A follow-up to the 1970 release Elvis: That's the Way it Is, another musical documentary, this film followed Presley as he embarked on a 15-city tour of the United States in April 1972. Elvis on Tour also contains vintage footage of Presley's famous 1956 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and pre-tour rehearsal footage. It also includes footage of enthusiastic fan reactions scattered throughout the film.
Also included are portions of a forty-minute interview that Presley gave about his life and career before filming began. Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was unhappy with the inclusion of a scene which mocked Presley's acting career by showing screen kisses taken from a number of his previous films. According to the producers, it was a tongue-in-cheek dig at the repetitiveness of these films by changing the background "but the plot stays the same".
Among those working on this film were Martin Scorsese, who supervised montage sequences, and David Draper a former Mr. Universe. The film was directed by Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel.
The concert film reached #13 on the Variety National Box Office Survey. In general, documentaries were very rarely box office successes. However, despite costing upwards of $1.6 million to produce, most of which was Presley's $1 million fee, the film recouped its production costs after just three days in theaters.
As well as being a financial success, Elvis on Tour proved to also be a critical success by winning the 1972 Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary, making it the only Elvis film to win an award of any kind.
The 1997 VHS reissue was negatively criticized because of the lack of the multi-screen images that were present on all previously released VHS copies of the film.
Although Presley would be offered numerous film roles over the next few years (most notably the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born), he would make no more films in his lifetime. Footage from Elvis on Tour would later be reused in the 1981 Elvis documentary This Is Elvis.
The working titles of the film were Sold Out and then Standing Room Only, and a soundtrack album was planned with this title, but never released. Due to the release of the album Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden shortly before filming, which featured many of the songs set to be in the film, Elvis on Tour was the only Presley film not accompanied by some form of official soundtrack release, either in the form of a full album or a single.
All of the following songs were performed by Elvis onstage unless otherwise noted:"Johnny B. Goode" (A rehearsal recording by Elvis played over the opening credits. The DVD/Blu-ray release replaced this with a live recording of "Don't Be Cruel.")
"Also sprach Zarathustra" (Performed by The Joe Guercio Orchestra but was not used in the film due to copyright issues. However, an unknown vamp in a similar arrangement was used in its place.)
"See See Rider"
"Polk Salad Annie"
"Separate Ways" (An unreleased studio take.)
"Never Been to Spain"
"For The Good Times" (Sung informally by Elvis in a car as he was leaving a concert.)
"Don't Be Cruel" (Performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.)
"Ready Teddy" (Performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.)
"That's All Right" (Original Sun recording.)
"The Lighthouse" (Performed by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet during an informal gospel music jam session.)
"Lead Me, Guide Me" (Performed by Elvis, J.D. Sumner, and the Stamps Quartet during an informal gospel music jam session.)
"Bosom Of Abraham" (Performed by Elvis, J.D. Sumner, and the Stamps Quartet during an informal gospel music jam session.)
"Love Me Tender"
"I, John" (Sung informally by Elvis, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, and the Sweet Inspirations during a rehearsal.)
"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
"Funny How Time Slips Away"
"An American Trilogy"
"Mystery Train" (Original Sun recording.)
"I Got A Woman"/"Amen"
"A Big Hunk O' Love"
"You Gave Me a Mountain"
"Sweet, Sweet Spirit" (Performed onstage by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet)
"Lawdy, Miss Clawdy"
"Can't Help Falling In Love"
Closing Vamp (Performed by the TCB Band and the Joe Guercio Orchestra.)
"Memories" (Original studio recording played over the closing credits.)
This list does not include snippets of songs sung informally, such as "Rainy Night in Georgia".
The Coliseum, Hampton Roads, Virginia, April 9, 1972 Evening Show
The Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia, April 10, 1972
The Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, April 14, 1972 Evening Show
Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas, April 18, 1972
Other cities in the tour that were filmed on location (but not at the concerts) included Roanoke, Virginia; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Dayton, Ohio.
Many outtakes exist in the MGM vaults, including a live performance of "For The Good Times" from the Hampton Roads, VA April 9, 1972 show.
There was no soundtrack album released to accompany the movie, although some rehearsals and a complete show have been released by BMG.Elvis on Tour - The Rehearsals (Released on Follow That Dream, Sony/BMG's Elvis collectors label)
Elvis - Close Up (Disc 4 has the complete show from San Antonio)
Rehearsals and the four shows in their entirety have all been released unofficially.
As part of the 75th birthday celebrations of Elvis Presley, Warner Bros. released a remastered version of Elvis On Tour on DVD and Blu-ray on August 3, 2010. However, the "Johnny B. Goode" live recording over the opening credits was replaced with a live recording of "Don't Be Cruel" due to copyright issues. With this DVD release, all 33 Elvis Presley movies (1956-1972) are now available on the DVD market.