He hails from Chilliwack, but Steve Elliott, better known as Elvis Elite, has more than a few ties to Penticton.
He competed at the Elvis Festival multiple times starting in 2002, winning in the professional category on his second time out.
“My career kind of came from Penticton,” Elliott said.
Since winning the festival 2004, and headlining for the next three years, he has embodied the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll full time.
“(The Elvis Festival) just opened my eyes to this whole thing as fun, but also the business side of it,” Elliott said.
Not only did his Elvis tribute act turn from fun hobby to career in Penticton, his Elvis Elite moniker stems from the Peach City too.
He was performing during the festival at the downtown restaurant The Elite after the owner at the time invited him on stage in exchange for lunch.
“My eyes lit up, I thought ‘what?’ That was probably my first gig, it was a fun thing,” Elliott said.
He returned later that evening for a paid gig.
“It became the place for me. It was packed in there. When I was finished the whole weekend, (the emcee) said ‘ladies and gentleman Elvis Elite,’ and I went, hey, I like that. I’ve been using that ever since,” Elliott said.
Elliott heard Elvis music growing up when his dad would play records. A day before Elliott married his wife, the two went out to a fateful night of karaoke.
“For some reason I heard the song Can’t Help Falling in Love and I knew it immediately. I said to myself this guy is not singing this right it’s a little bit off key. My wife said ‘well why don’t you go do better?’” Elliott said. “I said ‘no, no, no.’”
Admitting he was trying to impress his wife-to-be, Elliott did eventually take the stage that night.
“I had this little spark, that’s kind of how it started,” Elliott said.
After his first year at the Elvis Festival, Elliott received a note from famed Canadian DJ Red Robinson (the first to play Elvis on the air in Canada), that he would have won the contest if it were solely based on singing.
Elliott studied the more physical aspects of the way Elvis performed and returned to win the next year.
“I’m not a copy cat, but there’s some essences of Elvis in what I do. Some iconic things he does. I don’t copy him to the T, it’s not meant to be that. It’s a tribute,” Elliott said.
Asked why he portrays the younger Elvis, Elliott responded simply with a laugh “because I’m young.”
“Elvis when he (first) came out was just a pink shirt and black pants. There’s no glory, no costumes it was just him, his persona and his voice. You’ve got to start with that,” Elliott said.
Catch Elliott at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 40 on Sept. 30. Tickets $20 available by calling 250-492-2882.