Gary James' Interview With Russ Howe Of
Reflections Of The King
He calls his show, “Reflections Of The King”. Russ Howe you see is an Elvis look and sound-a-like. He’s appeared on Entertainment Tonite, Geraldo, and MTV. He even appeared with Priscialla Presley at Graceland in June of 1982. We talked with Russ Howe about his Elvis Tribute Show.
Q - Russ, where do you perform? How many dates a year? Have you taken your act overseas?
A - So, far, we’ve been in the United States. We are talking about England. Right now, we’re working with Celebrity Cruise Lines and they’re thinking about doing something in England. As far as the amount of shows, every year is different. It fluctuates. Normally our busiest season is in August and in January. I would say I perform maybe 20 to 30 shows a year.
Q - Is this a full-time occupation for you?
A - Most of the time. For about 10 years I’ve been in the electrical business doing security alarms and I really enjoy that. I think I need that to keep myself sane to be honest with you. So, I do that on the side. The Elvis stuff is really at night time. I take off 2-3 weeks, that’s basically how it works.
Q - You say you keep the electrical work going to keep your sanity. Can you get caught up in the whole Elvis mystique?
A - You know, it is pretty scary when you see the reaction of the people. They’re out to have fun and sometimes they get lost a little bit. They forget what they’re doing. They just go crazy. For that hour, if they want to think that’s Elvis up there, that’s great. But I never forget who I am. When I walk off that stage, I leave the jumpsuit and everything up there. I’ve met quite a few people who do the Elvis show and they’re Elvis 24 hours. So, a lot of people who meet me are very happy that they realize I’m myself also, which is a totally different person.
Q - Do you prefer being called an Elvis impersonator or is “Reflections Of The King” a tribute show?
A - Well, that’s the name of our show. A lot of guys don’t like to be called an impersonator, but, either way you break it down, that’s what you’re doing. We are trying to branch off into Country Music. We’ve been doing that for the last 6 months. We have some people from Columbia Records interested in listening to a few things. It’ll probably take the rest of this year to go into a studio and make up tapes. I’d love to do some Country music. I love Country music.
Q - Your business card reads, “See the show proclaimed the closest to to the Legend”. Who made that judgment?
A - That wasn’t me. I would never do that, because just when you think you’re the best, someone better comes along. That ones just made by everyone who comes to see the show. I think that’s because everyone up on that stage loves Elvis. Nobody is doing it for the money. We’re all doing it just to keep something going. I think the people feel that and it comes across in the music.
Q - Does the talk about Elvis being alive help or hurt ticket sales?
A - Actually, I don’t know. It’s stirring a lot of people’s minds, all these different shows. All the pictures, I personally don’t believe it. I know a few people who were with him the night before he passed away. With all the stories I’ve been told and the people I’ve met, I don’t believe it. Just to show you, 2 years ago when the Elvis was alive was a really big thing, I went to visit my parents upstate ( New York). I went fishing. Here I am in the middle of the lake fishing, a car goes by. The screech of the tires went on and I heard a lady screaming "Elvis!" I got home about a week later and went to the candy store and picked up the new issue of The Star. The latest spot for an Elvis sighting was Upstate New York, fishing. (Laughs). So people see what they want to see. I would love him to be alive, but personally I don’t think so.
Q - Do you think you bear a strong resemblance to Elvis offstage?
A - I hate to say I look like him. I’m not that type of person. I’ve never had plastic surgery. I look a little bit like him. When I go out with my wife to eat, I constantly hear it, 24 hours a day from the people. It gets to be a pain after awhile. So, I started to grow a beard and I go in the diner and it continues. (Laughs). I can’t get away from it.
Q - While most of these Elvis sightings have explanations, some, by credible people are especially disturbing.
A - In that book, Is Elvis Alive? (by Gail Brewer Giorgio), the picture of him supposedly sitting by the (pool) door...when I was down in Memphis I spoke to one of his bodyguards, Al Strada. I started laughing ‘cause I said "you guys are probably gonna laugh at this, but, what’s with this picture?" He said, "oh, that’s me sitting by the door." He looks nothing like the person sitting in that picture. So, things start to make you think. Here’s this guy telling me, oh that was me at that door. There’s no way that was him at the door.
Q - Why do you say that?
A - Al Strada's got like an Afro. He looks nothing like Elvis.