Elvis tribute artist, Cody Slaughter, recreates Elvis Presley ’56 concert tour

2016 marks the 60th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s breakthrough year, 1956. To commemorate this milestone, Sherry Management has put together an original-themed concert tour called A Tribute to Elvis ’56. The tour travels to many cities that Elvis Presley performed in back in 1956 when Presley was on his way rising to the top.

The perfect choice to play Elvis in this show is tribute artist, Cody Ray Slaughter. Slaughter, now 25, has been performing as Elvis since he was a teenager and is regarded by fans and critics as one of the best Elvis tribute artists around, with some even calling him the ‘Prince of Rock and Roll.’

Cody recalled in a previous interview with the author how he first became interested in Elvis: “He was the first music person I think I ever knew about. I always thought his hair was unique and cool, and his look was just super-cool. I just wanted to look like that. I don’t remember a day when I didn’t know who he was… I started watching all his movies and I just got hooked on him.”

In 2011, Slaughter won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute contest at Graceland, then starred as Elvis in the touring production of the hit Broadway musical, Million Dollar Quartet, from 2011-2013. Since then, Cody has been the headliner at multiple Elvis festivals around the world.

One of the traits that sets Slaughter apart from the hundreds of other Elvis tribute artists is his attention to detail: “I would sit in my room every day and watch Elvis on Milton Berle and the Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show and all that footage and the movies,” Slaughter remembered. “I would just pay attention to the little things, the little itty bitty things that I think at the time, people overlooked… I always thought the coolest thing about Elvis was the stuff that you don’t really see– his little eye movements, or his thumb.”

Another talent is Cody’s spontaneity. He doesn’t rehearse Elvis dance moves anymore. He does what Elvis did at the time and just moves in the heat of the moment: “When I get onstage, I let my muscle memory and all that from when I was younger and all these shows I’ve done,  I just let it go, I let the music give me the beat and I don’t really think about it,” Slaughter explained.

Slaughter got the thrill of a lifetime when he met Priscilla Presley backstage after the Million Dollar Quartet opening night in Hollywood in 2012. Priscilla liked the show so much she came back a second time with a close friend of hers and Elvis’, Jerry Schilling.

Cody modestly remarked: “Priscilla enjoyed the show. I won’t say what she said. Coming from me it would sound stupid. But she was very, very, very nice.”

The producer of A Tribute to Elvis ’56, Terri Futreal, says good Elvis tribute artists like Cody “have to be charismatic, they have to be humble, and I think they have to be talented, because I think Elvis was all three of those. And to do a heartfelt tribute to his legacy and his music, I think they have to have the same characteristics.”

“You can’t just watch something and try to recreate it,” Cody continued. “You have to understand why and where it’s coming from… When I was starting out I noticed that it’s not all about just jumping around and stuff like that like ‘hubba hubba’. It’s like James Dean, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Dean Martin and all that mixed together and you get Elvis.”

Aldeborahn Records has released a soundtrack album for A Tribute to Elvis ’56 and they also released the single, “First In Line,” which is available digitally on Amazon and iTunes.

In June, the Elvis ’56 show traveled to Lexington, NC where Elvis Presley performed on March 21, 1956. The meet and greet before the show was held in the same building where Presley’s YMCA concert was held.

“We got to come here to the YMCA where Elvis actually performed,” Slaughter told the local paper. ” I have been learning so much about his time here…Bringing Elvis ’56 back to Lexington has been something I couldn’t have dreamed of.”

In A Tribute to Elvis ’56, Cody is backed by The Hillbilly Katz, an authentic rockabilly band featuring David Fontana on drums, who happens to be the son of Elvis Presley’s original drummer, D.J. Fontana. Rounding out the band includes Wade Bernard on standup bass, Kenneth Cramer on guitar and Eddie Watson on the keyboard. The tribute also includes a comedic song and dance performance by Stephi Z that opens the show.
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In July 2016 in Las Vegas, Cody had the honor of performing with D.J. Fontana when he sat in for a few songs during the Elvis ’56 show. Slaughter remarked: “When I was younger, I used to watch this documentary called Elvis ’56… and in that documentary was D.J…. I would watch these movies and I knew that everybody was cool, but I just thought that D.J. had some cool swagger about him, chewing the bubble gum and acting like nothing’s happening. He’s so laid back and cool. This is a dream come true. So when we’re doing this show, there’s no fancy lights, there’s no special effects… everything is exactly the way it was [back in 1956]. We chose it to be that way. I’m just extremely proud to be a part of it.”

For upcoming tour dates for Elvis ’56, visit http://www.elvis56tour.com

For more info on Cody Slaughter, visit http://www.codyrayslaughter.com

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