In 1953 a young Parker Machinist Shop worker wandered into Memphis Recording Service and paid $3.98 to record two songs as a belated birthday gift for his mother. Two years later the entire country would be buying his recordings, and Elvis Presley’s $3.98 original recording would come to be worth thousands.
Fast forward to 2017: Elvis is gone, but is still raking in millions in post-death earnings, according to Forbes Magazine. “The King’s” continuing popularity makes the annual “Elvis Birthday Celebration Tour” an on-going success story. This year’s Elvis Birthday Tribute stop at Playhouse Square will be its 17th consecutive year, performed on what would have been The King’s actual 81st birthday, Sunday, January 8 in the State Theatre at 7 pm.
The Elvis Birthday Celebration features over two hours of live music starring three of the nation’s most critically-acclaimed Elvis recreators, Shawn Klush, Ryan Pelton and Cody Ray Slaughter, each performing their entire tribute act. They are joined by longtime Elvis back-up singers The Sweet Inspirations, Dove Award winners and Elvis’ gospel family, The Blackwood Quartet and hosted by Elvis’ original drummer, D.J. Fontana, who peppers the evening with intimate Elvis anecdotes.
The Elvis Birthday Tribute recreates the memorable Elvis eras from his rockabilly beginnings through the Las Vegas comeback years. Serious Elvis followers, rock fans and lovers of live musical theater will be treated to 50 Elvis songs, with the tribute artists decked out in replicas of The King’s flashy wardrobe.
The three hands-down Cleveland favorite Elvis recreators over the past six Playhouse Square appearances, Shawn, Ryan and Cody, all come with impressive credentials, including rave reviews from those who personally worked with The King.
Klush has been acclaimed as the #1 Elvis performer in the country and was featured in the 1999 CBS-TV movie Shake Rattle & Roll. He was the winner of the Worldwide Elvis Competition and currently stars as “Elvis” in “Legends in Concert,” alternating in the show’s Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Branson, Seattle and Myrtle Beach venues.
Ryan Pelton’s uncanny resemblance to Elvis was noticed as far back as his pre-teen years. Even in the Marine Corps, with his head shaved, the drill instructors nicknamed him “Elvis.” Ryan went on to become the “Worldwide Elvis Impersonator Champ, Year 2000” held in Memphis.
Andy Cody Ray Slaughter, who began at only age 13 impersonating Elvis, went on to win The People’s Choice Award at the Elvis Week 2008 as part of the Images of the King Competition.
(Tickets for the January 8th (7 pm) State Theatre “Elvis Birthday Tribute” range from $47, $37, $27 & $10 Smart Seats, on sale at the Playhouse Square Ticket office; at 216-241-6000 or at www.playhousesquare.org.