By Katrina Van Duzee/Garden Grove Journal
It’s been over 30 years since the king of rock ‘n’ roll died, but every August on Main Street in Garden Grove, Elvis impersonators along with residents celebrate his life through dance and music.
Elvis enthusiast J.J. Jauregui and owner of Azteca Mexican restaurant on Main Street, has sponsored the event for the past 13 years which features performances by Elvis impersonators for the first three Friday’s of the month, performances by artists covering Elvis songs in the restaurant and an Elvis Karaoke competition.
“J.J. at the Azteca restaurant has been honoring us for years, it is a lot of fun performing and it is a great family crowd,” Elvis impersonator Steve Murphy said. “It is a neat place to perform.”
Jauregui describes his first encounter with Elvis as “almost sexual,” when he saw the artist perform his favorite song “Teddy Bear,” on his parents’ television in 1962. Ever since then he has become an Elvis freak and over the past 18 years has collected over 1500 pieces of Elvis memorabilia, which now provides the décor for his Mexican restaurant, Jauregui said.
“I think what people enjoy about my collection is that it is very unique for a Mexican restaurant to have an Elvis collection and that I didn’t plan this,” Jauregui said.
“I think people see my love of Elvis. You can’t fake this.”
Elvis died on Aug. 16, 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee, which is why Jauregui picked August for the life celebration. This year Aug. 16 falls on a Monday so Azteca will be open all day blasting Elvis tunes and will feature a performance by Elvis impersonator Marlon at 7:30 p.m., Jauregui said.
“In the Elvis world we are pretty known and in Garden Grove we are definitely known.” Jauregui said about the events. “A lot of first-timers come in and are shocked because they don’t know what to expect.”
Denese Dody Productions, located in Ontario, provides the Elvis’ every year seen on Main Street and represents impersonators like Murphy who at age 50 has been in the business for 15 years.
Discovered in a karaoke club, Murphy was invited to an Elvis convention and from then on mimicking Elvis became his profession.
“It found me more then I found it, but I have certainly become more of a fan since I started performing,” Murphy said about Elvis.
Although most impersonators have day jobs to supplement the income they make performing, Murphy has been able to support himself solely by performing 2-3 times a week at weddings, corporate events and just about any other private event you can imagine.
An Elvis impersonator typically charges between $200-$500 an event depending on the type of performance.
“Being a performer is a lot of fun. It is a win-win situation because everyone is happy and it’s an enjoyable time,” Murphy said.
Signing autographs, dealing with devout Elvis fans and personifying the King’s every detail is all part of the job. Performing in Garden Grove every year is a treat because of the welcoming residents and owner Jauregui, who supports the Elvis community and Dody Productions, Murphy said.
“I have meet a lot of dignitaries in the Elvis world and they just love it here,” Jauregui said.
“A lot of people in the Elvis world have really opened my world up; it has been a great ride.”
For a full schedule of events visit Azteca Mexican restaurant on Main Street or go to their Web site at http://www.aztecamexicanrestaurant.org/.