Back in late 1968, Elvis Presley had been out of the spotlight for a while — unusual for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. That all changed with the TV show that became known as The ’68 Comeback Special, in which he was dressed head to toe in black leather, thrilled an intimate and viewers nationwide and reclaimed his throne in a single night.
Now NBC is marking the golden anniversary of that golden television moment with The 50th Anniversary of the Elvis Comeback Special, a look back at NBC’s top-rated show of the 1968-69 season. Veteran producer Ken Ehrlich is aboard for the new two-hour special, which will air in 2019.
In addition to the musical performances, The 50th Anniversary of the Elvis Comeback Special will showcase rare Presley footage and outtakes and interviews from those involved in the original special, including director Steve Binder. It also will feature TBA music stars who will re-create the 1968 show with performances of Presley’s greatest songs.
Airing on December 3, 1968, the comeback special — then titled simply Elvis — was Presley’s first live TV performance in seven years and captured him playing with a full band in front of an intimate audience. The invigorated King sang his heart out, and he and the band pioneered the “Unplugged” thing with an acoustic set, surrounded by up-close fans. The soundtrack album went Top 10, and months later Presley was back near the top of the singles charts with “In the Ghetto” and later in 1969 had his first No. 1 in seven years with “Suspicious Minds.”