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A mirror image!

Stephen Kabakos has made a successful career out of impersonating Elvis Presley

Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Tribute artist Stephen Kabakos

Just as our conversation was about to begin, we were interrupted by a middle-aged woman. She was smitten by what she was seeing. “It is amazing. You look just like him!” she said in excitement, before clicking some pictures of him.

But Stephen Kabakos is not surprised by such reactions. And neither are the onlookers. As a tribute artiste of Elvis Presley, he has mastered the art of impersonating the King of Rock ’N Roll to the last detail — be it the long side burns, the jazzy clothes, boots or that unique hairstyle. With voice dexterity and mannerism closest to that of Elvis, Stephen exudes the same high spirit the rock star was known for on stage. “I am his big fan, and that’s where it all started,” he recalls his journey. “After seeing the performance of some Elvis tribute artistes, I felt I surely wouldn’t do any worse than them. You know, there are nearly 38,000 Elvis impersonators across the world and if they could, I guessed that I could do it too,” says the 36-year-old, who is on his first trip to India on a nine-city tour, as part of the “The Way It Was” concert organised by Black Dog.

For the generation that hasn’t shared the same timeline as Elvis, he remains an enigma of the past. And Stephen feels the advent of new-age musicians, and techno genres haven’t diminished the man’s popularity one bit. It is over a decade since he took ‘the Elvis career path’, and reliving those moments but Stephen has ensured his real identity remains intact. “I am a very grounded person. I know how to differentiate between my on-stage image and off- stage personality. There is and will be only one Elvis. I am only offering a physical tribute to this great musician,” he clarifies.

So what is Stephen like when not playing Elvis? “No one can recognise me when I walk down the road is my usual t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. It is not that I listen to only Elvis. I enjoy any kind of good music, be it rock or hip hop,” he reveals, but quickly adds. “But I confess that I am not in tune with the latest. Elvis’s Suspicious Mind remains my eternal favourite.”

MANGALA RAMAMOORTHY

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