Sioux City native Brad Hedlund has something in common with the King of Rock 'n' Roll that others might not.

Elvis Presley died at age 42. Hedlund, a professional Elvis tribute artist, died at age 42.


But unlike Elvis, Hedlund was revived so he could continue to pay tribute to one of the greatest rock stars of all time, including a March 10 event at the Castle on the Hill.

Hedlund's "death" took place at work, where co-workers found him on the floor,

"My heart had stopped and when the paramedics arrived, they revived me and then again, revived me when my heart stopped," he explained. "My heart stopped because my body was dangerously low on potassium, a side effect of diabetes. People told me I was the color purple."

Hedlund's return to recovery took almost a year.

"I had speech therapy, occupational therapy, all kinds of therapy," he said. "I lost my job as a parts manager at Charlie Zook Hyundai."

But that didn't deter the 1987 West High graduate, who started doing Elvis tribute shows about five years ago.

"I was never a singer," he stressed. "In fact I couldn't sing at all."

Instead, it was Hedlund's good friend Scott Tucker who encouraged him to consider being a vocalist.

"I would help Scott when he would perform at nursing homes and I told him I wished I could sing like he could," Hedlund related. "He told me, 'Brad, your voice is just a muscle. All you need to do is exercise it.'"

Armed with that encouragement, Hedlund practiced, practiced, practiced, "possibly thousands of hours," he estimated.

"My first Elvis song was one he did in the 1950s," he recalled. "'Mean Woman Blues.'"

Hedlund chose to sing Elvis songs, despite the many other genres he could have chosen.

"It had a lot to do with my mom," he said. "She loved Elvis and I listened to him on 8-track tapes growing up. I thought if I was going to portray somebody, why not the King? Without him, today's music would be so much different, I think."

People react positively to Hedlund's shows.

"I know I'm not Elvis," he acknowledged. "But people clearly want to believe I am. The best part of doing a show is seeing their reaction. It's when they cry when they hear a certain song or the joy in their faces when they may be recalling hearing an Elvis song when they were a teenager or young adult."

It helps that Hedlund resembles Elvis.

"During the day, I'm just Brad, but when I put the suit on, I become the King," he said.