Elvis Presley,the undisputed king of rock 'n' roll, is back in town - in the shape of impersonator Lee 'Memphis' King. SIBA MATTI is all shook up after speaking to him
FEW musicians can live up to the legend of Elvis Aaron Presley, whose iconic status has spawned millions of impersonators, including Roy Evans, aka Lee 'Memphis' King, who is at The Beck next Friday. Crowned the best Elvis tribute artist in the
world at the prestigious 2005 Collingwood Elvis Festival held annually in Canada, Lee always had a strong desire to impersonate his hero.
"I have been an Elvis fan since I was five years old, when I saw the film Roustabout. I have always loved the man and his music, and there hasn't been a day that I haven't sung an Elvis song and tried to perfect my tribute act, to honour his incredible voice," Lee explains. "Although I don't look like him, I definitely sound like him.
"I always wanted to be on the stage as an impersonator. I particularly enjoyed mimicking the style of other celebrities, such as Norman Wisdom, when I was a kid."
Lee, originally from North Wales but now living in Stoke on Trent, pays meticulous attention to everything about Elvis' singing, from his breathing technique to his attitude when performing. It is this love and respect which has undoubtedly led to his phenomenal success. But he is less than complimentary about other impersonators.
"To be honest, I don't really like being called an impersonator; I prefer to be known as an Elvis tribute act," he says.
"I'm not saying that I'm perfect but very few people have what it takes to be named the world's best Elvis tribute artist - I'm not one of those fat, balding 40-year-olds in a very bad suit who seem to portray a comedic caricature. I think many of them are incredibly disrespectful and don't spend enough time trying to get it right. Those kinds of people are only good for karaoke and they give my profession a bad name. It means people often laugh at what I do for a living.
"All I can do is try to come as close to Elvis' voice and movements on stage as possible. I aim to feel the energy of the crowd and inject my love for him into my shows."
The Beck show, Elvis on Tour, sees Lee portraying The King's entire performing career, from the hip swivelling rock 'n' roll years to his film appearances and, of course, the Vegas years.
"I will be performing all the classics. I think Suspicious Minds is probably the most popular, but I like throwing in more obscure songs too, such as There Goes My Everything and Hurt, one of my favourite songs, which was released around the time Elvis was becoming reclusive," Lee reveals.
"Few people know how enormous his repertoire was, and many songs were not released."
Despite his devotion, Lee insists that he has not adopted Elvis' rock 'n' roll lifestyle. "Drugs and booze-fuelled nights out are not for me," he says. "I like to enjoy myself as much as the next person but keeping fit and staying healthy are priorities for me."
Nor does he believe that Elvis is still alive. "There is no denying the fact that Elvis died in 1977, and anyone who says otherwise needs their head tested.
"Elvis was timeless and his music transcends all ages. Whether you are young or old, you can appreciate his music, and that is what remains today."