Juliet Dunlop: Hell hath no fury like a rock singer scorned
THE poster read “Elvis Lives” but someone had taken a jumbo red marker pen and scored out the “s”. “Elvis Live” although not technically true, sounded like a much better prospect on a wet Friday night.
As Elvis impersonators go, he wasn’t bad either – white and gold one-piece, jet black hair, artfully curled lip and just the right amount of Vegas. We were treated to all the hits, some slightly arthritic hip swivelling and a guest appearance by a chubby little girl posing as the young Lisa Marie. Dinner even arrived on a hostess trolley – prawn cocktail, chicken Kiev and Arctic roll. Who could possibly resist?
In pubs and clubs across the land, Elvis does live – along with Cher, Madonna, David Bowie and Abba. Somewhere, possibly the toilets of a miner’s welfare, they’re fighting it out right now over the Carmen rollers and the St Tropez. It’s amazing what a wig, some make-up and a dash of self-belief can do. Remember ITV’s Stars in their Eyes? “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…” and then Janice from Stoke or Tony from Motherwell would disappear behind the dry ice, only to reappear as dead-ringers for Doris Day and Bryan Adams. George Michael was so impressed he gave his impersonator the official thumbs-up. But what happens when the real Robbie or Kylie want their musical mini me to disappear in a puff of stage smoke?
Wouldn’t that be more than a little churlish? Isn’t a tribute act, just that? You would think it would be the ultimate approval, confirmation of true celebrity status and general all-round adoration.
Well, no. Not if you’re Meat Loaf. He’s suing his tribute act for $100,000. The larger than life US rock star, real name Michael Aday, has had enough. He wants his identity back, or in this case, his online identity.
Dean Torkington, a 49 year-old native of Burnley, has used the MeatLoaf.org domain name since 2000.
Meat Loaf has accused Mr Torkington of being a “cybersquatter and online imposter” who has commercially exploited the name to capitalise on his celebrity.
Mr Torkington, who has performed his To Hell and Back: A Tribute for 16 years, says he has every intention of protecting his good name, although it isn’t really his name, is it?
Well, anyway, last Saturday, while the world gushed over the opening ceremony at the Olympics, Mr Torkington took to the stage at the Crown Paints Social Club in Darwen, Lancashire. It was an act of defiance. A two-fingered salute to the big boys, or in Mr Torkington’s case, one big boy in particular.
In fact, Mr Torkington believes that his own album, The Bat Strikes Back, has provoked the writ:
“Could the reason be it got a better review than Bat Out Of Hell 3 in Classic Rock Magazine?” the singer asked last week. Mr Torkington, whose act also includes Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, says Meat Loaf will have to fork out if he wants the domain name. Rebranding will cost him thousands – there’s the brochures, the advertising and the paintwork on the van to think about.
To mangle a perfectly good Meat Loaf lyric, Mr Torkington will do anything for love, but he won’t do that.
The singer also argues that since losing 11st he could no longer be considered a dead ringer for the star anyway, although his show does include a low rider chopper and most of the hits.
What a conundrum. Here we have a tribute act, who considers his act is better than the real thing and the real thing who considers his act is being exploited.
Maybe this is the fate that one-time stadium fillers can expect if they decide to give up touring, sit back and watch the royalties roll in. Or, is Meat Loaf at the stage in his career where he wouldn’t mind a three-night run at the Crown Paints Social Club? In a final ironic twist of the showbiz knife, are some tribute acts actually better than the real thing?
They may run faster, jump higher and leap further but have they got ‘it’? Star power is a funny old thing. Maybe the judge will know.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
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Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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