EAST WENATCHEE — Danny Vernon first discovered the music of Elvis Presley through his father’s record catalog.
Vernon was drawn in by Elvis’ voice and captivated by his charisma. One day he was listening to one of Elvis’ live albums and had a realization that would turn his fandom into a career.
“I was singing along live and I was like ‘I could see myself doing this. I could see myself singing along and doing this on stage,’” he said. “It was kind of the vision you have, this epiphany.”
Vernon has now spent 20 years performing around the country as an Elvis tribute act. The Puyallup-based performer will bring his show, “The Illusion of Elvis,” to the Clearwater Saloon & Casino in East Wenatchee on Nov. 27.
It’s Vernon’s second appearance at Clearwater this year. He performed for a sold-out crowd of 120 in July, Clearwater’s booker Mark Greene said last week.
“This is the second time (he’s been here) because we had so many requests after the first show that we brought him back,” he said.
Clearwater has also had a Frank Sinatra tribute act perform this year and a Michael Jackson tribute is scheduled for January, Greene said.
“We’re just trying to do something that hasn’t been offered and try to bring some really good impersonators. People seem to have a lot of fun with them,” he said. “There’s a lot of impersonators out there, but we’ve been very selective with who we went after. Danny is probably one of the top 10 in the world as an Elvis impersonator.”
Vernon said it’s his singing ability that’s helped him find success in the industry.
“I’m a singer, but I didn’t just sing Elvis, which I think helps me stand out. I’ve been a singer all my life and sang Elvis when I was in my adolescence, but then I got away and sang all types of other music,” he said. “Then I got back to Elvis, which gave me a backdrop to be a better singer, not just a replication.”
Experience also helps bring the memories of Elvis, who died just over 42 years ago, back to life, he said.
“Doing this so long, you just pick up on all these little nuances that Elvis did,” he said. “A little twitch or a snarl or a smile — it’s just natural to me because I’ve done it so long.”
Younger people who come to his show appreciate the music, but it’s the people who grew up with Elvis who really connect with the performances, Vernon said.
“The demographic that grew up with Elvis is getting older, but they’re not trying to find the next Elvis,” he said. “They had the best and he was completely legitimate and still bringing joy to us all these years later.”
For those true die-hard fans, Vernon always tries to work in some deep cuts, he said.
“The hits always work, you always have to do those as any tribute artist. He’s got like 35 hits and sang 900-plus songs. Sometimes for the real Elvis fans that go a little deeper than the No. 1 hits, being able to sing a movie song or a song that was on a B-side is great,” he said.
And just like the fans, Vernon’s still enthralled by the music, he said.
“I didn’t plan on doing this for a career, but he brought out the artistic side of me, the fact that I enjoyed singing. It was pretty much all I listened to throughout my adolescence for a very long time before I found my first Twisted Sister album in the ‘80s,” he said with a laugh.