This month I thought I was going to be a little off the topic of “Elvis” or “ETA’s”...but things took a few twists and turns and there’s a great Elvis connection after all and news of an exciting show in Memphis during Elvis Week 2003. So read on!!

Every once in a while a gifted performer comes along who captivates and mesmerizes each of us...and for me recently, at the
Rock ‘n’ Roll Forever concert I attended in the Toronto area, that singer, entertainer, musician, and tribute artist was Legends in Concert’s Ray Anthony, whose portrayal of the late Ritchie Valens is an absolute knockout and, as they say, “completely blew me away!” I was totally smitten!

Ray Anthony is one of the most charismatic and engaging performers I’ve seen in a long time–and he definitely knows how to make an instant connection with his audience! It was obvious that I wasn’t the only one who was captivated by Ray’s high energy performance at this show. He received a thunderous applause as he came on to the stage and a long, rousing standing ovation after his performance. In between, he had the whole audience singing the words to
Oh Donna (this song, by the way, is engraved in the memories of an entire generation and beyond). Then, a little while later, after singing more Ritchie Valens songs such as “That’s My Little Susie” and “Come On, Let’s Go,” Ray had everyone up on their feet smiling, clapping, and dancing as he sang a rousing rendition of La Bamba.


Click here to hear Ray singing La Bamba


After the show, I met with Ray and found out he would be performing next at a venue not too far from where I live, so I ordered tickets....and off I went to catch another performance!

That took me to Windsor, Ontario, where Ray recently performed for a month as part of “
A Really Big Shew” -- an Ed Sullivan type show featuring acts similar to those that did appear on the Ed Sullivan show way back when, with Ray being introduced as “a great new act...Ritchie Valens.” Once again, Ray captivated the audience of young and old! In fact, he had the 20-year-olds at the table in front of me up on their feet dancing, and they told me afterwards that they thought he was just “totally awesome.”

The real Ritchie Valens was killed in the same 1959 plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, and which, some say, marked “the day the music died.” Only l7 at the time, he had had just a few hit songs, but was already being touted as the “next Elvis.” Sadly, his star never had time to shine.

Ray Anthony’s tribute has been endorsed by Ritchie Valens’ family, who often come to see him perform, and he is in regular contact with Bob Morales, Ritchie’s half brother. Ray truly pays a wonderful tribute to Ritchie Valens–which is all the more to Ray’s credit as there is very little original footage to watch and, because Ritchie was so young when he died, he had so few hit songs.

Ray was born in Trinidad and moved with his family, at a very young age, to Toronto, Canada where he has established a large following. Not only does he do a terrific portrayal of Ritchie Valens -- he’s also an accomplished singer and songwriter, an exceptionally talented guitar player, and a gifted musician who also plays keyboard, bass, and drums.

Ray has toured throughout North America with various legends shows and has worked at many of Canada’s major venues (Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto Skydome, Montreal Coliseum, Vancouver Coliseum, Calgary Saddledome, etc.). He was also a popular member of the cast at
Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven in Toronto for several years.

Now living in Las Vegas, Ray has been with
Legends in Concert for the past 6 years. He has performed at the Legends venues not only in Las Vegas but also in Branson, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic City, and Biloxi. He will be at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas from May 26 until the end of September.

In addition to
Legends in Concert, Ray also currently performs with The Winter Dance Party show (Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, featuring the Big Bopper’s son), which travels throughout the US and has a huge following. He is also part of the cast of the above-mentioned “A Really Big Shew” which can be seen throughout the US and parts of Canada, and is close to getting its own venue in Las Vegas.

Ray’s tribute to Ritchie Valens has rightly been described as “phenomenal” – he truly does justice to the songs and to the memory of Ritchie Valens.

And---now on to the Elvis connection!
In addition to his love of Ritchie Valens’ music, Ray is also a 100% diehard Elvis fan! In fact, he says that if it wasn’t for Elvis, he’d never be entertaining as he is today. He started playing the guitar (standing in front of the mirror and shaking his leg) as he wanted to be just like Elvis. His mother introduced him to Elvis’ music and he says when he heard Blue Suede Shoes on one of her albums it “really hit him”...and ever since then, “it’s been Elvis all the way.”

Ray’s guitar style stems from
“listening to Scotty Moore and James Burton for years and years. He says, “I love Elvis’ music and I’m very picky when it comes to playing the music like it should be played. First and foremost, I am a musician and love being one.”

Ray has performed with several of Elvis’ musicians and recounts his first meeting with JD Sumner and the Stamps.
“The first time I met JD was in Laughlin, Nevada. I was playing guitar for a very good friend of mine, Gary Wayne Bridges (who in my opinion has one of the best Elvis voices). Charlie Hodge was also part of the show. I was in awe when I first met JD and the Stamps. We were doing the sound check when the Stamps walked in and marched right up to the stage and started singing. I was so happy that tears came to my eyes. I will always remember the greatest compliment I received from JD when he said, ‘You play guitar just like James (Burton)’. It was a real pleasure to work with JD and the Stamps.”

And it’s just been confirmed!

This August 13-14, Ray will be performing at the Peabody Hotel Grand Ballroom in Memphis with singer
Gary Wayne Bridges as part of the Elvis Week celebrations. In addition to Gary Wayne Bridges (who has an incredible “Elvis voice”) and Ray Anthony, who will be playing guitar in the great show band that has been assembled, the two shows will also star Ed Enoch and Golden Covenant (former Stamps Quartet), Charlie Hodge, and John Wilkinson. Jimmy Velvet will be the MC. [ticket information below]

Ray also keeps busy with other ventures. An accomplished musician, he is available for studio work and live performances. He also produces promotional videos for entertainers/aspiring entertainers at a better price than most. In addition, he is working on a video documentary (a rockumentary) tentatively called “Legends Behind the Scenes.” He started this in Atlantic City at the Legends in Concert venue and it’s an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the individuals in the show, including the dancers, which will be of interest to those who either work in the business or who are fans of legends shows [for further information on any of the above ventures, Ray can be contacted at the email address listed below].

Ray’s web site is currently under construction, so for those of you who wish to catch one of his upcoming shows, his schedule for the next while is also listed below. Trust me on this one...you absolutely don’t want to miss a rockin’ performance by Ray Anthony!!


e-mail:
RockinRayAnthony@aol.com


Upcoming Performances:

Legends in Concert, Imperial Palace, Las Vegas: May 26-Sept. 27

Peabody Hotel Grand Ballroom, Memphis,
THE VOICE OF A KING, August l3-l4.
Starring Gary Wayne Bridges, Ed Enoch and Golden Covenant, Charlie Hodge, John Wilkinson, Ray Anthony on guitar as part of the great show band! Jimmy Velvet is MC. 8 pm. Tickets $37.50 - on sale now. For tickets/info. contact tribustars@lvcm.com

Rock ‘n’ Roll Forever, 10th Anniversary Show, Oshawa, Ontario. March 5-6, 2004 (details TBA)


THE FABULOUS

ROCKIN’ RAY ANTHONY!!

With fans after the show