On this day in music history: December 3, 1968 – “Elvis” (aka “The ‘68 Comeback Special”), airs on the NBC television network. Directed by Steve Binder (“The T.A.M.I. Show”), the special is a major turning point in Presley’s career. Having spent the majority of the 60’s making two to three films a year, Elvis had not performed in front of a live audience in over seven years. Scheduled to be aired during the Christmas holiday season, Elvis and his manager Colonel Tom Parker are ambitious to the make the show more than the singer performing Christmas carols. The program features him performing elaborate production numbers as well as in front of an intimate studio audience with members of his original 50’s era band. Initially, Presley is hesitant to performing in front of a live audience, but Binder reassures the singer and offer support. The special is both a major artistic triumph and a ratings blockbuster, setting the wheels in motion for Presley to re-establish his music career after nearly a decade of making movies that had tarnished the singers’ reputation both musically and image wise. In 2004, the three DVD box set “Elvis Presley – The ’68 Comeback Special Deluxe Edition” is released. The set contains the original broadcast version along with complete versions of the sit down performance sets with Presley’s original band, as well as previously unseen rehearsal and performance footage that does not make the original cut. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the special’s original broadcast, RCA Records releases a eighty seven track four CD set titled “The Complete ’68 Comeback Special” containing the original twelve song soundtrack album, along with seventy five previously unreleased outtakes. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the special’s original broadcast, RCA/Sony Legacy reissues it as a five CD + two Blu-ray box set on November 30, 2018.
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