FOR THE LAST TIME: Elvis impersonator, Craig Teys, will perform for the last time at the Slipway Hotel on December 3.
FOR THE LAST TIME: Elvis impersonator, Craig Teys, will perform for the last time at the Slipway Hotel on December 3. Graham Broadhead

Elvis is about to leave the building for good

IT'S now or never for Elvis to kick off his blue suede shoes.

After 30 years performing as an Elvis impersonator, Ballina's Craig Teys will be hanging up the jumpsuit following a gig at the Slipway Hotel on December 3.

The 57-year-old, who has been a fan of the King since he was a young boy, said it was "the right time".

"I've loved it," he said of his performances which have taken him around Australia and overseas, too.

"I wouldn't change it for anything.

"But it is time to finish."

Mr Teys was a reluctant performer at first.

He has been singing Elvis songs since he was young.

Besides the charisma of the King, Mr Teys said he just enjoyed the music and could relate to the lyrics.

It was his sister, Susie, who first noticed Mr Teys' voice had an uncanny similarity to that of Elvis.

Mr Teys said he would practise the songs over and over to copy Elvis's unmistakeable tones.

But when he was asked by Kenny McRae to sing a song at the then Metropolitan Hotel in Lismore not long after moving to the North Coast, he only knew one song by heart.

So he belted out There Goes My Everything, which is ironically a song he didn't include in his later shows.

The pub patrons loved it, and Mr Teys was asked to come back.

But he said he was so nervous, he didn't turn up.

McCrae then offered him a deal: learn four songs to perform and he would get paid $40 plus get free drinks.

That was enough to get Mr Teys started.

He played regularly at the pub for about seven months before he thought he would take his Elvis show to the region, and beyond.

He started out with the Bates brothers, Garry and Irwin, and was also involved in bands like Still Cruisin, Let's Cruise Again, The King and Us and, most recently, The Reflections.

He said his favourite Elvis era was the early Vegas years, when the King was belting out big ballads.

Mr Teys' favourite Elvis song is In the Ghetto.

He agreed there was some pressure on Elvis impersonators because the punters come to hear the songs exactly as Elvis sang them, without the kinds of interpretations covers of other performers receive.

"But that's just the way I like to sing them, just as Elvis did."

He remembers as a 19-year-old in Canberra being "devastated" by the news of Elvis' death - so much so that he took the day off from his job in a menswear store.

While his show has brought back memories of the King to many people, it's time for it to finish.

Mr Teys said he has owned four jumpsuits - two were made and he bought two online.

He will be selling off his last jumpsuits after his last performance - except for his favourite black suit.

Mr Teys said he will always enjoy Elvis' music, and will still perform privately for family, friends and the occasional private function.

Catch his last show, with The Reflections, at the Slipway Hotel, River St, Ballina, on Saturday, December 3, from 7pm.

Punters are encouraged to dress up as Elvis.

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