In 2014, Jimmy Tighe failed to make the finals at the Lake George Elvis Tribute Act competition in New York. This year he went back, made the finals and finished fifth out of 30 competitors in the 1970s amateur category.
What made the difference?
“Working hard. More practice.” said Tighe, who is known as Jimmy Elvis. “Pretty much everyday, I practiced in my room, I practiced in the car, I practiced during shows.”
Though Tighe, who lives in Exeter, has been performing an Elvis tribute act since 1998 when he was 17, he never stops trying to get better, trying to look and sound more authentic.
He’s driven he said, “to keep the music alive for the younger generations.”
Tighe said when he was growing up his parents, James and Nancy, played a lot of rock ’n’ roll in the house, including Elvis, but they didn’t push Elvis on him. In fact, as things turned out, it was the other way around. He developed an Elvis obsession and helped his parents reconnect with the King.
His obsession began when his parents took him to see a local Elvis tribute act, or ETA, when he was 17. Right there and then he thought to himself that he lwould ike to try it. So he studied other ETAs, watched video and listened to Elvis recordings.
Tighe has always felt comfortable as Elvis, even when he went out for the first time when he was 17. “Never nervous,” he said. “Always more excitement than nerves.”
Tighe has an associate degree in communications and a day job. He’s not a full-time professional ETA, but he doesn’t take being an ETA lightly. And for Tighe, performing as Elvis is less about himself and more about the music and life of Elvis Presley, who died three years before Tighe was born. Tighe tries, as his website says, to represent Elvis on stage in a respectful way.
Tighe said his biggest thrill as an ETA was performing in Memphis during Elvis Week a few years ago. He’s attended several Elvis Weeks, sang at Graceland Crossings, competed in the 2003 Images of the King Contest and met friends of Elvis such as Joe Esposito, D.J. Fontana, and Ray Walker.
The Memphis Elvis Weeks weren’t all about the music. The trips also gave him a chance to experience the environment and Southern culture that Elvis came from and that shaped his music.
While Tighe performs the well known top 40 Elvis songs, he likes to go deep into the King’s catalog and learn more obscure, yet beautiful, Elvis songs. For example at Lake George, he sang “My Boy” and “Hurt” in the first round, “Let it Be Me” and “American Trilogy” in the second round and “You Gave Me A Mountain” and “Amazing Grace” in the finals.
Tighe took home a trophy and $100 for his fifth place finish.
Though Tighe performs as Elvis in public venues occasionally, most of his gigs are private venues such as senior centers.
Tighe’s fiancee is Lin Yarros of Dunmore. No surprise here, but she also has an Elvis obsession.
For information or bookings, search Jimmy Elvis on Facebook, visit jimmyelvis.com or call Jimmy at 570-885-1091.