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I also asked Bill about ETA’s he has worked with and admires.
“I've had the pleasure and privilege of working with many ETA's and they all bring something special to the table. Terry Turner, as mentioned, was the first ETA I saw and I am grateful I had the chance to first see someone who was really very good and respectful to both Elvis and the music.

Eddie Miles is a favorite of mine...not only because of the incredible talent that he possesses...but it was Eddie more than anyone who brought me back to the stage. I had stopped doing regular Elvis shows after 1987 because I thought: (1) how much longer can this go on now after 10 years (who knew!!) and (2) quite honestly, I was getting tired of singing Hound Dog and Suspicious Minds and all the other songs that I thought were the only songs people wanted to hear at an Elvis show. I saw Eddie Miles in Pigeon Forge on January 8, 1994 where he performed movie soundtrack songs, album cuts, some of the other "non-hit" concert songs and watched as the crowd, including me, got caught up in all the fun and excitement. Eddie showed me with that performance that Elvis fans loved all of the music and I came back to Lexington and immediately put the band back together to do another show . It was so much fun to perform so many songs that I never thought of doing before...and it made performing the hits even more fun for me as well.

Performing my Elvis tribute has taken me to some wonderful places and has brought me in touch with so many people who have become very dear friends...and so I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to Eddie Miles for opening my eyes to a whole new world. I have had the opportunity to perform with Eddie on occasion...and it is no exaggeration when I say that he lights up the house and then brings the house down with his incredible Salute To Elvis Show.

There are other ETA's that I have the chance to perform with on a fairly regular basis and I will tell you that, at my age (51) and where I am in my life, it is far more important for me to associate myself with "good people" rather than just "talented people,” but I have been blessed to be able to perform with some great people who are also incredible talents. I can't even begin to name them in any kind of order...so I'll go chronologically...

Quentin Flagg from Indiana lights up a stage like no one I’ve ever seen. His energy is boundless and he works so hard on stage. He deserves every accolade ever given to him. I have a great love and admiration for him and his family. Quentin just turned 21 this past April and he scared us a bit by doing his first ever "jumpsuit" show...but he says he feels more comfortable doing what he has been doing since he started...he may try that jumpsuit on again later. Quentin and I are doing a week long series of shows at The Clarion on Brooks Road in Memphis during Elvis Week (see schedule on Bill’s website listed below).

David Lee, is from Alabama and I like to say I was one of the first people to see the unbelievable talent that he had. His incredible voice, along with a very charismatic, yet easy going stage presence, made me feel like he was destined for greatness. He is also a wonderful friend and has a great support group around him. David Lee and I are blessed with the gift of gab and you never know what is going to happen when we are on stage together. Last year, Quentin Flagg, David Lee and I performed together during Elvis Week, and a reporter from the Commercial Appeal compared our show to "Frank, Dean and Sammy at The Sands"...while still paying respectful homage to ELVIS and his fans. I thought that was one of the greatest compliments ever.

I also love to perform with
Sam Huff from Kentucky. Not only does he do a wonderful Elvis, but he also does a great tribute to Roy Orbison, Jackie Wilson, Tom Jones and many others. Sam, Quentin and I also have a Rock and Roll Revue Show with lots of great songs from the 50's and 60's...Doo-Wop, Rock & Roll, Beach Boys, Blues Bothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and much, much more...including, of course...Elvis!

Freddy B from Tennessee has worked with me on several occasions and he is a fan favorite ... a wonderful talent and it is always a pleasure to share a stage with him.

Paul Halverstadt from Ohio has won my last two Elvis-Fest contests and is just one of the greatest guys–not only talented but so warm and friendly both on and off stage. I always enjoy sharing a stage with him. The crowd comes alive when Paul hits the stage and I understand why he has so many great and loyal fans.

There are many others and they all have something special to offer. The most important thing to me, though, is being a good guy, especially to the fans...and being respectful to Elvis and his music. “

Next, Bill discusses his favourite Elvis songs.
“I never hesitate when asked my favorite ELVIS song. It isIf I Can Dream.” In the context of the times when Elvis first performed the song on the 1968 NBC Special, the power he gave in that performance, and the inspiring message of the song, which is relevant even today, I believe it should have a special place in the annals of music, along with other great inspirational songs.

I love to perform and re-create songs from all eras of Elvis’ career and it's been so much fun to have been able to delve into the movie soundtrack songs. All of Elvis’ movies are fun to watch and even though few were critically acclaimed, every movie had some great songs. “

When asked if he has advice for ETA’s just starting out, Bill says:
“Don't try to be Elvis. Most fans don't appreciate that. Only one guy got to be Elvis and you’re not that guy. Pay tribute to the performer and his music and do the very best you can. Most Elvis fans are wonderful people and very forgiving if they believe that you are doing this from your heart and that you love Elvis and his music as much as they do. Also, perform as much as you can...even if it means doing free performances at times. The more you do, the better you are going to get. And, NEVER forget the fans. Be gracious to them and remember they came to see you the first time because they were ELVIS fans. Whether they become your fans or not is up to you."

And finally, Bill observes how the love for Elvis is being passed down from generation to generation.
“It still amazes me that young people come to my performances. This love for Elvis continues to be passed down from generation to generation. And, we are reminded of Elvis daily. I believe it was Ronnie McDowell who said you can't go through a whole day without some kind of Elvis reference. His music continues to be played and repackaged and the success of A Little Less Conversation and Rubberneckin’ is going to fuel opportunities for more music to come out and thrill the next generation. Most of my shows (just like a wedding reception) attract people from 8-80 -- all with a special place in their hearts for the King of Rock & Roll."


