Love me tender, love me true
All my dreams fulfill
For my darling, I love you
And I always will.
The refrain of Elvis Presley’s ballad had captured the imagination of the youth and even the not so young. Countless of female hearts yielded to the crooning of Elvis sound-alikes and look-alikes. Indeed, it was another era of romanticism, the point in time of idol admiration and idol impersonation.
Despite the ordinariness of Elvis Presley’s songs, the deep and clear timbre of his voice easily established rapport with the listeners. Add to that his gyrations and the patented smirking smile, the undisputed King of Rock and Roll was definitely a superstar in his age and genre.
And being the most popular figure in the entertainment scene during his time, Elvis had a legion of fans and a slew of impersonators. First and foremost of the so-called die-hards was Chito Bertol who christened himself as the Elvis Presley of the Philippines. But that coveted title was not exclusively his for there were a lot of pretenders to the throne like Edgar Opida and Eddie Mesa, to name a few, who donned the colorful huge-collared coats with matching sequins and glitters.
Not to be forgotten was Alvin Presley who had a story of his own. Unlike Elvis who started out as a lowly truck driver, Alvin was a promising swimmer and a good football player during his high school days when he was caught flat-footed by the charisma of the King. He started mimicking his idol’s singing style, dancing technique and even the smirking smile. And most of all, the blinded fan in him had the temerity to unofficially adopt the name Alvin Presley.
Slowly but surely, Alvin was weaned from his athletic interests to focus on his musicality. From the usual good academic performance – he had a consistent grade of 100 in the religion subject – Alvin Presley became anemic in school. He was reprimanded several times because the priests in Don Bosco didn’t relish seeing the name Alvin Presley written on his books and notebooks. But Alvin Presley persisted with the notion that he was the long lost brother of Elvis. Unknown to everyone, he was honing his singing and guitar skills. And it didn’t take long for Alvin Presley to become a combo player.
Combos, as bands today were called during the 1960s, were the fad in the local music scene at that time. Some of the most popular bands were RJ and the Riots of RJ Jacinto, Tito Sotto’s Tiltdownmen, Toto Ealdama’s Moonstrucks, Electromaniacs of Jose Mari and Jovials of Lito Zabat. RJ is still at it with his DZRJ in AM radio, Jose Mari is the popular matinee idol turned politician, of course Tito Sotto is the senator and Zabat is a racing steward of Manila Jockey Club.
For Alvin Presley’s first combo gig, he was proud to earn a talent fee of 5 pesos which he shared among his siblings. That gesture of kindness earned him some fans inside the family circle. His stature in the music scene, no matter how small, gave him the impetus to organize parties at home. That showed Alvin Presley’s amiable nature that he had a lot of friends and had no known enemies.
Elvis and Alvin both surnamed Presley
With his deep resonating voice and the smirking smile that he had mastered, Alvin Presley could have been a good Elvis impersonator if not only for his great respect for the original king. “Si Elvis ang pinakamagandang lalake,” Alvin Presley used to say as if he was not worthy to impersonate his idol because of his ordinary looks and brown skin. That statement was a confirmation of Director Steve Binder’s declaration of Presley’s sexual appeal and photogenic looks. “He was that good looking. And if you never knew he was a superstar, it wouldn’t make any difference; if he’d walked in the room, you’d know somebody special was in your presence.”
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi while Alvin Presley first saw light in Manila at the height of the Tondo fiesta celebration in 1949. He was the eldest in his father’s clan and in his mother’s clan as well thus, in the tradition of royalties, Alvin Presley was a king in his own right. Elvis had his first guitar when he was 11 while Alvin had learned to play ukulele at the age of 8. Unlike Elvis who earned his keep as a journeyman in bars and cafes, Alvin was earning as a karate instructor while enrolled in an engineering course in Mapua.
There were rumors that Elvis Presley couldn’t handle fame and glory that he turned to drugs for comfort. He started with amphetamines when he was drafted in the US army. In fairness to the other king, Alvin Presley never tried drugs although he was into drinking, smoking and a bit of gambling. When Elvis Presley’s career took a nosedive, Alvin temporarily left the music scene to start a life of his own as a rotogravure technician in the number one newspaper, Manila Times. And unlike the king who had a failed marriage with Priscilla, this other king had his marriage intact with 3 sons and a daughter.
When Elvis Presley died in a Baptist Hospital on 16th of August, 1977, Alvin Presley felt sort of devastated. He felt sorry that he was not able to see Elvis in person. And since the king was already dead so there were no more new songs coming.
Aside from his countless hits, the other legacy of Elvis Presley was Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee which was his tribute to his beloved mother, Gladys, who died of hepatitis as a result of excessive drinking. Graceland Mansion was eventually transformed into a museum to house the memorabilia of the King. Alvin Presley’s greatest dream was to take a tour inside the Graceland Mansion someday.
When the karaoke, and later on the videoke, came into fore, Alvin Presley’s passion for music was rekindled. Songs like Jailhouse Rock, Return To Sender, Blue Hawaii and many other Elvis songs pervaded the air. That made Alvin Presley feel alive and kicking with his music once again. In his 11-year sojourn as an OFW in the Middle East, Alvin Presley didn’t fail to please his fans in the family whenever he came home for vacations because even simple gatherings became a venue of the crooner’s talent.
On the death anniversary of Elvis Presley this year of 2008, Alvin Presley, the other king, fell into coma due to aneurysm and, after 3 days, was declared a citizen of heaven at the age of 59. Alvin Presley did not achieve his dream of visiting Graceland Mansion but I’m sure he is now with the King of Rock and Roll, serenading the real king. And to fulfill his other wish, I will let the world know that Alfonso Socorro, my brother, had wanted to be called Alvin Presley.
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain?
Shall I come back again?
Tell me, Dear, are you lonesome tonight?
For videos of Alvin Presley, go to youtube and search SOCORRO ALFONSO.
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