Local Elvis Fan Bring the King's Legacy to Life with Monthly Charity Tribute Shows
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Jul 30, 2012, 18:00
contributed photo Randy Roe stands in front of his Elvis themed van in a suit made by the same suit maker Elvis used.
If you want to get all shook up on Saturday night, you can go to the Mid Cities Civic Association in Chesterfield for tribute to Elvis, performed by local Elvis afficionado Randy Roe.
Roe thinks Elvis remains popular because of the icon’s rags to riches personal story.
“I think he appeals to people so much because he rose from poverty to be the King of Rock and Roll,” Roe said. “I think that’s why he has such a good fan base and following after all these years.”
Roe has met all of Elvis’ body guards and band members, who said that despite his regal nickname, The King was easy to relate to.
“They said he was just a regular kind of guy,” Roe said, noting that in hotels, Elvis used to ignore the big wigs and talk to janitors, saying “The big people don’t need me. It’s the little people who need
“That’s the way he was,” Roe said. “He was a very giving person.”
The shows at the Civic Association fit in with that part of Elvis’s legacy because a portion of the proceeds go to assist underprivileged families the association identifies.
Roe got into “the Elvis business” 14 years ago when he went to see a band and ended up on stage singing “Little Sister” and “Suspicious Minds.”
“I got such a good crowd reaction and a standing ovation, I’ve been doing it ever since.”
He had Ken Hayden, a retired art teacher, adorn the van Roe uses to transport his equipment for shows with pictures of Elvis and took it on the road for Elvis Week in Memphis, Tenn. That’s where he met Bill Belew, the man who made all of Elvis’s suits and now makes outfits for Roe and a number of regular performers on the Las Vegas circuit.
“I have just about every color,” Roe said.
The bell-bottomed jumpsuits got started because Elvis was a karate fan and had trouble doing his kicks in traditional tuxedos. He asked Belew to make him something looser and an iconic look was born.
Roe has also met other performers who pay tribute at the yearly remembrance in Memphis.
“They come from around the world. They have a black Elvis, a Chinese Elvis, a female Elvis. It’s amazing,” he said.
The act came easily for Roe, who didn’t have to learn any new tunes or lyrics. “I was a huge fan,” Roe said. “I knew all the songs by heart.”
“My Dad took me to the movie ‘Speedway,’ Roe said, remembering the first time he heard Elvis. “[My Dad] used to take me to all of his movies in the 60s. He would bring me those little 45 records from Music City ... Every time Elvis had a new record out, he would bring
me one home. And I would sit there and just play it over and over and over again.”
He wasn’t the only person Elvis’s music affected powerfully, something he’s seen time after time during his performances at senior living
In the Alzheimer’s wing of a home in Petersburg, the staff asked him to sing “Love me Tender” to an unresponsive patient who had proposed to his wife with that song.
“When I did, he came back,” Roe said. “The nurses said, ‘We’ve had no reaction from him whatsoever in three years’ ... It’s nothing I did. God does some miracles through people. That must have been what
He received a letter from a Circuit Court Judge in Fairfax who saw him perform at an assisted living facility where his father lived.
“I have never seen so much happiness there at any other time,” the judge wrote.
“I saw folks smiling and laughing like I have never seen before,” wrote the staff from a Baptist Home where Roe sang.
Roe said each show is a little different, since Elvis’s music spanned so many genres. He is the only entertainer to earn spots in the Rock, Country, and Gospel Halls of fame.
“I feel that what I do is just a tribute. We can’t replace him. A lot of people say impersonator, but I like the word tribute because that’s all we can do. We can’t replace him,” Roe said.
Although he’s available for parties and many different occasions, Roe’s ambitious goal at the moment is to lure more people to his monthly charity shows at Mid Cities Civic Association at 9010 Quinnford Blvd. in Chesterfield.
Roe can be reached for booking at (804) 439-1923. He also has a Facebook page and performance videos on Youtube.