In the highly competitive, hound dog-eat-hound dog world of Elvis impersonators, it’s no longer enough simply to master the Elvis hips and lip. Nor are a white jumpsuit and a pizza-size belt buckle sufficient to stir jaded Elvis connoisseurs. No, to get noticed as an Elvis today, you gotta have a gimmick, and Peter Singh, 42, of Swansea, Wales, has found one. Singh, who wears a turban and a beard, is believed by experts to be the world’s only Sikh Elvis impersonator.
A chef by profession, Singh has taken his extracurricular Elvis act on the road to such varied locales as Northern England and Mombasa, Kenya, where he’s a hit with that city’s large Sikh community. Backed by five turbaned Welshmen who call themselves, depending on their mood, the Screaming Pakistanis or the Defenders of the Faith, he belts out such Presley treasures as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Little Sister” and “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” as well as his own numbers. The latter often reflect Singh’s twin fields of expertise—Elvis and Indian cuisine—and include such nevergreens as “My Popadum Told Me,” “Turbans over Memphis” and “Elvis, I’m on the Phone.” A sample Singh lyric:
I don’t smoke dope,
I don’t drink bourbon,
All I wanna do is
Shake my turban.
Roll over, Cole Porter, and give Oscar Hammerstein II the news.
“People just love to see a guy in a beard and a turban doing rock and roll,” says Singh, who has sold 1,000 copies of his cover version of “Blue Suede Shoes” through his family’s clothing stall at a local market. He hopes, someday, to make the pilgrimage to Memphis. “I respect the King and will until the day I die. There’ll never be another Elvis,” says Singh, who adds, perhaps unnecessarily, “and there’ll never be another rockin’ Sikh.”