Top Elvis tribute artists Shawn Klush, Cody Ray Slaughter to take the stage at the Lerner
Shawn Klush, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Elvis” by BBC1, is performing Saturday, May 17, at the Lerner Theatre in downtown Elkhart. He set aside some time to talk with The Elkhart Truth about his act.
Klush has won multiple competitions for his talents, including the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest in Memphis, Tenn., and the BBC1 dubbed him “The World’s Greatest Elvis.” Slaughter has been an entertainer since he was 13 years old, and he is currently touring the country portraying Presley in his younger years as part of the Tony Award-winning cast of “The Million Dollar Quartet.”
Tickets to see Klush and Slaughter are on sale for $20 to $64.50 at thelerner.com, by phone at 574-293-4469 and at the Lerner box office, 410 S. Main St.
Here is an excerpt of Klush’s interview with The Elkhart Truth:
Elkhart Truth: What is your first memory of Elvis? Klush: I wish I could show everybody the picture, but because I look geeky, I’ll never show it. It’s a picture of me standing in front of a record player, and there’s an Elvis album sitting up there.
Elkhart Truth: When was the first time someone told you that you look like Elvis? Klush: I heard that my whole life. It’s a funny thing. I’ve just heard it forever.
Elkhart Truth: When was the first time someone said you sound like him? Klush: It was probably early on when I first started singing. I was running around playing honky tonks when I was 14 and 15 years old. I shouldn’t have been in those joints, but there I was.
Elkhart Truth: You’ve won several Elvis tribute competitions, and you’ve performed all over the country. What makes you the ultimate Elvis? Klush: I don’t think I’m any more special than anybody else. We’re real serious about it when we play, we’re true to the music and we try to play it in the freshest way it’s ever been presented.
Elkhart Truth: Have you been to Graceland? Klush: A million times. I even shot a movie there. I was probably in a few rooms that I probably didn’t belong in or wasn’t allowed to be in. We shot something there for the 25th or the 30th anniversary of his death. Part of the script showed Elvis in the house, he leaves the house, jumps in a helicopter and flies over to the FedEx Forum, so it was pretty neat.
Elkhart Truth: What your favorite Elvis story? Klush: There’s a story about him with a telescope on the top floor of the Hilton, and he looked across to a Cadillac dealership, and he saw the guys sitting around. He called and said, ‘This is Elvis Presley. I want 10 Cadillacs in front of this hotel in a hour. I want them clean, washed and ready to go in 60 minutes, and if they’re not here, I’m not paying for them.’
After he made that phone call, he went back and looked through the telescope, and the most fun he ever had in his life was watching those guys running around trying to get 10 Cadillacs ready. He would do things like that because he was bored and he couldn’t do what you and I do for fun. He couldn’t go to the ice cream shop or any of that kind of stuff. He couldn't walk down the street, so he had to make his own fun.
The cars ended up being there. He didn’t need them, but the first 10 people in the front row that night got brand new Cadillacs.
Elkhart Truth: Why do you think his music has had such staying power? Klush: He left too early. His fans were at that point where just cusping on middle age, and their hero for that era was gone. The era in the ’80s still has Bon Jovi. Even at 52 years old, he’s still out there doing it. The Stones are still doing it. Paul McCartney is still out there.
But Elvis, he’s gone. That magic is gone, and to see it again is great for fans. We sometimes forget that he’s the guy who started all of this, regardless of who has it now and who took it wherever.
Elkhart Truth: If he were still alive, do you think he would be just as popular today? Klush: Whatever he would be doing, he would be doing it 100 percent. That’s for certain. I think he would have gone back to his roots too. I think you would have heard a lot of gospel music, some country and some rhythm and blues.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.