Elvis died over 30 years ago but today, on his birthday, The King will be alive and well.
Obviously birthday celebrations will happen all week at Graceland, Elvis's Memphis home. But, Elvis is big business throughout the country. In 2012, almost 1,000 people booked Elvis impersonators through GigMasters. So what will these men (and women and children) who make their living as Elvis be doing to honor Elvis's birthday?
Obviously, the lucky ones will be working. Even though Elvis's birthday falls mid-week, there are an abundance of Elvis-themed events, many of them including impersonators. Rick Torres, a California-based impersonator, generally has over 10 birthday-related shows in the first week of January alone. This year he'll be spending the actual birthday performing at Tachi Palace Casino in Lemmore, California. Torres says that when he performs on Elvis's birthday he feels a special responsibility to reach out to children and younger adults in the audience. Torres sees himself as a "messenger" and on Elvis's birthday, it's especially important that his message reach a younger audience so that it can continue for the future. Torres' message seems to be getting through -- last year Elvis impersonators were booked for over 30 children's birthday parties through GigMasters.
New York-based impersonator Brian Weldon of One Night of Elvis agrees that the best way to honor The King is to perform on his birthday and reach as many people as possible. But, Weldon and his wife also have a special, private tradition. Every year on Elvis's birthday, after Weldon's show, he and his wife buy a birthday cake and light the candles.
Elvis Aaron Baker, a Canada-based Elvis impersonator, refers to Tuesday as "my birthday" and says he'll be holding a candlelight vigil to honor the day.
Of course, Elvis impersonators aren't the only performers with a special connection to Elvis -- entertainers of all stripes owe a debt to The King. Former DJ, and current public TV host Sandy Maxx hosted an annual birthday party for Elvis for over five years. The party featured a makeshift shrine, scrapbooks of Elvis, Elvis trivia, and on occasion a sing-a-long. The annual event resulted in at least one marriage (but no Elvis impersonator performed at the wedding). The tradition ended recently when a series of moves made it logistically difficult, but Maxx has hopes of reviving the party this year, although probably a little late.
So, if you're looking for a way to celebrate Elvis's birthday, check out a show in your area. Or, buy a cake, light some candles, start a shrine and celebrate like The King himself!