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It takes more than a pelvis to be Elvis

Yamba Bowling Club is the place
to be for Elvis fans (and anyone seeking a night of top entertainment) this Saturday night, when Elvis American Legend, featuring renowned Elvis tribute artist Sean Spiteri, hits the stage. Image: Contributed.

About 26 years ago Sean Spiteri fell under the spell of Elvis Presley, arguably the most iconic of rock and roll’s performers; in fact, some dictionaries mention this when defining the contextual use of the word ‘icon’: “a person or thing that is revered or idolized: Elvis Presley is a cultural icon of the 20th century.”
Spiteri was three years old when he first saw the NBC TV special Elvis: The ’68 Comeback Special, which featured footage of four Elvis performances filmed in the round at Burbank Studios over two days in June 1968 – it was premiered on December 3 of that year.
“My parents were big Elvis fans and that’s how it all started,” says Spiteri. “I remember it very clearly.
“I was just mesmerised. There was just something about him as an entertainer that he just had – not one other entertainer has that, still, today.
“On screen he is dynamic; his voice is just, like, sublime. His charisma is a big one. No other entertainer has that. In the 20th century I think he is the greatest entertainer that ever lived.”
Spiteri is on his way to his third Blue Mountains Elvis Festival (August 3-6), where he is one of the headline acts, when the Independent catches up with him. And there is one thing for sure: his enthusiasm as a fan of ‘the King’ screams down the telephone wire.
“I’ve always been a massive Elvis fan; and I’ve been doing this professionally for the last 15 years, since I was 12 or 13.
“I never say I’m Elvis … but for that two-hour show [at the Yamba Bowling Club], I act the part and reproduce as much as I can in terms of his sayings, his moves, his vocals, etcetera; and the band will do exactly the same.
“I try to be as authentic as I possibly can, because I want to create an illusion for the audience of what it would have been like to see an Elvis concert.”
Spiteri has performed at the longstanding Parkes Elvis Festival for the past five years, too; but his crowning glory is representing Australia at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.
“Getting to Memphis is probably the biggest thing I have ever done. I was lucky enough to represent Australia twice, in 2012 and 2014, and I think [performing] at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis would be the highlight of my career.
“I was in the top 29 in the world in 2014; that was a massive achievement for me, especially for an Australian. And throughout those 14 days I saw Elvis’s house, [and] I hanged out on the streets that Elvis hanged out on when he was a teenager.
“I went to Tupelo, where he lived, Mississippi. I think all that just hit me; this man has been such a part of my life for such a long time.”
Elvis (Sean Spiteri) puts his pelvis into gear when he performs his tribute show, Elvis American Legend, at the Yamba Bowling club this Saturday night August 19. Tickets are on sale at the club or through its website.