August 16, 1977 is a day that will be etched into the world’s memory forever. Most prominently, because it is the day that Elvis Presley died. Max Pellicano like most people can recall exactly where they were when the news came out across the radio. “Actually, believe it or not, I was going for a job interview that day. I didn’t want the job and I wanted to keep playing in my band. My dad told me that I needed to get out of music and to get a real job because music wasn’t that fulfilling. I was on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco when I heard that Elvis had died at 42-years-old at Graceland. I was in shock for a while there and when I got home all the members in my band were calling me up.” If only Pellicano’s dad could see him now.
For the last fifteen years, Max Pellicano has been paying tribute to the legend of Elvis in his stage show Elvis To The Max, and over the next month and a half will tour all around the country spreading the good word about ‘the King’. For the first time in the history of the show there is an 18-piece orchestra, and speaking to Max on opening night he is excited about what is to come. “I’m always looking forward to coming on tour and this is going to be pretty cool. We’re going to have a string section with us this time so we are able to do the really big numbers like ‘My Way’ and ‘The Wonder of You’. It’s gonna sound really good, I can’t wait to get back out on the road once again.”
Growing up in the era of The Ed Sullivan Show’s Beatles appearance, Pellicano was always destined to be in showbiz. His dad bought him a guitar at the age of 10 and Pellicano hasn’t looked back since. After graduating with a degree in performing arts and scoring a part in Bye Bye Birdie, the idea for Elvis To The Max came to fruition. “I went to Hawaii after finishing Bye Bye Birdie, and ended up staying for three years. I’ve taken the show since then all around the world and have been very privileged to do so. Elvis never performed outside the US and to play in Borneo and Australia and all these cool places is great.”
With a recreation of the infamous ‘White Eagle’ costume (valued at 10k+, which was made by Bill Bellow’s team, Elvis’s personal tailor), Elvis To The Max is the real deal in giving audiences the closest experience to seeing ‘the King’ live. The show is split up into three sections showcasing the golden years of his illustrious career. Pellicano’s favourite to perform, however, is the ‘Aloha from Hawaii’ concert.
“I like to wear the costumes from that era, and that period is when the jumpsuits came into play. On the road I like to keep fit and in shape – and everybody knows that Elvis liked a bacon, banana and peanut butter sandwich. I diet all week so I can splurge on Sunday,” Pellicano laughs about life on the road and keeping healthy and in shape to perform the two-hour extravaganza.
Also a keen actor, you are likely to see Pellicano in some films in the year to come. In the meantime, head down to Ballarat, Melbourne or Geelong to experience ‘the King’ for yourself.
When&Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat – August 14; The Palms @ Crown – August 15 & 16; and GPAC – August 17
Written by Tex Miller