A lifetime love of ‘The King’ led Rod Toovey to a world-wide career as an Elvis tribute singer

When Rod Toovey first heard music legend Elvis Presley sing, he was mesmerised.

“I got into Elvis when I was a young fellow, my brother bought home a gold record of Elvis, I’ll never forget it,” he said.

He was the best thing since sliced bread!”

Elvis Presley’s talent and charisma has enraptured generations of fans.(Reuters)

Paying homage to the “King of Rock,” Elvis Presley, is now Toovey’s full-time job, after previously installing garage doors.

“After all these years of doing other things through life, I’ve ended up doing the thing I love,” he said.

Living a double life

People who see Toovey walking down the street in the small Tasmanian town of Beaconsfield wouldn’t suspect that his long dark sideburns and shiny black shoes are part of his Elvis look.

“I don’t get dressed up and walk around (in costume) in Beaconsfield, I think I’d get something thrown at me,” he said laughing.

“I started getting into singing Elvis properly when I was about 48 and decided I’d start up professionally around 50 and I’ve been doing it for about 12 years so you can guess how old I am.”

Toovey considers himself a tribute artist, not an Elvis impersonator.

Rod Toovey Elvis tribute performer in blue suit
Toovey says there considerable difference between impersonators and tribute artists.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

“I like to be called, and I think most of the guys who are professional at it like to be known, as an Elvis tribute artist rather than an Elvis impersonator,” he said.

“Some guys do do the impersonation that’s the talking like Elvis — I’m an Australian so I’m never going to be an American. I try and deliver the songs the same way Elvis delivered them and in the same voice and the same range.

“I think that’s the difference between a tribute artist and an impersonator, you’re playing a tribute to a guy that was just one of the best entertainers ever.”

Elvis impersonator white suit
Toovey’s tribute career has taken him around the world.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

“Elvis to me, he was an exceptional human being, I think just far ahead of his time, he wasn’t accepted at the time, my dad didn’t like him … but most of the women liked him!”

Performing in Memphis

Despite not owning blue suede shoes, Toovey said Elvis was always on his mind, and his passion had taken him around the world singing and performing.

“It was at the Crown Plaza Hotel and we had Americans in the audience and Canadians … and I ended up getting a standing ovation from the Americans … they said, ‘Wow you can sing, boy, how can you Australian do that?'” Toovey said while laughing.

Rod Toovey Elvis tribute performer viewed from backstage
Toovey says the gospel music which inspired Elvis Presley is also a passion of his.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

Elvis Aaron Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi and died at age 42 in 1977 from a heart attack.

“We went into the little house that his dad actually built where he was born, very poor area, but the tourism from Elvis is great for the area,” Toovey said.

“I think that’s where he saw the African-American side of the blues and that’s where he got his roots from, singing in church, gospel music, which I like doing too, that’s where he basically started.”

Elvis Presley sits at his white Knabe grand piano
Elvis Presley remains one of the most popular artists of all time.(www.ha.com)

Rock magazine Rolling Stone names some of his best-known songs as Suspicious Minds, Jailhouse Rock and If I Can Dream.

He remains one of the best-selling solo artists with more than 1 billion records sold worldwide. 

Moving to Tasmania

Toovey and his wife Trish first came to Tasmania to perform in a show at the St Helens RSL more than a decade ago.

Rod Toovey Elvis tribute performer wearing a Red shirt
Toovey says he doesn’t try to impersonate Elvis Presley, but pay tribute to his talent.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

“We got booked and we thought, ‘Oh well, let’s come down to Tassie, get paid to go down there, what a great thing,’ and we spent six days down here and met some really nice people … and it built up from there and we ended up doing about 18 or 19 shows every summer for 10 years.”

“We loved it down here, we loved the people in Tassie, we loved the climate and the laid-back lifestyle.”

The pair also run an Airbnb in Beaconsfield.

