Monday, August 16, 2010

Tribute to Elvis

One regret that I have, when I moved to East Texas in the early 1970s, is not making the short drive to Shreveport to see Elvis Presley. It was his last appearance anywhere close. Here’s one of the great recording artists of all time within driving distance, and I didn’t go. What a fool.

I didn’t, however, miss him when he was at the Gilmer (TX) Civic Center Saturday night. Of course, it was only Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards (shown at right), but he was pretty darned good. Edwards was a finalist on ABC’s “Next Best Thing” and was specifically chosen by Elvis Presley Enterprises to both recreate Presley’s 1956 “Comeback to Tupelo” concert, as well as open the festivities for Elvis Week which begins tomorrow in Memphis. Today would have been Elvis’ 75th birthday. Ironically, Cynthia and I were in Memphis two weeks ago and took a tour of Graceland. We searched for a wig of Elvis to give to my 11-year-old grandson Brandon, who tried out for a part in a Christmas program last year to be Elvis. Brandon naturally thought he would have done better than the boy who was chosen. Maybe we were biased, but so did we!

“First and foremost, I’m a huge Elvis fan,” Edwards told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “So every time I take the stage I do my ultimate best to honor the legacy of Elvis Presley. It’s a privilege to perform all over the world for fans like myself.” The packed house of over 1,000 fans at the Civic Center showed their approval with a standing ovation at the end of the performance. Edward’s show encompassed the breadth of Elvis’ career, from the early rock n’ roll years in the 1950s, his comeback in ’68 to his iconic years in Las Vegas in the 1970s.

Among Edwards’ songs Love Me Tender, Burning Love, An American Trilogy and How Great Thou Art seemed to draw the biggest ovations. Also appearing were Sundance Head, a former performer on The American Idol and the group Shake, Rattle & Roll, which entered and won the largest Doo Wop contest ever held in Las Vegas to them a recording contract with Memory Lane Music West in Las Vegas. They have had their songs, Silhouettes on the Shade and In the Still of the Night play across the country on XM satellite radio.

Also appearing was Tom Perryman, a radio disc jockey, artist manager and music promoter who got his start during Elvis’ early years. Perryman began at KEBE in Jacksonville, TX in the 1940s, later worked at KSIJ in Gladewater, TX, WSM in Nashville from 1956 to ’58 and now works at KKUS in Tyler, TX. At one time he worked with the late Jim Reeves. He related stories of Elvis visiting in his home during the Louisiana Hayride days and rocking Perryman’s children. The 87-year-old Perryman now lives in Tyler.


At August 16, 2010 at 5:13 PM , Blogger Chuck said...

I listen to the Perryman show every morning that I can, John. And for those of you that aren't familiar with KKUS, it's "the Ranch, 104.1".

It's hard to believe that Mr. Perryman is almost 90 years old. He's still sharp and entertaining. I enjoyed his reminiscing about his relationship with Mr. Reeves just a few weeks ago. I'd encourage others to listen in on this legend any weekday morning from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. via the Internet. You can find him at "". The audio link will be at the upper right.

Thanks for the blog, John. I know Mr. Perryman wasn't your main subject, but I couldn't pass up the plug.


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