Elvis Wade recaptures the King in his 1970s prime.

The King has
a successor

The self-proclaimed
next-best Elvis is here

Elvis Wade can talk the talk -- but can he walk the walk? Polite and soft-spoken when he called from Nashville, Tenn., last week, Wade assured us flat out that he is the world's best Elvis show.

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on

"Aloha Again from Hawaii" featuring Elvis Wade

Where: Waikiki Shell

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow

Tickets: $20, $30 and $40; $5 discount for people over 65 and military personnel with ID

Call: 591-2211

"I work the same venues that Wayne Newton, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck -- major shows of that caliber play -- and we break attendance records, not once in a while but continually, all the time. I would say we probably average breaking attendance records in about 70 percent of all the venues that we play. ... We hear it over and over again when we play a venue, 'We heard that you were great, but we had no idea how great the show was.'

"I tell people the reason for the success of my show is that I have the God-given look, I have the God-given talent, I'm an excellent dancer ... and also I'm an entertainer. I'm a Wayne Newton-style entertainer. I can take 40,000 people and hold 'em in my hand for two hours. I can take 'em up and I can take 'em down. I can make 'em cry, and I can make 'em stand up and scream, and that's a God-given gift. People ask me how I learned to do that. You either have it or you don't."

Local Elvis fans can decide for themselves when Wade stars in "Aloha Again from Hawaii" at the Waikiki Shell tomorrow night.

The event commemorates two important dates in Elvis history -- the precedent-setting "Aloha from Hawaii" concert televised via satellite live worldwide on January 14, 1973 at the then-Honolulu International Center Arena (now the Blaisdell Arena) and the release of the concert album five weeks later.

Wade's concert will also take place on the 26th anniversary of Elvis' death at Graceland in 1977.

The worldwide broadcast of the "Aloha from Hawaii" show was a technological marvel back in the '70s and Wade says that there are plans to broadcast his Honolulu concert on the Internet at a later date.

"If anyone is an Elvis fan out there and wants to see the class of all Elvis shows, this is it. I promise that no one's gonna walk away from there wanting their money back. It's like coming and seeing Elvis in concert one more time. The show is that quality," Wade said.

But Hawaii has seen a broad assortment of Elvis impersonators, impressionists, look-alikes and wannabes over the years. There was Max, whose "Elvis to the Max" show was the best of who-knows-how-many such acts that Jack Cione presented at Le Boom Boom in the late 1970s (Cione also plumbed the depths of the genre when he presented "The Unknown Elvis," a guy who sang Elvis songs with a paper bag over his head). There was the Love Notes, featuring Bruno as "The World's Youngest Elvis," at the Esprit Nightclub and, in recent years, Jonathan Von Brana, who continues to reign as the state's best Elvis impressionist.

Like Von Brana, Wade got into "doing Elvis" by accident. His bio explains that he was working with a show band in the Detroit area when he decided to enter a contest and perform as Elvis. Circumstances prevented him for competing, but when the band got a request for an Elvis song during a regular club gig, Wade decided to do it in character. The response was so overwhelming that he's been doing Elvis ever since.

The seal of approval: Impressionist Elvis Wade with the King's longtime backup vocalists The Jordanaires.

THERE ARE different types of Elvis shows. Impressionists distinguish themselves from impersonators by explaining that, although they try to look and sound as much as Elvis as possible, they don't address the audience as Elvis or try to convince the audience that they "are" Elvis during the performance.

"An impersonator, to me, has a funky (connotation) to it. I tend to link the scenario of a guy dressing up like a woman. That to me is a total turn-off as being an impersonator and Elvis impersonators are guys that are about 250-300 pounds and (who) put on a black wig and all a sudden they got themselves a show. That's not what I do."

Wade said that he doesn't pretend to be Elvis offstage, but it is important for anyone who plays the icon on stage to make the commitment to looking the part.

"(Looking like Elvis) draws a lot of attention. Even when I was over there (in Hawaii) a few weeks ago, people were snapping pictures of me and were asking me for autographs, but it's just something you deal with. I don't go around trying to get into the Elvis thing and get in with his people and the people who worked with him and all that stuff. That's just not what I'm all about. ... My thing is I look like Elvis. ... I'm not gonna paste on sideburns for the show, that's hokey.

"A lot of people expect me to be ... an absolute know-all on Elvis but I'm really not. I am in touch with his family ... and I know several people of his entourage, but these are not people I tried to meet. Actually, these people all called me. Elvis had seen my show and he had talked about it a lot ... and when The Jordanaires started working with me, they had a promoter that (had) called them from Australia wanting to do a tour ... and they said the best in the world is Elvis Wade."

WADE ALSO promises a full stage show.

"There's 16 pieces on stage, seven backup singers -- four guys, three girls -- the absolutely highest-quality caliber of techs and musicians and singers that you can get. ... We put on productions that are exactly what you would have seen if you went to see Elvis in concert at the height of his career when he looked good, when he was feeling good, when he was singing good and when he was his best. That's how I describe my show.

"I have a four-octave range in my natural voice. I work with symphony orchestras all over the world and we hold attendance records in probably 80 percent of all those we've played. I have a much larger range than Elvis had ... I sound like Elvis, but with the power of Tom Jones."

While Elvis Presley the icon is forever, Wade thinks he can portray Elvis on stage as long as possible.

"As long as I have this voice, I think I could be doing him when I'm 70 if I wanted to," he said, explaining that modern audiences don't want to see a twentysomething guy portraying Elvis.

"When Elvis died, he left a hole in the music business big enough to drive 40 Mack trucks. ... I think if somebody was to be able to carry on with that style of music, doing those type of things, I think those people would accept (him) ... not to take Elvis' place, because no one is ever going to take that man's place, but maybe fill up the shoes for a little while and the missing holes in some people's hearts.

"(My show) is definitely worth looking into."

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