LIONEL Hunt is not an Elvis impersonator but an Elvis variety artist, he said at a fundraising performance for the Moths held at the Lodge on Saturday night of December 3.
But although Hunt claims “nobody moves like Elvis”, there are those who would beg to differ.
An appreciative audience made up of members of the Moths, SA Legion and SA Air Force Association, people from Port Alfred and a table from Kleinemonde, where Hunt lives, was augmented by a church group which came all the way from East London to see him perform.
A fan said: “I would be his backup singer, just like that!” with a snap of the fingers.
Hunt sang songs like Caught in a trap, Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t be cruel, Love me tender and Sweet Caroline in a beautiful baritone voice. But possibly his best rendition was the patriotic song, American Trilogy.
Like the audience, who Hunt was sure “were all patriotic South Africans”, he said “Elvis was a great patriot of America.”
Many of the members of the audience grew up in the 50s and the 60s and could travel back in time with Hunt.
Hunt wore platform shoes, studded oversized belt buckle, a white all-in-one suit with bell-bottoms, open neck shirt, a cross around his neck and a scarf, sideburns and a pompadour.
“I don’t wear this all the time, usually I am just myself,” he said. “The sideburns and the wig are not my own, but come in a box”.
Hunt has been an Elvis variety artist all his life. Growing up in the town of Bulawayo, he started listening to his parents’ records, and couldn’t stop listening to Elvis. The first song he sang at a young age was “she knows just how to make me laugh when I feel blue”.
He lived in Johannesburg for 22 years and said that the Eastern Cape people were the friendliest people in the world.
Hunt interspersed the music with Elvis trivia. For example, his whole life long, Elvis never wrote a single song, but because of his unique style, everyone assumed he wrote his own material.
When he split up with Priscilla Presley he recorded the song You are always on my mind which was written by Willie Nelson.
Following an encore, Hunt sang I can’t help falling in love with you, and kissed the hand of musical stalwart Lorna Els.
He complained that he was sick as a dog, but had the audience on their feet to the tune of “Hound Dog”.
Hunt also dedicated a song to Roger’s wife, Annetjie, “The wonder of you”, seeing as they were getting on so well that night! Returning the complement, Rogers obtained Hunt’s autograph on the back of a poster for the event.
“Does anyone know the exact date that Elvis “officially left the building”?” Hunt asked. It was August 16 1977.
Moths treasurer John Rogers also organised an auction at half-time with Rob Knowles acting as auctioneer, and a lucky draw chosen by Ray Schenk “because he’s a politician and can be trusted”, quipped Knowles.
The winner of the lucky draw was number 44, Ray Summers.
Up for auction was a lovely painting by Eastern Cape artist Betsy Fordyce, dated 1959, which was a gift to the Moths and valued at R15 000. Bidding was slow, and Knowles had to work hard to raise the price above R2 400.
But the reserve price was R3 000 and Cynthia Eldren encouraged her husband Bruce Eldren to bid and it went for R2 500.
The total amount raised for the evening, after expenses, was R1 000.