Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Noted Impersonator Dies: A Meditation on Individuality

Impersonator Ted Prior in December of 2010 

It's easy to dismiss the importance of a life spent pretending to be someone else.  Ted Prior, no matter what his talents may have been, engaged them in imitating Elvis.  Having known who Elvis really was, we can see that Ted Prior was but a pale imitation of 'The King' - a knock off- a substitute for someone who at first didn't have time, and later was not able to be there.  If he didn't care to be himself, why and how should we mourn his passing?
Sometimes those of us in the western world, and Ted Prior could probably be counted in that number, put too much stock in the value of identity and individuality.  When we look at one another, are we really all that unique?  One has side burns, drives a truck and listens to country music.  Another wears dark frame glasses,  skinny pants and enjoys sushi.  What defining characteristics do we have that are not just a T-shirt slogan or a pale copy of one cultural archetype, fictional character, Pundit or marketing campaign?
Spiritually are we a pale imitation of a heavenly form - a bumbling child playing dress-up in imitation of our Gods?
When I look at the face of Ted Prior, I see a sham.  I see a loser trying vainly to be someone great, and in that way I see all of us, no matter how sophisticated or accomplished we are at our forgeries.  And when I look again, I see the beauty that we all have despite how far we fall short.  It is the beauty of our imperfect humanity, and that is how I choose to mark and pay tribute to the passing of Ted Prior.
Here is his obituary from Philly.com:

There are lots of Elvis Presley impersonators, but probably the most popular in the Jersey shore resorts was Ted Prior.  He would show up at a casino one night, the back room of a Red Lobster the next, wherever Elvis' fans might be ensconced.
He was particularly popular in Ocean City, where he took part in the festivals, parades and other events for which the family resort is famous.
Ted Prior died yesterday of the cancer he had been battling since last fall. He was 68 and lived in Galloway Township, Atlantic County.  His death was announced by his manager, Neil Regina, who wrote on Ted's Facebook page:  "The stars in heaven will be much brighter and the music in rock and roll heaven will be much sweeter with him on lead vocal."
Ted's streak of nearly 10,000 performances over 50 years ended when he was forced  to miss a New Year's Eve show in Ocean City. He said the medication he was taking made him too weak to perform.  Ted's career path was set when, at the age of 14, he picked up a guitar he didn't know how to play at a party and began to sing. A friend yelled out, "Hey, Ted, you sound just like Elvis."
He took guitar lessons and gradually transformed himself into Elvis. He insisted that he was not an Elvis "impersonator." He preferred to think of himself as an Elvis "performer." -Philly.com

1 comment:

Nicholas said...

It’s true that Ted Prior is the most popular impersonator of the legend Elvis Presley. He got the moves, the voice and the talent in guitar; he was a complete package too bad he already passed away.

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