Elvis Tribute Artists

The king is dead - the legend lives


Anybody who today looks at cult figures, popular icons, stars and idols will find an almost confusing mass of celebrities for individuals to choose to identify with. Traditionally, these come mainly from the world of music, sports, stage and screen. But comparatively few of them manage to stay around for very long. Then there are those who are venerated with almost religious fervour. In such cases, death is not the end. On the contrary it can even lead to greater popularity which manifests itself as a full-blown star cult.

Elvis Presley, the king of rock ´n´ roll, is without doubt a 20th century icon. His jet black hair, combed into a quiff, his lopsided pouting lips and special way of moving, all attributes which led to an uproar in puritanical circles in the nineteen-fifties, all contributed, along with his unmistakeable voice, to the almost religious Elvis cult.

Even his change of image, from rebel to glamorous entertainer (in Las Vegas) produced no hitches. Millions of believers organised themselves into fan clubs, world-wide. Elvis‚ mansion, Graceland, and his grave, equal mystical sites of pilgrimage in terms of never-ending numbers of pilgrims. 

The highpoint of this staged cultural resurrection is ElvisWeek, which marks the anniversary of his death on the 16th of August, the tribute shows of which provide plenty of opportunity for near religious veneration. So-called Elvis Tribute Artists, impersonators, many of whom even have fan clubs of their very own, compete with each other for audience favour in weird Elvis look-alike acts characterised by gestures, mimicry and flamboyant outfits. The anticipation of roaring applause, autograph sessions and public recognition entices the Elvis impersonators, spurring them on to ever greater heights. In their efforts to keep the Elvis myth alive, demographic factors such as ethnicity, skin colour, age or sex are irrelevant. The heartfelt desire for self-affirmation and attention, even through straightforward imitation, is no doubt shared by many in today´s world and applies to almost all sections of society.