P.J. Proby (born James Marcus Smith, November 6, 1938) is an American singer, songwriter, and actor, who has portrayed Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison in musical theatre productions and had a recording career in his own right. The stage name P.J. Proby was suggested to him by his friend Sharon Sheeley, who had had a boyfriend of the same name at high school.
Proby was born in Houston, Texas, United States, and was educated at San Marcos Military Academy, Culver Naval Academy and Western Military Academy. After graduation he moved to California to become a motion picture actor and recording artist. Given the stage name Jett Powers by top Hollywood agents Gabey, Lutz, Heller and Loeb, he took acting and singing lessons, and appeared in movies with small roles. Two singles, "Go, Girl, Go" and "Loud Perfume", were released on an independent label. Proby was brought by Sharon Sheeley to audition at Liberty Records in 1961 and he recorded a number of unsuccessful singles for the label. In 1962 he began writing songs and recording demos for artists such as Elvis Presley and Bobby Vee.
Proby travelled to London after being introduced to Jack Good by Sheeley and Jackie DeShannon. He appeared on The Beatles' television special in 1964. Under the production of Good, Proby scored a string of exuberantly-styled UK top 20 hits in 1964 and 1965 including "Hold Me", "Together" (featuring session guitarists Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page), "Somewhere" and "Maria" (the latter two taken from the musical West Side Story).
Despite these hits, Proby's UK career gradually lost momentum after a number of controversial live appearances—including a notorious trouser-splitting incident at a February 1965 show in Croydon, Surrey—led to performance bans by the ABC theatre chain, its TV namesake and BBC TV. A run of minor hits in 1966 was followed by a number of flops, and in March 1968 "It's Your Day Today" gave Proby his last UK chart entry for nearly 30 years.
In 1971 he appeared on stage as Cassio in a rock musical version of Shakespeare's Othello, called Catch My Soul. After Catch My Soul, he continued to perform mostly in cabaret and nightclubs, singing 1960s ballads and rhythm and blues material. Signing with Good again in 1977, he portrayed Elvis Presley in a theatrical production of Elvis – The Musical. In 1978, Proby recorded with the Dutch rock group Focus releasing Focus con Proby. He then returned to singing in clubs, before embarking on a change of direction.
In 1997, Proby toured with The Who in the United States and in Europe, performing as 'The Godfather' in the road production of Quadrophenia. After Quadrophenia, Proby continued singing by doing performances in UK, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. In August 2004, he also toured in Australia. From February until May 2006, Proby began touring with the 'Solid Silver Sixties Show 2006' - and went through six road managers/drivers – throughout much of the UK, ending at the London Palladium.
P. J. Proby continues to record and delight music lovers with his sell-out concert performances across the United Kingdom and beyond. (Info mainly Wikipedia)