Russell Morris proved he is still as popular as ever when he arrived at Kelly Reserve for the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival Wall of Fame ceremony on Wednesday.
The Australian rocker was escorted in a vintage car by festival founder and volunteer Bob Steel, greeting a very large fanfare just before 2pm.
Before and after the unveiling he took time to talk to fans, pose for photos and sign autographs.
Russell was named the 2019 inductee on the wall, becoming the 24th music icon.
- READ ALSO: Follow along with the action at the festival
He said it was an honour to be placed on the wall, upon which the names of so many other Australian music legends also hang – like Johnny O’Keefe (1995), Little Pattie (1997), Billy Thorpe (2008), Molly Meldrum (2014), Rob E.G (2016) and the Emmanuel brothers (2018).
“I’m a very big Elvis fan...It is a huge honour to be recognised for anything you do and I was delighted to come down,” Russell said.
Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM said the occasion celebrated Russell’s 53 years in the music industry and acknowledged the 50th anniversary of his number one hit The Real Thing, which also featured prominently in the 2000 Australian movie, The Dish, set in Parkes during the historic first Apollo moon landing, 50 years ago.
At the end of the ceremony Russell delighted fans when he offered to play a song. And you guessed it – he sang The Real Thing.
The Wall of Fame celebration concluded with an intimate 60 minute performance with Russell and guitarist Pete Robinson at the Parkes Services Club at 4pm.
As part of the unveiling, names of past volunteers of the festival are added to a second plaque especially dedicated to their memory.
Cr Ken McGrath had the honour of announcing their names – one being that of Kay Ryan, who was the first to suggest the festival should have an Elvis tribute artist (ETA).
“In those days we did hunt around and we found an Elvis tribute artist,” Cr McGrath said.
“We didn’t quite make enough money to pay the young bloke that night, [festival founders] Bob and Anne [Steel] paid the money so we had to pay Bob and Anne back.
“We ran various raffles, made lamingtons, we had a pet show, we done everything to make money to pay them back.
“We got another ETA the next year and the same sort of thing happened, we didn’t quite make the money, but then the next year we got another Elvis tribute artist by the name of Adam Sutherland and he packed the house out.
“From then on it has never stopped and now we have international artists.”
Joy McWhirter and Stan Kingham, who were hard working and made a big contribution to the festival, were also honoured with their names on the wall.
“It’s our pleasure to be able to honour these people who are members of the Elvis Festival that started some 27 years ago,” Cr McGrath said.
“This festival would never have got off the ground if it wasn’t for these people that we’ve got on this plaque today.”
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