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Can’t help falling in love with Elvis

Hawera man’s two-room shed pays tribute to the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. Stepping in to KD Wasley’s museum a spiritual experience of an Elvis kind. KD’s swept-back hair style is the first sign that this is more than a passing fad; Elvis’s memory is captured in memorabilia that KD has collected since the 1950s.

His wife cuts his hair and KD keeps it in rockabilly-shape every day. KD says he can’t help himself; Elvis is his world. But there are rules at the Wasleys’ house: Elvis is off-limits in the home. Only the hairdo is allowed inside. Elvis smiles from every space in KD’s two-roomed tribute to the King.

KD points to the jacket Elvis wears in a picture; he is wearing a replica he had made years ago. It still fits decades later, and he can still sway his hips and legs as he did as the frontman for the Jewel Dance Band, which played Elvis tributes in the 1950s and 1960s in Hawera.

Pictures on a celebrity wall from the early 1960s include those who have made the pilgrimage to Elvis’s Graceland estate in Tennessee. Among them are John Hoare, the Hi Marks, Maria Dallas, Justin du Fresne, Tom Sharplin, the Exponents in 1992, Foxtel TV Sydney in 2006 and, more recently, Jeremy Wells.

There is an original Agfa picture of Elvis with members of a Maori kapa haka party in Hawaii, and another of Elvis in hongi with one of the women. ‘‘Beautiful, eh?’’, KD says proudly. In another display are 1960s LP records from around the world: Japan, Russia, Italy, France, South Africa and England, and a copy of Elvis’s first single, Heartbreak Hotel. There are also singles from a Memphis jukebox that cost 75 cents to hear, and an RCA vinyl LP.

There’s a picture of KD’s Memphis pen pal, Roy Lyon, who met Elvis. Mr Lyon took the original pictures of Elvis and nearby are the original tickets to a 1968 Elvis concert he sent to KD. ‘‘That was like flying to the moon,’’ KD said, but as a young teenager he could not afford the plane ticket to go.

KD has met Elvis’s original backing band, the Jordanaires, and Elvis’s uncle, Vester Presley, during one of his many trips to Memphis. KD’s three sons reckon their dad’s in a time warp, and he agrees. How many other blokes have a shed dedicated to a legend? ‘‘Elvis’s music is healthy, and it’s good for you,’’ says the 63-year old as he sways and sings a few lines, enjoying the life of a King.

[Source:, Friday April 1, 2011. Merania Karauia]

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