McDow­ell dwells in Elvis’ shadow

> But there’s a ca­reer be­yond an­nual trib­ute

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

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

Ron­nie McDow­ell

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