RIVERSIDE, CA. There has been a slow, steady shift from Elvis fan to Elvis Tribute Artist fan. At first I was offended by the direction of the Elvis fandom raising ETAs to an equal celebrity status. How can any ETA ever become more important, more popular, more liked than Elvis? But I realized this is a natural progression for the Elvis Presley phenomena and a necessary one.
Time is the enemy to all who live. It dictates every aspect of our lives and is Death’s companion. Each passing tic of the second hand puts everything in the unchangeable past, forces us to live in the vaporous present, and reminds us daily of our impending future demise from which no one is exempt. All who knew Elvis personally are dying. All who saw Elvis in concert are dying. All we will have left of them will be found in pictures, books, videos, and our own fading memories. All that will remain of each one will be found in the Elvis Tribute Artist. They are the fourth and final face of Elvis. They are the fourth and final transformation for the King of Rock & Roll. They are the fourth and final era of Elvis – 50s, 60s, 70s, and now the ETA era which began with the crowning of the first Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest winner.
In 2015 alone eight celebrities associated with Elvis died and are chronicled in Phil Arnold’s blog titled: Celebrities with Connections to Elvis Who Died in 2015. Who knows how many memories were lost by fans who also died last year. In January 2016 we have already lost Joe Moscheo, Dan Haggerty, and David Bowie for which there is a convincing connection between the White Duke and the King of Rock & Roll. Who will be left to carry on the Elvis Presley legacy?
The time is coming when Elvis will only serve as the inspiration and the Elvis Tribute Artist will become the central figure. Right now Elvis is still central to both fans and the ETA industry, but I believe that will change and is already changing. I think this is a good thing as long as there is a balance.
The balance is the ETA on one side and their fans on the other with Graceland as the pillar in between. This will ensure there is a legacy for the next 50 years when Elvis is all but forgotten and only his legendary image remains to inspire. The ETA is key to the survival of the ETA industry and the Elvis Presley legacy.