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|A TRIBUTE TO ELVIS. NO IMPING ABOUT
April 11, 2016 - By Joe Hadsall - Elvis Express Radio
Terry Mike Jeffrey used to put on one of Elvis Presley’s signature jumpsuits for his tribute shows.
The wardrobe didn’t last long, though, and Jeffrey is just fine with that. Instead of wearing the wardrobe, Jeffrey has spent a life honing the sound and music of Elvis, finding that a
more fitting tribute.
“I chose to do that out of a respect for him,” Jeffrey said. “I’ve seen some impersonators not represent him well, and some in a negative way. I try to present him with as much class
and dignity as I possibly can, and it’s worked really well.”
Jeffrey will present a show filled with classic Elvis songs from many different eras, with a full symphonic backup — The Southeast Kansas Symphony Orchestra will perform with
Jeffrey during the concert, scheduled for Wednesday.
That orchestra will play charts used directly by orchestras that played with Presley during the later parts of his career.
“These are the same charts that his orchestra played in the ‘70s,” Jeffrey said. “We developed a show with Graceland’s support that began with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra,
where my band was the backbone and rhythm section, and I’d sing all the songs. We use those charts, so they could be played exactly the way they were in the ‘70s.”
Jeffrey has spent a life being a fan of the King. He said he went to about 38 different Elvis concerts before turning 20, and was lucky enough to form a friendship with Charlie
Hodge, one of Elvis’ confidants, musicians and advisers. Thanks to Hodge, Jeffrey said he got to meet Elvis four times. And when Presley died in 1977, Jeffrey said he called Hodge
to offer condolences.
Soon after, Hodge approached Jeffrey with the idea of a tribute show, Jeffrey said. That’s when Jeffrey found out how much he hated wearing the jumpsuit.
“At first he kind of managed us, and suggested the jumpsuits,” Jeffrey said. “I told him right off the bat I didn’t want to do that, but he said to give it a try. I felt silly in that thing. After
about a month, he agreed, and saw impersonators coming out of the woodwork, so we decided to go in the opposite direction and hone in on the vocals.”
That decision has resulted in a show that is as much a study of Elvis as a celebration. Jeffrey said the set list includes a little bit of everything, in order to reflect the diversity of
music Presley performed, from the subtle mourning in “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” to the powerful presentation behind “Suspicious Minds.”
“He mastered everything he pursued,” Jeffrey said. “He conquered gospel, and obviously conquered rock ‘n’ roll. He could do it all and has done so many things, covered so many
Presley’s music has found wide appeal with audiences across the world, Jeffrey said. He has performed with the Jordanaires, a gospel group that provided background vocals for
Presley, and other former band members.
The music of Elvis was also part of a side project that took him touring across the country. Performing as Flight 602, Jeffrey performed many times at the former Holiday Inn in the
late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
At that time, he was just looking for places to play. Floor shows were a big deal, and Jeffrey’s band had a good one, he said. His draw to the area led him to work with the Southeast
Kansas Symphony Orchestra for next week’s show.
“When we would come to town, we would play there for three or four weeks straight, six nights a week,” Jeffrey said. “Our show went over well with audiences, more so than
anywhere else we ever went. For some reason, things just clicked here. We loved the people and developed friendships with so many people there. It was our favorite place to go.”