Alan Meyer, a visionary in the world of Elvis tribute artists, left an indelible mark before his passing on April 4, 2015. Even when Elvis was still alive, Alan’s show, “Alan: A Tribute to Elvis,” drew large crowds and received rave reviews. I was fortunate enough to witness Alan’s performance in Las Vegas just a few days after Elvis’s untimely death in August 1977. Alan’s exceptional musicianship and his respectful homage to Elvis’s memory during that sensitive time left a lasting impression.
In March 2010, I dedicated an entry on the Elvis History Blog to pay tribute to Alan’s remarkable career. Little did I know that over a year later, Alan would reach out to me. He acknowledged the kind comments and informed me that he was working on his autobiography, aptly titled The Illusionary Elvis. “It starts when I was, as you say, ‘At the top of my game,’ but still six months before Elvis died,” he explained. Interestingly, the first professionally booked performance of his Elvis tribute show took place at the Spokane House hotel in my hometown.
From Spokane to Canada to Las Vegas
This initial booking paved the way for Alan’s first national tour. “First from Spokane to Winnipeg, where the Town and Country Cabaret made me a national celebrity in Canada,” he recounted, “and then to Calgary, where the buzz about my show had already spread from Winnipeg.” Alan went on to share how his Elvis tribute show garnered the approval of audiences and critics alike. He maintained a scrapbook filled with around 1,000 articles from newspapers and magazines that authenticated his credibility and kept his story authentic. Reviews from reputable sources like the Las Vegas Sun reinforced his success.
“My journey has had its highs, like sharing stages with Jerry Lee, and its humorous lows, such as finding myself in a dive on Bourbon Street that refused to pay me,” Alan humorously recalled. “But my manager always had tricks up his sleeve to rescue me from dire situations.”
Alan concluded his first email by briefly explaining why he decided to end his Elvis tribute show. “As you know, I was performing in the main showroom of the Tropicana when Elvis passed away, and my career had peaked while he was still alive. Being known as the ‘king of impersonators’ is why I quit and never looked back. That is, until now. So, I’m writing about it. The fact that I never once impersonated Elvis makes my story unique.”
Alan’s Mission to Restore Elvis’s Early Sound
Despite being a trailblazer in the Elvis Tribute Artist (ETA) movement, Alan was dissatisfied with many of the performers today. “To me, the true Elvis fans have unfortunately dwindled,” he expressed. “There is a new breed of Elvis fans who support impersonators. I call them ‘Elvis impersonator fans.’ To Elvis, these impersonators are like ‘bleached flour to whole grain.’ The true Elvis fans, like myself, miss the way he sang in his early years through the mid-60s, and that’s what I aimed to restore while still acknowledging the improvement in his vocal quality on songs like ‘Hurt.'”
In a subsequent email, Alan elaborated further: “Of course, who could surpass ‘Hurt’ and the other powerhouse performances Elvis delivered even on his final tour? It saddened me that his fans swiftly embraced impersonators after his passing. It was like they collectively decided it was acceptable.”
When I asked Alan if I could read a portion of his autobiography, he graciously shared the draft of the first chapter. It required some editing, but the content was fascinating. Sadly, our email correspondence came to an end soon after, leaving me uncertain if Alan ever completed his story.
Years later, in 2011, Karen from Chesapeake, Virginia, stumbled upon my blog about Alan and shared her cherished memories of seeing his show several years prior. She recounted attending one of Alan’s performances at the Lido Inn, a small venue in Norfolk, Virginia, during the mid-’70s. Despite Elvis still being alive at the time, Alan transported Karen and her husband back in time to relive the magic of the young Elvis. Karen vividly recalled receiving one of Alan’s scarves and being overwhelmed with joy. Unfortunately, she couldn’t recall what became of the scarf, but she found a tattered advertisement from the local newspaper commemorating the event while rummaging through old papers.
A Lasting Legacy
My blog about Alan has been archived on the Elvis History Blog since its publication five years ago. Recently, I received a touching message from a reader who discovered the article:
“Mr. Hanson, I am Alan Meyer’s wife. Today is the first time I’ve seen your review of his ‘Tribute to Elvis’ performances. I must say I was very pleased. It is the best and most accurate review I have seen. Alan always aimed to recreate the feeling of witnessing an Elvis performance, rather than trying to be Elvis himself. You may not know this, but Alan passed away on April 4, 2015. I cannot express enough how much reading your review has meant to me during this incredibly sad time in my life. Thank you so very much. I’m certain it was no coincidence that I found this page.” – Bren
Just a few days later, I received another message, this time from Rick Marino, a fellow pioneer in the Elvis Tribute Artist movement and a close friend of Alan’s. Rick’s words serve as a poignant conclusion to this tribute to Alan Meyer:
“I just read your piece on Alan Meyer. He was a friend of mine for many years. We began our careers around the same time, with him starting in ’71 and me in ’73. He truly was a trailblazer and the first to achieve great financial success from Elvis shows. I wrote a couple of reviews for Alan in the early 2000s, which he greatly appreciated, especially since I authored the book ‘Be Elvis!’ I was in Vegas two weeks ago talking about Alan when I received news of his passing. I couldn’t believe it. Though I was aware of his health issues, the news still unsettled me. We embarked on this journey together, and it’s remarkable to see how far it’s come. Alan’s ability to capture the essence of Elvis’s voice was incredible. I still have his LP from 1974-5. Rest in peace, Alan. You will be greatly missed.”
Alan Meyer left an enduring legacy as the first great Elvis tribute artist. His talent, dedication, and unique approach continue to inspire countless performers. Alan’s story serves as a testament to the impact and influence of Elvis Presley on popular culture.
Read Alan Hanson’s 2010 Blog about Alan Meyer.
Comment on This Article.
Reader Comment: “I first met Alan in the early ’70s in Seattle, booking gigs for him at taverns. I didn’t follow him to Vegas, but I’ve wondered about him all these years. Sad to hear of his passing in 2015. He was an exceptional entertainer!” – Ralph (June 2018)
Reader Comment: “My daughter and I saw him perform several times in Denver. He was fantastic and always showed great respect for Elvis. His show was all about paying homage and not trying to imitate Elvis. He sounded so much like him. We even got scarves from him, which we still have. He was an incredible entertainer.” – Barbara (August 2018)
Reader Comment: “I was devastated to hear about Alan’s passing. I just found out today in 2021. He was the best. I attended many shows in Calgary, Canada. I knew exactly where to stand to get a scarf or wipe the sweat from his forehead. His eyes were enchanting, and no one had a better voice. I have wonderful memories that I will always cherish.” – Kris (December 2021)
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