By Polly Keary, Editor
He didn’t look much like Elvis, but most women don’t either, and that hasn’t stopped some of them from impersonating the King.
So Scott Coon decided that there was no reason he, too, couldn’t don a rhinestoned jumpsuit and get on stage with other tribute artists.
Now he is an award-winning Elvis impersonator, and last weekend, he finished in second place for the second time at the Amateur Tribute Contest at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
Coon, 45, has a history of following his dreams.
After a decade as a correctional officer, the Monroe man decided to chuck the security and benefits and strike out on a new career.
He went back to school, then took an internship and survived on a very low income until he landed a plum job as an analyst, a career he likes a great deal more.
That same willingness to take a risk served him well in his alternate persona, as the leather-clad legend that was Elvis.
As a kid, he used to watch Elvis movies with his mom. He was always musically inclined and enjoyed singing, but he’d never considered impersonating Elvis. But when he sang at weddings or in choir, in church or in the school band, people sometimes mentioned that he sounded like Elvis.
“I started recording myself and listening,” said the Monroe man. “And I thought, ‘Wow, I kind of do.’”
He decided to find out what would happen if he really tried to sound like Elvis. After practicing for a while, he recorded himself again.
“I listened and I thought, ‘Well, that’s actually pretty good,’” he said.
But dressing up as the King didn’t seem realistic until he took a long look at others who did it.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t look like Elvis who do it,” he said.
Then he learned about an annual competition that takes place in Seattle, in which people dress as Elvis and perform his music live with a backing band.
Coon had always loved singing with a live band.
“There’s nothing like being on a team, contributing to the success of a team, and when it gels, it gels well,” said Coon. So he learned “It’s Now or Never,” entered the contest and came in second place.
As he got involved with the small community of people who share his hobby, he learned that tribute artists, as they term themselves, take their pastime very seriously.
Some spend thousands on costumes. Coon himself wears a powder blue jumpsuit made by a woman who used to create costumes for the Canadian film industry. And he currently has one on the way that was made by people who developed Elvis’ suits when he was still alive.
He said his wife supports him in getting decent outfits.
“My wife calls it the “cheesy Elvis syndrome,'” he said with a laugh. “She said, ‘I don’t want you to be the cheesy Elvis in a bad suit.'”
Coon is an authority on Elvis, and can talk at length about his band, background singers, various periods (he likes early 70’s Elvis the best, when he was in good shape and good voice but more mature than in earlier periods) and performances.
Being a good tribute artist isn’t necessarily about becoming a carbon copy of the King, he said.
“You don’t have to look like him or sing like him or move like him, but if you’re close enough to bring back the memory, that’s what it takes to be successful,” he said.