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Elvis is back in the building.
Marion County native Eddie Miles will be performing a pair of concerts to celebrate the music of Elvis and country music legends on Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13, in Angelic Hall.
But this weekend is just the beginning. Miles will be returning Aug. 9-10 and Sept. 13-14.
Miles has made a career as an Elvis impersonator, and is regarded as one of the best — if not the best — in the country.
And it all started in Holy Cross, where he was raised by Thomas Edward and Teresa Arletha Miles. (His mother is still living in Holy Cross. His father died in 1994.)
Miles was born in 1955.
Growing up, he played sports and rode his bike. He went to the Holy Cross parochial school, and attended St. Francis High School in the ninth grade. He transferred to Marion County High School, where he graduated in 1973. He was the first class to complete three years of high school there.
"There wasn't a lot to do in Holy Cross, Kentucky, in those years," Miles said.
But there was music.
"My mother, she always had record albums around the house, the legends back then Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and guys like that. A lot of country music," he recalled.
He also recalled that his uncles would bring their guitars to his house and play.
"They taught me a few chords," he said. "I just always liked music."
He got his first guitar when he was around 10 years old.
"As soon as I learned a few chords and a few songs, I'd sing for whoever came around," Miles said.
As he improved, he entered talent competitions, including ones at the Lincoln Jamboree. Shortly thereafter, he, his brother Danny and his sister Patty become regular performers at the theater.
"That place was known as the Grand Ole Opry of Kentucky ... That was the place that anybody who wanted to become an entertainer or sing in front of an audience, that was the place to go," Miles said.
His mother's collection of 45s certainly helped shape his own musical tastes, but he remembers the first time he heard "Jailhouse Rock" on the radio.
Miles said when he was learning to play songs, he tried to play and sing them the way he heard it performed.
"I wasn't doing an impersonation so to speak, but still, when I do a Johnny Cash song, I try to sing it like he sang," Miles said.
He did the same thing when he was learning Elvis's songs. Miles said he was attracted to Elvis’s music for the same reason as lots of other people.
"It was just the way he sang the songs and the songs that he did," Miles said.
As he got older, Miles and his brothers started playing at clubs and dances in Marion and Nelson counties. As they travelled and played, Miles noticed the response generated by the Elvis songs.
After watching another performer get a big response from an Elvis song, Miles had an Elvis outfit made, and with his naturally black hair, completing the look was relatively simple. When he performed that way, he knew he was doing something right.
"I got a bigger reaction than anything I'd ever done," Miles said.
That led to another regular spot at the Lincoln Jamboree doing routines of three or four Elvis songs per show. Gradually, that built into a full show of nothing by Elvis music.
When Elvis died, Miles thought that was the end of his act, too. He joined the Air Force and served for four years, but after he got out, he still wanted to be in entertainment.
So, he put together another band and started performing Elvis songs again, playing wherever he could. That led to performances at state fairs around the Midwest.
As he started to garner a following of his own, he settled in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where he had his own theater. In the mid-1990s, he moved to Myrtle Beach, where he opened the Eddie Miles Theater.
"After that all ended, I started doing road work, and that's what I've been doing ever since," he said.
He's traveled up and down the East Coast, performing at theaters and festivals, and he's even traveled the world.
"I've done some shows in Ireland, Sweden. I even did a show in Bangkok, Thailand, one time," Miles said. "I did some shows in Hawaii."
After years of travelling, Miles is looking to slow down a bit and maybe settle into a new home venue. He’s also happy for the opportunity to reconnect with his home county.
He said he registered for the draft at the post office in Lebanon, and once, he was the grand marshal of the Ham Days parade. He's even donated a few of his old Elvis outfits and some memorabilia from his career to the Marion County Heritage Center.
"I’m really pleased to be able to come to Lebanon. They got that beautiful Angelic Hall that's perfect," he said. "I'm looking forward to see what happens."
Miles also may be the only performer who is also his own opening act. During the first half of his shows, he'll perform the songs of the country legends he grew up listening to, including (but not limited to) Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty.
Miles also promises something else about his shows — no two are ever the same. Given the number of Elvis songs he can perform, he can mix up his set list from night to night to make it something different for every performance.
"People have been Elvis-crazy for years," Miles said. "Thirty-five-plus years after he's gone, they still love him.”
Eddie, Elvis and a few others
Eddie Miles will be performing his show, “A Salute to Elvis and Country Legends” in a series of six performances, starting this weekend in Angelic Hall in Lebanon.
The show will start at 8 p.m. each night. The shows are scheduled for July 12-13, Aug. 9-10 and Sept. 13-14.
Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission at (270) 692-0021 or visit http://www.visitlebanonky.com/events/eddie-miles-concert/.
For more information about Miles, visit www.eddiemiles.com.