A Whale of a Time in Graceland

Elvis Impersonator Radford Ellis

hide captionElvis impersonator Radford Ellis gets some international attention from a Japanese television crew.

Don Gonyea
Elvis Impersonators

hide captionElvis impersonators Louis Mattei and Chuck Baril sing Don't be Cruel (to Whales).

Alan Spearman

Graceland is used to having lots of visitors. But it's not every day that two world leaders stop by Elvis Presley's estate. NPR’s Don Gonyea is traveling with the president. He sent back a photo he took last night at "Club 152." A Japanese television crew was interviewing Elvis impersonator Radford Ellis. His show is called The E Factor.

While President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi were visiting Graceland, it only took a bit of prodding for Koizumi to break into song. He sang: "Love Me Tender" and "Can't Help Falling in Love."

But some Elvis impersonators were singing a different Elvis tune — "Don't Be Cruel," or, to be more precise, a new version of that song. They were hired by an environmental group, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, that wanted to send a message to Koizumi to stop Japanese whaling. The revised version:

You know, I won't be found, swimming in the deep blue sea. The Japanese are coming around. They're going to harpoon me. Don't be cruel to a whale that's true…. Don't be cruel, to a whale that's true. Don't be cruel, they wouldn't harpoon you. Please don't kill for blubber. Maybe it's the planet, I'm thinking of.

It's kind of a light way for an environmental group to try to get attention for a serious subject. Japan has been pressing to relax protections for whales. NPR’s John Nielsen had an interesting story last week about Japan's efforts to restore commercial whaling.

Don Gonyea has more to report on the unusual day at Graceland on All Things Considered.

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