From the Daily Journal. Not long ago Elvis tribute artists got a cold shoulder from their inspiration's corporate entity, Elvis Presley Enterprises. For years, the owner of Elvis' name, likeness and image distanced itself from the hordes of men - and handful of women - who dressed and performed something like the King of Rock 'N' Roll.
"We represent the real thing," said Todd Morgan, EPE's director of media and creative development. "The impersonator thing for the public and the press ... has often been a negative. When you think impersonator,' you think parody.' We could never find a comfort level in embracing it."
That meant events featuring such entertainment couldn't get licensed by EPE, and those that EPE already licensed - like Tupelo's annual Elvis Presley Festival - largely were prohibited from having such entertainment.
But that's changing. The corporate entity has warmed to the idea of impersonators, and that means greater opportunities for festivals like Tupelo's to feature more of what the public wants - Elvis.
"Over the past years we have had a lot of discussion about the Elvis tribute artist phenomenon and what to do about it," Morgan said. "We realized it was never going to go away. It has gotten bigger, the entertainment has gotten better. So we thought maybe if we get involved in some way, maybe we can bring attention to the most talented tribute artists."
Tapping the resource
And thus bring attention to EPE's own events. Morgan acknowledged that impersonators draw large crowds and suggested that Graceland could tap that resource to boost attendance at its own functions.
It tried the tactic for the first time Friday by hosting an Elvis tribute artist showcase in Memphis. Last year, EPE quietly co-sponsored a similar showcase to test the waters, Morgan said. And next year it plans to expand those efforts.
The entity also worked closely this spring with Tupelo officials to host a re-enactment of Elvis' 1956 homecoming concert complete with three tribute artists at the June event. It drew the largest crowd in the festival's eight-year history.
Festival organizers here hope to continue that practice.
Although Tupelo had featured a tribute artist, it now will have more of them and even hold a contest, said Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, which hosts the event.
Those who win the contest will compete at Graceland against winners from other EPE-licensed festivals, said Linda Butler Johnson, who heads Tupelo's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Those plans are not yet firm, however.
Still, Brangenberg and Johnson lauded EPE's more relaxed attitude toward impersonators and the more open relationship it now has with Tupelo.
For example, EPE invited the city to have a presence at Graceland for Fan Appreciation Week, and expressed interest in partnering with the festival, CVB and the Elvis Presley Birthplace during memorial events for the King's Aug. 16 death.
"It's a change in tactic for EPE to open up doors to what we can do," Johnson said at a recent CVB meeting. "It's a new day for EPE, and we're going to try to take advantage of it."
By Daily Journal - Emily Le Coz
Elvis Impersonators Embraced By EPE?August 14, 2006 | Other Source:Daily Journal
Lex wrote on August 14, 2006
Brrrrrrrr... I bet they will release Elvis In Concert soon too... that's less worse than imposters. Just when you think EPE started to take care of business better, they sink to a new depth.
Jth wrote on August 14, 2006
I approve - I applaude for EPE for doing this, and even though they know what (most) fans will say: "Brrrrrr....". And what is wrong with us fans?! We demand that they release "Elvis In Concert" and in our next comment we hope that they won't release it!!EPE just can't win!
Mielvis wrote on August 14, 2006
Bout time! 99% do it for the love of Elvis, just like the rest of us.
Narek wrote on August 15, 2006
I'm glad they start cooperating with impersonators. I agree to the statement that some of them are bad, but some are really good. Trent Carlini, Harry Shahoyan, Ryan Pelton, Dough Church (the guy has the voice tembr closest to Elvis). These guys work in best hotels, no way they can be called bad singers or bad artists.
Renan Augusto wrote on August 15, 2006
I hate impersonators.
CD King wrote on August 15, 2006
I don't mind Inpersonators if they are good. The good ones that I know are Ronnie McDowell, Johnny Earl, HT Long and Jimmy Ellis.
Teacher wrote on August 15, 2006
I wouldn't classify Ronnie McDowell as an Elvis impersonator.
GeeBee wrote on August 15, 2006
Too bad EPE has given into "these" :(
Yvonne wrote on August 15, 2006
S..t! I was so glad to hear that EPE wanted to get rid of these impersonaters and now this!! But if this is the way EPE want to do it I truly hope they filter out the bad ones, the ones every Elvisfan is ashamed of.
JerryNodak wrote on August 15, 2006
I've seen some impersonators that I thought were quite good. Of course, they AREN'T Elvis, but they do give a satifactory illusion. That's all they can hope to do and it's really all the audience expects. The Elvis industry (including impersonators) is here to stay. EPE may as well sanction the good and in so doing weed out the bad. Sure EPE could shut down the impersonators, but the cost of lawsuits not too mention the adverse publicity wouldn't be worth it in the long run.
David Brys wrote on August 16, 2006
The Col. Parker story continues: "If it brings enough cash in, we'll accept it!" I can't understand EPE in this. They are horrified to get the 1977 video material the proper treatment it deserves for us fans, because they think it wouldn't do good to his modern build image. But they DO accept to finance these impersonators events. I wonder what would cause more harm to the image of Elvis?
ta2k wrote on August 16, 2006
I hate Impostors! TCB
see see rider wrote on August 16, 2006
I can do without Impersonators..of any kind
queeniewahine2 wrote on August 16, 2006
I agree that it's about time that EPE starts giving ETA's the credit they deserve for keeping Elvis' spirit alive. They work hard to do this. My husband does the whole life of Elvis in one show. Proof of this is at www.thehillbillycat.com. All the guys put there heart and soul into their shows. I agree with June "It's about time"!
merrill718 wrote on August 17, 2006
its funny folks other dead artists dont get alot of slack .you say eta people get the wrong idea about elvis impersonators.some of the guys do go real far thinking they are elvis.lol .iam a elvis impersonator my self.iknow iam not elvis presley.
Crawfish wrote on August 22, 2006
Sorry guys, I am just not a fan of Elvis impersonators (or impersonators of any kind that is). I personally don't feel the need to watch someone in fancy dress! They may love Elvis as we all do, but there is a limit. They just wind me up and I will avoid at almost all cost; great if you love them and if you are one of them then good luck. Just my personal opinion I would never pay to see one - who needs them when - they just are not Elvis! Enough said probably! :) No offence meant here to anyone!
tilchkitten wrote on November 26, 2006
what some of you fail to relize is that my generation (I'm 27)never experiance Elvis live or were around during the peak of his career. We know of elvis though his music and movies. So to be entertained by a very good ETA is the closes we get to feel what it would of been like to actully see Elvis perform live. I'm not saying all ETAs are good I have very high standards ( if i'll see their show or not)when it comes to them. There are alot that don't belong on stage!!