This picture was taken at the press conference at the Sydney Trocadero, 17th January 1968
A number of Australian Elvis Presley Fan Clubs were advised in mid 1967 that Elvis’ Gold Cadillac would be coming to Australia and touring as much of the country as possible in the time frame agreed to with RCA Australia and Elvis Presley Enterprises. The Cadillac would also do a short tour of New Zealand.
The Cadillac was coming to Australia with the assistance of the Benevolent Society of NSW and they were hoping to raise $100,000 if possible for the seventeen charities around the country. They planned to show the Cadillac in all states and as many country areas as possible, if time allowed. “We have the Cadillac for a set period of time”, advised Mr Hanrahan, spokes-person for the Benevolent Society. Before leaving the USA, Elvis placed $1,000 (US) worth of toys inside the Cadillac for the needy children around Australia. There was also some personally autographed photographs sent as well, and one of the lucky persons to receive such a picture was a photographer at the time named John Porter, who gave me his negatives from the pictures he took when the Cadillac was in his town.
The General Manager of the record division for RCA Australia, Mr Walsh, finalised all the arrangements with Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker, and so the Cadillac departed the States on the 8th of December 1967, arriving in Australia in early January 1968. After its arrival and clearance through Customs, the Cadillac was prepared for touring, and a press conference held at the Sydney Trocadero on the 17th of January, the Cadillac went on the road immediately.
There was one part of the Cadillac that was replaced before it came to Australia and that was the gold bumper bar. It was replaced with a standard bar for this tour, as it was the only part that could be easily removed as a souvenir! It was never idle, and thousands of fans and car enthusiasts saw the Cadillac (that Elvis had driven many times, including getting it bogged on one of the movie sets) before their very own eyes. It was stunning, and Australians had ever seen anything like it before. Elvis definitely spent a great deal of money on cars, but Cadillacs were the models he loved the most
Elvis fans could also look at the Australian RCA Gold records that were also on display around the Cadillac. There were Gold Awards for Singles, Extended Play and Long Play records, which had received Gold Award Sales status within Australia, up till the end of 1967.
There were also some memorabilia items that could be purchased as the Cadillac toured each venue.
The items were as follows:
Souvenir photograph on glossy cardboard (7”x 9”) of Elvis Presley’s Gold Limousine with full technical details printed on the back.
Souvenir brochure (16 pages in 7”x 9” format).
Souvenir leaflet from Preston Motors Victoria printed on one side (5”x8”) announcing all proceeds are going to the Citizens Welfare Service of Victoria.
Two (2) Black and White RCA Australia pictures. These were previously available when purchasing Elvis records at various record stores and shops.
Various Elvis Australian RCA records. These were special printed Gold Label singles, Extended Play and Long Play records made just for this tour.There was also a nice and attractive gold car autographed sticker given to you, if you wanted it affixed to each record you purchased.
All the above are collectors items today, and fetch good prices when offered for sale. At all venues where possible, Australian Elvis Fan club members assisted at the stalls selling as many Elvis items as possible to the public. The Society was most grateful for their assistance. It made things go much easier and helped the Society out no end.
RCA Australia, helped out in their own was as well. Also on display with the Cadillac was a special series of Gold and Black labelled records. This special series of releases were for the massive sales Elvis had achieved within Australia. The number of Gold records on display was about forty in number.
They were supposedly sent back to the States and presented (informally) to Elvis after the tour. This has yet to be confirmed, but some of the records (not any Long Play albums) are currently on display within Graceland for visitors to see in the Hall of Gold, and other titles are held in the EPE archives. The Long Play albums seemed to have disappeared with time. They never made it back to the States, and EPE archives have advised that there are no Long Play records in the archives to date covering that 1968 tour.
The Cadillac went on a short tour of New Zealand before it returned to the States and the picture they made to accompany the book was altered a little, the gold was replaced with black print. The Benevolent Society Charity Committee sent Elvis a Letter of Appreciation, stating (in brief) that $149,175 was raised for the Australian charity appeal. This was after all expenses were deducted. What a tremendous achievement. Elvis Presley was also made an Honorary Life Governor, and this plaque hangs proudly on the wall in the Hall of Gold to this very day for all Australians to see when visiting Graceland. The Cadillac is now on permanent display in Nashville.
Special thanks goes to the following people who helped in the research to date, Keith Williamson, John Porter, Ian and Bev Allen, Jim and Joan McRae, David Mclean, Wayne Hawthorne and Greg Lynch. If you have any further material that would help to complete this story, I would be most happy to hear from you. Photographs (coloured if you lucky to own a camera that took coloured pictures at the time) of the Gold records on display would be appreciated. Also any pictures and news paper articles from the towns which the Cadillac appeared, especially the country areas would be appreciated.
8th January 2007
The front cover of the first printing of the Cadillac Tour of Australasia was a black and white issue. It was reprinted three times and is now sold out. See here The full colour edition that is being printed in November 2011 has been expanded to 106 pages plus coloured front cover. See here. You can write to Bob to purchase a copy.