Ryan Roth wears the fringe and bejeweled jumpsuits, chunky sideburns and has jet black hair, but the banker by trade knows he is not ‘The King.”
“I don’t think I am Elvis Presley,” the Englewood resident said. “He was a greater influence, but other singers influenced me, too.”
Roth, one of a handful of professional Elvis tribute artists that call the Miami Valley home, says he is a student of musicians.
His favorites include Etta James, Frank Sinatra, Engelbert Humperdinck, Roy Orbison, Neil Diamond and, in recent years, Bruno Mars and the late Amy Winehouse.
Jackie Wilson is his all-time favorite vocalist.
That all said, Roth, an entertainer since age 18, has found a home in blue-suede shoes since first taking on Elvis in 2009.
Roth dispenses burning love, and his audiences eat it up.
A gaggle of giggling and grinning ladies — this writer included — formed a line at the stage during Roth’s January concert at Gilly’s with the 16-member Comeback Special band.
The towering singer — Roth is 6”2’ without the Elvis boots — embraced hands and wrapped ‘silk’ scarves in a rainbow of colors around necks while performing songs from Elvis’ 1973 concert “Aloha from Hawaii.”
Unlike the King, he avoided lips.
On a cruise two-years ago, Patty Perry — considered by many the only member of Elvis’ inner circle known as the “Memphis Mafia” — told Roth “not to kiss those women on the mouth.”
“Elvis did and he had canker sores,” Roth recalled Perry says.
His Gilly’s show had the camp, but the Wright State grad left the “cheese” and “Elvis impersonation” out.
Elvis “was a sophisticated vocalist, and that is one of the things I try to recreate,” Roth said.”I don’t like any of the cheese factor when it comes to Elvis. I try to be respectful (of his showmanship) for all of his fans.”
He has performed throughout the United States and Canada. He and the band performed at Graceland during an celebration commemorating the 35th anniversary of Presley’s death last year.
BECOMING A FAN
Roth got his first Elvis record as a birthday present at age 5.
The singer died just before Roth’s 10th birthday.
“For two or three months, it was wall-to-wall Elvis on TV,” Roth said. “They treated him like he was bigger than life. It just made an impression on me, so I started to take an interest.”
A year later, Roth won a talent show singing Elvis’ “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”
At 20 and encouraged to sing by his mother, Roth began performing everything from The Beach Boys to Chuck Berry as part of a Cedar Point Amusement Park show.
Roth studied with international opera star Kay Griffel for several years.
Six years later, he appeared on TNN’s “Be a Star” and eventually recorded with Jeff Huskin, a fiddle player for Clint Black and country music band Little Texas. He has also performed regularly at the Grand Victoria and the Belterra casinos in Indiana and may soon host his own Elvis radio show in Cincinnati.
Although he enjoys a wide range of musicians, Roth has a kinship with the King.
The Beavercreek High School grad said he loves to perform, but the true joy is the people he gets to meet when he put on the jumpsuit.
“He was always giving back to his fans,” Roth said of Elvis
• Roth will next lend his talents to the 31st annual Very Special Arts Festival Friday in Wright State University’s Student Union. The free festival is 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Roth will perform a free concert for adults with disabilities from 7-9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
• Roth and Comeback Special will next perform the Aloha from Hawaii show at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Carnegie Theatre in Covington, Ky. Tickets are $20 to $30. Click here for more information.
Contact this blogger at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth