Tribute artist Peter Triantis says Elvis hasn’t left the building

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By Mary Sinanidis

In August 1977, Peter Triantis remembers hearing the news that Elvis Presley had died on his pocket radio while at school in Year 5. He recalls the profound impact it had on him.

“Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news that Elvis died,” Peter tells The Greek Herald. 

What young Peter didn’t know at the time was that 47 years later, he would emerge as one of Australia’s most talented and sought after Elvis tribute artists, meticulously preserving the legacy of the king of rock and roll.

“I had no premonition that I would grow up to be an Elvis tribute artist or even enter show business,” Peter says, adding his older brother was a talented musician with Melbourne’s well-known Levendes band – booked out years in advance. Occasionally, Peter would perform a couple of Greek songs, but that was all.

As for Elvis, he had admiration but was not obsessed.

“Growing up I was more interested in kickboxing, and I later became a computer engineer. My hair was cut short at the back and sides, and I didn’t even know I could sing professionally until one day an Elvis tribute artist handed me the microphone to sing a couple of songs with him,” Peter says.

The audience was captivated.  

“They came up to me and said I should do this for a living,” he adds.

An idea was born and Peter was captivated by the allure of emulating the iconic performer.

Becoming Elvis

With the support of his wife Effie Triantis, a Greek dance teacher, Peter got to work shifting his career focus to reinvent himself as an Elvis tributer at the age of 37.  

Effie says she knew that Peter could sing from their karaoke nights when they first began to date. But it was a latent talent, and music hadn’t been on the professional radar.

“I was supportive of his career change because Peter is a perfectionist and I knew he would do it well,” she says.

peter triantis elvis presley (9)

Through singing lessons and a meticulous study of Presley’s performances, Peter endeavoured to authentically embody the essence of the legendary artist. For Peter, the commitment to his craft extends beyond mimicry as it encompasses a reverence for Presley’s artistry.

“If you don’t do it 100% genuinely, it’s better not to do it at all. That’s my motto,” Peter says. “If you want to pay tribute to Elvis, then do it the right way otherwise you are making a mockery of him.”

There are no cutting corners with unique garments made by B&K costume company, licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises to recreate costumes under the supervision of the original designers.

“They send me the suit, and I readjust it and resend it back and then they send it back again. It takes around three-to-six-months for every suit at six grand for each. I have 15, and then there are the boots at $600, the gold belt at $800,” he says, adding the showgirls, jewellery, speakers and light shows making for an incredible show.

Though Peter doesn’t do it for the money alone, he needs money to ensure that the performances are of the caliber Elvis would deserve.

“I know I’ll never be Elvis, but I want to be the best I can,” he says. “When I am on stage, I become him. But when the performance ends, I’m Peter again.”

Sometimes people in the street comment on the hair and sideburns which linger even as the rest of the Elvis persona is put to rest. Elvis had also endured comments from random people during his lifetime.

“I find that a lot of people hate you for being Elvis, and say, ‘what does he think he is doing?’ and there may even be jealousy behind that. But others admire you and enjoy the tribute,” he explains.

Peter says being a tribute artist isn’t always easy.

“When I put the Elvis costume on, the girls become delusional. And can you blame them? Even I want to scream when I see an Elvis guy on stage,” he says.

“During one show, a girl rushed up to kiss me and her boyfriend gestured he would slit my throat. I’ll never forget this. He then slapped his girlfriend and security had to take him away. I’m always cautious in shows about whether a girl has a boyfriend.”

peter triantis elvis presley

Reviving the king

Peter says the hype was always present since he first began to emulate Presley, however Baz Luhrmann’s biopic “Elvis” and the musical of the same name created a revival.

“The Elvis movie has blown us away. When it was up and running I was invited to cinemas and was booked solid every day almost,” he says. “I used to perform for people aged in their 50s and 60s, and now I’m doing shows at 21sts, 30s and 40s with young people still singing Elvis songs.”

The Parkes Elvis festival, where Peter has won awards, drew 40,000 people in January 2024 with record crowds showing that the younger generation is as interested as ever in the myth and legend of the great star.

peter triantis elvis presley

Elvismania in Greece

While Elvis never performed outside North America, Peter brought Elvis to Greece in the year prior to COVID-19 when he want to visit his relatives in Kalamata and his wife’s island, Lesvos.

“I went for a visit and took my Elvis costume with me. People saw me and thought I dressed like Elvis and that was it,” Peter says.

His wife adds, “When he sang, they were blown away.”

peter triantis elvis presley

At Molyvos, Lesvos, a hotelier got him to tour the village as people rushed to take photos.

“She said, ‘forget where you are staying, you can come and stay here for free’,” Peter explains.

In Athens, he was not allowed to wear the Elvis costume to the Parthenon on account of it being considered ‘sacred land.’ The security guards may have forbidden it but Zeus, the king of the gods, smiled on him as he drew the crowds outside.

Peter doesn’t believe that the latest Priscilla movie will cause much of a stir as far as Elvis tributes are concerned.

“She was a fool to have left him,” he says. “I know he was having affairs and that was hard for her, but Tom Jones’ wife stayed, and they had a happy marriage.”

Effie, his wife, disagrees. “He didn’t touch her after she had a baby. She was right to leave.”

peter triantis elvis presley
Peter with his wife Effie (right). Photo: The Greek Herald / Mary Sinanidis.

Like Elvis and Priscilla, Peter and Effie have a daughter who recently got married. At the reception at the Crown, Peter sang for her due to popular demand.

“There was not a dry eye,” Effie says.

The two chat away about their life and Peter is now Peter and has most definitely left Elvis on the stage. Now he’s just a Greek Australian husband with his lovely wife.

“Someday I’ll stop being Elvis,” he says. “When my hair begins to fall and I get fat.”

Effie remarks, “There’s little chance of that!”

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