In the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history, one event has long remained shrouded in secrecy – Elvis Presley’s clandestine concert in Grafenwoehr, Germany. For years, it was believed that the King of Rock and Roll refrained from public performances during his two-year stint in the army from March 1958 to March 1960. However, the residents of this small German town have unveiled a hidden gem in the legendary musician’s career.
Elvis Presley’s love for music was undeniable, and the notion of him completely abstaining from performing seemed inconceivable, especially at the zenith of his fame. Stories abound of Elvis serenading friends and fellow soldiers with impromptu piano and vocal performances while stationed in Germany. Yet, there was one exceptional show, a secret concert that took place during his six-week deployment at the US Army training area in Grafenwoehr from November 3 to December 16, 1958.
During those six weeks, Elvis was not just another soldier. He was a spectacle on the military training ground, drawing the attention of officers and fellow soldiers alike. According to reports from the army magazine “Stars & Stripes,” “Most maneuvering took place around Elvis, than at any other place in the fields.” This attention may have garnered him some discreet privileges.
Army buddy Rex Mansfield explained, “His special treatment was handled on a very discreet, low-key basis, and the people who knew really didn’t mind. If things were a little slow, he could slip out and go home for a while. There were no big favors handed to him, just a lot of small ones that nobody would really fuss about.”
The key to Elvis’s secret escape from the camp lay with the Feiner family, owners of a local entertainment venue known as The Micky Bar. Presley’s battalion commander had a connection with Margarete and Alter Feiner, thanks to their jukebox repair business. Knowing that Elvis’s father, Vernon, was coming to visit but couldn’t stay in the camp, they offered him a furnished apartment above the Micky Bar. Vernon Presley arrived in Grafenwoehr for almost a week in December, allowing Elvis to sneak in each night to spend time with his father. He was discreetly picked up at the back entrance, evading the camp staff’s notice, and returned each evening without detection, with only the Feiner family in the know.
During the day, while Elvis attended his military duties, Vernon Presley, accompanied by local resident Raimund Rodler, helped repair jukeboxes. Rodler recalled, “Twice he came with me to repair some jukeboxes…of course, I had him play his son’s songs then.” Mrs. Feiner, meanwhile, delighted Elvis and Vernon with her home-cooked schnitzel sandwiches, becoming Elvis’s daily request. “He wanted schnitzel with fried potatoes every day,” Rodler fondly remembered.
The connection with the Feiner family ran deeper than mere hospitality. Margarete Feiner refused to accept any payment for Vernon’s stay, leading Elvis to offer his own unique form of gratitude – a secret, private concert. On one of the last days of his Grafenwoehr stay, likely between December 12 and 15, 1958, Elvis performed an intimate show exclusively for the 30-person staff of the Micky Bar before the bar opened for business. However, he had some conditions: no photographs, no recordings, and no strangers allowed.
The Micky Bar, originally named the “Mönchshof,” was an ideal setting for this secret performance. Built in 1954, it hosted live music daily and featured a house band, magicians, singers, and strip tease artists. Holding up to 400 people, it was popular with both Germans and American soldiers. On the day of the concert, staff members were summoned without knowledge of the reason, and once they gathered, the doors were locked. Elvis, descending the stairs to the stage, proceeded to play the piano and sing for two and a half hours, much to the staff’s delight.
Pauline Neubert, a waitress at the Micky Bar, was initially puzzled by the soldier at the piano. She asked Mrs. Feiner, “Who is the one playing so nicely?” To her amazement, the response was, “Elvis Presley – The Elvis Presley!”
Unlike Elvis’s usual performances in the barracks, where he often sang folk songs, at the Micky Bar, he unleashed his rock ‘n’ roll hits. Raimund Rodler, who attended the concert, remembered, “Almost all of his hits were there… These were nice hours. Between the songs, Elvis, the world star, talked to the staff.” Describing the performance as a departure from the typical screaming and fainting of young fans, Rodler emphasized the mature audience’s appreciation.
After the concert, the news spread like wildfire, drawing fans to the Micky Bar in hopes of catching a glimpse of the legendary singer. However, Elvis had already departed, leaving behind a grateful audience and an enduring memory.
Elvis Presley’s secret concert in Grafenwoehr, Germany, may have remained hidden for decades, but it remains a testament to the King’s enduring love for music and his deep appreciation for those who welcomed him with open arms during his time in Germany. A hidden gem in the story of rock ‘n’ roll, this secret concert now shines brightly in the history of the legendary Elvis Presley.