Elvis Tribute Artists Radio



Charlie Hodge and Terry Mike in Memphis - August 2002

In closing, I asked Terry Mike if he had any advice for aspiring singers and musicians. He says, “Believe in yourself, hang in there -- for every 50 "no's" there's one really important "yes," just keep on -- and (believe it or not) be yourself! Sell whatever it is that you ARE . Even though I sing Elvis, I try to do it in my own way and, in addition, I do my own thing, too, writing my own songs, my own style, etc.). But Elvis and his music will always be a part of what I do."

Many thanks to Terry Mike Jeffrey for this insightful interview. And be sure to catch Terry Mike in concert...you’re guaranteed a great time!

where he will be performing in “A Night to Remember the King” with James Burton, Jerry Scheff, Glen Hardin, The Sweet Inspirations, DJ Fontana, The Imperials, Charlie Hodge and The ExSpence Account band.

Full details:

( Nashville’s “Music Row” magazine)

This month’s column features Terry Mike Jeffrey, a favourite of Elvis fans from around the globe who have enjoyed his many performances with his band and with Elvis’ musicians in the “Elvis The Concert,” “International Dance Party,” “Good Rockin’ Tonite” and “Legends” productions during Elvis Week in Memphis. Terry Mike is also one of my own personal favourite “singers of Elvis songs.” In addition to being a long-time Elvis Presley fan himself, and paying a fitting musical tribute to his hero, Terry is a man of many other talents too: singer, Emmy-nominated songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist, actor, musical director and arranger. Read on!

Terry Mike Jeffrey was born in Paducah, Kentucky and like so many truly gifted musicians his talent surfaced early. Inspired by Elvis Presley, he was singing at the age of 3 and playing guitar by age 5! Indeed, as the titles of his 4 Elvis CD’s suggest, he was “Raised on Elvis.”

Terry’s earliest memory of Elvis was in l957 when he was 3 years old. He says, “My dad had a restaurant with a jukebox, and "Teddy Bear" was a brand new song. Something about it just grabbed me. I started singing it, along with another "new" song at the time, "All Shook Up." So, I'm singing along with the jukebox in the restaurant. I remember everyone thinking that this was cute, but I also remember (really!) thinking - hey, I'm gonna be a singer. So, I told my parents that's what I wanted to do. They were very supportive. They'd get me in school shows, fall festivals, church music-related things...whatever they could. Elvis was instantly my hero. It's very hard to describe, even today, just what it was about him. It was his voice, the songs, the energy. And he looked really cool! I wanted to look just like him, sing like him, act, walk, move, and be like him in every way. Starting at age 3, I literally began a singing career. I started playing guitar at age 5, because Elvis played guitar. I've always sung since then, at all kinds of functions. At around the age of 12, I started bands, started getting paid (a little bit), and just kept on.”

In l969, at the age of l5, Terry Mike actually met Elvis at the (then) International Hotel in Vegas. He recalls:

I met him there on August 1, 1969...the first of 38 Elvis shows that I eventually saw. I’d just seen his dinner show, and I snuck backstage, got in trouble, but met him anyway. He was wonderful. Actually, this was the night after his opening night, after 9 years of movies, no personal appearances. He was awesome! Really worked hard for the audience. This was BEFORE the white jumpsuits. He was in a two-piece black karate outfit, very cool. He was very tanned, and very trim, looked really great. I snuck backstage through the kitchen and found his dressing room, by accident really. Hotel security was just escorting me away, and Elvis walked out the door. Like it was meant to happen. Upon seeing him, they moved much quicker to get me away, and I knew this was my only chance, so I said, very loudly, "Hey Elvis." He said to the security guys, "who's he with?" I spoke up and said "no one," but that I just wanted to shake his hand and I'd leave. He told them to let me stay, and we shook hands. I had a camera. He let me get 8 photos taken with him and he signed three different things for me. He was really very nice. He asked me about the show, how the sound was, how I liked the song selection, etc. I told him everything was perfect (I could not believe he was asking these things to a 15 year old kid). I spent about 20 minutes with him. Once he told security I was OK, that was it. I could stay as long as I wanted. It was unbelievable, and I'll never forget it. We talked music - I told him about his influence on me, and what I was doing with my own band. One of the things he signed for me says "To Terry, Best of luck, Pal, Elvis Presley". I'd like to think that was an inspiration to me. More than anything else I have to say - What a nice guy he was!! Although I only had photos taken at the first meeting, I met him 3 more times (twice in 1972, once in 1977). He was always such a nice guy.

Before he’d finished high school, Terry Mike had learned to play the guitar, piano, saxophone, drums..had made records, TV commercials, written jingles, and acted the lead role in a school play. He was also influenced by the Beatles, Motown, Prince, John Cougar, Hall & Oates, but he says: “Elvis was my main thing! I collected every Elvis record, saw every movie, was and still am a very avid fan. I still collect. In fact, that's my full time hobby, passion. I love nostalgia, and I have every record Elvis ever did, with the original sleeves, every variation. I even have the original Sun Records by Elvis. Very tough to find, very pricey, very rare.”

