Raised by missionaries at a home in Bandra, Mumbai, Nigel started singing while he was in school. “I got the runners up in a singing competition at the Andrean Fair in Bandra in 1972. It was the Elvis competition, and it was great fun. From then on, it was more like jamming and playing and having a good time in all the private parties I was invited to. I was barely 15 when I started performing, I used to sing gospel and contemporary music all the time and lot of Elvis songs too,” reminisces Nigel.
As an adopted child, Nigel always longed to see his biological mother. “I was searching for my biological mom, and I found her in Hawaii. It was like two strangers meeting each other. I got to know that I was the only child… It wasn’t a very happy ending though.”
Finding his roots in Hawaii, the land of song and dance, Nigel left India when he was 21 to pursue a dream as a singer with the advantage of looking and sounding like Elvis. “I moved from Hawaii a while later and settled in Switzerland where I got a job with Swissair. I worked there for 15 years while doing my Elvis shows.”
Nigel who sings and plays the keyboard, is not an impersonator of the King of Rock and Roll. He is a ‘look alike and sound alike Elvis’ singer. He is the classy and flashy best of Elvis. His slick style, his sparkle, his hair and his rings emote everything Elvis. Even his jumpsuit is a perfect replica of Elvis’s “Aloha Eagle Jumpsuit” that Elvis wore in the Aloha show.
Performance on stage, signing of autographs offstage, putting scarves on young girls, gifting roses and throwing a teddy bear into the crowd — is just like Elvis.
Nigel is the only Elvis tribute act from India to be recognised on the world stage. He is also a member of the Elvis Presley Impersonators’ International Association (EPIIA). Nigel has performed in over 53 countries. “I sing all Elvis’s popular songs. I have a five-piece band and a 16-piece band with all brass section, but sometimes I do hire professional local bands.”
Pic: Verus Ferreira
He has a few 100 LP records of Elvis and about 25 of them in shellac, which he says are very expensive. That’s not all he he has an original ticket of Elvis’s last concert as well. “I also have the belt which I wear for my show signed by Mike McGregor who looked after Elvis’s horses. McGregor used to do the leather work and gold work. He also made a TCB (Taking Care of Business) in a flash sign ring in real gold and the diamond like the one he made for Elvis. I also have a TCB chain of Elvis — the original one.”
Elvis’s fascination for cars and bikes is known. Nigel, too, owns a 1959 Cadillac Oldsmobile Dynamic 88, Chevrolet Impala 1959, to Cadillac Fleetwood and Cadillac Series 62 and a few bikes. “I managed to source these vintage cars which I now rent out for Elvis themed weddings and film shootings,” he states proudly.
Nigel has visited the birthplace of Elvis — Tupelo — many times while he has visited Graceland 26 times, where he met Elvis’s daughter Lisa. He met Elvis’s wife Priscilla on a Mediterranean cruise ship. “Many of us were Elvis fans and impersonators. Priscilla (Presley) was on board and courteous enough to chat and pose with us.”
Pic: Verus Ferreira
Nigel considers music his gift, through which he can give people his message and also entertain them with songs of Elvis. “My aim was never ever to sound like Elvis. I can’t change the look, it’s there, its god given. I prefer to pay a tribute to Elvis and that’s why we’re called Elvis tribute artists. It doesn’t matter what you sound like, but you got to give him a tribute. A Chinese guy can give him a tribute in his own accent (mimics the song Blue Suede Shoes the way a Chinese would sing it in English),” says Nigel adding, “You hear my voice and maybe it doesn’t sound like Elvis, but I can sing Elvis songs and give you that experience. It’s just about keeping the legacy going.”
Performing in Las Vegas for six years, and being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995, Nigel continues to sing despite three heart attacks in 2020. Nigel is not slowing down as he says he has a mission to accomplish - that of paying tribute to Elvis till he can.
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