Tyler Christopher: Lifelong performer pays tribute to Elvis Presley



If anyone was meant for the stage, it’s Tyler Christopher, presenting his Ultimate Elvis Show with the Roustabout Showband at Northmont Community Auditorium in Clayton on Friday, Feb. 2. The small-town Kentucky product was in grade school when he started dominating the karaoke contests at his county fair each summer.

By the time Christopher was 16 he had moved beyond karaoke contests to earning accolades with his own Elvis Presley show. Half a lifetime later, the 33-year-old singer continues to travel the country with his tribute to “The King.” The program includes material from the early days of young rockabilly Elvis to the singer’s later years as a Las Vegas showman with a big band.

» THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT DAYTON MUSIC: When Elvis crushed at UD Arena | Why Dayton is known as the Land of Funk

“When I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to perform,” Christopher said. “I grew up in Alexandria, Ky. I wanted to be like Elvis but the closest I got was doing the karaoke contest at the county fair. I won that little karaoke contest 10 years in a row. It’s funny looking back at that but I enjoyed growing up out there. It was really small, but it was really nice. It has grown up quite a bit just like everywhere else with all these subdivisions and stuff everywhere.”

Christopher, who has lived in Cincinnati since 2021, was introduced to Presley by his late father.

“I grew up loving Elvis,” he said. “My dad was a huge Elvis fan, but he unfortunately passed away unexpectedly when I was six years old. Elvis was always a tether to my dad and to that connection and that’s how I got into this. Most people we meet and talk to at shows don’t just have a connection with Elvis but there’s a memory attached to a song, a movie or an experience.

“That’s the great thing about Elvis,” Christopher continued. “His music is powerful like that. It will tie you emotionally to a moment or a family member. That’s the power and the emotion of Elvis as an artist and as a person and what he put into his music.”



Transcendent artist

His tribute to Presley has taken Christopher to venues throughout the country and abroad. He has performed in theaters, on cruises and at private events. Each August, he makes the pilgrimage to Memphis to perform during Elvis Week.

“I’ve been doing this professionally for about 17 years,” Christopher said. “It’s always been popular. Elvis keeps transcending generations. Of course, we have older fans that are from that generation, but we keep getting younger and younger people. There are people my age and in their 20s and even really young kids. Their parents say, ‘We’re here because of our kids.’ You have these kids that are 5 and 6 years old and they’re dressed up in little jumpsuits. They just love it.”

There aren’t a lot of figures that are true originals like Elvis Presley. The native of Tupelo, Miss. appeared at the right time. It was the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll and the early days of television. He had the right combination of talent, magnetism and looks. It’s a powerful combination that still resonates with music fans today.

“Elvis represented cool in the ‘50s,” Christopher said. “Here was this guy who was almost like an alien from outer space. He was so much different than everybody else at the time. He had slicked back hair and the movements and that kind of rebel style. When I was younger, I watched all the movies from the ‘50s and ‘60s like ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ ‘Loving You,’ ‘Blue Hawaii’ and ‘Viva Las Vegas.’

“Those movies were awesome,” he continued. “You’re watching those as a kid and you’re like, ‘How much cooler can it get than this guy?’ He’s driving the fast cars, he sings and he wins the girl. He had the whole thing going on, so I got sucked in real early on.”

The silver screen

Mid-’50s radio hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender” and “All Shook Up” turned the poor southern boy into a national teen idol. Naturally, Hollywood came calling. Presley starred in 31 feature films, starting with his 1956 debut, “Love Me Tender,” and coming to an end with “Change of Habit” in 1969.

“People look at the movies out of context,” Christopher said. “There was a lot of musical stuff going on in the era they were made. You had the Frankie and Annette beach movies. There was ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘Mary Poppins.’ If you’re Elvis, the downside is you get typecast because people know you’re going to sell because you’re Elvis.

“The problem is they start doing the movies cheaper and faster because they’re going to sell regardless,” Christopher continued. “Elvis got pushed into that, but he actually had acting chops. He really was a good actor when he was given good material like ‘King Creole’ and ‘Charro!’ but people just wanted to see him on the beach singing.”



Striking a balance

Tribute concerts are big business today, but Elvis, who was 42 when he passed away in 1977, was one of the first stars that spawned impersonators trying to recreate that magic.

“I’m very big on the difference between a tribute and an impersonation,” Chrisopher said. “I don’t pretend to be Elvis. I’m Tyler doing my tribute to Elvis. There’s a balance to it. None of us will ever eclipse Elvis. He was one of a kind, so I want to make sure it doesn’t go from being a tasteful tribute to a caricature.

“I want to perform the music and have the look and the general essence,” Christopher added. “I want it to be as close as possible to what it would be like to see Elvis so people can relive those moments and memories.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or donthrasher100@gmail.com.

How to go

What: The Ultimate Elvis Show featuring Tyler Christopher and the Roustabout Showband

Where: Northmont Community Auditorium, 4916 W. National Road, Clayton

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $30 to $45

More info: eventbrite.com

About the Author