- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Fred DuBay couldn’t help falling in love with the music of Elvis Aaron Presley after it first grabbed him by the ears when he was a kid of 9 listening to the radio.

All shook up, he grew to adulthood with his burning love for the songs still aflame and then he went one better than most Elvis fans: Strapping on his blue, blue, blue suede shoes, baby, DuBay hit the road for years with a band doing his version of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s repertoire and making a good living at it.

DuBay was born with the pipes to do justice to the music and said he got started performing back in the 1970s when the King was still around. A house builder by trade with Presley’s music always on his mind, he sang out on job sites and got heard by someone who offered him a gig at a restaurant.

“And it just went from there,” recalls DuBay, who lives in Taylorville but has performed all over the country. Presley’s father, Vernon, heard him once and complimented him on his act. DuBay wore jumpsuits a la Elvis’ later years and can do a remarkable impression of his speaking style, but stresses he was not a Presley impersonator but rather an interpreter.

What’s the difference? “Impersonators try to make you think they are Elvis,” he says. “They’ll act like that at the grocery store. But with me, I am me on and off the stage. I respect Elvis for his music, and that’s what I pay tribute to. His music changed the world.”

It doesn’t hurt to look as well as sound the part, though, and DuBay obliges, even dyeing his naturally dirty blond hair black just like Elvis did. “He’s great, he’s really good,” says DuBay’s daughter Hailee, 19. “He is such a good singer, and he’s so good with the way he moves on stage when he gets into the songs … he has a lot of fans.”

But it began to look as if the music her dad did so well was in danger of delivering him to the doors of Heartbreak Hotel. He came back so exhausted from one tour that he slumped down in a chair and had a heart attack, a worrying omen for the head of the family who, along with his wife and booking agent, Diane, was raising three biological children and five they had adopted.

The nature of the gigs had began to change, too, and with success came restriction: Promoters dictated what songs he must perform, where he had to stand on stage, what he must wear. DuBay said he never touched booze or drugs, but he got a glimpse of the pressured showbiz life that ate the original Presley alive and had consumed him dead by the age of 42.

“Elvis’ life ended up in turmoil,” he recalls. “I’ve always felt sorry for the man.”

Feeling overwhelmed, DuBay eased back from performing and then the music stopped when Diane, who had been suffering headaches, was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. She had surgery, and he nursed her at home for six months before she died in May 2013. “We were married for more than 40 years, and she was always there for me,” he says. “My family is my life.”

Diane had always said he should do one farewell concert to mark his retirement and, to honor her memory, that’s what he’ll do. The Fred DuBay official farewell show will interpret Elvis Presley on June 7 for a three-hour event at the Christian County Fairgrounds.

The show will coincide with the Taylorville Blackhorse Powwow, which DuBay also organizes as a celebration of American Indian culture. DuBay is of Kiowa-Apache lineage and says that is another link with Presley: “His mother was more than half Cherokee,” he explains with pride.

The interpreter has some suspicion about whether he can still pull the show off at age 62, but he says it’s now or never. And however it goes, he just can’t help believin’ the music he loves so much will sing on forever in the hearts of men.

“I can tell you right now, a thousand years from today, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and his music will be remembered,” he says. “The legend will continue; the King will never die.”


Source: (Decatur) Herald and Review, https://bit.ly/1iVnEtC


Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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