Dayton resident competing in Branson Elvis Fest

Ryan Roth has been impersonating The King of Rock ‘n Roll most of his life.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BILL DICE

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BILL DICE

Ryan Roth became an Elvis Presley fanatic at the age of 10, locking himself in his room and playing songs on repeat until he had them down. Now, the Daytonian, who has been paying tribute to The King for about 15 years, is one of 20 singers from three countries and 10 different states participating in the 17th annual Branson Elvis Festival in Missouri on Saturday.

The winners of this event and other preliminaries will advance to the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis in August. These events are all endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises.

“I did this competition about two years ago,” Roth said. “It was the first contest I’d done in a long time but it’s really one of the best competitions I’ve done. They’re extremely professional.”

Ron Pease, owner of Refraze Recording Studios, has recorded several Elvis singers over the years. He ranks Roth up there with Jimmy “Orion” Ellis, who was long regarded as the tribute singer that sounded the most like Presley.

“I’ve recorded a lot of Elvis type singers over the years, including Jimmy Ellis, Orion, back in the late ‘90s to guys claiming to be Elvis’ son,” Pease said. “After working with Ryan over the years, Ryan, in my opinion, sounds the most like Elvis of anyone I’ve ever heard. So much that when I’m working with Ryan and listening to the recordings, I almost forget it’s not really Elvis.”

Competition is nothing new for Roth, who first took up the challenge in Council Bluff, Iowa in 2009. He finished in second place. In 2012, Roth finished ninth globally in the King of the World event and 11th in the Images of the King world championship. He won at Reflections of the King in Westfield, N.Y. in 2017.

“After 2017, I pulled back from going out to the competitions,” Roth said. “My band and I were really starting to get a lot of work around here, so I didn’t have to do that. I’ve done Elvis all over the United States and part of Canada over the last 15 years. It’s been a great experience.”

Fifteen years into his Elvis journey, Roth is still working to perfect his craft.

“We’re trying to pay tribute to a guy that is the greatest entertainer on the face of the earth,” he said. “That’s a really daunting task. As much as I’ve watched him, there are still things he did that I never noticed, and I’ve been watching him since 1977. He was just that incredible.”


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