Hello, I’m photographer Graeme Oxby and for the past five years I’ve been photographing people who love Elvis Presley. I travelled the length and breadth of the UK to witness the legions of Elvis Impersonators pay tribute to The King. I began by documenting the sheer spectacle of what I saw –the exuberance, colour and spectacle of the shows and performers who I met at conventions, competitions, pubs and clubs and even in old folks homes. 40 years after his death, Elvis is still a hugely important cultural figure in the UK.
As the project developed, I began to appreciate and photograph the individuals and their stories that lay behind the spectacle - stories of devotion, tragedy and resilience which are at the heart of what this book is about.
People like Alfie – a 13-year- old boy who was relentlessly bullied at school. Devoted to Elvis, Alfie began to practice in his room night after night and, supported by his mum and dad, entered a competition in Wales, returning a winner and giving Alfie the confidence to perform regularly.
People like Polk Salad Annie, a spirit medium and super fan who saw the King perform in the seventies. Now the Elvis Tribute Artists eagerly seek out her opinion on their performances and she is a very important person in the UK Elvis scene, known and regarded by hundreds if not thousands of people.
And people like Elvis Parkin, the man who started this project off. I knew Parkin years previously and came across him again in a garage forecourt. He was sporting a gold lame jacket, long black hair and shades and was pumping unleaded into a massive old Cadillac. “I’m living the dream” he said. And he still is.
The introduction to the book is written by poet and broadcaster, Ian McMillan, who shares my fascination with all things Elvis. There is also an essay by academic and author Dr Eamonn Griffin. I’m now publishing the work as a limited-edition photo book with respected publisher Bluecoat Press. Have a look at the rewards on offer and pledge your support to bring this fascinating aspect of working class culture to a wider audience.
Graeme Oxby is a photographer, film maker and lecturer. His work has been published in The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement and Huck Magazine. He was the Artistic Director of Hull International Photography Festival and produced The Hull Beermat Photography Festival with images chosen by Martin Parr for the City Of Culture in 2017. The Kings Of England photographs have been exhibited widely including most recently in The Belfast Photo Festival. In 2018 he was commissioned to contribute a picture to the Invisible Britain Portraits.
The book will be a hardback in portrait format (280x200mm) and 132pp of images and text.
Risks and challenges
There are none. Bluecoat Press are a long-established publisher of photographic books including nine successfully funded through Kickstarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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