One Night of Elvis starring Lee Memphis King at The Brook, Southampton on Saturday, May 30 (doors 8pm) will offer proof positive of Lee’s great belief.
“Elvis just had it all!”
It’s fast approaching 40 years since Elvis’ death.
“But a great song is a great song no matter how long ago, and he just sang great songs,” Lee says. “He was the greatest star. He had everything in spades. He had a great voice, and he looked great. He had great stage presence. He was a real star.
“Any song he liked he recorded. I would say there was no formula, but maybe the formula was just liking what he sang. He did rock ‘n’ roll and r&b and gospel and country, a great mixture.”
Lee was ten when Elvis died. He remembers the day well, his mum calling up with the sad news. Lee was already a fan.
“I was always trying to imitate his voice from the age of about five. I have always been able to imitate people as long as I can remember. I always wanted to imitate his voice, and I always wanted to go on stage. I’d been trying to do that forever.”
But the question was how to achieve that dream – a question answered with the advent of the internet.
“I didn’t have a clue about how to get into show business. There are no manuals. Nobody is going to tell you how, and nobody is going to let you in. But once the internet came along and people started developing websites, then I was able to send off recordings to promoters and to start to make progress. Before that, it was just how the hell do you let people know what you want to do. I just had no idea. All I had was this feeling I had to be on stage.
“I sent off recordings and somebody was ill and the opportunity came up. I was asked if I would go and sing at someone’s birthday party in Germany. That was my first-ever performance. Somebody’s sister had wanted an Elvis tribute for her brother’s birthday party. It was scary. It was as scary as you would imagine and then ten times that, and then after that I entered a contest, back when I used to think that contests were credible and useful. That was in about 2005. It was at the time the largest contest in the world for Elvis tributes. I won it, and after that I started performing regularly.”
He has been touring ever since.
Lee hasn’t much time for the tributes/impersonators that turn up for Elvis contests these days: “They are like caricatures of what they think Elvis should be like.”
He did a contest much more recently, and it was an awful experience: “It was just stereotypical Elvis impersonators, fat dads with dyed black hair.”
That’s not the way to do it: “You have just got to look at the man, look at the film of him performing.”
Lee reckons Elvis was at his peak from 68-72, the comeback after nine years of awful films –
“Elvis hated the films, and I can’t watch them either.”
But he came back at his best, Lee believes: “He looked great. He was singing great.”
His decline was only in the last 18 months of his life, the result of a mix of ailments and the prescription drugs he was taking for them: “It was that combination that got him in the end, I think.”
But as Lee says, there was a TV programme which examined his genes and determined that with his dodgy ticker, he was always likely to die some time around then anyway…
Tickets for Southampton on 023 8055 55366 or www.the-brook.com.