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Kings for a day

Fans flock to inaugural Elvis tribute

Fans flock to inaugural Elvis tribute

September 09, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Which Elvis was best?

The one in the shiny yellow smoking jacket? The one wearing a white jumpsuit and cape? The one in the pale blue shirt and dark slacks?

Maybe the one clad entirely in black leather?

There was so much Elvis and so much time Saturday, as four impersonators put on a five-hour-plus show in downtown Hagerstown.

If that sounds tough to believe - shouldn't they have run out of Elvis Presley music? - consider the odd accomplishment of one of the impersonators, Jamie Aaron Kelley of Boone, Iowa.

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Kelley earned himself a world record on Aug. 15, 1999, by singing, from memory, all 750 songs Elvis Presley recorded during his career.

Even though Elvis died 25 years ago last month, he remains immensely popular, judging by the crowd hooting and whooping Saturday for the four men pretending to the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

"I'd like to go home with the one in the black," Bonnie Norris of Hagerstown said as she waited on line for autographs after the show. "They were all good, but I had my eye on that one."

She was referring to Chris MacDonald of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"They need to come back," said Dee Hahn of Hagerstown, also waiting in line. "It was fantastic."

Hahn said she especially enjoyed hearing Doug Church of Battle Creek, Mich., sing "Statue of a Fool," which her late husband, Brent Hahn, loved to play with his band, the Silvertones. He died in May.

The day of music and impersonation, called "Elvis Lives in Hagerstown," was sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Hagerstown.

Event Co-Chairman Jay Frantz said that about 800 tickets were sold.

"The exciting part is for a first-time event, we made money," said Linda Irvin-Craig, a member of the organizing committee.

The majority of the crowd was female, and many appeared old enough to remember Elvis in his prime.

The stage was set up in the middle of South Potomac Street, in front of The Maryland Theatre, whose marquee advertised a separate Elvis event in November.

Impersonators were on stage, one at a time, for long sets. They sang to the fans looking on from the south, then turned around to face the fans on the north side, over and over.

All four Elvis sing-alikes gathered on stage for a final encore.

The crowd sprung to its feet and cheered as Kelley belted out the final note of the show, ending his rendition of "Can't Help Falling in Love."

An Elvis Preview held at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway Friday night drew a similar reaction, Frantz said.

Irvin-Craig said the performers were "polite and gracious," emulating Elvis' charm "to the Nth degree."

"Not a prima donna in the group," Frantz said.

"The whole show was good," said Charles Griffith of Hanover, Pa., who won the big raffle prize of the day - the original artwork for the commemorative poster.

His girlfriend, Debbi Chronister, agreed that all four performers were equally good. She said that she, too, liked Church's "Statue of a Fool" the best.

Hagerstown residents Belle Eger, Debbe Davis and Joan Kline flagged down impersonator Travis Morris of Winthrop Harbor, Ill., in his metallic yellow jacket in Public Square while Kelley was on stage.

Morris, a 1950s Elvis, posed for pictures and kissed the women.

Asked who the biggest fan among them was, all three women raised their right hand and grinned.

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