May 21, 2004


In Thursday's Tampa Tribune, Walt Belcher wrote a fun story about the upcoming Elvis Fest this weekend downtown.

Those who regularly read this blog (Hi, Mom!) and who are aware of The King Project can tell you that this is no small thrill.

So when two of the Elvis impersonators, er, tribute artists, interviewed for the story came in for their photo shoots, I had to tag along...

The first King to roll through was Bill Aikins, (Yes, even The King has to sign in at the guard desk. As Mike, one of our security technicians said, "You never know.")

Bill was nice enough to wear his full black leather "Elvis Comeback Special" outfit for us, even though it was 143 degrees outside.

Rommie and Walt and I met him in the parking lot and offered to carry in his guitar case and white fringe jumpsuit. When I showed him the Elvis glasses I bought in Nashville in January, we became immediate friends.


Unlike many impersonators, Bill doesn't play guitar when he performs (he had an injury that affected a few fingers on his left hand.) So instead, he built what he calls his Elvis Karaoke Guitar.

It's one cool rig. In the place where the guitar hole would be, he has a Peavey amp. Behind the guitar's veneer, he has mounted a tape player, a power system and a cords that lead to a mike that sticks out of the neck of the guitar.


Then all he has to do is unhook the back of the guitar, hit play and rock on. That way, he can walk through parties or gatherings without worrying that people will trip over his setup.


For the photo shoot, we put the poor guy through a million gyrations. We had him strumming...


getting down into a crouch... you name it.


Here he is after he just finished a kick. (My camera was slow.) He kind of looks like Corey Feldman, doesn't he?

Rommie couldn't help but try on his glasses, which were a metal version of the pair I own.


You might remember that Rommie grew mutton chops for his Elvis Project photo:



I couldn't help but try them on too.

Still, there's no substitute for the imitation of the real thing.


Bill was a delightful gentleman for taking time to pose for photos. It was clear that he had executed the double handshake before.

This is what Bill looks like without the Presley getup. Yes, he is available for parties.

The next day Garyelvis came on by. Gary, whose real name is Gary Britt, plays his own guitar. You can see him in the Plant City Christmas Parade here.


Gary was in the Green Room waiting to go on TV when we pegged him. He couldn't have been more gracious. Again, my Elvis glasses paved the way to greater friendship.

He immediately broke out into his alarmingly accurate version of "One Night With You" for me and the handful of people in the room.


Gotta respect a man who plays a glorified broom closet like it was Caesar's Palace.


The authenticity of his presentation extends to his fingertips.


Well, sort of. The rings on his right hand are authentic, except for the rings on the first finger and pinky. Those are his Alabama football rings.


The left hand is authentic, too. "Elvis wore the lion ring because, you know, he was The King,'' he said.

El wore a EP gold ring on his left pinky. Not Garyelvis. "It's GE for Garyelvis.''


Karen got into the spirit by posing in the Elvis glasses.


Why do I look like Sammy Davis Jr. in this photo?

Posted by Jeff at May 21, 2004 08:13 AM | TrackBack