All Shook Up over Brian’s Elvis tribute act

Elvis impersonator Brian Ford of Avenham, Preston,  travels around care homes in the area putting on performances for the old folk

Elvis impersonator Brian Ford of Avenham, Preston, travels around care homes in the area putting on performances for the old folk

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Care home residents across Preston can’t help falling in love with Elvis impersonator Brian Ford.

The retired university worker regularly performs in residential and nursing homes across the area, delivering the sounds of the superstar who would have turned 80 on Thursday.

“I give them the full show for an hour, and I think I enjoy it just as much as they do,” said the grandfather of five.

Complete with a full golden eagle, tasselled jumpsuit, black wig, sunglasses and illuminated ‘Elvis’ sign, Brian belts out the classics to a backing track, charging the homes only small expenses to clean his suit.

He added: “I sing everything Elvis did, from all the different eras, but I try to tailor things for my audiences.

“At weddings or parties I might do more rocky stuff, but at care homes I don’t want to blast their ear drums, so I tend to do more ballads and gospel numbers, which Elvis preferred doing himself.”

He added: “I encourage the residents to sing along, and they do. When people have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, they don’t forget everything, and very often they will remember the words and be able to tell me their favourite Elvis song, which I’ll perform for them.

“Taking requests makes it more interesting and more of a challenge for me.”

Brian, who limits himself to a 10 mile radius from his home because his doesn’t want to charge homes for his petrol, said Can’t Help Falling in Love was his favourite Elvis number.

He said: “Elvis liked it best because he said it described his feelings for his audience and they way they interacted with him, and I that’s how I feel as well, so it’s my favourite song too.”

The 70-year-old from Bank Parade, Avenham, used to play in a family band, but when his brother and main musician Noel died aged 45, it wasn’t possible to carry on without him.

Brian said: “But music is something you can’t really walk away from, it’s an addiction and always there.

“When I was asked a few years later to do something for a party I thought I’d do Elvis, and it went down very well.

“Then I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to do this in a care home and give the residents something to look forward to.”

Brian’s thrown himself into the tribute act, and has visited Elvis’s Graceland home, met his best man George Klein at a DJ booth, and Paradise Hawaiian Style co-star Suzanna Leigh at a book signing.

He said: “We stayed in Heartbreak Hotel for a fortnight, visited Graceland, saw where he grew up, and it was wall-to-wall Elvis.

“There were his films constantly on the TV, piped Elvis music in every room, and there’s Elvis memorabilia everywhere.

“We became saturated with it all, but it was very enjoyable.”