Darren Lee is the best Elvis impersonator there is, a lot of people have told him.
“Better they say it than I do,” he admits.
Lee will be taking an audience through the Ages of Elvis this Saturday at the Frank Venables Theatre. The tribute begins by celebrating the King’s hits from the 1950s 1960s, and finishing in the final years of the 1970s, the days of Aloha Jumpsuits and gold jackets.
Lee’s love for the King was passed down hereditarily through his mother, who was among the first generation of swooning rock ‘n’ roll fangirls. Elvis Presley was the foundation for his taste in music. When Lee was a child, his mother listened to Elvis religiously at home and in the car.
His career as an Elvis impersonator started early. By the age of 10, Lee began singing Elvis songs and playing them on guitar. In the beginning, he was “the most uncoordinated person in the world.”
But you either get better or stop trying, he says.
“I perfected the moves and then made sure my voice got better. You can still do the moves, but it’s the voice that carries you.”
By the time he was 14, he finished second in a competition at an Elvis festival in Edmonton. He didn’t even need to win to succeed, as the contestant who finished third – who was quite a few years older – would recommend Lee to a promoter as a good young Elvis. And that was how he landed his first gig more than 30 years ago.
Lee would later go on to win an Elvis contest in Memphis, which landed him a permanent show in Las Vegas for 11 years. And he also spent four years performing in Maui, Hawaii before returning home to Western Canada.
A Night With the King happens at the Venables on Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased through the theatre website or box office.