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James "Orion" Ellis - the man who took off his mask and disappointed the whole world
James "Orion" Ellis - the man who took off his mask and disappointed the whole world
James "Orion" Ellis is the man who took off his mask and disappointed the whole world

In 1977, the King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley died. He was only 42. And although his health was already badly shaken, the fans did not believe in natural death. Rumors immediately spread that he had not died, but had faked his own funeral. He himself, according to various versions, either hid from the noisy world in the monastery, or was treated, or retired from the annoying scene forever. And soon a mysterious masked singer appeared on the American scene, under the name Orion.


He sang like Elvis, moved like Elvis, talked like Elvis, quickly left the concert just like Elvis. So maybe it was Elvis Presley himself?

Presley is alive

A man who shouldn't have taken off his mask

In the early 70s, writer Gail Brewer-Giorgio, unknown in our country, wrote a book about a talented singer named Orion. The young handsome singer, originally from the American South, has achieved immense popularity. They began to call him the King. I think it's clear whose biography the writer was inspired by? But then Orion realizes that glory is not at all what he should strive for.

James "Orion" Ellis

Crowds of fans besiege him wherever he appears, he begins to hide from everyone. The singer starts having drug problems. His health is deteriorating, he is incredibly fat and depressed. There are clear parallels with the life of the real Elvis. But the fictional character finds an original way out. With the help of his father, he staged his funeral, putting a wax doll in the coffin, and he himself leaves.

Elvis Presley lookalike on stage

Isn't that where the idea that Elvis's funeral was a staging, but in fact there was a wax doll in the coffin, originated from here? So many ideas already existed at the time of the death of the King of Rock and Roll. And they came to life after his departure. Rather, they were embodied by cunning and resourceful businessmen from show business. Elvis died, and almost immediately the mysterious Orion came to his place. Who was he?


Orion's poster

No, to the dismay of fans for whom Orion was proof that Elvis was alive, it wasn't him. And a completely different person. This singer had not only a similar timbre of voice, but also similar features in his biography. James Ellis (similar name, right?) Was born in 1945 in the American South. His mother's name is Gladys, like Elvis's. But the difference with Presley's mother is huge - Elvis's mother adored her son and did everything she could for him.

He could be a star

James's mother left her son, at the age of two he was adopted. Young Jimmy also wanted to be a singer, his velvety beautiful voice seemed to promise a good career. A guy from the South, from a poor family, who made his way with his talent - how similar to Elvis himself! At the age of 17, Jim wins a talent competition, in 1972 he begins to record songs. The fact that his performance is very similar to that of Elvis Presley himself was noticed long ago by many.

A man with and without a mask

Jim himself knew about it too. One of his early songs is called "I'm Not Trying to Be Like Elvis." Unfortunately, the voice played a cruel joke on him - it was too similar to the voice of the King of Rock and Roll. Perhaps that is why the producers did not pay attention to the young singer, because they already had one popular idol. The finest hour came for Ellis only after the death of Elvis Presley. By the way, it was not him who came up with the idea to "replace" Elvis Presley on the stage.

James Ellis

James Ellie without a mask

The new owner of Sun Records, where Elvis himself first recorded, Shelby Singleton came up with a clever move. He taped Ellis and stated that he had found Presley's old tapes.He was sued because other people had the rights to all Elvis songs. But the trick worked: Ellis's tapes were so similar to Elvis's that they could not be distinguished without special expertise! After that, Singleton had the idea to "resurrect" Presley.

The man who wanted to resurrect Presley

But since Ellis did not outwardly look like the late King, he had to put on a mask. Of course, the singer was not thrilled with such a prospect, but he had no choice: either to sing under a false name, or not to perform at all. For several years he toured quite successfully, recorded albums and hid his name. Singleton's calculation turned out to be accurate: the fans wanted Elvis to be alive so much that they came to his concerts, hoping that their idol was really performing.

Without a mask

Here I am

Ellis, of course, wanted to record and tour under his own name, but the contract did not allow. Singleton did not want to mess around, he wanted easy money, earning on an already promoted name. And he got them. But one day Ellis himself could not stand it and at the end of the concert took off his mask. The contract with him was immediately canceled. The fans were also disappointed. As talented as this performer was, it was not Presley! For some time Ellis performed openly as Presley's double, recording albums.

With and without a mask

Orion no longer had the previous success. He had to return to his homeland, to the South, where he was killed in his home in 1998 by robbers. But if he got a really good manager, as Elvis Presley once did, Ellis could become, if not the second King, then at least a fairly well-known performer. And so practically no one in the world knows him. On the Internet you can find recordings of Orion's performances. And compare with the records of Presley himself.

Make-up, mask … The main thing is MUSIC!

Continuing the topic rare photographs of King Elvis Presley, which were included in the book for the 40th anniversary of the death of the King of Rock and Roll.

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