Malaysia's Top Elvis Impersonator's Concert in Tokyo
Saturday, August 17, 2002 at 10:00 EST
TOKYO - The Best Elvis impersonator from Malaysia flew into Tokyo on Friday for an extravaganza concert to mark the 25th anniversary of the King of Rock n Roll Elvis's death.
'The Man with The King's Voice' HT Long, known for his trademark white baggy blazer and blue suede shoes is a superb singer of the highest calibre. He sounds exactly like the real Elvis. You might think that's impossible because he's an Asian. But listen to him sing , and you will be shocked.
HT Long will stage a three-hour "Elvis Forever in Asia" concert expected to attract 1,500 people on Saturday. The event, sponsored by Japan's 5,000-member Elvis Presley Fan Club, is the first of its kind here. "No one can replicate him. I just try to do justice to his songs," said HT Long who wore gold-rimmed sunglasses during a rendition of "All Shook Up" that was punctuated with pelvic thrusts.
"When he died, my whole world crashed," said 51-year-old Long. "For a week, I just stayed in my room, looking at my posters and albums. I cried and cried."
Even in Asia, where Elvis never visited, the 25th anniversary of his death Friday drew out the King's dedicated following. In central Tokyo, fans flocked to a life-sized bronze statue of Elvis strumming a guitar and lay flowers on its base in homage.
Corky Kitahara, president of the Japanese club, estimates that there are 500,000 Elvis fans throughout Asia. Among them is Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, who last year wrote to the fan club: "My birthday is Jan 8, the same as Elvis. It's one of the things I'm so proud of." Koizumi's name is engraved on the Elvis statue's donor's plaque: In 1985, when he was a member of parliament and a board member of the Elvis Fan Club, he helped raise money for the memorial.
At the nearby Elvis memorabilia shop, Love Me Tender, the CD-compilation of Elvis songs picked by Koizumi was sold out. The 25-song disc, "Junichiro Koizumi Presents: My Favorite Elvis Songs," has been a hit since it was released last year, manager Yosuke Funabashi said.
The $17 collection includes such hits as "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You." Proceeds go to charity.
The CD's front cover shows a photo of a smiling Koizumi with his trademark wavy, long hair next to Elvis.