So, thirty years today then. It’s three long decades since the ‘King’ of rock and roll died an undignified death. I remember the night but I can’t say it was memorable in itself. I’d paid one of my regular trips into the city of Nottingham to go drinking with college mates from my printing course of the day. On arriving home the TV was playing out a homage to the rocker from Tupelo Mississippi. It wasn’t exactly a ‘the day they shot Kennedy’ moment for me but, yes I do remember what I was doing that evening.
Perhaps everyone has been touched by one Elvis song or another. It would have been difficult to live in an exclusive bubble without hearing some of his music at some time. Though I’m not particularly a fan I do believe he was perhaps the original artist that one liked ‘at least something that he’d done’. Whilst respecting his huge and influential place – perhaps at the very paramount of the rock pile, he did however leave a somewhat strange legacy along with hours of epic vinyl history.
The Elvis impersonator.
There were a few ‘Elvis’s’ weren’t there. There was the snake-hipped young teen idol with the dark good looks that smouldered and shook all over a shocked America in the mid/late fifties. There was the slightly homogenised Elvis, post army in his celluloid reconstructions according the word of Col. Tom Parker. Then came a little time in Beatles-created semi-wilderness before he came back with a bang in his comeback ’68 special, slimmed down and be-leathered. Lastly, and devolving from the Las Vegas Elvis came a strange mutation of the original talent. A bloated and often ridiculous Elvis clad in ever-expanding white jump-suits beloved of the Vegas era, bedecked with glitter and not rarely a cape.
Can anyone please tell me why THIS is the incarnation of Elvis that the army of impersonators practically always favour? They’re legion aren’t they? They appear in the social clubs, they were even on my daytime TV programs this morning looking totally hideous. Please somebody tell me why, if there really have to be this army of impersonators, nobody try’s to be the young, cool and energetic Elvis belting out rockers and crooners with equal aplomb? No, instead we are regaled with men with ebony-blacked hair in overdone parodies of Elvis’s fifties quiff. Large real-ale bellies straining at the pearlised buttons of their glittery jump suits and the tired “uh-huh, thang ya very much ladies an gennulmen” stuff.
There is a saving grace though. The comic Elvis impersonator (aren’t they all?) In Nottingham there lives a man known after his local suburb as “Sneinton Elvis”. Now I’ve never been “fortunate” enough to see Sneinton live but they tell me it really is a far-out experience, man. Apparently this Elvis is actually a mentally-disabled man who once stood up at a karaoke when after people began booking him for gigs. Nice eh? Sneinton Elvis apparently still retains his admiring fans in the area, many who visit his live performances in t-shirts emblazoned with his features on the front. He’s apparently absolutely hopeless (which I can testify to from a YouTube video) but it’s not clear who the laugh is on here.
I am told also of another strange Elvis by a friend from Ennis in County Clare, Ireland. Apparently this version travels between pubs performing to unsuspecting customers (whether they like it or not). In the inclement “soft weather” of Clare, he can be seen sporting a rather fetching ladies plastic head scarf to keep his luxurious dark locks in fine fettle. A problem is that when the rain does catch his follicles the black dye has a tendency to run in rivulets down his cheeks. Let nothing be bad said about this Elvis though. On leaving the room he will always bless you with “God loves ya baby…and so do I”.