Elvis in Asia


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  • Dangdut' king A. Rafiq still in tune
    By Narada Krisnaputra
    (Jakarta Post, August 29, 2004)
    ... Ahmad Rafiq, better known as A. Rafiq. One of the few remaining members of the very first batch of singers of dangdut, the popular musical form combining Indian and Arab influences. He is the one who still has the voice and stage act that can whip concert-goers into a frenzy and keep them that way all night long. ... Still, a reminder of his past before dangdut might leave a furrowed brow. "Oh, yeah, in the 1960s, I was known as the Indonesian Elvis Presley, singing The King's songs in musical concerts in Surabaya. ...

  • Waheed Murad film festival in city from September 3
    By Shoaib Ahmed
    (Daily Times, August 29, 2004)
    [Lahore] - A seven-day festival of films starring the legendary Waheed Murad [1938-1983], popularly known as Chocolate Hero, will open at a local cinema in the city on September 3. The festival is being organised by the All Waheedi Club, a community of Waheed Murad fans from all over Pakistan. ... His death created such a vacuum in the Pakistan's film industry that could not be filled. His career and life has striking similarity to American star Elvis Presley. Both Murad and Presley enjoyed early success, the status of being the most mesmerising personalities, great fame and then a sudden fall and tragic death.

  • Diehard Elvis fans keep the legend alive
    By Chat Alejandro
    (Manila Times, August 26, 2004)
    [Philippines] - ELVIS Presley is the world's greatest rock singer. His greatness could have changed the course of history. Many generations from his time to the present idolized this tall, good-looking, gorgeous singing phenomenon. His singing style; his cool velvety voice, his gyrating body and his fashion statement are just a few of the reasons why even after more than two decades from his death, Elvis is still alive to his millions of fans all over the world. Elvis's songs still make it to the top of the chart and the new generation plays if not sings these hits.

    Chito Bertol, president of the Manila Seedling Bank Environmental Center is just one of those millions who refuse to let Elvis "the Legend" die. Chito's admiration and passion for the king of rock and roll started in the 1950s. As a young boy looking for an idol, Chito imitated Elvis's singing style and joined an amateur singing contest and won. Later, he tried bigger competitions and came out triumphant, beating 80 other contestants in a national championship; Chito was thereafter considered the Elvis Presley of the Philippines. ... In the year 2000, Bertol put up an Elvis Presley Friendship Club, which grew so fast that it now boasts of 300 members who are professionals in various fields, ranging from ages 20 to 40. This organization is the only legitimate Elvis Presley fans club in the country recognized and accredited by the Elvis Presley Enterprise in Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee. ... Here in the Philippines, there are quite a big number of Elvis tribute artists. In the club alone, 20 percent of its members are aspiring to become an "Elvis look and sing alike." To these young aspirants, Chito serves as the "guru." Some of these artists have won in local contests. ...

  • Experiencing Elvis once more
    (Business Times, August 20, 2004)
    [Singapore] THESE four veteran musicians - Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, Joe Guercio, Glen Hardin - aren't exactly well-known names unless you're an avid music fan. Here's a clue: think Elvis Presley. These four who played for him in the 70s can tell you all about the King of Rock's inimitable talent and style, or better still, show you what a concert with the King was like. Which is exactly what they're in town to do - they're performing "Elvis - The Concert" tomorrow. And no, it's not an impersonation-type concert, thanks to technology. Says Stig Edgren, the producer of the concert: 'The most important thing which is also difficult to convey to people is that there won't be an impersonator. It's really Elvis.'

    Elvis in a video projection, that is. The 'real' human beings on stage will be his original band members and backup singers - The Sweet Inspirations and The Stamps Quartet. 'What we've done is to compile Elvis' isolated vocal tracks so that he's really singing and talking in the concert. This will be combined with footage of his finest concert performances,' says Mr Edgren in a phone interview from Hawaii.

    This is possible because such recordings were made because of Elvis's fame. Not all of the earlier stars had isolated vocal tracks, points out Mr Edgren. 'For anyone here who's seen a live performance, this would bring back very strong memories of the original concerts. In fact, the show also looks and sounds better because of improvements in sound and lighting. We've updated it in that sense.'

