Oak Cliff People: The King's Fans are All Shook Up

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The King's Fans Are All Shook Up

By Margaux Anbouba

When John Ehrenberger took the stage at El Ranchito last week, the crowd began to scream and swoon. But it wasn't his original performance that wooed the crowd, but his abaility to imitate the King of Rock 'n' Roll through his alter ego, Johnny Rockit. 

Ehrenberger began performing in 2003 after seeing legendary local Elvis impersonator Kraig Parker perform. At the time, he was 41 — the age Elvis was when he died.

"To actually start performing and doing a show took a lot of work," Ehrenberger said. "I never saw Elvis live, so I had to go buy every DVD — or at the time they were VHS tapes — of Elvis concerts. After 11 years, I can't do most of the things that Elvis does, and I rarely see anybody who can. 

After more than a decade of hound dogs and blue suede shoes, he's hanging up his studded jumpsuit. 

"It's tough balancing your work, a family, and having to do a show three or four times a week," said Ehrenberger, the owner of Superior Graphics in Lake Highlands. "I'm going to cut my hair and sideburns and look like the rest of you guys."

Along his journey, Ehrenberger has made many friends in the Elvis community, including Shane Gabriel. They met five years ago, when Gabriel, who works for the government, approached him after a show.

"I'm three years younger than Elvis was at the time that he died," Gabriel said. "I feel on the one hand that I'm a late bloomer, since Elvis started his career when he was 22, but I also feel young because I realized many of [the impersonators]  didn't start doing Elvis until after they were 40."

Ehrenberger and Gabriel both performed during the first round of El Ranchito's 11th annual Elvis impersonators contest. Juan Sanchez, the restaurant's manager and host for the evening, started the contest because of his passion for Elvis and those who love him.

"It's fun to see all these guys dress up like Elvis and faithfully get up on the stage, which is not an easy thing to do," Sanchez said. "Getting up on a stage in front of people is not easy — event though it may look easy, ans sometimes it looks a little painful."

The victor of the night, Ehrenberger, announced to the crowd's dismay this would be his last concert.

"I'm glad at my last contest I could go out with a bang," he said. "Maybe next year I'll come back impersonating Johnny Cash."