He may have left the building for the last time in 1977. Yet, he's still considered America's ultimate idol. Today crowds still cheer his image. They cheer even 35 years after his death. They cheer the legacy. They cheer The King.
For one night, last Saturday at the Seminole Casino in Immokalee, Elvis Presley came to life.
Men from as far as Fenton, Mich., came to Immokalee to compete in the Elvis Tribute Contest, which was part of a weekend all about blue suede shoes and getting all shook up.
Some came with outfits worth more than $2,000. Some came wearing more makeup than a Miss America contestant.
Young and old, they showcased their talents, mimicking the hip-thrusting rock 'n roll star's career. Many chose to honor the singer/songwriter's earlier work and appearance, costumed in a simple blazer with black dress pants. Others chose to honor his later years, wearing gaudy jumpsuits with intricate designs, with flashy jewelry around the neck or on their fingers. Some even donned silver- or gold-rimmed sunglasses to combat the spotlight.
The one common trend was the hairstyle — done up with large amounts of hair spray — except one, who could no longer manage the look and opted for a $1,500 wig.
The contest awarded $2,500 to the first prize winner. But most came primarily to pay homage to an artist who changed their lives. While the contestants busily brushed and sprayed their hair or tweaked their outfits, many shared jokes and caught up once again as long-lost friends do after months apart.
Backstage, those people all from different cities with different problems and different jobs transformed into the one man who they unanimously idolized.
And after taking the stage, they quickly forgot about their mundane lives. Exhilaration of the performance, fueled by the screams from silhouettes in the crowd, took its place.
Those silhouettes gathered closer to the stage lights. Faces became visible. For one night, they felt a little bit of what their idol felt while he performed. After the scarves and kisses were given out to die-hard fans by die-hard fans, the crowd applauded.
And the legend of one of the greatest recording artists of all time lived on.