By BRAD KELLAR
Last week, fans of the late Elvis Presley paid tribute to the “The King”, as October 16 was the 35th anniversary of Presley’s death.
Presley appeared at Greenville Municipal Auditorium (GMA) in October 1955, and the facility will play host this October to “Elvis Returns! A Tribute to Elvis with Kraig Parker.”
The event is being promoted as a faithful recreation of Presley’s performances. This comes from a man who should know, Charles Stone, who is producing the program.
“I produced all of his shows in the 70s,” Stone said. “If you didn’t get to see Elvis in person, this is as good as it gets.”
The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, October 26 and is presented in partnership with the United Way of Hunt County with a percentage of proceeds to benefit the local non-profit, as well as to benefit the restoration of the auditorium.
Parker and Stone came to Greenville last week to talk about the show, Parker’s tribute and, of course, Elvis himself, who is arguably just as famous now as he was in his heyday.
“Today the Elvis brand is still huge all over the world, not just here,” Stone said.
Elvis performed at the GMA on October 5, 1955, as part of the famous “Louisiana Hayride.”
Parker has been performing as Elvis for 15 years and has come to know and earn the respect of those who also appeared with Presley.
“I’ve met all of the guys and I’ve done some shows with his background singers,” Parker said, adding it will be an elaborate performance featuring an eight-piece backup band.
“It is a Las Vegas style show,” Parker said. “We pull out all the stops, all the bells and whistles. We’ll bring The King back to life.”
Stone said the concert will feature another Elvis tribute, a 14-year-old boy whom Parker has taken under his wing.
“He has decided he would like to help the up and coming guys,” Stone said. “This little kid is pretty good.”
Stone was scheduled to appear on television this past Friday night with Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie, as part of the commemoration of Presley’s life.
“They were expecting 100 thousand people in Memphis this week,” Stone said. “That’s the power of Elvis Presley. Everybody was in awe of Elvis Presley.”
Even today, crowds can go wildfor Parker’s performance. Parker recalled how Elvis was known for giving away scarves he wore during his concerts to members of the audience. During a recent show at the Winstar Casino, Parker said there were several women wanting the same memento from him.
“It’s just incredible,” Parker said. “It’s his legacy.”
Stone said the fans’ desire to obtain even a piece of Presley extended to trying to film his concerts. Back in the 1970s, portable video equipment was much larger and heavier than it is today, which would make it far more difficult to use one without being noticed.
Even so, Stone said each and every person attending an Elvis Presley performance knew that using a video camera was against the rules.
“On the back of each ticket it said no video photography,” Stone said. “I confiscated so many video cameras.”
He recounted the often told story of how, in December 1970, Presley was able to meet President Richard Nixon on a moment’s notice, simply by showing up at the White House.
Stone also remembered another time following a concert when Presley was climbing the stairs to get into an airliner and a loaded gun fell from his pocket, bounced off the steps and fell to the ground.
“The police chief just walked over, picked it up and handed it back to him,” Stone said. “Those sorts of things just wouldn’t happen today.”
Tickets for the show are already on sale and are available at www.showtimeatthegma.com.