Peter Alden & Crown Electric Company
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Peter Alden & Crown Electric Company

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"Peter Alden & Crown Electric Company Pay Tribute to Elvis."

By MICHAEL FORTUNA, DAILY SUN

THE VILLAGES — Elvis Presley left the world Aug. 16, 1977. Thirty years to the day, Pete Alden made sure the King’s light didn’t flicker out.

“If you’re doing this act and you can’t get work on this day, you’re not doing the job well,” Alden said. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Alden and his band, the Crown Electric Company, paid tribute to Presley on the 30th anniversary of his death during two sold-out performances Thursday night at Savannah Center. This marked the first time Alden brought his live five-piece band to The Villages.

The St. Cloud resident took the audiences through three different decades of Presley’s life — the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s — performing some of the hits from those eras. Alden also changed outfits for each decade.

“We give everyone their favorite version of Elvis,” Alden said. “He had a lot of great music. It’s so much fun to do.”

The Crown Electric Company has its own link to Presley’s history — its drummer is David Fontana, the son of Presley’s original drummer, D.J. Fontana.




Fontana started playing the drums at age 3; his father kept a drum set in the house, so Fontana liked to “go in and start banging on them.”

“When I was 4 or 5 years old, I’d see him on TV with Elvis,” Fontana said, “and I didn’t quite understand why he was on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ and sitting at home.”

Fontana eventually got his own drum set and started listening to “lots of Elvis” and ’70s rock. At the age of 20, Fontana quit his job and “hasn’t had a real job since.”

He first met Alden in Nashville where Fontana was working with Brian McCullough, a Roy Orbison impersonator.

“Peter and I hit it off,” Fontana said.

At the time, being in a Presley band was the last thing on Fontana’s mind.

“I got burned out on guys playing Elvis,” he said. “When I hooked up with Pete, he was the kind of person you want to be around. He’d do the show, but he doesn’t think he’s Elvis.

“Everybody (in the band) is a huge fan of Elvis, and they try to get it right, whatever version it is,” he said.

Alden has done this particular show for eight years, while he performed as Presley for a few years before that using a backing track.

“With the band, you take it to the next level,” Alden said.

The idea for playing Elvis came about 15 years ago when Alden took part in a production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” The rockabilly trio used in the musical kept on playing after the show ended.

“It snowballed from there,” Alden said.

To prepare for the role of Presley, Alden watched a lot of Elvis’ movies and TV shows to learn some of his mannerisms.

“The singing was more easy (to learn),” Alden said. “It’s the recognizable things that people look for.”

Alden said he never dreamed he would make a career out of performing as Presley. He went to school for musical theater, and planned to journey down that path.

“I don’t know anyone who planned to be an Elvis tribute artist,” Alden said.
- The Villages Daily Sun


"Keeping The Music Alive"

Hi, my name is David Fontana, and I was asked to write this column telling about my career and that of the person who I would say is “the greatest drummer the music business has ever had”-- my Dad, D.J. Fontana. I know I am a little biased, yet my views are also expressed by many very talented musicians, a lot of whom my dad played with. D.J. is well known for his work with Elvis, but many people do not know that he has played with many other artists as well, including Carl Perkins, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison.

I can remember in the late ‘60's and throughout the ‘70's, we would go for weeks without seeing our father because he was recording with just about every country artist out there. Dad would work four sessions a day, seven days a week. I remember watching TV at a very early age and seeing Dad playing with Elvis, yet he was at home with us. I could never figure out how he was in two places at one time!

The next time you listen to the early Elvis records, pay close attention to the drums. You have to understand that no one was playing drums like that in the fifties. The hard back beat and the swing that D.J. brought to the records was never heard before, but Elvis loved it. They were all swimming in uncharted waters. I have people ask me all the time: “What was your Dad playing on Jailhouse Rock?” The only thing I can tell them is that I don’t have the foggiest idea.

I guess I should also tell you a little about myself. I started playing drums at an early age. I would watch my Dad, then try to play the songs like him. I started playing professionally when I was about fourteen years old. Dad would give me the gigs that he couldn’t do, so I was playing with excellent musicians at a young age. I went on to have a pretty good career myself. I’ve played for many country artists such as Eddy Raven, Mel McDaniel, The Moffats, Cledus T. Judd and others. I now have the choice to play when I want to, so I pick very carefully. I want it to be fun or I’ll just choose to stay home.

Several years ago, I got a call from Pete Alden, an entertainer from Florida who does a tribute to Elvis. Now I can’t even begin to tell you how many calls like this I have gotten through the years. I have stayed away from most of them because a lot of the artists don’t take the time to know their craft. And, believe it or not, some don’t respect the music. Pete was different. He knew what he wanted and had such love for Elvis, as well as D.J., Scotty, and Bill.

I put together a band that I honestly believe is one of the best tribute bands out there. I have played with these guys for many years and they learned the material just like it is on the records. They all have such a love for the music, as well as the men. Our guitar player, Terry Fulwider, even went as far as to buy a guitar like Scotty’s just for our show. Alan Stanhope on bass guitar, and Chris James on keys are the best at what they do. These guys are on all the shows that we do with Pete. I believe in them so much that I will not do a show without them.

Peter Alden is a fantastic entertainer. He brings such love of the music to the stage that everyone can see it through his act. Another thing I really admire about Peter is that when he gets off the stage, he’s just Pete. No pretense. What you see is what you get.

Pete and his friend Brian McCullough (a Roy Orbison tribute artist) wrote a show based on the friendship of Elvis and Roy Orbison which we played on as well. It was different because it presented Elvis and Roy on stage together. It was a unique concept and I wish it had gotten a better chance to be seen. We really had a lot of fun on that show. Dad liked it too!

When we do our Elvis show, we also offer a true rockabilly show. We do many fun songs from that era as well as songs that we have put our own touch to. Pete and our band have decided to record a CD, coming out in February, featuring some really exciting songs. I have even re-arranged Jailhouse Rock in a new style that adds the freshness of today’s technology to the raw rockabilly sound of the ‘50's.

I would like to thank Joanna for giving me the opportunity to say a few words here. She has done more than her share trying to get D.J. into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I appreciate it very much. In closing, I want everyone to do just one thing for me.......“Keep the music alive!”

- Lady Luck Music


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