Close up of smiling Elvis Presley tribute artist Rod Toovey
Toovey loves his work as an Elvis tribute artist and believes he has a few more years in him yet.(ABC News: Mitch Woolnough)

“We work very well together, we did everything here together and we’re still doing it together which is great … she backs me in everything.”

“Making people happy is the thing now, I think if you’ve got a job and you can make people happy at the same time while doing it, you’re not really working.”

“I love it, I like doing it and I like getting the reaction I get from people … and when I can’t do it properly anymore I’ll give it a miss, so still going alright for now.”

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NRL 2020, Penrith Panthers, finals: Viliame Kikau suspension angers Ben Elias, Geoff Toovey, judiciary

Rugby league legend Ben Elias has lambasted the NRL judiciary’s decision to rub out Panthers star Viliame Kikau from the preliminary finals.

The strike backrower was on Tuesday found guilty of a dangerous throw and suspended for one match — to be served in Penrith’s first preliminary final since 2014.

Speaking on NRL 360 on Wednesday night, Elias said the decision was “unbelievable” and asked for the judiciary to use some “common sense” in the future.

Stream the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership finals series live & on-demand from overseas on Watch NRL. Grab your finals pass now!

Semi Final

‘Common sense should prevail’


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New Zealand Warriors brutal Geoff Toovey rejection without interview

Manly great Geoff Toovey has reportedly been brutally rejected from a shot at the vacant New Zealand Warriors job, swept aside without even an interview.

TVNZ’s Matt Manukia tweeted that Warriors CEO Cameron George rejected the former Manly mentor by saying he “did not meet the criteria” without an interview but thanked for his interest.

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It’s another setback for Toovey who was sacked after the 2015 season when the Sea Eagles missed the finals, despite having taking the side to a preliminary final in 2012, a Grand Final in his second season in 2013 and a semi-final in 2014.

In 2015, the Sea Eagles missed the finals by one place, and he was replaced by Trent Barrett.

This was despite having 61 wins from 105 games as coach, a win percentage bettered by only five current NRL coaches, including Wayne Bennett, Craig Bellamy, Des Hasler, Trent Robinson and rookie coach Adam O’Brien.

Speaking on Fox Sports’ NRL Tonight, NRL commentator Dan Ginnane took aim, while The Australian‘s rugby league reporter Brent Read called it “a slap in the face for Geoff”.

“To say that he didn’t meet the criteria I thought was a little insulting,” Ginnane said. “Now, maybe he didn’t fit the criteria, (but] this is a Grand Final coach, whatever you think of him.

“Whether you think he lacks tactical acumen, or doesn’t fit in with what you’re trying to build, I don’t know. But it’s pretty insulting to metaphorically defecate on a Grand Final coach when you as a club haven’t done much on the field.”

The Warriors are reportedly looking at the likes of coaching brother team Ben and Shane Walker, who George reportedly interviewed a fortnight ago.

“The Walker brothers bring a lot to the table as coaches and we are leaving no stone unturned,” George confirmed to NRL.com at the time.

“They bring a number of attributes to the game that are refreshing, innovative and certainly could enhance our individual players‘ talent.”

Similarly, interim coach Todd Payten has reportedly been interviewed while Paul Green and Anthony Griffin have been floated as potential coaches.

Sadly for Toovey, there was no room for him at the interview table, despite having put his hand up for the job.

“I think any coach worth his salt would love the job,” Toovey told TVNZ last week.

“Such a plethora of athletes over in New Zealand and the South Pacific. I’d love to get my hands on a couple of them and get the best out of them.”

A month ago, Toovey was asked point blank on NRL360 if he’d put his hat in the ring.

“I think you’d be foolish not to,” he said. “It’d be like being a kid in a candy shop over there with all those great athletes, it’d be a fantastic job. But there’ll be plenty of candidates going for it.

“The first thing you’ve got to do is get them motivated and get their systems in place defensively. There’s something wrong there with their defence and on the back of that, their natural talent will score points.”

Toovey said he had spoken to someone over there before the process began but it appears as though he wasn’t what the Warriors’ powerbrokers were looking for.

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