    Elvis - The Concert has been performed over 100 times since 1998. The show was mooted by Graceland in 1997, and was so successful that it's toured internationally since its debut a year later. Mr Edgren, 50, was approached because of his experience in putting up world-class events - developing a new concert format by using state-of-the-art video projection techniques to create interactive shows. His first live 'video duet' concert was pairing Natalie Cole and a video projection of her famous father, Nat King Cole, singing Unforgettable. ...

  • Elvis lives
    (asia1.com, August 16, 2004)
    Today may be the anniversary of the King's death 27 years ago, but a high-tech concert this Saturday reunites him with his bandmates

    ASK musician Ronnie Tutt what he thinks of the Elvis Presley remixes that have been making waves over the last two years, such as A Little Less Conversation and Rubberneckin', and you can almost hear the 66-year-old purse his lips in mild disapproval over the phone from his residence in Tennessee. Said Tutt, who has the distinction of being the American icon's regular drummer at his "live" shows from1969 to 1977: "They are all very techno-oriented, and the people re-mixing them did a good job in making them so. But if Elvis was alive, he may not have liked that kind of sound - it's too busy."

    Playing it as Presley would have played it will be Tutt's job when Elvis - The Concert hits the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Saturday at 8pm. Lest you think this is a cheesy production featuring some goofy impersonators, this concert features the King of Rock and Roll himself, thanks to technology that will project video footage of his concerts from 1968 to 1973 onto a giant screen onstage. Only Presley's vocals are from yesteryear, because a 16-piece band on stage, featuring many who have worked with the superstar such as Tutt, will provide everything else from instrumentation to back-up vocals.

    The two-hour show was first presented in 1997 in the singer's hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, on the 20th anniversary of his death. It proved so successful that it has toured all over Europe, the United States, Australia and Japan, and is coming to South-east Asia for the first time.

    For music director Joe Guercio, who worked on all of Presley's concerts at Las Vegas' International Hotel from 1970 to 1977, helping to create the show was the best way to pay tribute to the performer who always treated his bandmates and colleagues with affection and respect. Said the 65-year-old over the phone from Tennessee: "(Elvis) was a prankster. I once said that conducting for him was like following a marble down concrete steps, because we never knew what song he would want to sing next on stage. Later on, I went to my dressing room and found my stage tux stuffed with marbles and a few hundred more rolling around. There were even marbles in my shoes and the sink! And there was a note stuck to the mirror - 'Follow the marble' - signed E.P."

    Tutt described Presley as "child-like". Said the drummer: "There was certainly an immature side to him that never really wanted to grow up. He would collect police badges, guns, horses ­ he was sometimes like a child pretending to be something different. (When he had a hobby), he would get involved 100 per cent."

    Like the time Tutt was invited to play "cowboy" at Presley's famed mansion, Graceland. He said: "He had done several cowboy movies and he was very taken by the roles he played. So he would invite people to Graceland, dress them up in cowboy costumes and saddle up some horses. He even had Texas dirt brought in and scattered on the ground!"

    Both men were also there towards the end, when the King died at age 42 on this very day in 1977 from a prescription drug which induced heart failure. Said Tutt in a reflective tone: "He would have a lot of mood swings because of the medication he was taking, but he never complained and never lost his temper with the band. Sometimes when he came onstage, he won't be quite awake. He would be a little groggy and I would kick the drums extra hard to get him to wake up. Things were more difficult then, but I always thought he would get better."

    Presley's music is still well and alive. And some people believe that the man himself escaped death somehow ­ if infamous supermarket tabloids are to be believed. Said Guercio: "If he was alive, he wouldn't be living in a snowy place like Minnesota like some of those papers claimed. He would be living in a place like Hawaii where the sun always shines."

    Elvis - The Concert is on at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Saturday at 8pm. Tickets from $100 to $300 are available from Sistic.

