Million Dollar Quartet’s Cody Slaughter on Uncanny Elvis Similarities and Witnessing Super Sweet 16 Drama

Fresh Face 04/27/12

Age and Hometown: “I’ll be turning 21 when we play Las Vegas in June. Wish me luck!”; Harrison, AR

Current Role: The king of rock ‘n’ roll himself, Elvis Presley, in the national tour of Million Dollar Quartet.

Growing Up in the Slaughter House:
Slaughter was not the typical teenager. While his classmates were engaged in extracurricular sports and glued to video games, Slaughter was greasing his hair and performing around the south in Elvis Presley tribute shows. Although his love for music came first, Slaughter’s interest in the icon originated from a coincidence: “The older I got, people told me I looked like Elvis,” Slaughter says. “I thought it was cool, but I had no idea that there was this whole world out there of Elvis entertainment.” When he was 12, a spur-of-the-moment trip with a friend to an Elvis tribute contest in Branson, Missouri proved favorable. Originally just there as a spectator, a group of adult Elvis impersonators coaxed Slaughter into taking the stage and performing “Hound Dog” while backed by a barrage of lookalikes. The event sparked years of booked performances and contests, eventually leading to Slaughter being named the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist by Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2011.

My Super (Spoiled) Sweet 16: In 2008, Slaughter’s mother told him she’d received a surprising phone call. It was an offer to appear on MTV’s diva-birthday-girl show My Super Sweet 16 as an Elvis tribute artist at a Las-Vegas themed party in Columbus, Ohio. Slaughter knew of the show and accepted immediately. Before he knew it, he was in Columbus escorting the birthday girl arm-in-arm into the swanky event. Slaughter remembers the hordes of people and the cameras well, but what sticks with him most is the signature Sweet 16 drama. “I couldn’t believe it. The girl was getting a gift; you know, just spoiled rotten,” Slaughter says. “She goes outside with all these people and they’re like, ‘All right, Taylor, here it comes!’ Around the corner rolls this really nice SUV. It was a beautiful car; pretty expensive. And she was totally bummed out! She hated it. And then around the corner rolled the actual car; the first one was just a joke. I should have said, ‘Here, give me the keys, I’ll take it.’”

Understanding of The King: “I’ve always liked his music, but I was really fascinated by the person, Elvis as a human being,” Slaughter says. Over the years, he received insight on The King while performing with longtime Elvis drummer DJ Fontana and the Sweet Inspirations, Elvis’ backup-singing group and frequent opening act. Yet perhaps the clearest window into the mind of the young Elvis in Million Dollar Quartet is his age. In the show, the iconic singer is only 21. “Even though I wasn’t doing movies before I joined this show like Elvis was, I was performing for four people when I started out. It was a struggle to get my name out,” Slaughter says. “When we meet Elvis in the show, he’s coming off of a bombed performance in Vegas. But he’s also seen the world and done so much. I feel like I know what Elvis was feeling at that time.”

See Slaughter and the rest of the quartet when Million Dollar Quartet comes to Portland from May 22 through May 27.

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