McDowell dwells in Elvis’ shadow
> But there’s a career beyond annual tribute
Special to The Commercial Appeal
It simply wouldn’t be Elvis Week without an appearance by Ronnie McDowell. The Elvis-inspired singer returns to Horseshoe Casino’s Bluesville tonight at 9 for his annual ‘Tribute to the King” concert featuring Presley’s famed backing vocal group the Jordanaires.
Originally from Portland, Tenn., McDowell began singing while in the military and was a struggling 27-year-old artist until he made his 1977 small-label single “The King Is Gone.” An impassioned requiem written in the immediate aftermath of Presley’s death, the song became a hit and has sold an astounding 5 million copies.
In the years since, McDowell has never strayed far outside of the King’s shadow, though he has managed to walk the thin line between impersonation and inspiration. He has provided the singing voice of Elvis in numerous films and television shows, including the Kurt Russell biopic “Elvis.” At the same time, he has forged a respectable career for himself, with a dozen country top 10 hits to his credit.
More than 30 years after Presley’s death, McDowell continues to honor his hero in new and surprising ways. A skilled painter, his work “Reflection of a King,” depicting a young Elvis strumming his guitar before a mirror reflecting the superstar he was to become, is featured on the cover of “Genuine Elvis,” a new compilation of artwork, photographs and personal reminiscences of the King. McDowell will be present at