Elvis impersonators compete in Augusta contest

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When Alex Swindle was 10, he competed in an Elvis impersonator contest in Birmingham, Ala., as a spoof. He had never heard of Elvis Presley, but he was a natural performer and won the event.

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David Lee performs as a 1970s Elvis Presley.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
David Lee performs as a 1970s Elvis Presley.

While there, he caught a performance by David Lee, who had been competing professionally as an Elvis impersonator for a few years, and it changed Swindle’s life.

“I got inspired,” he said. “So I went out and got the videos and music I needed to learn.”

At 17, Swindle now competes against Lee professionally, as happened Friday and Saturday in the CSRA King of the World competition in Augusta. Held at VFW Post 3200 off River Watch Parkway, the competition is in its 13th year. Elvis impersonators from all over the South come to Augusta for the regional contest. The winner is automatically entered into the King of the World national contest, held in Memphis in August during Elvis Week.

The 10 competitors were judged in three categories: appearance, performance and vocals. The winner received $1,200 in cash and $1,300 in prizes.

Chris Staros, one of the sponsors out of Atlanta, has been an Elvis fan since he was 4.

“Keeping the memory of Elvis alive is very important for American culture,” he said.

Staros has been a sponsor of the Augus­ta competition for five years. He said Augusta always provides an enthusiastic crowd and a family-driven, community-oriented event. Plus, he said the impersonators are always some of the most talented.

“It’s always special to see a great performer,” he said. “For that magical moment, he’s there.”

Lee, who has been impersonating since 1995 and competing professionally since 2001, said all of the impersonators are friends because they have the same purpose.

“We are all out here chasing that Elvis dragon,” he said.

The game has changed since he started, he said. It used to be that finding white boots or a suit would be nearly impossible, now you can pick them up almost anywhere.

At most places he performs, he says he has to stick to Elvis’ most famous songs such as Hound Dog or Don’t be Cruel. Not in Augusta.

“Augusta has the best fans,” Lee said. “These people allow us to break out any Elvis. They are true fans here.”

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seenitB4 02/05/12 - 08:09 am
What no comments on

What no comments on this.....Elvis was one of the great entertainers of all time......not only could he sing but he also had a genius as a promoter in the Colonel Parker.....Parker had worked at fair grounds & he knew how to draw a crowd.....how to tease them enough to pay to see the full show.....how to get them excited......few give credit to the man behind the King.

seenitB4 02/05/12 - 08:14 am
Georgialina 02/05/12 - 09:49 am
This would have been nice to

This would have been nice to know BEFORE it happened not after!!

csraattitude 02/05/12 - 10:09 am
Who won? Another example of

Who won? Another example of the Chronicle's attention to detail.

allhans 02/05/12 - 12:30 pm
I liked Elvis. I still like

I liked Elvis. I still like to hear him. I do NOT like impersonators. I find it as demeaning the original and I have no interest in seeing these over the hill wannabes do an imitation of someone I admired.

Obama did an imitation of Al Green, about 5 words only, but would you appreciate him doing an entire show imitating someone else. Nuh

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