By the mid-70's, Terry and his band were working steadily...and on Tuesday, August l6, l977, they were in Phoenix, Arizona. Terry remembers that sad week:

When Elvis died, my band had just finished an 8-week run in Memphis. Charlie Hodge and many of the "Elvis" guys were familiar with us , and would frequent the places we played. We'd gotten very close to Charlie the last 2 years Elvis was alive and Charlie took us to Graceland a few times. We left Memphis on Sunday, August 14 and drove to Phoenix, to start an 8-week run there. We were setting up the stage on that Tuesday, when my Dad called to tell me that Elvis had died. We had a TV on where the stage was, and had heard nothing about it. I thought my Dad was wrong, and I was arguing with him that there was no way - but while I was on the phone with him NBC broke in and told the news. I couldn't believe it. I was devastated, as if it was someone in my own family, someone I was very close to. I cried like a baby. I got on the phone and called Charlie Hodge. He was crying, just horribly. He called me back after a couple of hours, and said that if there was any way I could get to Memphis, I could be at the private funeral. Following our Wednesday night show, I was on a red-eye to Memphis, didn't sleep at all, got a car, bought a black suit, and made it to the funeral. I actually saw Elvis in the casket, touched his hands, his face. This was another moment I'll never forget. Charlie was very good to invite me, and I remember that the crowds were unbelievable.”

In 1988-89, Terry was hired to be the musical director and to star as the “early years” Elvis in “Elvis, An American Musical", organized by the producers of "Grease" and "Beatlemania." Terry says: “I was one of three guys who portrayed Elvis in this musical, which was a two-year touring New York Broadway-type show. The show played the Las Vegas Hilton both of those summers, in the main showroom where I used to see Elvis. Backstage where I had met Elvis, that was where my dressing room was, same area. It looked the very same, and it was so very cool and nostalgic for me. Yes, I was required to dress in the rockabilly outfits, dye my hair, and do the moves. I had a hard time with that, because I'd always prided myself about NOT doing it. But this was an acting job as much as anything else, much like if someone were hired to portray John Wayne in a play, or a movie. So, that made it OK. I even asked the folks at Graceland, "Should I do this?" and they were very supportive. The show toured throughout the USA and Canada and was very exciting.”

Since then, Terry Mike has performed in many other shows for Graceland. He tells us how this came about and how he’s enjoyed the experiences.

“Doing Elvis shows for Graceland - what an honor - they have been having me for shows for about 15 years now, ever since "Elvis - An American Musical". When they first approached me, it was basically ,"We like your voice...we like the fact that you're not an impersonator... you're perfect to work with former Elvis people, doing tasteful shows, etc." and that was it. Graceland and EPE have been super to me every year. In addition to the usual January/August events, they’ve been responsible for other events such as appearances on the "Today Show" (I sang two songs with the TCB Band). And the release of the CD "Elvis #1's" put us in NYC at the Hard Rock doing a show for RCA Records with DJ Fontana. The 20th Anniversary “Elvis The Concert” production in Memphis was probably the grandaddy of all of their shows and I was honored to be included. Priscilla and Lisa Marie are wonderful to work with....very nice, and very complimentary.”

Terry has enjoyed a wide variety of other work, too. In l997 he was nominated for an Emmy Award (songwriting for TV’s Sesame Street). He’s been a featured vocalist with symphony orchestra “pops” concerts. Recently he acted in "Stand By Your Man - The Tammy Wynette Story" (Ryman Auditorium, Nashville), where he played Tammy's father and understudied all male acting and music roles. He’s won critical acclaim from major newspapers and has been featured in publications such as USA Today and People Magazine. Terry has also performed with stars such as Jewel, Dixie Chicks, Fats Domino, Mavericks, Leon Russell, Chet Atkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Travis Tritt. His TV appearances include 56 guest appearances on TNN’s “Music City Tonight with Crook & Chase,” NBC's “Today Show,” CBS “This Morning,” CNN's “Showbiz Today,” and” Live with Regis and Kathie Lee."

Over the years, Terry Mike has performed around the world (examples, England, France, Belgium, Holland, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean) and this month he’s off again to Belgium and Holland where he has a large fan following. He has also released a number of CD’s, recording not only Elvis songs, but also country, gospel, and Christmas songs -- some of which are originals. But, as he says, “Elvis is still my thing” and he has always continued to perform Elvis’ music with his band and to work with many of Elvis’ original musicians, including the TCB Band, DJ Fontana and the Jordanaires. Terry says Elvis’ musicians/singers “are the best....extremely talented and wonderful to work with. It’s always an honor and a pleasure to work with them.” Some of Terry’s favourite Elvis songs to sing are: "That's All Right," "How Great Thou Art," "You Gave Me A Mountain," "Suspicious Minds,but he says, “I also love some of the lesser known songs, movie songs, such as "Big Love Big Heartache," "Soldier Boy," and "Follow That Dream."


Terry Mike on "Music City Tonight"

Pic byJames V. Roy


Terry Mike and James Burton -Memphis - August 2004
copyright James V. Roy


Terry Mike and crew with Lisa Marie - Aug. 16, 2002 - Memphis


Terry Mike, age 15, meeting Elvis -August l969