The Qualities of an ETA

The Qualities of an Elvis Tribute Artist is my own opinion about the characteristics I believe make for a perfect illusion of the King of Rock & Roll.  It doesn’t mean that if you don’t have all the qualities you can’t be a great ETA.


Elvis is a celebrity.  As a celebrity every aspect of his life is scrutinized, criticized, and deified both in life and death. He is knocked off the pedestal of enraptured admiration as much as he is raised upon it.  Some certifiable, zealous fans would even say crucified upon it, but that’s just way too dedicated, way too weird, and way too offensive for my sensibilities.

His flaws are a reminder Elvis was just a man singled out by his unique place in American, music history.  His personal life may have been filled with drug addiction, temper tantrums, infidelity and other eccentric behaviors, but he was not always that kind of man.   His stage presence, whether on film or in concert, makes us forget his flaws and we get lost in a voice that was as perfect as any voice could ever become.  It never disappointed his fans.

Someone labeled Elvis’ charisma as the “it factor”.  James Dean had it.  Marilyn Monroe had it.  We don’t know what it is.  Perhaps, it’s because their stars burned out too quickly before we ever got to see what they could have done. Elvis rocked us for a mere 23 years before he died!   Whatever it is, it’s a charisma which captivated our attention causing us to be drawn into an appreciation for their talent, but overlook their flaws.  The it factor keeps them cool decades after their death.

The voice and his continued influence on music and musicians is a reminder his memory should be respected by those who sing his songs.  It is a respect which should also be extended towards his adoring fans.  Older fans, who’ve had the privilege of seeing Elvis live in concert, come to see an ETA to recapture those moments of yesteryear.  Newer fans come to see as real a depiction of Elvis as possible to keep his memory and music alive for future generations. It’s all we’ve got, except for DVDs and YouTube.

An ETA understands this and respects the memory of Elvis with honorable performances.


There is one thing which will give a good ETA the edge on the competition. They should be a good study of Elvis and make their performance as real as possible.  They need to know his moves, the charming quirks, and distinctive vocalizations.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect performance, just a perfect illusion.

Those ETAs who know music, can sing, dance a little, play the guitar or write music, seem to be the most talented and entertaining.  Add a bit of acting experience and a great ETA emerges.  They understand it’s a role they’re playing on a stage and the fans are there to see Elvis.  Each ETA draws the fans into each performance, makes them part of it and for a couple hours they believe they are seeing Elvis.

A good ETA doesn’t necessarily need to have all the talents mentioned, but it helps put together the whole package, and makes for a memorable performance.


Elvis was a gorgeous man and looked his best from 1968 to 1973, especially during the ’68 Comeback Special and his early performances at the International Hotel, now the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.  He was fit, slender, and looked sexy in jumpsuits.  It’s a style allegedly copied by the likes of David Bowie, Steven Tyler, and Evil Knievel.

Being tall, dark haired, with piercing blue eyes makes for a handsome fella and certainly helps with the necessary appearance qualities.  ETAs blessed with the DNA for good looks and height already have an edge on the competition. The ones who are fortunate enough to resemble Elvis without cosmetic surgery and hairpieces put themselves in a league all their own.  Spending a handsome sum of money on a good hairpiece, if needed, is a worthy investment.

ETAs come in all shapes and sizes, real parts, and cosmetic enhancements.  Whether you’re fortunate to have the DNA for a good-looking, natural attraction or need some non-surgical enhancements, an attractive appearance to beckon fans and keep them coming is necessary.  That’s entertainment.  It is a superficial industry.


Talent and appearance all help to engage the audience and make them part of the show, but more is needed to keep our fickle attention. Engaging the audience is not limited to only the performance, but includes engaging them after the show.  Engaging the audience after the show with humble appreciation is equally important off the stage as it is on the stage.


Pride is an ugly attribute for any entertainer, especially for an ETA.  After all, they ain’t Elvis!  Just the next best thing to the King.  A grounded reality, and a humble appreciation for the fans, goes a long way towards keeping a faithful following.


Some are born with it.  Some have to make it work.  The ETA industry is diverse with entertainers at various levels of skill.  The whole package of respect, talent, appearance, engagement, and modesty are ideal, but it is impossible for every ETA to have it all.  Above all, respect for Elvis, his fans, and modesty trumps everything and in the end we are there to have a great time with friends, family, and our favorite ETA.  So what if you don’t have the whole package, just give us a perfect illusion of the King and we will cheer you on.

If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour, if we could find a way
To get inside each other’s mind

If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your own ego I believe you’d be
I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind

Walk a mile in my shoes
just walk a mile in my shoes
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Elvis Illusion

Revised 01/26/2016

4 thoughts on “The Qualities of an ETA

  1. very nice blog. I have seen ETA’s for over 40 years. For me personally, I usually left a bit disappointed and yet grateful for some reminders of Elvis. So much is involved and yes the tall slender ones who look good in black leather or jumpsuits have an advantage for sure. Elvis was kind to his audience and very concerned that they were always TCB. About 4 years ago an ETA really brought Elvis alive to me…………………..for that I have been very grateful because I have missed the man and his music so much. For me personally, some are too dramatic with there hip jerking, some voices just do not remind me of Elvis and some, just due to looking so different, just don’t rein me in. However, without the ETA’s there would be no live Elvis so bless them for doing their best.


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