Friday marked the 42nd anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, but you wouldn’t know it if you were at the Monona Community Center that afternoon.
Tony Rocker, an Elvis impersonator, was in the middle of one of his tributes to the King of Rock and Roll, and the 100-plus members of the audience were enthralled.
Among them was 74-year-old Dolly Maurer.
“He’s really good therapy in so many ways,” the Madison woman said of Rocker and his performance. “I just think Tony is 99.9 percent Elvis in every aspect. Every detail of Elvis is done perfectly.”
Maurer discovered Rocker in the summer of 2018, when he performed for the Monona Senior Center, where he made a return show Friday. Since first seeing Rocker 13 months ago, Maurer has traveled far and wide to attend 35 of his shows.
“My friend and I went three and a half hours to Crivitz to see him, and then we drove back that night,” she said.
Maurer said Rocker has the ability to make everyone feel better, whether it’s someone going through chemotherapy, depression or the grief over the death of a loved one.
“My son was killed 29 years ago,” she said. “He used to always tease me about how much I liked Elvis. Now, when I see Tony, I feel my son with me again.”
On the afternoon of May 19, 1990, 19-year-old Chad Maurer returned home to grab lunch before heading back to work at the former Village Pedaler bicycle shop in Monona. Two days later, John and Dolly Maurer received a call from the Chicago Police Department that their son was found dead, presumably from carbon monoxide poisoning. His car was found in the garage of a housing complex on the south side of the city.
Initially believed to be suicide, enough evidence later led officials to change to the cause of death to undetermined, a status still in effect today.
“(Rocker) put passion and love back into my life,” Maurer said. “I don’t know exactly what he does, but it’s amazing something so simple could help.”
Maurer recalled hearing the news of Elvis’ death Aug. 16, 1977.
She was managing the Monona Shores apartment complex, and her husband gave her the news.
“I took two days off work,” she said. “I was in mourning.”
Maurer first became a huge Elvis fan after his 1968 Comeback Special, sometimes now recreated by Rocker and his band, The Comeback Special.
“Tony is the best, but he’s even better with his band,” she said.