Click here to hear Bill singing “You Don’t Know Me


Details:
Be sure to check Bill’s website at www.BKshow.com for full details including his upcoming show schedule and Memphis Elvis Week appearances.

WMKJ-FM - Magic 105.5 - LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

On-air Radio Personality, Elvis Fan, ETA.....and much more!

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First, I asked Bill to describe his early days and how he became involved in the “Elvis world.”

“I was a radio disc jockey at KOOL-FM in Phoenix, Arizona on August l6, l977 when we heard that Elvis Presley had passed away. I was given the assignment of putting together a 2-3 hour on-air tribute featuring the music of the late King of Rock & Roll. The response was incredible! I talked with many Elvis fans that night, took their requests, and listened to their stories. At that point, I was only a casual Elvis fan. I liked his music, had seen the TV specials, and watched the occasional Elvis movie when it was on TV....but had not seen the two documentaries “That's The Way It Is" and "Elvis On Tour" and really had no concept of the magnitude of this man as a performer and icon. I was familiar with the hits (I was and still am a Rock & Roll oldies aficionado and KOOL-FM was an oldies station) but I’d never been exposed to the other great music that had been recorded and performed by Elvis.

We started a show called "The Elvis Hour" on KOOL-FM shortly after that, which ran on Wednesday nights from 9 -10 pm, and it became one of the most listened to shows in this very good-sized market.

Through the show, I met Elvis fans in that area and it ultimately led me to Jerry Osborne...who had so much Elvis knowledge that he became a very important part of my life. Jerry is considered by many to be the premier Elvis record collector in the world and is the author of many record collecting books including the amazing Presleyana Collectible Books series. Jerry passed on so much information to me and allowed me to use so many things for my show that the average listener (including me) had never heard before. He is such a Presley fanatic and a mother lode of Presley facts, trivia, and lyrics. It was from Jerry that I gained a much greater appreciation of Elvis. “

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Next, I asked Bill about the first time he saw an Elvis impersonator....and how he, himself, became an ETA.
“I was a DJ at an oldies nightclub called the Golden Rock in Phoenix when I saw my first Elvis impersonator. He came in with an oldies show band. His name was Terry Turner and he was from Florida. The crowds could not get enough of him! He and his band packed this club 6 nights a week during their 4-week engagement and I was mesmerized by his performance and the effect he had on the audience. I remember thinking, if an impersonator can do this to people...what did ELVIS do to an audience! I still think Terry Turner was one of the best Elvis performers I’ve seen. We got together often when he was in town for shows. As a matter of fact...I wore a Terry Turner jumpsuit the first time I was asked to do an Elvis performance for the Follies group in Phoenix (after repeatedly turning them down, I was shamed into performing because they told me, ‘it didn't matter how good I was'...it was all for charity and it would help the station, etc, etc.). I was only supposed to sing Teddy Bear, but that went over so well that they added Don't Be Cruel and Hound Dog. Having watched Terry so many times gave me at least some knowledge of what to do on stage. I have lost track of Terry over the years and often wonder if he is still performing.

I moved from Phoenix to Lexington, Kentucky in March 1980 to become an oldies nightclub DJ and part of my format every night was a short Elvis show. Soon the management decided that they would like a full blown Elvis Tribute Concert and I performed my first one in Lexington on August 15, 1980 at The Continental Inn (still home of my annual "Elvis-Fest of the Bluegrass"). I have been performing since then and am still amazed at the undying loyalty of Elvis’ original fans...and how they have passed down that love and loyalty to generation after generation.

I am still an on-air personality at Magic 105.5 in Lexington, Kentucky. In addition to doing the morning show from 6-10 am, I also host our version of "The Elvis Hour" every Sunday from 6-7 pm. Just as it was in Phoenix, The Elvis Hour is one of the most popular hours of the week for radio listening, and I am able to play anything and everything by Elvis..movie soundtrack songs, gospel, country, album cuts, concert performances, B-sides, and, of course, The Hits!”

Knowing that Bill is an avid Elvis fan, I asked him to describe his feelings about Elvis and his music.
“When people ask me to describe Elvis I tell them I can do it in one word: “MAGICAL.” There is no other way to describe or define who he was or what he did. There is no logic in what happened with Elvis -- or what happened to all of us because of Elvis. Logic would say that none of this should have happened. Logic would dictate that his fan base would be diminished after his passing. Logic would tell us that he is no longer here so how can his legacy and his impact continue to grow. Since there is no explanation, the only explanation is "magic."

With the microphone in his hands..ELVIS became something that no one had ever seen before. The more he gave an audience, the more he received back and that spurred him on to do more. For his time he was outrageous...but not vulgar. He was wild and a rebel...yet when interviewed he was shy, humble and appreciative of all he had. He loved his family and he loved his country. When other stars were drafted into the service, they went straight to the USO to perform for servicemen around the world. Yet the biggest star ever drafted into the service said no to that. He would be no different from any other young man drafted into the service of his country, and if that meant KP and night maneuvers then so be it. With that one show of patriotism...of not putting himself above others...Elvis became okay with his fans' parents and grandparents, too.

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This month’s column features the very popular Lexington, Kentucky radio personality, Bill Kelly! Word of his popularity has spread over the last few years and it was high time to introduce Bill to LadyLuck’s listeners and readers! Wake, Rattle and Roll is the name of Bill’s morning show on oldies station, Magic 105.5, where he “wakes up” the listeners and entertains them during their morning drives to work! But that’s not all...Bill is also an avid Elvis Presley fan and an ETA of considerable renown in Kentucky! He has his own Elvis tribute show, too, and is involved with many other Elvis events and tribute artists. Read on!