From pretending to be Guns’n’Roses frontman Axl Rose as a nipper, Ben Portsmouth has become a globally successful Elvis Presley impersonator.
The Berkshire boy has been making a living performing as the iconic singer for the past decade, and he brings his latest show to Portsmouth Guildhall tomorrow night.
When did he first realise he had a gift for impersonating The King?
‘I don’t know if I have a gift,’ laughs Ben, ‘I just seem to get away with it!’
‘I started singing from as young as I can remember – about six or seven. I remember buying Appetite For Destruction so I was pretending to be Axl Rose, and all of that, and my dad would play Elvis in the car when I was a kid. He was really into Elvis.
‘We had a guitar in the house, so I would pick that up and start trying to learn the chords.
Elvis captured generations because he was bloody great – he had charisma, he was a people person, very giving, and he had a great voice.Ben Portsmouth
‘I always sort of liked it, although I never wanted to admit to my dad that I did – I was a bit rebellious. I always knew he was good – Elvis’s voice stood out and touched you, and he had those amazing songs.’
Ben won his first Elvis competition in 2006, at the international Elvis festival at Porthcawl, Wales, the largest in Europe.
‘Whether you like it or not,’ he says, ‘it starts as a bit of fun - and it still is – but once you start entering competitions and doing gigs, it gets a bit more serious.’
In 2010 he won Images of The King, held in Memphis – Elvis’s home, where he was voted World Champion Elvis Tribute Artist by both the judges and the public vote.
And in 2012, again in Memphis, he was the first non-American to take the Worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist title.
He now performs to huge audiences all over the world, but he says: ‘I’m just a simple country boy like Elvis – I like cars, women and food. He captured generations because he was bloody great – he had charisma, he was a people person, very giving, and he had a great voice.’
The King is back
Saturday, January 16