Today marks the 40th anniversary of the passing of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.
Born in Tupelo, Miss. on January 8, 1935, Presley would go on to become one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century, selling more than one billion records worldwide, according to figures from the official Graceland website. He was also the star of 31 feature films, and two theatrically released concert documentary films.
Although Moncton resident and full-time Elvis tribute artist Thane Dunn doesn’t recall too much in the way specifics around Presley’s passing.
Speaking in advance of a performance at the Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre on Saturday Aug. 26, Dunn acknowledges that his fascination with the King was in full bloom at the time he died.
“My fascination with Elvis started just a few years prior to his passing. I remember being around six years old, dancing to ‘Return To Sender’ on top of a friend’s bed while the song played on her record player,” Dunn says with a laugh, recalling the memory.
Asked why he feels Presley’s career has stood the test of time over the course of the last four decades, Dunn says he feels it has everything to do with the quality of the material that bears the King’s name.
“So much has changed over the last 40 years, especially in music, but I feel a big reason why Elvis remains popular today has to do with the fact that quality never goes out of style. Elvis was a lot of things to a lot of people, but at the end of the day, the music he made truly is timeless.”
For well over a decade now, Dunn has parlayed his long-standing love of Elvis into a live show that has been seen by more than 100,000 spectators throughout the country.
By his own account, Dunn’s show in Moncton next weekend is a break from the norm, however. While he typically plays his hometown in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays, or in early to mid January, coinciding with Elvis’ birthday, he felt commemorating the 40th anniversary of the King’s passing was too important of a milestone to pass up.
“Many of my previous shows and concert tours have tended to be centred on a theme or on a specific show of Elvis’ like Aloha From Hawaii. With those shows, I’ve tended to be a stickler in terms of the material we perform, to ensure we stay faithful to the spirit of the original show. With this upcoming show, however, we are throwing the rulebook out the window, and will be performing material from all eras of Elvis’ career. It’s something we have been looking forward to for quite some time,” Dunn says.
While Dunn is no stranger to Metro Moncton audiences, his upcoming show will boast a very special guest on stage: The return of Bill Baize, who was an original member of The Stamps Quartet, which backed up Presley from early 1971 through to the singer’s untimely passing in 1977.
Although Baize was typically never one to perform with acts paying tribute to Presley, Dunn notes that Baize agreed to return to the concert stage after he saw videos of Dunn’s live show.
“Elvis loved Bill’s voice so much, he used to get him to sing solos during concerts,” Dunn explains. “When Elvis passed away, Bill was the first person to sing at his funeral. It’s such an honour for me to welcome Bill to the stage. He was there, on stage with Elvis, once upon a time. There really is no greater honour than to have someone like him endorse our show.”
What: Thane Dunn
When: Saturday Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre, 945 St. George Blvd., Moncton
Tickets start at $30 plus taxes and service charges. Advance tickets are available by phone at 1-877-700-3130 and online at www.celebrationcentre.ca