While most Vegas Elvises just look like Elvis, Big Elvis sings like the King. Pete Vallee, or Big Elvis, is a larger than life Sin City staple. He performs a tribute show four days a week at Harrah's Piano Bar, and will be touring the country this fall. According to his bio, he's even possibly part Presley, and believed to be an "offspring of Elvis."
Vallee created the Memory of the King Foundation, which helps out Elvis' close friends and family members who've fallen on hard times. He's been doing the Big Elvis Show for ten years now, and was named one of Time Magazine's top 10 Elvis impersonators in 2010. It'll be like Elvis is alive, and sort of gyrating, right in front of you this Sunday at Seminole Coconut Creek Casino. Word is, there'll be an Elvis lookalike contest happening on the same day (watch out for any New Times lookalikes). We spoke with Vallee about his favorite Elvis songs and losing weight while still being Big.
New Times: What is your favorite Elvis song to sing?
Big Elvis: One of my favorites is "American Trilogy." There's "My Way" and "Suspicious Minds"
What are your fan's favorite songs?
"Suspicious Minds" is always requested.
You collect Elvis memorabilia. What's your most prized Elvis possession?
I have a ring that Elvis gave to my mother back in 1964. That's probably the most prized possession I have.
And your mom knew Elvis? Or she just met him?
Kitty Wells, the singer, introduced my mother (Dolores Vallee) to Elvis on the film Kissin' Cousins in Nashville, 1964.
Was it helpful, growing up, that she was musically inclined?
Most definitely. She was a singer, she was recording in Nashville, definitely helped a lot. She was a big influence on my life.
What's your favorite thing about the King?
What a great person. Generous, kind. He was good to people.
Can you relate to him personally? Do you see yourself in him? What makes you similar?
I like to think we have a lot in common. We were both raised in the same kind of church, Assembly of God. He was close to his parents. I think that, simple people. Elvis was a very simple person. He was an everyday person.
Do you sing "Blue Christmas" around the holidays, and is that not the best Christmas song ever?
I do. Actually, I personally like "If Every Day Could Be Like Christmas."
You have a recipe online. Do you cook? Is that a hobby?
We put that up years ago. Since then, I've lost a lot of weight. We devised a plan of attack, made vegetable soup. Over that time, I learned how to cook healthy after years I'd spent not eating healthy.
If you lost all that weight? Are you still Big Elvis?
Oh, I'm still Big Elvis. I was really a large person. I lost over 500 pounds.
Big Elvis is more about your personality than your actual size?
That's what it is. Plus, I'm a larger person. Most guys weigh 180 pounds, and I weigh 450 pounds. So, I'm a little bit bigger than your average Elvis.
Any Elvis beauty tips? Pompadour tips?
The hairdo, I guess: Genetics are number one, and number two, the hairdresser I have does a good job fixing it up.
Big Elvis Show at 2 p.m. on Aug. 19 in the Pavilion at Coconut Creek Casino, 5550 NW 40 Street, Coconut Creek. Tickets cost $10.