phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at
Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Elvis has left the building

The meaning and origin of the expression: Elvis has left the building

Elvis has left the building

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Elvis has left the building'?

The expression 'Elvis has left the building' was originally a literal announcement that Elvis Presely had left after a show. It later took on a more general meaning of 'the show is over; there's nothing more to see'.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Elvis has left the building'?

"Elvis has left the building" used to be announced at the end of Elvis Presley's concerts to encourage his hysterical fans to accept that there would be no further encores and to go home. It is now used more widely to indicate that someone has made an exit or that something is complete.

The first known use of 'Elvis has left the building' was printed in the Detroit Times, 23rd November 1956:

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 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."

Elvis has left the buildingSoon afterwards, in December 1956, it was used again by Horace Logan, who was the announcer at the Louisiana Hayride show, in which Elvis was a regular performer. Presley had very quickly become very popular with teenagers but had previously taken a regular lowly spot at the Hayride. He was on the bill quite early in proceedings but after his performance was over the crowd of teenagers wanted to see more. Logan announced:

"Please, young people ... Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away ... Please take your seats"

Al Dvorin was the regular stage announcer for Elvis Presley during the 1970s. He picked up the phrase and his version can be heard on several live recordings:

"Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight."

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."

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List