Sixty years ago this week, on October 16, 1954, a 19-year-old Elvis Presley stepped on stage at the Louisiana Hayride radio show in the town of Shreveport, Louisiana. Backed by his band, the young man from Memphis, Tennessee, played a song he recorded just a few months earlier called "That's All Right." The first ever recorded broadcast of Elvis was destined to change the sound of music forever.
Of course the King's influence stretches beyond the radio: There was the jolt of his hips, the turn of his collar. And the hair. For a few select of his most devoted fans — around the planet — it's not just about hearing and seeing him, but also being him. So to mark the anniversary of his historic performance, we searched for the world's best Elvis impersonators.
This is Elvis impersonator Hector Ortiz and actress Elsa C¡rdenas, who played alongside Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco, during a film festival in Mexico, in January 2014. Photo: El Universal/ZUMA
Canadian singer and Elvis impersonator David Thibault poses on his Triumph motorbike outside a store called "Le 63" in Montreal, Quebec, in July 2014. His voice is also said to be impressively similar to his idol's. Photo: QMI Agency/ZUMA
Cody Slaughter sings "Hound Dog" as he and fellow cast members from the Broadway musical production Million Dollar Quartet perform at the Rock "N" Soul museum in February 2012. Million Dollar Quartet is a fictional retelling of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock "n'roll history, when Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley recorded at Sun Studios. Photo: Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal/ZUMA
Rockin" it during the Grand Parade of Limassol Carnival in the southern coastal city of Cyprus, in March 2009. Photo: Xinhua/ZUMA
Eilert Pilarm gained fame in 1992 in Sweden, when he self-released several cassettes, before his debut CD Greatest Hits was released in 1996. He used to own a Royal Enfield motorbike, but he sold it. Photo: Wikia
"She is the King!" her website says. Jacqueline Feilich, who is "Australian by nurture and Elvis by nature," is the only woman to have ever been selected by Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. to enter their worldwide search for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist, in its inaugural 2007 contest. Photo: sheistheking
Tel Aviv taxi driver and Twiggy Itzik in August 2007. He can't speak English, but he can sing every Presley song ever recorded. Photo: The Commercial Appeal/ZUMA
Groovin" by the London Eye. Photo: Veronika Lukasova/ZUMA
In January 2007, tens of thousands Elvis Presley fans descended on the small Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl for a three-day celebration of all things Elvis and listened to Elvis tribute artists at the largest festival of its kind in Europe. What a day that must have been. Photo: Graham M. Lawrence/London News Pictures/ZUMA
A Jewish Elvis impersonator in Scotland. Photo: Scotsman/ZUMA
"Straight men are very intimidated by a woman impersonating Elvis. It is one of the last bastions of masculinity — the right to "do" Elvis. ... I personally think he was very queeny, in the 1950s he wore make-up and pink on stage, when that was unheard-of behavior for a straight man," says American Elvis impersonator Elvis Herselvis. Here she is in 1994. Photo: DracoEssentialis
Yoshi Suzuki is actually the stage name of New Yorker Robert Kim. When he impersonates Elvis, Robert pretends he speaks English poorly and with a strong Japanese accent. Photo: dscotnsd screenshot
James Marais, one of the top Elvis impersonators across Africa, says he can sing any Elvis song. He started imitating his idol at a very earle age since his father's Elvis record was the only thing he and his family listened to at home. Photo: James Marais
An Elvis impersonator goes home after a hard night's busking around the bars of Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong's Central District in June 2001. Photo: Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA
Elvis Priestley, aka Archbishop Dorian Baxter, holds service in his independent Anglican church in Canada. Photo: The Toronto Star/ZUMA
This little fella is definitely more than just a hound dog. He may never have caught a rabbit, but he did catch our eye with his costume. Photo: The Palm Beach Post/ZUMA
It is today a proven fraud, nailed by the French stock market watchdog: Air Next resorted to a full range of dubious practices to raise money but the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors.
PARIS — Air Next promised to use blockchain technology to revolutionize passenger transport. Should we have read something into its name? In fact, the company was talking a lot of hot air from the start. Air Next turned out to be a scam, with a fake website, false identities, fake criminal records, counterfeited bank certificates, aggressive marketing … real crooks. Thirty-five employees recruited over the summer ranked among its victims, not to mention the few investors who put money in the business.
Maud (not her real name) had always dreamed of working in a start-up. In July, she spotted an ad on Linkedin and was interviewed by videoconference — hardly unusual in the era of COVID and teleworking. She was hired very quickly and signed a permanent work contract. She resigned from her old job, happy to get started on a new adventure.
Others like Maud fell for the bait. At least ten senior managers, coming from major airlines, airports, large French and American corporations, a former police officer … all firmly believed in this project. Some quit their jobs to join; some French expats even made their way back to France.
Share capital of one billion
The story began last February, when Air Next registered with the Paris Commercial Court. The new company stated it was developing an application that would allow the purchase of airline tickets by using cryptocurrency, at unbeatable prices and with an automatic guarantee in case of cancellation or delay, via a "smart contract" system (a computer protocol that facilitates, verifies and oversees the handling of a contract).
The firm declared a share capital of one billion euros, with offices under construction at 50, Avenue des Champs Elysées, and a president, Philippe Vincent ... which was probably a usurped identity.
Last summer, Air Next started recruiting. The company also wanted to raise money to have the assets on hand to allow passenger compensation. It organized a fundraiser using an ICO, or "Initial Coin Offering", via the issuance of digital tokens, transacted in cryptocurrencies through the blockchain.
While nothing obliged him to do so, the company owner went as far as setting up a file with the AMF, France's stock market regulator which oversees this type of transaction. Seeking the market regulator stamp is optional, but when issued, it gives guarantees to those buying tokens.
The infamous typo that brought the Air Next scam down
Raising Initial Coin Offering
Then, on Sept. 30, the AMF issued an alert, by way of a press release, on the risks of fraud associated with the ICO, as it suspected some documents to be forgeries. A few hours before that, Air Next had just brought forward by several days the date of its tokens pre-sale.
For employees of the new company, it was a brutal wake-up call. They quickly understood that they had been duped, that they'd bet on the proverbial house of cards. On the investor side, the CEO didn't get beyond an initial fundraising of 150,000 euros. He was hoping to raise millions, but despite his failure, he didn't lose confidence. Challenged by one of his employees on Telegram, he admitted that "many documents provided were false", that "an error cost the life of this project."
What was the "error" he was referring to? A typo in the name of the would-be bank backing the startup. A very small one, at the bottom of the page of the false bank certificate, where the name "Edmond de Rothschild" is misspelled "Edemond".
Before the AMF's public alert, websites specializing in crypto-assets had already noted certain inconsistencies. The company had declared a share capital of 1 billion euros, which is an enormous amount. Air Next's CEO also boasted about having discovered bitcoin at a time when only a few geeks knew about cryptocurrency.
Employees and investors filed a complaint. Failing to find the general manager, Julien Leclerc — which might also be a fake name — they started looking for other culprits. They believe that if the Paris Commercial Court hadn't registered the company, no one would have been defrauded.
Beyond the handful of victims, this case is a plea for the implementation of more secure procedures, in an increasingly digital world, particularly following the pandemic. The much touted ICO market is itself a victim, and may find it hard to recover.
- Crypto Tipping Point: Is Digital Currency Too Big To Fail ... ›
- Bitcoin, Petro, Libra ... Why Cryptocurrency Isn't Really Currency ... ›
- Inside The Himalayan Hideaway Of Chinese Bitcoin Mines ... ›