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When it comes to rock agus roll, there’s really only Before Elvis and After Elvis.
The man changed everything, being the perfect prism for country and soul, for be-bop and blues, and all points in-between.
It helped too, of course, that the guy could sing. And swing. And make men, women, children and household pets swoon.
Sadly, despite the persistent rumours to the contrary, it would appear that Elvis Aaron Presley did leave us on August 16th, 1977, the King passing away on his throne at Gracelands, leaving behind a body of work that’s pretty hard to beat when it comes to teenage kicks.
The good news is, there are plenty of Elvis-lovin’ performers out there, keeping The King alive when it comes to the stage. Performers like rockin’ good guy is Stephen Hegarty, coming to The Whale on Friday, September 15th as part of an all-star bash for Tiglin and the Carraig Eden gang.
We managed to get an audience with Elvis Himselvis, to find out how he’s been taking care of The King’s business…
When did you the spirit of Elvis Presley entered your heart and soul, young Stephen…?
I remember being 7 years old, my mam & dad cleaning out the attic, and I came upon an old Elvis LP. I instantly fell in love with his voice…
Was this a family affair?
Not really, my dad was more a Beatles fan and my mother was more a Bread/David Gates fan. Don’t get me wrong; they do like Elvis. Who doesn’t?!
Why do you think Elvis Aaron Presley endures?
When it comes to rock’n’roll, there’s really just Before Elvis and After Elvis…
Eh, that’s my line.
Have you got a particular favourite Elvis? Sun Records? The ’68 Comeback Special Elvis? Vegas Elvis?
All three, and I have different reasons why. In 1956, he broke down barriers between black and white music. He was practically number 1 in the charts every week from ’56 to ’65. I thought he looked his best in ’68. The Vegas years is my fave era though. I love the jumpsuits, and I thought his voice got better with age. I loved the deeper tone Elvis had to his voice in the ’70’s.
How long have you been performing as Elvis, and given the man’s huge repertoire, have you honed the setlist, or is it always changing?
I started singing Dean Martin when I was 17. By 24, I was playing with a very well-known band from Wicklow, The Big Jewels, and they had me gigging 3 nights a week. I will never forget the day my Elvis jumpsuit and leather suit arrived in the post. But it was all leading up to one thing.
I couldn’t wait to get out and play at a wedding that weekend. I knew that I had to take any gig going to pay off the €8,000 the suits cost me!
What are your Top 3 Elvis songs…?
Very hard question. Burning Love, Suspicious Minds, Always On My Mind. I love some of the covers Elvis did towards the end, such as Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Sweet Caroline. He just made them his own…
How deep does your love for Elvis go? Have you been to Graceland?
I certainly have. I plan to retire in Memphis. Oh, and my son’s name is Max Elvis. I wanted it the other way around but his mum just wouldnt agree to it.
Has the man ever made you cry…?
I remember watching his last concert. He was performing Unchained Melody on the piano. It was sad to see how much his appearance diminished but his voice stayed with him to the very end…
Finally, the ladies adore Elvis. You okay with that…?
Ok with it? I can certainly relate to it…
You can catch Elvis, along with Luan Parle, Taken and some surprise guests – plus, a fashion show with 17 new collections! – at the Evening Of Glitz & Glamour at The Whale on Friday, September 15th – tickets here. You can check out our video chat with one of the brains behind the night, Yvonne Hyland, right here. Oh, and check out the Presleys’ Wicklow roots right here.