The Seattle Times. Winner of Eight Pulitzer Prizes.

Wed, Jan 28, 2015




Updated Monday, January 7, 2013 at 04:56 PM

Is Elvis impersonator's act fit to be King?

By Alan Berner
Seattle Times staff photographer

Part of an occasional series

Ballard condo manager Clay Volz will never be mistaken for the real Elvis, "but what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm."

"When you have that costume on, you start shaking the hips — Oh! Yeah!"

He'd done some karaoke, singing in choirs — all in groups. But a half-dozen years ago a friend gave him a bluesy album by Elvis Presley.

"I wasn't that big an Elvis fan. I liked The (Grateful) Dead, Jethro Tull, Tom Jones and the (Rolling) Stones."

That album changed his view.

"Nobody sang the variety he did — country, blues, rock, pop, gospel."

Volz thought, "I can sing that." An amateur invitational at Experience Music Project gave him an opportunity to try his impersonation skills on the Sky Church stage.

Volz bought glasses at Archie McPhee for $5. He bought a $2 costume at Target, on sale, and a wig with sideburns.

He plans on ditching the wig, using his own hair. He listens to the Elvis channel on Sirius radio while singing along in his car.

All in preparation for the next Seattle Invitationals, on Saturday at EMP, where more than 20 Elvi will compete. He'll sing "Mystery Train/Tiger Man" in his red suit.

Volz says, "I've actually finished last a couple of times. I lost to a guy who looked like Curly from the Three Stooges wearing a bad toupee.

"I was better than him."

Elvis' birthday is Tuesday. If he were alive he'd turn 78.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or

Clay Volz will impersonate Elvis Presley at the Seattle Invitationals — along with 20-plus other amateurs — on Saturday at EMP Museum, four days after the King of Rock 'n' Roll's birthday. Presley was born Jan. 8, 1935. Volz plans to perform "Mystery Train/Tiger Man."

Marilyn Monroe, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Spock and Harry Potter.


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