Elvis Presley’s Final Live Performance of ‘Unchained Melody’ a Rare Find for Fans

February 20, 2019 Updated: February 20, 2019

“Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.” So said the late, great music legend, Elvis “The King” Presley.

"I just wish that everybody could know the same kind of happiness I’ve known from all this. I wish that, more than anything, with all my heart." #ElvisPresley

ELVIS PRESLEY 发布于 2018年12月29日周六

The rock and roll icon died tragically young, at just 42, but left a musical legacy that will forever be impossible to rival. Elvis is everywhere: in record stores, on the Vegas strip, in karaoke bars the world over, and even on the internet, even though the internet was nothing but a twinkle in the future’s eye during Elvis’s lifetime!

©Getty Images | Hulton Archive

Plenty of recordings of Elvis’s performances survive, and we’re lucky enough to have access to a huge number of them since the advent of the internet. One, in particular, stands out: the very last recording of Elvis performing live. In it, the artist plays the beautiful, wistful classic “Unchained Melody” before an enraptured audience in Rapid City, South Dakota.

It’s a little-known clip but is one of Elvis’s most moving numbers and a firm fan favorite. Elvis was known for his passionate performances. He was even chastised by slightly more prudish members of the public for his rambunctious dance moves and signature shaking and grinding of the hips. His moves, much like his music, were in some ways ahead of their time.

Photo: George Kalinsky

ELVIS PRESLEY 发布于 2017年6月9日周五

But Elvis was a born entertainer, from the second he first picked up a guitar to his very last breath. In the video of his very last performance, his body has aged and changed and he’s no longer quite the heartthrob that graced our screens at the start of his career. However, his voice still contains that trademark magic, range, power, technical ability, and crooning quality that melted hearts. And still does.

Some fans even argue that this recording is one of the icon’s greatest.

"I want you to remember, to say that you'll be mine."

ELVIS PRESLEY 发布于 2015年10月2日周五

Sadly, Elvis died a mere six weeks after this recording was made, on Aug. 16, 1977. The icon suffered poor health in the last few years of his life, and many of his later, live performances were abbreviated. Fans complained that the artist had lost his spark, his energy, and the sleekness of his earlier performances.

©Getty Images | Keystone

But his voice never lost those romantic, dulcet tones. “Unchained Melody” is a rare example of Elvis in the later stages of his career, weathered and changed by the industry, but nonetheless still a man with tremendous passion for melody, lyrics, and performance, and an unyielding love for making beautiful music.

Watch the moving performance for yourself, below, and witness the legend that is Elvis Presley; immortalized forever thanks to the miracle of modern technology.

Rest in peace, Elvis Presley, crowned king of rock and roll!

Elvis, your legacy will live forever! Share this amazing recording with friends and loved ones if you adore and miss the legend that is Elvis Presley.