In light of Elvis Presley‘s 76th birthday, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Elvis sound-alikes — artists who bear an uncanny resemblance to Elvis’ style, from that hip-shaking rock n’ roll sound to that greasy black pompadour.
10. Ronnie McDowell — ‘The King is Gone’
Ronnie McDowell‘s long-lasting tribute to the King of Rock N’ Roll — aptly titled ‘The King is Gone’ — allowed him to capitalize on his likeness to Elvis (he sang the vocals for the 1979 ‘Elvis‘ TV movie starring Kurt Russell) while becoming a country star in his own right.
9. Janis Martin — ‘Drug Store Rock and Roll’
Janis Martin‘s powerful rockabilly sound earned her ‘The Female Elvis’ title, endorsed and approved by RCA and even Elvis himself, who sent her a dozen red roses when she appeared at RCA’s record convention in Miami.
8. Wanda Jackson — ‘Hard Headed Woman’
7. Fabian — ‘Turn Me Loose’
Teen idol Fabian had the good looks and an Elvis-like sneer, but his golden boy sound didn’t propel him past teenage popularity. In fact, during the 60s payola scandal, Fabian revealed that his recordings had been doctored to improve his voice.
6. Conway Twitty — ‘Lonely Blue Boy’
Inspired by Elvis after a stint in the army (“I’d never heard nothin’ like it“), Conway Twitty was marketed like Elvis and had hopes of becoming a star. While his Elvis-esque swivel didn’t garner him lasting rock n’ roll fame, he later became a cherished country music crooner.
5. Cliff Richard — ‘Move It’
Although he was marketed as Britain’s Elvis, with his Presley-like style and hairdo, Cliff Richard, or should we say, Sir Cliff Richard, dominated the British music scene pre-Beatles. His single ‘Move It’ is often hailed as Britain’s first authentic rock & roll song.
4. Ral Donner — ‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got’ -
Ral Donner‘s uncanny resemblance to Elvis earned him a few hits in the early 60s, but was unable to truly escape from Elvis’ shadow. After Elvis’ death in ’77, interest in Donner was revived and he was asked to narrate Presley’s voice in the film ‘This Is Elvis‘.
3. Terry Stafford — ‘Suspicion’
Terry Stafford was a one-hit wonder noted for his sound-alike cover version of Elvis’ ‘Suspicion’ (Presley’s original version appeared on the 1962 ‘Pot Luck’ album). Although the song was a mega-hit in 1964 — at the height of Beatlemania! — Stafford wasn’t ever able to repeat its success.
2. Joe Dowell — ‘Wooden Heart’
1. Sonny James — ‘Young Love’
Sonny James, the country singer turned cattle rancher, hit it big with his Presley-esque ballad ‘Young Love’ in 1957. “The Southern Gentleman” broadened country music’s appeal with his incorporation of the traditional country sound in pop hits of the past, dominating the charts between ’64 and ’72.