Elvis was the king. No doubt about it. People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps.– ROD STEWART, BRITISH ROCK SINGER AND SONGWRITER
None of our Elvis Presley Fan Club of Sarawak (EPFCS) members really sound like our idol, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll (though Elvis once said: “I’m not king, just a singer.”)
Nevertheless, when we are on stage, we think that we are him — sounding, moving and kicking like him. After all, many of us have titles won in contests or just given by our fans.
And as such, these are the impetus that has given us encouragement to carry on, going into the levels that have caught many by surprise, some of whom are sceptical.
Of course, the world’s best Elvis, Shawn Klush, is very close to sounding and moving like The King but none can be 100 per cent Elvis.
Our present club — we were registered with the ROS in 2014 — chairman Ges Barundang @ Elges Presley sounds close to Elvis when he renders certain top hits but the similarity ends there.
Elges is the Elvis Presley of Kuching titleholder, winning it in 2002 while yours truly was the runner-up.
Wilfred Vincent Ragam, our inaugural chairman, does well with many of his renditions, not to mention his lookalike hairdo.
Fondly known as Elvince, 71, he won the Elvis Presley of Sarawak title as a teenager in 1966.
Our most senior member Eskandar Eyaw, 75, has that uncanny resemblance when he was younger and at the same time the early voice of Elvis in the 50s and 60s. He was the first Elvis Presley of Sarawak, winning the title in 1965.
The rest of us have various titles but none won in contest. Our favourite member Azmi Jahidin @ Elaz, 69, who is a silat master, looks confident with a good number of songs and so are the likes of Christy Duin Tanggi @ Elchristy, 62, and our young active member Adrian David @ Eladrian. Elchristy performed once in Sydney when visiting his daughter.
Elges is the one with wide experience after having performed in Graceland’s Heartbreak Hotel. He also joined an international contest held in Gold Coast, Australia in 2015 and entered the final.
When I performed in Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB) in 2000, the MC asked if I was Elvis of Malaysia. I said: “No, just call me Elvis from Malaysia.”
But during my two-year stint (every Saturday evening) with the popular Crowne Princess Hotel, they just called me Elvis of Borneo, a title the fans preferred, among them Pengiran, Datuk and Pehin.
The hotel was run by Princess Rokiyah, the sultan’s younger sister. She was about my age.
Due to the movement control order (MCO), our club AGM scheduled on March 28 was postponed until further notice.
Two exco members are not performers of Elvis songs but they are life members after having paid a one-off fee of RM50. At the moment the club advisor is Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom, who is a life member and who had contributed over RM10k to the club.
We have two Datuk as life members plus a dozen or so distinguished members of society. An ordinary member pays an annual fee of RM10. We now have more than 1,000 online members.
Sadly, three of our friends have left the world to be with their forebears. The late John Siaz The King whose real name is John Sia from Sibu, also known as Sibu Elvis, was a life member whereas Reynolds Gregory (Elrey) and Miri Elvis Alex Ting departed before the club’s birth. May they rest in peace.
The club is aimed at keeping the Elvis flame burning. We aim to share with the public his legacy. Entertaining others with his music and songs is hoped to bring enjoyment to all. Perhaps this joy may be able to assist in longevity.
We survive on donations from the generous public, especially VIPs. Here I would like to record appreciation to those who have kindly contributed to our club.
Besides Mawan, others who have contributed included Tan Sri Datuk Amar James Jemut Masing, Tan Sri Abang Khalid Marzuki, Datuk Seri Sim Kui Hian and Datuk Dr Jerip Susil.
We have written to some VIPs asking for donations but have yet to receive any response. All the funds received are used to cover various expenses, including performance token. We usually perform in a group of five or six.
For the record, EPFCS members have performed all over the state, including at least four times in Kapit, a few times in Kuala Lumpur, once in Kota Kinabalu but most of the time in Kuching such as in hotels and pubs as well as homes of VIPs.
Among these, Kapit gives the best reception though the one at Julie’s Café in Kota Samarahan some years ago has remained the best remembered.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.