73. Elvis’s imitators

Posted on 02/11/2017

73. Elvis’s imitators

You could say  that all pop singers after about 1955 were Elvis imitators, except perhaps Roy Orbison, as Elvis had an immense effect on subsequent performers. But what I mean is the Elvis imitators who attempted to mimic his soudn when he joined the US Army. There was an immediate attempt to fill the gap by quite a few singers.

This song dates from 1958, when Elvis went into the Army. It has many of Elvis’s vocal tricks and also something of his appearance in the singer. But Twitty saw the light and became a famous country singer instead of copying Elvis. But he was as they say a ‘beefcake’: he nearly was a baseball star. He had a good voice but none of the Elvis magic. Thats presumably why he switched to country (though he’d always loved country music).

Conway Twitty’s real name was Jenkins, but he came accross another singer called HW Conway Twitty and copied it, and became much more famous than the original man. The latter wrote a slightly embittered song called ‘Whats in a name but trouble’. Twitty lived longer than Elvis (59 to 42) but died suddenly while performing. He had founded a successful tourist attraction called Twitty City, near Nashville Tennessee, now the HQ of a big religious broadcaster.

I always thought this song by ~Troy Shondell – what a Name- was another imitation Elvis, but his voice is much lighter. It was a hit during Elvis’s army days.

Some of the words are as follows below. Until now I had believed that when, in the second verse he sings ‘no goodnight kiss’ the next line sounds like ‘this time’s for Elvis’. Actually I now realise, having printed out the words that its ‘forever’ sung with rather poor diction! My mistake is known as a


ie where a phrase or word is misunderstood to mean something else. I’ve had that happen with other song lyrics too.

This time we’re really breaking up
This time we said way too much
This times for all time
How about this time

This time there’ll be no goodnite kiss
This time is forever
This time I find that I’m
Really losing you

The next song is called ‘Elvis Imitators’ . ‘Imitation Elvis’s may not be  the King, but he is is the next best thing’ is a good line

I once hired an Elvis imperstonator for my brother Nicky’s birthday party, as he is a lifelong Elvis fan. The chap did not look anything like Elvis, and he said that was his style. But when it came to singing the songs he was absolutely brilliant and conveyed exactly the Elvis magic.

Having said that, I will insert Elvis’s last public performance, a few months before he died. Not because it was his last, but because its brilliant.

He was singing the slushy ‘Are you lonesome tonight’ but when it came to the spoken bit he could not remember the words. Not surprising because they were awful. But he was quite a performer and made a brilliant job of it. He put ‘tax return’ into the lyric and lots of other touches and was clearly highly amused by his extemporisation.


When they called Elvis the King, they were not joking. He was a magnetic performer in his early days and always had the most fantastic voice. Only Elvis could have spawned an industry of imitators. Their existence is testimony to his greatness.




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