Islanders love Elvis; the music, the movement, the icon. Elvis Presley has always had a distinct place in the hearts of Pacific people. At my grandmothers house there were the family portraits and then there were the Elvis portraits – side by side. She loved to watch old Elvis movies and my older male cousins had box mounted Elvis pictures in their rooms. Even my fifteen year old cousin is constantly playing Elvis love songs on the guitar.
This week marked the 36th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing. In honour of The King, here’s a look at the Pacific’s love affair with The King of Rock and Roll.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is pretty much the most famous Samoan in the world, and also a huge Elvis fan. Most of the Elvis memorabilia in his film The Game Plan is Johnson’s own
Another famous Samoan and one half of comedy duo The Laughing Samoans, Tofiga Fepulea’i has also paid homage to The King as Elvis impersonator SuavaiOleAlofa.
ilo and Stitch, the 42nd Walt Disney animated feature film, and the first ever to be set in the South Pacific is centred around the music of Elvis Presley.
Side note: There are reports floating around of an upcoming Disney project called Moana set to be released in March 2018, which will be about Polynesian culture and apparently includes a tiki idol as a character.
In rugby alone which is of course another big part of island life we have three Polynesian players all named Elvis. Elvis Levi, Elvis Seveali’i who has represented Samoa, and Elvis Taione who has represented Tonga.
Another side note: Within my personal circle I also know of both a guy named Elvis and I have a cousin named Presley.
Though some may be surprised by Elvis’ presence in the islands, the connection isn’t as bewildering as one might first think. Elvis had a love of Hawaii which perhaps first began during the filming of his film Blue Hawaii in which many of the dancers at the Polynesian Cultural Centre were featured. He often returned to Hawaii on vacation and has been credited with kick starting the islands tourism. Elvis also had a love of gospel music, particularly prevalent in the latter part of his life. This ties in to the strong Christian foundation that so many of the Pacific Islands are based upon.
Aside from this, the man made great music that has clearly stood the test of time and I like to think that islanders have a great ear and appreciation for good music. So in honour of The King of Rock and Roll here’s a clip of Elvis being ambushed and forced into song by the good people at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Blue Hawaii.