-D dealer and in May of that year he appeared on the cover of Harley’s The Enthusiast magazine riding that ’56 KH.   The ’56 Model KH was 54ci (883cc) side valve motorcycle and the precursor of today’s Sportster which was released in 1957 with an overhead valve motor.  After just a few months Elvis moved up to a larger motorcycle when he purchased a 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH.  At the time The Atomic Powered Singer wrote: 

“Elvis bought his new Harley on November 1, 1956 while he was in downtown Memphis to have his Continental Mark II insured. Later in the day Natalie Wood, clad in jeans, climbed up on the seat behind Elvis and they gunned out from the Audubon Drive driveway and roared around the Memphis streets for three hours accompanied by a motorcycle policeman and Nick Adams, who was riding Elvis’ old Harley Davidson.”

Elvis Presley passed away August 16, 1977.   CKX continues to market and TCB for the “King”.  To commemorate his passing Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) and Graceland H-D are offering to sale five special edition 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide with Elvis imagery at $50,731 each.  Buyers will be treated to a unique bike delivery experience in Memphis during Elvis Week and can participate in the various Elvis rides.

I might be in the Vegas/Laughlin area later this month and will let you know if there are any Elvis “sightings.”

Photo courtesy of H-D Enthusiast Magazine and photographer Ted Bruehl.

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