Suburban 'Elvises' plan 76th birthday bash
Even if it's a cold and gray Chicago mornin', suburban Elvis Presley fans plan to celebrate what would have been his 76th birthday on Saturday.
Parties, tributes and even a soccer game are being held this weekend in memory of "The King."
Elvis would have getting up there in years -- and he died more than 33 years ago -- but fans still want to celebrate the day.
"He's a legend ... and I'm a baby boomer. So he was probably my first love," said Sharon Reisler, owner of The Chicago Loop in Streamwood, which is holding a big Elvis birthday party Saturday night. Elvis' birthday has been cause for celebration at the Streamwood bar for the past 10 years. The party includes a raffle of Elvis themed "birthday presents," a huge cake that's rolled out as everyone sings "Happy Birthday," extensive party decorations, and a performance by Elvis impersonator Rick Saucedo.
Saucedo, a West Chicago resident, said he's doing something special at this year's birthday party: singing customized tracks of the Las Vegas Cirque de Soleil "Viva Elvis" show.
"I will be the first to do it as an impersonator. I don't think anyone's attempted this yet," he said. "The fans deserve a different kind of Elvis show that they're not going to hear anywhere else, live, except Las Vegas."
Saucedo, 55, who has impersonated The King since 1972 ("Elvis was alive... and we were waiting for his next album") said he sees a lot of young people at his shows.
"They know the songs, and they probably learned them from their parents," he said. "Elvis fans are the best fans."
Interest also remains strong in Elvis birthday tribute shows, says Omar Farag, who has produced "The Ultimate Elvis Tribute" concerts across the suburbs and Midwest for more than a decade.
"The crowds are not shrinking. In fact, we just added another city," said Farag, whose next shows are Friday at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora and Saturday at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Ind.
"It's about the music. There is no artist anywhere... with a catalog of powerful hits like Elvis," he said.
Special guests at the tribute shows include The Sweet Inspirations, who sang backup for Elvis during his Las Vegas years, and Presley's original drummer, D.J. Fontana.
"He's well into his 70s ... but he's great. I have to pull him off the drums. I have to say, OK, D.J., that's enough," Farag said.
The new indoor soccer team, the Chicago Riot, is putting a unique twist on Elvis' birthday by honoring both rock-n-roll Elvis's -- Elvis Presley and Elvis Costello -- during their Sunday night game at the Odeum Sports and Expo Center in Villa Park.
Riot President Peter Wilt said the night will feature a halftime game where a team of Elvis Presleys battle a team of Elvis Costellos to determine the superior Elvis.
Anyone who shows up dressed as either Elvis will get free admission and can enter a costume contest to win tickets to see an Elvis impersonator perform.
Since an Elvis Costello costume is a little harder to pull together (black-rimmed glasses, jacket and fedoras), Wilt said they purchased a few extra tweed sports coats. He acknowledges that neither Elvis has any connection to soccer, but thought it'd be a fun way to bring in fans of all ages.
"The more Elvi, the better," Wilt said.
There won't be any hoopla around the life-size Elvis statue Sugar Grove resident Keith Rich bought last summer for $20,000 during a charity auction of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's unpaid storage unit.
The statue has been moved from the Arlington Heights storage space to the museum at Rich's golf club, Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, where it's become a big attraction.
"Everyone wants to see it. They don't even care that it was the ex-governor's, it was a famous piece. It was at Graceland. It's a piece that has some value to it because of where it's been," Rich said. "It's a conversational piece. It will be here forever."
A place pulling out all the stops for Elvis' birthday is The Old Mother's bar in Chicago. Its 11th annual Elvis Fest Saturday will feature a peanut butter and banana buffet, Elvis karaoke, many Elvis tribute artist performances, and a live broadcast from 5 to 8 p.m. by True Oldies 94.7-FM disc jockey Dick Biondi.
Back in the 1960s, Biondi influenced Elvis' career by playing his records on the radio superstation WLS-AM, which could be heard across the Midwest. Biondi will light the candles on the birthday cake and lead everyone in singing "Happy Birthday." Afterward, a trip for two to Las Vegas will be raffled off.
No one predicts that these Elvis birthday celebrations will taper off anytime soon.
"There's no end to it," Saucedo said. "He's one of the rarest icons in the music field. It's like the Beatles. It's timeless."