NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA. Three Faces of the King introduced me to Shawn Klush and Cody Slaughter. For lack of a better adverb to express my emotion all I can say is WOW!
The concert was performed at the historic El Portal Theater with the 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winner Cody Slaughter performing first. Slaughter is a dead ringer for Elvis who takes us on a nostalgic, energetic ride through the early years. His performance and gorgeous look draws you so deeply into the mystique of Elvis’ stage presence you forget you’re watching an ETA and not Elvis himself.
Slaughter comes out first in a pink Elvis blazer and takes us through Hound Dog, Heartbreak Hotel, Jailhouse Rock and many more of the classic 50’s Elvis hits. The shy, youthful energy of a young man who is clueless about his impact and influence on music for generations is embodied in every gyration by Slaughter. For the first time in my life I had an epiphany of finally witnessing a real what-it-might-have-really-been-like experience to attend an Elvis concert circa 1954-1956.
The first face of Elvis is boyish, naive, and full of promise and wonderment towards what lay ahead for the future King of Rock & Roll. Eight years pass and Elvis is all but rendered to the oldies of the 50s and lost in a world of cheap cellophane of cheesy, movie musicals throughout the 1960s. Music had evolved with singer/songwriters like the Beatles who rocked the world and were changing music. Elvis could do nothing but watch it all pass him by. In June of 1968 Elvis finds himself in front of a studio audience taping a Christmas special which would become known as the ’68 Comeback Special.
Dressed in black leather Elvis exploded out of TV screens across America. Gone was the naive, boyish young man of controversy. In his place was a mature man who reinvented himself with unprecedented sex appeal and sang in a powerful, raw, sultry voice that rocked America again. Whether it was on purpose or by chance Elvis had distanced his youthful persona into another universe. It was hard to believe he was the same Elvis from eight years ago. The second face of Elvis showed him in his prime and at the peak of perfection.
When Slaughter takes the stage in the same black leather outfit jaws drop and women squeal like teenage girls. Somehow he manages to do the same thing Elvis did when he reinvented himself from boyish teen idol to a confident Adonis envied by men and adored by women. Again, you are drawn into that spectacular ’68 Comeback lost in the perfect illusion of what was into what it was like to witness a phenomenal entertainer at his best. Slaughter embodied that illusion heart, soul, and song.
Shawn Klush is equally commanding on the stage as the third face of Elvis. He was the first winner of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises. When you see Klush perform it’s easy to see why he won.
The third face of Elvis was still another reinvention of himself. No longer a rebel, but a reformer incorporating every genre of music which appealed to his liking and evolving his incredible voice. The jumpsuits were elaborate, but served a purpose to meet Elvis’ energy on stage. David Bowie, Steven Tyler, Evil Kneivel and others copied the jumpsuit and molded it into their own tastes.
Klush accuratley captures that magical reformation on stage. Like Slaughter there are times at just the right angle, and in just the right light, you see Elvis and we are again lost in a perfect illusion of a 70’s Elvis concert. The audience is drawn in and forget it’s not Elvis up there on stage, but Klush who mimics every note and mannerism unique to Elvis. Estelle Brown, one of the orginal Sweet Inspirations who toured with Elvis from 1969-1977, was there to add to the magic.
The concert is appropriately titled the Three Faces of Elvis. Elvis evolved from a symbol of rebellion to an umatched powerful, sexy persona to a music genius. Who knows how many other faces of Elvis we may have seen had he lived.
Elvis is gone, but his memory lives on. As long as we have ETAs like Cody Slaughter and Shawn Klush who can capture the essence of Elvis we will continue to experience what it was like to see Elvis in concert.
Long live the memory of the King of Rock & Roll.
Thank you to El Portal Theater managers, Jay Irwin and Pegge Forrest, and the rest of the staff for allowing me to take photos of the concert. My appreciation is also extended to the managers and producers of the Three Faces of the King who made the show such a wonderful experience.