There are people who love Elvis. It’s not a figure of speech. It’s a real, honest to goodness, all out love. They buy his records, watch his movies, his concerts, his every move.
People ink his face on their arms They sing to his records, sing in the car, alone. People sing at karaoke, they buy a wig, rings, belts, a suit. They are In Love. They pay Tribute to the King.
These words of free verse are from Graeme Oxby’s photobook The Kings of England, a collection of portraits of Elvis impersonators taken from all over the UK.
The project started as an exploration of the iconography of popular culture and of Presley himself, arguably the most photographed man on the planet. But it developed into a more personal study of the hundreds of Presley devotees Oxby met.
Coming mainly from working class backgrounds, the Elvis impersonators shared their own stories of personal tragedy and vulnerability. In taking on the personae of Elvis they wanted to perpetuate more than the memory of the King, but also a way of life that has disappeared through the closure of coal mines, steel industry and manufacturing centres across the UK.
The result is a series of intimate personal portraits showing the drama, colour and spectacle of these Kings of England.