Long Live the King
By Simon Weedn
It’s been almost four decades since the tragic passing of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. However, this man was unlike many other seminal musical superstars who’ve died before their time. Elvis—his style, and his music continue to inspire generation after generation, to not only seek out his music and films, but to pay tribute to the man through the craft of impersonation. Elvis Lives: The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Event brings together four of the most highly regarded Elvis tribute artists in the business today on one stage to deliver a tour de force performance of Elvis’ music in his many eras and styles. Cast lead, and late era Elvis tribute artist Bill Cherry explains, “It’s really four shows in one,” he adds, “instead of having one person change into different costumes, you actually have four separate individuals giving the audience four separate performances.” Not only does this give the show the ability to keep a good rhythm and pacing that doesn’t have to be regulated by costume changes and other production variables, but also it allows each of the four artists to focus entirely on making their one particular era come to life. The production celebrates Elvis’ life in a way that will impress everyone from the most cultish of Elvis’ fan base to the casual classic rock and roll listener. “A lot of times we get people who come to the shows who weren’t into Elvis that much, but walk away with a new appreciation for his work,” says Cherry. The cast includes the aforementioned Bill Cherry; the “2009 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest” winner Leo Days, who’s best known for performing all three major eras of Elvis in his act; Ben Klein, whose performances have won him several awards in various Elvis tribute contests throughout the U.S.; and Kevin Mills, whose award winning Elvis tribute has landed him as a performer at events ranging from cruises to Presidential inaugurations. In addition, the show features the lovely Lori Russo as Elvis’s reoccurring movie companion, Ann Margaret, an act she has been perfecting for 13 years. In true Elvis style, the production includes bright lights and glittery costumes, an array of dancers, and an incredibly talented backing band, giving the audience the full Elvis Presley experience. As the icing on the cake of this concert, the event’s story and transitions are narrated by none other than Presley himself. Using interview and film footage culled from the Presley Enterprises archives, the narration allows for the King to explain his own life and career in his own words. Whether you’re a fan of Elvis’s early career as a rising star on Sun Records and break out success on RCA Victor, an admirer of his movie career, an enthusiast of his post-film “comeback” era, or were captivated by the sequined jumpsuits and over the top spectacle of his later “concert” era, Elvis Lives offers something for everyone. “It’s a great way to recapture the past,” describes Cherry, “it’s really a time machine in a sense.”
Elvis Lives: The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Event at Fox Riverside, 3801 Mission Inn Ave Riverside, (951) 779-9804; www.foxriversidelive.com. May 10, 8PM. $30-$80.