Insider’s Guide - George Brooking
Is Elvis your main gig or do you have a day job?
I do heat pumps during the day normally.
When did you start impersonating Elvis?
About ten years ago, I just sort of just fell into it. A friend of mine was a DJ and he did Elvis while I worked the PA system. I had sideburns and he was a short Maori guy and didn’t look anything like Elvis. People were saying to me why aren’t you the one singing Elvis? I said I can’t sing, I can’t dance and I’m not going to hop into one of those silly suits, but my friend said I’ll teach you to sing and dance like Elvis. I said no way, but three months later I did my first show.
What do you have to perfect to be Elvis?
The voice is the most important. At the first Australia competition I attended this guy in one of Elvis’ famous white suits had perfect hair, was American and he was talking with the accent, and I thought I may as well go home. I did my three songs and then he got up there and he looked perfect, but he couldn’t sing. He was tone deaf and off key. So, you can have the look but if you don’t have the voice you can’t pull it off.
Favorite song to perform?
So many, but I love doing the Hawaiian stuff. I was not an Elvis fan before I got into this. I like reggae and old school R and B.
Do you sing or lip sync?
I sing, but I don’t have a band. I have backing tracks.
What Elvis era are you?
I do all the eras of Elvis. Fifties, black leather, army years, movie hits and Las Vegas. My most popular era is the early Elvis stuff. He moved differently than when he was young.
Where do you shop for Elvis clothes?
I get them tailor made. In Kilbirnie there’s a lady who makes my jumpsuits. I order some clothes through the internet. I pick a lot up from Salvation Army and op shops.
Who does your hair?
I do it myself. When I’m not doing Elvis, I don’t intentionally walk around with the hair. I don’t wear makeup as my complexion is like Elvis’.
How often do you perform as Elvis? Do you have a local gig?
I perform at The Cadillac Diner on Willis Street once a week.
Can you make a lot of money playing Elvis?
At the competition next weekend $2500 is up for grabs. If I make it to Memphis finals it’s $20,000. If I wanted to I could be away every weekend around the country doing gigs, but I’ve actually had a cancer illness recently. I had an operation on my ear. I was in hospital for four days. I had a lump the size of a baseball and I thought that’s the end of my Elvis career, but as of two months ago I started getting back into it after five months off. I was quite lucky. It makes you look at life differently. It makes me want to perform more.
Is this a hobby or a calling?
I suppose it’s a calling. When I’m on stage singing sometimes I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
Have you been to Graceland?
No, I haven’t yet. It’s on the to-do list. My goal is to win Australia this year and get over there for Elvis’ big 77th birthday party.