  • There's good rockin' at Holy Land truck stop: Jews, Arabs stop by Elvis Inn to pay homage to king of rock 'n' roll
    (Houston Chronicle, August 13, 2004)
    ABU GHOSH, ISRAEL - In the Holy Land, just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, the songs of the king of rock 'n' roll spill from a truck stop diner as a love of Elvis Presley brings together Arab and Jew. Many come to the Elvis Inn for the food, but there are those who come to photograph themselves next to a 13-foot statue of Elvis that rises out of the parking lot. This week, Elvis impersonators and aficionados from across the country converged on this Arab village gas station, an unlikely site for a tribute to the singer who died 27 years ago this Monday. ... "Elvis is something that can unite not only the Arabs and the Jews but all the people of the world," said diner owner Uri Yoeli. "A lot of people from all over the world like this music. He is the man."

  • Bad guys, stuntmen and showbiz on the Philippine campaign trail
    (Yahoo! News / AFP, May 5, 2004)
    MANILA (AFP) - If Elvis Presley rose again and drove through Memphis in an open-topped Cadillac, he would know how Fernando Poe Junior feels in the slums of Manila. The Philippines' most famous film star and opposition candidate for president did not speak and rarely smiled. But his mere presence triggered scenes that began as euphoria and veered close to hysteria. Tens of thousands of people spilled onto the roadsides or climbed onto rooftops in the Mandaluyong district on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the stocky idol they know and love simply as "Da King". ...

  • Swinging with a pop-infused take on old Arabic structures: Chased from Iraq, the 'Beatle of Baghdad' evokes his native culture for a world audience
    By Massoud A. Derhally
    (Daily Star,May 3, 2004)
    There is not a man like him in Arab world. Ilham al-Madfai, the "Beatle of Baghdad," really is unique. From his penthouse home in Amman, the Iraqi musician known for his blending of traditional folkloric music with Latin and Spanish beats and rhythms, radiates a profound sense of wisdom coupled with a gentle humility. It is not surprising for a man who has pioneered the crossover between Arabic and World music, and has sold out venues regionally and internationally - from London's famous Ronnie Scott's jazz club (where he was the first Arabic musician to perform) to this month's gig in Qatar where he will play with the Gipsy Kings.

    Madfai speaks in a soft voice, tracing his early days growing up in a Baghdad home, which somehow destined him to become a musician. The piano and the oud both played an important role in sparking Madfai's interest in music. However, he explains, it was at the age of 12 that he, along with some friends, began to visit a local institute to learn more about music. This continued until 1959, when, at the Mashreq Club in Baghdad, Madfai had his first performance with the Bingo Band. By the age of 20, Madfai, a guitarist at heart, had formed the Twisters, the first Iraqi band to use electric guitar, bass and drums - "modern" instruments - to play Arabic music, bringing a breath of fresh air into the Iraqi scene. He rejuvenated traditional and folkloric songs of artists, like Nazem al-Ghazali, by adapting various styles from the West. His approach was controversial at the time, but nevertheless was a unique and farsighted approach to the fusion of music in the Arab world. "The Beatles had a great influence on my music," Madfai says. "(My) initial influence(s) came from the US but the new waves from England started to influence me - the Shadows, Cliff Richards, Elvis Presley, and Frank Lane ... and then The Beatles came along."

  • AD NAUSEAM: How great is Punjab's Elvis following?
    (The Statesman, April 26, 2004)
    ELVIS impersonation is a profession for dozens, if not hundreds or more, Americans. This is the slightly less lunatic cottage industry spawned by the legend of Graceland; the other one is, of course, the Elvis-is-not-dead business. On seeing Vivek Oberoi doing an Elvis for a Coca-Cola commercial, the right question is not why this obsessive element of American popular culture has made it to India but why it took so long.

    It's a good beginning, though. Whoever dressed Oberoi had a good idea of Elvis kitsch. The actor himself, who has been giving the impression that even when he cozies up with Aishwariya Rai and a bottle of Coca-Cola he will look like a mafia don - his breakthrough role in cinema - does a good job. We loved the sideburns and the red bell-bottoms, especially. And the shoes, which were exactly as godawfully gaudy as they are supposed to be when mortals impersonate the god of rock 'n' roll.

    Only, the ad could have been faithful to the King and parodied his songs and not Hindi film hits. That's consumerism, one would imagine. The young, presumably the target audience for Vanilla Coke, remember Elvis but not Blue Suede Shoes or Jailhouse Rock. Interestingly, Vanilla Coke was launched in Punjab first. Is there a great following for Elvis in Punjab? Herešs an opportunity for intrepid cultural critics to break new ground. ...

