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Paying tribute to a legend

HHS’ Bobby Hollis spends free time as Elvis tribute artist 

An Elvis fan for his entire life, Bobby Hollis took his fandom to the next level as a tribute artist after his father’s advice – and his wife’s encouragement. Ten years later, he owns five jumpsuits and has traveled the Southeast performing and competing.  

“My dad found out he had lung cancer, and they told him he had three to six months to live,” Hollis said. I was sitting next to him one Friday night, and he told me if there was anything that I wanted to do in this life to do it – to not wait and keep waiting until it’s too late to give it a shot because you only get this go around one time.  

That’s when I started talking to my wife about it, and she said you know, let’s see what happens.” 

Wearing a jumpsuit that his wife and sister-in-law made for him, Hollis competed in his first competition in Tupelo, Miss., and has been hooked ever since.  

Hollis has worked in Hartselle City Schools since 2014 and is the custodian at Hartselle High. He said he likes his job for the one of the same reasons he likes being an Elvis tribute artist: the people.  

Despite being an Elvis fan his entire life, Hollis said he has always been shy – something that had to completely change when he became a tribute artist.  

“When you put those boots on and pull that jumpsuit up, it just totally changes you. You can channel all that, and you just start feeling it,” he said. I am never going to be Elvis – no one can be Elvisthere is only one – but I try to be as true to him as I can be.” 

His hobby has now taken him to several states and given him opportunities to perform in places he said he never imagined visiting before being tribute artist. He said one of his favorite parts of performing is bringing people together and meeting individuals who have met Elvis before or seen his shows.  

“It’s just something to do, and I love doing it. It’s fun, and I go to a lot of nursing homes and retirement facilities,” he said. “People at those places now were Elvis’ age, because he would be 84. You can meet a lot of people that actually knew him.  

I have met a lot of people in Alabama that have moved here from Memphis and tell me they knew Elvis and met him a lot of times. You meet people that went to a lot of his shows. I met this one guy that went to 37 of his shows.” 

Hollis said he remembers first encountering Elvis in 1967 when he saw him on the album cover of How Great Thou Art.  

It had a picture of Elvis with a church steeple behind him. I thought, ‘Man, that’s the coolest guy I have ever seen in my life’ – and then they started playing the record, and it just blew me away,” Hollis said.  

His tributes have taken Hollis everywhere from small local performances to performing in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, where Elvis was told he would never have a future in entertainment. Now 42 years after Elvis’ death, Hollis and others like him continue to pay tribute to the man that they all love.  

“His music never gets old,” Hollis said. It’s timeless; he’s timeless.”