Adam Fitzpatrick never envisioned the path his life would take when he accepted a dare to enter an Elvis Presley tribute contest in his home town of Penticton.
A restaurant manager by trade, Fitzpatrick won the amateur contest and now makes a full-time living with his Elvis tribute show.
“When I first did the contest I thought it was a one-time thing,” the 29-year-old Fitzpatrick said. “Even when I won the first one, I never thought I would be doing this full-time and touring like I am now.”
“When I think about it now I just kind of laugh.”
Fitzpatrick brings his new show “Bringing It Back” to the Empress Theatre for one performance at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3.
Backed by a top band Fitzpatrick — who in 2013 placed second in the Ultimate Elvis Contest in Memphis — will perform a variety of Elvis hits including Suspicious Minds, My Way and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
Fitzpatrick was introduced to the music of Elvis Presley at a young age by his father but did not become a fan until he started attending an Elvis tribute festival in Penticton.
Fitzpatrick was in the audience at the 2008 Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival when he and friend Chris Kelso dared each other to enter the amateur section of the Elvis contest.
With no previous singing experience, Fitzpatrick learned some Elvis songs and the next year won the amateur contest.
“I probably became an Elvis fan at the age of 19,” Fitzpatrick said. “I became an Elvis fan watching the festival. It came all of a sudden.”
In March 2012 at San Diego Fitzpatrick won his first professional contest, which earned him a spot in the Ultimate Elvis Contest in August at Memphis.
“When I made that, that obviously put my credentials up quite a bit,” Fitzpatrick said. “I ended up finishing Top 15 in the world for 2012.
In 2013 Fitzpatrick won the Penticton festival to earn another spot in the Ultimate Elvis Contest, where he placed second.
“That’s kind of the reason I hired a manager and we got this tour started,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s all come together now. It’s going really well. It’s kind of a new journey.”
When he started as a tribute performer Fitzpatrick knew about 10 of The King’s songs. Today, he counts more than 140 songs in his own repertoire.
“I just love the music,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s just the feel of it. I think it was Elvis’s voice, the way he sang the songs.”
Fitzpatrick knows full well how beloved Elvis Presley was to his fans and has shaped his act to be a true tribute to The King.
Fitzpatrick has spent hundreds of hours watching video of performances by Elvis, paying attention to the singer’s every move.
He also pays attention to the clothes he wears and takes pride in his stage wear out of respect for the Elvis Presley legacy.
“I keep my tribute a tribute, I’m not trying to be Elvis on stage,” Fitzpatrick said. “I obviously want to bring the essence of Elvis out on stage, you want to bring back the memories, but I’m still myself on stage. I just make sure I’m paying tribute in an authentic way.”
Fitzpatrick through his performances has been able to win over hard core Elvis fans who are not taken with the concept of tribute performers.
“They tell me that Elvis would be proud, that it was a good show, that it was entertaining. I’ve had lots of good comments, like ‘you sound just like him’ or ‘it was like watching Elvis on stage’ . . . always really good, positive feedback.”
Fitzpatrick puts lots of energy into his show so that everyone in the audience enjoys the performance — even those who are not died-in-the-wool Elvis fans.
“With a show like this you want to keep it balanced. You want to bring out the ones you know people want to hear. You can’t really do an Elvis show without Suspicious Minds. You want to keep a balance between the fast songs and the slow songs.”
The Bringing It Back tour — named for an Elvis Presley song — begins Jan. 25 in Penticton and includes stops in Whitecourt, Spruce Grove, Strathmore and Olds in Alberta, Melfort and Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg and Brandon in Manitoba.
Fitzpatrick will open the Bringing It Back show dressed in black leather to perform a short set as ‘68 Comeback Elvis.
Fitzpatrick then gives up the stage to Joe Kelso, who will perform eight Roy Orbison hits leading up to a 20-minute intermission.
“One of Elvis’s favourite singers was Roy Orbison,” Fitzpatrick said. “He loved Roy Orbison’s voice.”
Fitzpatrick returns to the stage following intermission to perform 15 songs as Elvis during The King’s years in Las Vegas.
Backing up Fitzpatrick are The Cadillac Kings, a band that includes the Uptown Hornz, a sanctioned Elvis Presley Enterprises group that has played at Graceland and toured with many top Elvis Tribute performers.
“Graceland has used this horn section on certain things,” Fitzpatrick said.
The band includes drummer Clayton Hill who has been with the Canadian band Trooper since 2006, and Steve Soucy, a five-time Canadian Country Music Association award -winning piano player and singer-songwriter.
Elvis Presley died in 1977 but the man and his music remain popular today. Adam Fitzpatrick is proud to be part of a tradition that will ensure that never changes.
“I just try to be as authentic as I can,” Fitzpatrick said. “I never take it for granted.”