Gary James' Interview With Elvis Presley Tribute Artist
Tim Dudley became an Elvis fan when he was just three years old. So it really should come as no surprise to learn that Tim put together his own tribute to Elvis. Tim spoke to us about that tribute.
Q - Tim, you're doing the show that Elvis would've liked to have done. You're probably doing a lot of Gospel material as part of your show?
A - Yeah. I gave my life to the Lord about three and a half years ago and I was doing Elvis before then. Usually my second set or third set, depending on how many I do, I try to incorporate the Gospel of him. It's been getting really good feedback and so I really enjoy it. But I also cover the Vegas years and the '68 Comeback and the music years too.
Q - What happened to you that made you decide to give your life to the Lord?
A - Well, just some stuff that I did. I went down the wrong road. I don't really want to go into detail 'cause it's between my wife and I, but I ended up in the shower, in a ball, curled up, crying out Jesus' name and for me to say something like that, I never believed in God before. For me to be curled up in a ball, crying out Jesus' name, something is not right here. About a day and a half later I went and talked to my brother-in-law and his girlfriend who were saved. We just started talking. That night my wife and I gave our life to the Lord and there's just so much peace. Since then it's just been amazing.
Q - I like to hear stories like yours. So often all I hear is negative remarks about life and the music business in particular.
A - I was going to get out of the business 'cause this is what led me to do this stuff. I was like, "Lord, if you want me to continue this Elvis tribute, I need some kind of an answer." About seven days later I got a phone call for a show and I'm going, okay, I'm thinking in my head as this guy is talking to me, pitching his idea for a show and I'm going, "Lord, I'm just going to give him a price that's out of the ball park and if it's really you, I'm going to get this." So I told him a show that I normally charge for, it was like double. He was like, "Oh, no problem." So, I was like, "Oh, okay." (laughs) Really if you think about it, a lot of people put Elvis above God sometimes. Elvis didn't even like "King" and he would tell them straight out, "Jesus is the King."
Q - That's right. Someone held up a banner at one of his shows that said Elvis Is The King. He stopped the show and said, "There is only one King and I'm not it." You probably have a greater understanding of what Elvis was going through.
A - Oh, yeah. I was heading down the wrong road. I was doing stupid things. I was going against what I was supposed to. I was married and I was doing stuff I wasn't supposed to. I was just really heading down the wrong road.
Q - You were born where? Tennessee or Indiana?
A - I was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Q - The home of The Marshall Tucker Band.
A - (laughs) I was only there for a couple of years and then I ended up in Atlanta, Georgia, well, Austell, Georgia, and then lived in Pennsylvania and Louisiana and now Indiana.
Q - If you're going to pay tribute to Elvis, it probably helps if you understand the Southern tradition, the Southern lifestyle and the Southern music.
A - And the hospitality down there too and just how humble everybody is too.
Q - You're too young to have ever seen Elvis in person, in concert, aren't you>
A - Correct. I was born in February '84. My mother and grandparents were Elvis fans. They introduced me to Elvis. They never really pushed it on me. I just became a huge Elvis fan the more I listened, the more songs I found on him. I really enjoyed his music. He was amazing. Like I tell people, I think God spent a little extra time with him when he was molding him.
Q - Did your mother or grandparents see Elvis perform 'live'?
A - No. My grandparents owned a business and they really didn't have time, even on weekends, to go and do things, so they never really got to see Elvis. They wanted to though.
Q - I saw Elvis perform thirteen months before August 16th, 1977.
A - Even towards the end he was so awesome. I don't care what other people think. His voice was there.
Q - You're right! His voice never left him. Where have you taken your act?
A - I've been to California, Texas, New York, Western New York I should say, the Buffalo area, Montreal, Canada. A little bit all over. I was supposed to go to England a couple of years ago but the show fell through. I was kind of bummed about it, but I ended up getting a good show to replace that date. That's one place I really want to go, England, and meet the Elvis fans over there because I hear they're really great.
Q - It seems like you have a bright future.
A - Well, I hope so. God willing I hope it keeps going and the shows keep coming in. I really don't know what to say. Thank-you.
Q - Do you have your own band or do you use tracks?
A - I do both. I can do back tracks, but I've also worked with other tribute bands.
Q - Do you have a lot of money invested in the jump suits you use in your act?
A - Yeah. I have the blue swirl, the embroidered Silver Phoenix. The lowest one I have is $650 and the Phoenix can run about $3,200.
Q - You've got some money invested!
A - Yeah. They don't tell you that when you want to get into this. (laughs)