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 were cancelled or postponed, but 2021 events are underway.
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: