He wasn’t even born when the king of rock ‘n’ roll “left the building” for the final time on Aug. 16, 1977, but 28-year old Tyler Christopher will channel his inner Elvis for the third year in a soldout performance at the Highland County Senior Citizens Center in Hillsboro.
“I grew up with Elvis’ music and the movies with my father, who was a big Elvis fan,” Christopher said. “Dad passed away when I was 6 years old, so after his death Elvis was the connection to my father since every time I heard his music or saw his movies, I thought of Dad.”
The Alexandria, Ky. native, who performs close to 200 shows a year, will bring his unique take on Elvis performing live in concert Saturday from 7-9 p.m. at the senior center on Muntz Street in Hillsboro.
Endless hours of practicing all the moves and gestures of Elvis came with a price — he wore out most of his father’s old VHS tapes getting everything right.
“By the time I was 12 years old, I was doing local shows in the northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area,” he said. “Then when I was 16, I got invited to a national competition in New York and despite being green and not really knowing what to do, I won first place.”
He said everything snowballed from there, but he is quick to point out that he isn’t an Elvis impersonator, but rather performs an Elvis tribute show at venues across the country.
There is something about the persona of Elvis, Christopher said, and it surprised him that his music transcended all age groups from those like him that weren’t even born when Elvis was making records and movies, up through senior citizens who were there watching their TVs when Elvis first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sept. 9, 1956.
Though Elvis has been gone for more than four decades and those that remember him continue to grow older, it amazes Christopher that from his perspective, the favorite son of Tupelo, Miss. continues to grow in popularity.
“Elvis’ original fan base is getting older and a good portion of that generation is passing away,” he said. “And you would think that someday in the future Elvis impersonators and tribute shows like mine will become non-existent. But it seems to be doing just the opposite, which shows the generational appeal of Elvis.”
Christopher said he strives in his tribute shows to accurately portray Elvis, and to bring to the stage a performance that illustrates how unique his concerts were along with his abilities as a master showman.
Saturday’s concert at the senior center will begin with the early days of and rock ‘n’ roll and Elvis’ influence on it, Christopher said, and then will progress into music from his movies before going into the Las Vegas-era of the late ’60s and then winding up in the “Aloha from Hawaii” period of the early 1970s.
The segment of his show that is from the time in Elvis’ life when he wore the legendary American Eagle studded cape and handed out scarves to his audience is the most memorable, he said, since he’s seen mothers and grandmothers literally fight over getting the coveted wrap while he’s on stage.
Off stage, Christopher has been happily married for the past nine years to Carly, his “best friend that I grew up with since I was 12 years old,” and the couple volunteers in the deaf community.
“Elvis had a talent and magnetism to be sure,” Christopher said. “But on top of that, he seemed to be a really nice guy who had humility and a kindness that is missing in some of today’s music artists and movie stars.”
Meshell Frost, the executive director of the senior center, thanked the community and sponsors for their support of the concert, a fundraising benefit for the center, and though it has been sold out since Tuesday, she assured fans that Christopher will no doubt be back for another Elvis tribute show next year.
Regarding the music of Elvis, Christopher said an album from 1959 featuring 20 of his gold records said it all: “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.