Tribute to 'The King'

Police detective turned
Elvis tribute artist to perform

Singer Samu to hold benefit concert
to help local charities

LA GRANGE, Ky. – For some reason he cannot explain, Endre Samu, like thousands of other fans, is fascinated by Elvis Presley. Though he never saw Elvis perform live, Samu can give a stage presentation of Elvis that is flawless.
If you didn’t know the King was dead, you’d think Samu is the living, breathing Elvis. From the ’70s jumpsuits and rhinestones, to sunglasses and scarves, his impersonation is impressive.
For the last 25 years, Samu has been raising money for local charities by performing as Elvis. The impersonations happened “by accident, in a way,” he said.
He visited Memphis in 1991 and while there, “I was peeking in the window at Sun Records during lunchtime. I thought it was a museum.” This was the studio that launched the careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and many other American singers.

Photo provided

Endre Samu performs as Elvis on Oct. 15 in La Grange, Ky.

The general manager asked Samu if he “would like to record a song, and I recorded Stuck on You” for $50. He let friends listen to the tape and was invited to sing at a July 4 gig. Things kept growing from that point, and the invitations to perform as Elvis began pouring in.
Samu, 57, decided to invest in Elvis costumes and organize a backup band. He began to perform at benefits to raise money for different charities and has held fundraisers all across the country and even in Europe, on cruise ships and at private parties and corporate events.
Samu will be bringing his Elvis act to CityPlace in La Grange, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 15. The fundraising concert will take place from 7-9:30 p.m. in Pavilion II Proceeds will benefit Crossroads Pregnancy Resource Center in La Grange and the Kentucky State Police’s Shop with a Trooper program.
“It was my idea,” Samu said of the fundraiser. He has raised more than $2 million for various charities and it is his “way of giving back to the public.”
“Upon moving to the area, he came into CityPlace,” said Karen Greenwell, CityPlace administrator. “He said he would love to do a concert, as a benefit, so he scheduled the Pavilion.”
Greenwell said he “will have a live band with him.” Samu formed his own band known as the EP Band (Endre’s Police Band).
Samu’s parents were immigrants to America during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, when Russia invaded Hungary. He grew up in Lisbon, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania line.
The day Elvis died in 1977, Samu was in U.S. Army basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. He went on to work at various state prisons in the Colorado corrections system, from which he retired in 2008 and moved to Kentucky.
By the time he reached age 50, Samu was not ready to give up his day job in the corrections system. He applied for and was accepted into the Kentucky State Police Academy.
He was assigned as a trooper to Post 8 in Morehead, Ky., in July 2009. His reputation as an Elvis impersonator preceded him, and Samu was asked to be the featured entertainment for the post’s Christmas Party, where many colleagues were surprised by his stage performance, so unlike his everyday demeanor.
In 2014 Samu was transferred to Post 5 in Campbellsburg, Ky., where he still works as a detective. That same year, Samu resigned as the executive director for Trooper Island, a 34-acre island on Dale Hollow Lake where summer camp is held for underprivileged children. Trooper Island is a 501c3 and operates solely from donations.
He was appointed executive director of Trooper Island in 2012 by the Commissioner. Even though he loved his job, “it took away from being able to perform to an audience.” Finally “it was time to move on and be closer to family.”
Performing is what he loves to do. Samu made two of his own costumes and purchased a third from an Elvis merchandise sanctioned store in Canada. He patterns his performances on two important eras in Elvis’ career: the Las Vegas period and the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert.
From the swiveling hips to karate kicks, Samu more than gives the audience its money’s worth. As he belts out a classic Elvis Presley set list that includes “Hound Dog” and ‘Suspicious Minds,” Samu’s main focus is on “bringing back fond memories” for the audience.
Whenever he performs, there is a range of ages in the audience. Even very young children “seem to know a lot about Elvis from their grandparents, who want to carry on the nostalgia.”
When he performs certain songs before an older generation, “you can see it touches their hearts. You can see it in their eyes.”
Samu said he hopes there will be “a great turnout for the fundraiser, especially now that the holiday season is upon us.”

• Tickets for this fundraiser are $20 for reserved seating, or $25 at the door. To make reservations call (859) 398-8668.

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