Belfast Telegraph

Home News

It's only wok and roll: chef Stan sizzles as Elvis impersonator

By Brendan McDaid

An Ulster Chinese restaurant owner will be ditching spring rolls for rock 'n 'roll this week as he marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.

Elvis devotee Stan Lee, owner of the Mandarin Palace in Londonderry, will be curling up his lip and donning his tailor-made jump suit to entertain punters at a special 'wok and roll' concert at the weekend.

Mr Lee was today joining millions of fans the world over in paying homage to his hero Elvis Aaron Presley, who died on August 16 1977, at his home in Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 42.

Speaking to the Telegraph, the 40-year-old Derry man - who calls himself Stan Preslee when he dons the jump suit to entertain diners - said he first heard Elvis's music as a youth growing up in the city.

"I have been a fan since the early 70s. My mum, who loved Elvis, used to play the 33s and 45 records and I just got the influence from her," he said.

Since following in his father's footsteps and opening his restaurant on the River Foyle waterfront in 2000, Mr Lee has been offering diners a dinner with a difference.

He said: "At the weekends I would do an Elvis sing-song in the restaurant. Nobody else does it in Derry. This weekend, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, I will be doing an Elvis X-Factor.

"I will be encouraging people to sing. Derry is renowned for its famous singers so I will be encouraging people to join in for karaoke Elvis songs."

Among the musical treats usually on the Mandarin's menu are Mr Lee's favourite Elvis tunes, Suspicious Minds and The Wonder of You.

He said that the Derry audiences have reacted well to his weekly shows.

"Because it's a short set they enjoy the craic and it helps break the ice and create a joyful atmosphere. It's also a good laugh," he said.

Mr Lee said he chose the cloth himself for his Elvis suit before asking a local wedding dressmaker to create a custom-made outfit, modelled on one of the king's most famous creations.

The Derry man attributes Elvis' lasting appeal to his charisma and musical ability.

"He is the most recognised icon ever in the world and is still as popular as ever.

"He was a very colourful character who brought a lot of joy to people's lives with his personality; his voice.

"His voice has been enduring and nobody has had the same charisma, even now there's nobody."

He added that he has been honing his own vocal skills.

"I started about seven years ago and I am getting better," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph