We met within the confines of a Burger King restaurant. Looking as cool as the Cat himself, Jimmy PresLee resplendently dressed in a black Elvis shirt, waited for 2 hours because he completed an earlier appointment way before time.
I told him I had always been a fan of The Pelvis but had never met an ETA, especially a Singapore one. As far as I can remember singers who performed on stage singing Elvis numbers were known as Elvis Presley impersonators or simply, Singapore's Elvis or Malaysia's Elvis.
And there were many of them these past 50 years, from the original Johnny Aroozoo and Wilson David in Singapore, to Rocky Teoh and H.T. Long in Malaysia.
"You have the stature, you have the looks and definitely the charisma of The King. I have watched your video on FB and I think you have impressed me as an Elvis tribute artiste. I hope to see and hear you perform live soon."
"Why did you decide to be an Elvis tribute artiste?" I asked. According to Jimmy (67), he had never been on stage singing any number, let alone Elvis ones. He had only been following Singapore pop bands through the years and listening to songs from the west.
But it was 4 years ago in 2009 that he and his wife Judy (61) decided to join the Singapore Elvis And Country Group (SEACG) for weekly karaoke singing at Thomson CC. They struck a high note and eventually joined the Nighthawks singing weekly with a live band at Tanglin CC.
Jumpsuits and Elvis Presley Alliance of Asia:
"These jumpsuits cost a bomb," he volunteered, "as they are customised and made to order and cost as much as S$3,000 each." If you checkout his FB, you would probably realise that he has many suits.
As a result Elvis fans from all over the world wanted to add him on, including ETAS from many countries. Many of them became his personal friends.
Within a few years he was invited to attend an Elvis Presley Alliance of Asia event in Hong Kong where he got to sing alongside 12 ETAS from Asia. This was followed by an invitation to Manila to perform with 8 ETAS.
So with his very supportive wife (who is cousin to Malaysia's Elvis, Rocky Teoh's wife Jacqueline) and 3 daughters, he became the show agent and organised this inaugural event out of passion and purpose to bring back exciting memories for the baby boomers and the pioneer generation.
Elvis Presley Tribute Artists at, Elvis Is In The Building Concert, on 21 August at D' Marquee Downtown East Singapore.
When I wrote to Jimmy later in the day I mentioned I was glad to have met him and appreciated how he had given me a personal introduction to the special world of Elvis.
Images/Article: Jimmy PresLee Private Collection.
The largest gathering of Elvis impersonators is 895, achieved by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (USA) in Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, on 12 July 2014.