The first Elvis Presley impersonators first appeared right after Elvis was beginning his career. Even in the 1950s, Johnny Cash would perform an imitation of his fellow Sun Studio alumnus during his shows.
After his death on August 16, 1977, the number of impersonators across the globe exploded from right at 2,000 to tens of thousands. They became known as Elvis Tribute Artists or ETAs.
According to Elvis Presley Enterprises, Elvis himself was aware of them and, in a complimentary letter to one such artist, wrote that “mimicry is a sincere form of being a fan.”
He also mentioned that his favorite was comedian Andy Kaufmann.
Not long after his death in Memphis, Elvis tributes came in the form of music, such as “The King is Gone,” by Ronnie McDowell and an album, “My Farewell to Elvis” by Merle Haggard.
Some of the most famous ERAs in the 1970s and 1980s included Johnny Harra and Alan.
In 2007, Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) fully embraced the cultural phenomenon by hosting its first Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest during Elvis Week.
Today there are thousands of ETAs around the world who compete in officially licensed preliminaries sanctioned by EPE. Winners are advanced to the finals in Memphis during the Elvis Week contest each August.
♦Brandon Bennett from Louisiana won the ultimate title during Elvis Week 2008,
♦Bill Cherry from Illinois won in 2009,
♦Justin Shandor from Michigan won in 2010,
♦Cody Slaughter of Arkansas took home the 2011 title,
♦Ben Portsmouth from England was crowned the 2012 winner,
♦Dean Z of Missouri took home the 2013 title,
♦Louisiana native Jay Dupuis was the 2014 champion,
♦David Lee of Alabama was the 2015 winner,
♦In 2016, Dwight Icenhower from Florida took home the title.
♦Gordon Hendricks from England won the contest in 2017,
♦Ben Thompson, also from England, won the 2018 contest.
♦Taylor Rodriguez of Virginia won the 2019 contest.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many official preliminary contests in 2020 have been cancelled or postponed.
Currently, Bruno Nesci will represent the Tweed Tribute to Elvis Festival (Tweed, Ontario, Canada) at the Semifinal Round in Memphis.
Riley Jenkins will represent the Elvis FANtasy Festival (Portage, Indiana).
Toki Toyokazu will represent the Parkes Elvis Festival (Parkes, New South Wales, Australia).
Among the best are Al Joslin, Donny Edwards, and Diogo Light. Here are some of the most popular professional and amateur ETAs around the world:
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.