  • Cradling a guitar and a silken voice, a new chanteuse enchants Beirut: But she aspires to more than simple balladry
    By Ramsay Short
    (Daily Star, April 26, 2004)
    Lebanon -- Nadine Khouri used to carry a photograph of Elvis Presley in her wallet like an obsessed fan. As a 10-year-old girl, she heard The King in her dad's record collection and like many before her and many after, became enraptured - a child's love affair. "Don't say that in the interview, it's really embarrassing," says the young, dark-haired siren of a woman sitting across from me in a Beirut cafe. She laughs nervously but never drops her gaze. Yet if it weren't for Elvis, Khouri would never have started singing or playing guitar. This 24-year-old Lebanese singer-songwriter - born and raised in Beirut until the age of eight, when she moved to the United Kingdom and consequently the United States - has been striking a chord on the amateur circuit both in Beirut and London, the two cities between which she currently divides her time. ...

  • Fundoo is in, faltoo is out
    (Times of India, April 22, 2004)
    The King is dead. The Shahenshah is passe. The Rani is hot. This summer, campus fashions are as fundoo as you can get. Fashion checks around campuses reveal that imitating filmi gods is no longer the style code, though, adapting their style to create your own is still cool. Gone are the days of Elvis Presley impersonators and Amitabh look-alikes. Comfort is in and make-up is out. Subtle is stylish, flashy is faltoo. And retro is just right. Like the Shantiniketan jhola which has made a great comeback this year. In earthy hues,made of handspun cotton, the jhola is jostling for eyeballs amongst the more trendy sporty bags and the short stiff one slung carelessly over the shoulder. ... All said and done, today's teens are their own style gurus and make a style statement without trying too hard.

  • Vivek Oberoi dons Elvis Presley look
    (IndiaFM News Bureau, April 13, 2004)
    Coca-Cola India announced the launch of Vanilla Coke last week, which is Coca-Cola spiked with vanilla flavour. The company has signed up Vivek Oberoi as a brand ambassador for Vanilla Coke and would be rolling out a new campaign soon. The product will in the first phase be launched in 500 ml PET bottles priced at Rs 15, followed by 200 ml/300 ml glass bottles and cans. Vivek Oberoi will don the Elvis Presley look to promote Coke Vanilla.

  • Chinese Superstar Cui Jian Postpones Start of USA Tour
    (Undercover Media, April 10, 2004)
    Cui Jian, the man they call China's answer to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley, has been forced to postpone the first six shows of his US tour because of Visa problems. ...

  • Singapore MPs rock with a William Hung
    By Sue-Ann Chia
    (The Straits Times, March 24, 2004)
    THERE are hung Parliaments and then there is William Hung of Parliament. Yes, in Singapore. At an annual post-Budget dinner at Parliament House recently, MPs lined up for an American Idol-like contest with three of them even playing the roles of judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell. Their unanimous vote was for MP Chan Soo Sen as overall individual winner; he bagged what the judges called the 'William Hung Award'. ... It has been reported that former speaker Tan Soo Khoon often becomes the singer of the House, with his guitar and Elvis Presley songs. ...

  • Costanilla: 'A Tribute to Elvis Presley Part II,' April 24 (3rd item)
    By Sam Costanilla
    (Sun Star Cebu, March 24, 2004)
    [Philippines] - CONCERT. A retired doctor from Cebu is staging A Tribute to Elvis Presley Part II on April 24 at the Lapu-Lapu city stage near the Mactan shrine. Bernard Pino, the Elvis Presley of Michigan, will be singing purely Presley hits with live musical accompaniment by the Doy Montana Band. Yes, he will be in an authentic Presley getup plus the trademark sideburns, not to mention the famous gestures and mannerisms onstage. The upcoming show is one of the activities lined up to mark Kadaugan sa Maktan as a week-long observance in Lapu-Lapu city. Pino is in town for his annual vacation as well as look into the possibility of establishing a business entity in one of the malls in Cebu city.

