There are very few people who can be recognised globally by their first name. Elvis was one of them. Elvis had a presence. You felt him even when you couldn’t see him.
His impact on American culture was stupendous, as he seemed to have an effect on the manner of dressing, hairstyles, and even behaviour, which many copied. His spinning movements on stage became legendary.
Fans would agree that it was Elvis’s baritone voice that stood out in all his songs. “His voice made everyone love him. Elvis showed he could sing any song, ballad, rock, blues, country and western songs and it’s a misnomer that he was known as only the king of rock and roll,” claims Pune based Zahir Chinoy, President of the first ever Elvis Presley fan club in India.
77-year-old Chinoy has converted his basement into a mini Graceland of Elvis memorabilia, with dozens of posters, LP records, cups, glasses and a poster signed by Elvis addressed to Zahir. “Sadly I never saw him in person or on stage, but my mother who visited the US in 1961, was at a restaurant and casually asked a waitress about Elvis.
After six months I received an envelope that contained a signed photo of Elvis. It was the biggest surprise of my life. It just showed how simple the man was and how much he loved his fans,” says Chinoy, an encyclopedia on Elvis who has made the pilgrimage to Graceland thrice.
He recommends anyone wanting to know the magnetism that was Elvis should watch ‘That’s the way it is’ (1970) and ‘Elvis on Tour’ (1972).
And rightly so, for it was the film, ‘That’s the way it is’ that converted Mehmood Curmally of the defunct Rhythm House into a diehard Elvis fan, so much so that he has been portraying Presley in three stages of his career: the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
“I watched the movie seven times and from then got hooked onto Elvis. I did my first imitation of Elvis in the early ’80s with bell bottom pants and everything Elvis. But I got busy with the music store and it was only in 2014, that I decided to perform the Elvis show again.”
Sporting killer side locks and a deep lung capacity, Siddharth Meghani embodies Elvis Presley to an uncanny degree. Struck by the spirit of ‘The King’ from the young age of 6, this crooning Bandraite quickly made a name for himself.
The 41-year-old eligible bachelor says that an Elvis show is incomplete without the flirting, pelvic thrusts, playful sense of humour Elvis was famous for.
“He sang from his heart, he interacted with his fans, touching them, smiling and holding them. This was the magnetism between Elvis and his fans. He sang for his fans who he knew loved him dearly.”
While there have been many Elvis tribute acts, we cannot forget the late Merwyn Rufus from Bandra who initially was the first ever Elvis Presley tribute act in Mumbai.
According to Fali Singara, RJ, AIR, Elvis is popular even today, because his music creates an impact on people. Singara, who has had several radio shows on Elvis, says that the music of Elvis transcends all barriers of age, caste, class or religion. “His music is timeless and if you listen to any Elvis song carefully, you will feel like he’s singing to you alone”.
This is exactly what western music singer Gary Lawyer does in his Elvis Presley show. For Lawyer focuses on Presley’s singing, rather than his dressing and style.
“I put on a very serious professional act,” says the singer who is gearing up for a tribute show on January 9 at Pune, adding, “He was one singer who had more influence on mankind than anyone else. He revolutionised the thought process, the dressing, the looks, becoming the most powerful human being ever.”
We couldn’t agree more, for as John Lennon once said, “Without Elvis, there would be no Beatles".
Catch the Elvis Las Vegas show at Bandra’s D'Monte Park Recreation Club on January 17, 2020, 7 pm to watch Garry Foley live in concert, brought to you by KCT Entertainment. Siddharth Meghani is also doing an Elvis tribute at Door No. 1, Bandra, on January 8, 8 pm.