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Friday, 26 February 2016

Jimmy "Orion" Ellis born 26 February 1945

Jimmy Ellis (born Jimmy Hughes Bell, February 26, 1945 - died December 12, 1998) was born in Orrville, Alabama on February 26th of 1945. The music industry is filled with many strange tales of artists whose lives took unexpected turns on the winding road to success, but the saga of singer Jimmy Ellis is perhaps one of the weirdest of them all.
He was professionally
known as Orion, and his double-edged claim to fame was that his natural speaking and singing voice sounded almost exactly like that of Elvis Presley.
Jimmy was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi on February 26, 1945, into a single parent home. His birth certificate states the mother as Gladys Bell and the father as Vernon (no surname). When he was two, Gladys left Jimmy at the Montgomery Children's Home where he was put up for adoption. Young Jimmy was taken in by R.F. Ellis and his wife Mary Faye, where Jimmy's surname was changed to Ellis.
His first public appearance was at the age of 17 at Orrville High's "Religious Emphasis Week". He sang Peace in the Valley. Subsequently, Ellis won the finals of a statewide talent contest in Alabama where he sang Unchained Melody and The Days of Wine and Roses accompanied only by a piano.
Ellis later settled into a two-year athletic scholarship at Middle Georgia Junior College in the town of Cochran. He transferred to Livingston State University where he started playing small clubs.
Ellis recorded an album under his own name, Sometimes Words Just Get In The Way, for a small label in 1964. His fans remarked how closely he spoke and sang like Elvis. He maintained that it was coincidence.

He was signed to a number of labels, mainly smaller ones, before finally ending up at famed Sun Records in 1972
with producer Shelby Singleton in Nashville. His first two singles were covers of two of the King's former hits, "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Shelby Singleton of Sun International decided to disguise Ellis' identity leaving listeners to speculate that the songs might be alternate takes of Elvis' first first two songs. Instead of listing Ellis' first album on the label, Singleton printed a question mark.
Ellis first album appearance for Sun was as an unidentified singer singing duet with Jerry Lee Lewis on ten tracks of the 1978 album Duets. Charlie Rich sang along with Lewis on two other songs. Again, the speculation was that Elvis had sung on the songs, particularly "Save the Last Dance for Me".
In 1979 Jimmy Ellis finally merged with an identity, but it still wasn't himself. He appeared as Orion Eckley Darnell, the character created August 16, 1977, by a Marietta [Georgia], housewife Gail Brewer-Giorgo. Her 1978 novel Orion told the story of a rock and roll singer, very much like Elvis, who faked his own death.

On Orion's 1979 debut album Reborn, he appeared on the album cover wearing a mask over his eyes. The album featured some excellent songs including "Ebony Eyes", "Honey", and "Washing Machine". They were sung in the same style in which Elvis would have sung them.
Ellis's Orion character claimed to have been managed by one Colonel Mac Weiman, and have been born in Ribbonsville, Tennessee on December 31, 1931. Listeners of Orion were initially split into two camps: those who knew that Orion was Jimmy Ellis just having some fun sounding like Elvis , and others who sincerely believed or wanted to believe that he was truly Elvis coming back on the scene after faking his own death. As Orion, Ellis reached Billboard's country chart with nine singles.
A fine talent in his own right, Ellis recorded the song "I'm Not Trying" (Boblo 536) and the album By Request - Ellis Sings Elvis. Ellis made a public confession in 1983 admitting he was Orion. He left Sun Records, never again appearing to the public as Orion.
Ellis was gunned Down in His Alabama Pawn Shop December 12, 1998. He was standing before the display counter in his Jimmy's Pawn and Package Store just after noon Saturday when the gunman burst in and, in seconds, turned the quiet shop into a slaughterhouse by also  k

illing Ellis’s 44-year-old ex-wife, Elaine Thompson, who was on a stool behind the counter. The killer also shot another worker, Helen King, in the hand.  Jeffrey Lee was later convicted of murder and sentenced to death. His appeal against the sentence was refused on 9th October 2009. (Info edited mainly from Wikia) 

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Orion – Reborn” go here:

1 Honey 4:03
2 Lover Please 2:22
3 Got You On My Mind 2:37
4 Mona Lisa 2:33
5 Before The Next Teardrop Falls 2:57
6 Ebony Eyes 3:02
7 Washing Machine 2:28
8 Baby, I Still Love You 2:43
9 You Can Have Her 3:15
10 Lonesome Angel 2:50