Published: 16th August 2019
Remembering Elvis Presley: Do you know who used the phrase 'Elvis has left the building' first?
On Elvis Presley's 42nd death anniversary we go back to the famous phrase and explore its origin and who actually said it first
"Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight."
Al Dvorin's voice has made the phrase immortal. But was he the first one to come up with the iconic phrase? The simple answer — no. But there's a debate about who actually said it first — promoter Horace Logan or Elvis' press agent, Oscar Davis. The incidents occurred a month apart in 1956, hence the controversy.
The Detroit Times, in their November 23, 1956 issue printed, "Presley gave his guitar a final bang, flung it from his shoulder and fled the stage seconds ahead of the mob. Outside, a car waited, with the door open and motor running. By this time, his press agent, Oscar Davis, was on the stage. He grabbed the microphone and yelled: 'Elvis has left the building. Hold it. Hold it. Elvis is gone.'"
Some say the phrase was first used by promoter Horace Logan at the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, on December 15, 1956. Elvis had appeared in the middle of the night's lineup, and Logan needed to quiet the audience so that the remaining performers could play. "All right, all right, Elvis has left the building. I've told you absolutely straight up to this point. You know that. He has left the building. He left the stage and went out the back with the policemen and he is now gone from the building," he said.
"Elvis has left the building" is also heard at the end of Elvis' March 1961 Pearl Harbor Memorial benefit concert, after Elvis exits at the end of "Hound Dog" and a short coda from the band.
Throughout the 1970s, the phrase was recorded several times by Al Dvorin. In later years the some of Presley's backup singers would use the phrase to calm the audience down after concerts. It is now used more widely to indicate that someone has made an exit or that something is complete. The use of this term and the fact that Elvis is probably the most prominent celebrity to be known (despite claims to the contrary) to be unambiguously dead have given rise to the verb 'to Elvis', that is, to make a sudden exit. The Kelsey Grammer sitcom 'Frasier' used a play on the line at the end of each show - "Frasier has left the building."