  • Entertainment: Japan on indie rocker's mind
    (New Straits Times, January 28 2004)
    HE is singleminded about music, that's one thing for sure. Indie rocker Singletrackmind, a.k.a Alexander Wong, believes in pursuing his passion to the fullest, which accounts for marking his mature but and heady success in music. He recently, having completed a his tour of the Hard Rock Cafes franchise in Asia, where he performed to for an audience of total of more than 100,000 in all. The The tour started in Beijing, China on Nov 14 last year and ended in Bali on Jan 15. His flexibility as a performer means that he is equally at ease in front of a small and intimate crowd as he is in performing for large audiences. At his recent performance at No Black Tie recently (Jan 10) in Kuala Lumpur, he shared anecdotes with the audience, joked, cracked jokes, and sang with the ease full fervour of a seasoned musician. His music, comprising of evocative lyrics coupled with musical influences from matchbox twenty Matchbox 20 to Prince, went down well. Sharing his experiences in an interview, he describes the crowds in the Philippines as "most supportive", whereas the ones in China were a bit subdued - "They are only familiar with English songs sung by Elvis Presley and the Beatles." "The tour was a great experience for me. When performing, I believe in having fun. I enjoyed every of it," all," them immensely,"he said. ...

  • Elvis, Castro Visit Last Saddam Hideout
    (Yahoo! News / Associated Press, January 26 2004)
    ADWAR, Iraq - Castro came with Elvis on Monday to visit Saddam's last hiding place. U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Cesar Castro, carrying a life-size cardboard cutout of Elvis Presley, was the latest visitor to this muddy farming area that has become a tourist site of sorts since Saddam Hussein was pulled out of an underground bunker on Dec. 13 after nearly eight months on the run. Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division, chiefly responsible for finding Saddam, had taken to calling him Elvis. Their missions - chasing tips, vague intelligence and sightings of the ousted dictator - came to be known as "Elvis hunts." Castro, with the Tikrit-based 4th Infantry, put his arm around the shoulders of the glittering, gold suited Elvis and got his comrades to take his pictures in front of the former dictator's last hiding hole.

    "It seemed like a good idea to bring (a cutout) of Elvis to Saddam's hole to show that Elvis was even here," Castro, a 42-year-old Dallas native, said with a grin. "I was surprised though. I thought the hole was going to be bigger." ...

  • Elections to be make-or-break for PAN and chairman Amien Rais
    By Frans Surdiasis
    (Jarkata Post, January 19, 2004)
    Jakarta --- The late Elvis Presley's song "It's now or never", perfectly depicts the situation faced by Amien Rais and his National Mandate Party (PAN) in confronting this year's general election. Many people say that this year is plausibly the last chance for Amien Rais to achieve his ambition of becoming the country's president. ...

  • Museum issues warnings in heart of heroin country
    (Houston Chronicle / Associated Press, January 16 2004)
    SOP RUAK, Thailand -- A British clipper ship hauls bales of opium to emaciated Chinese addicts as sailors belt out rollicking sea chanties. "What a Wonderful World," croons Louis Armstrong among stark images of movie stars, musicians and other celebrities cut down by drugs in the prime of life. These multimedia tableaux form part of a harrowing and ultimately moving museum set in the very heart of the Golden Triangle, origin of more than half the world's heroin and a haven for traffickers. ... Visitors enter through a 150-yard tunnel, its dim lighting, eerie music and bas-reliefs of wraithlike figures evoking both suffering and easing of pain, as well as the Triangle's danger and mystery. The exhibits end with a Hall of Reflection, a sunlit room of Zen-like simplicity inscribed with sayings in praise of moderation and humanity's striving for good. "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall," reads one from Confucius.

    In between, the story of opium and its derivatives, morphine and heroin, is told in vivid set pieces, video films, photographs and written commentary.

    The cargo hold of an 18th century British ship carrying opium, an early 20th century opium den in Thailand and scenes from the Opium Wars of the 1840s in China are carefully reconstructed. More recent times furnish exhibits of how smugglers stuff drugs into teddy bears, soak shirts in heroin or swallow condoms packed with narcotics.

    Perhaps most searing is a long, narrowing passage representing the descent from initial euphoria of drug users to great suffering and blasted talent. Rock king Elvis Presley, comedian Lenny Bruce and soccer star Diego Maradona are among those whose photos hang in a Gallery of Victims. ...

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