Darren Lee – The Man Behind the King
A nun taught Darren Lee how to play guitar, you’ll never guess what happened next.
Eleven years in Vegas may be enough for even the Rat Pack. The lights, the glitz, and 24/7 lifestyle won’t sustain a family of four forever. With two twin daughters on the way, and a recession looming, Darren Lee decided, after a very successful run on the Las Vegas strip, to make a shift in lifestyles and possibly in his career choice.
In 2011, he packed up and headed back to his roots in Langley, BC to regroup. Before moving to Maui in 2013 a good friend and financial backer, suggested the opening of an Elvis Presley tribute club and restaurant in Memphis. But, Darren couldn’t quite get the image of the Maui coast and crystal blue waters out of his mind.
Darren and his wife Allison had taken a trip to Maui some time before and were enraptured by the beauty of the island and the sweet spirit of the people here. Sitting at a luau one day, he gazed up at the hula dancers with the Pacific ocean as their backdrop, and thought, “someday I will come and do a show here on Maui.”
He presented his idea to his friend and backer, and the rest is history. They first began hashing out the details of a luau in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2012, when they were introduced to the folks at the Maui Theatre that their idea became a reality. The management of the world-class Maui Theatre in Lahaina, which also houses ‘Ulalena, invited them to come and do a show.
Finally, Darren Lee’s lifelong dream of having his own show was coming true. In Las Vegas at the American Superstars Show, which took place at the Stratosphere Hotel, Darren was one of many tribute artists, which meant that creative control was not his own. While it paid the bills, playing to over a million people in thousands of shows, during all his years in Vegas, was “not fulfilling”.
Darren’s manager there was also a former Elvis impersonator, who insisted that he wear the gold lamé suit from the 50‘s era, six nights a week for 11 years. The two showmen’s personalities were coming to a head, and Darren knew the spotlight on that stage was setting.
But now, in Blue Hawaii, dreams really do come true. Darren Lee has taken the stage front and center, throwing his ideas and creativity into “Burn’n Love”, and wowing audiences four nights a week. “Its a dream come true,” he says, “to finally get here and do this.”
It all started when he was knee high to a grasshopper and his mom would play her Elvis records around the house. Darren heard “Hound Dog” at age 3, and something inside started to stir. From play-singing with a tennis racket in his hand as a kid, he sculpted and molded his moves and his voice to create the incredible tribute performance that we all know and love today.
In the 5th grade, a Catholic nun taught him how to play a guitar and asked him to play and sing with the choir. After teaching himself “Blue Suede Shoes”, something just clicked. At the age of 21, Darren entered an Elvis contest in his hometown and won 2nd place. Not long after that, he landed a gig, sporting a sexy black leather suit, similar to that which Elvis wore in 68’, with a traveling Elvis show based out of Winnipeg.
A natural performer, Darren says, “Once you’re in the bubble, it’s like nothing else matters. All that matters to you is everybody in the world has come to see you that night and it doesn’t matter that down the block Tom Jones is playing, or Kiss is playing. You’re in the middle of this bubble and that’s all that matters.” That’s why in 1988, he decided to perform as Elvis professionally. He joined the Elvis, Elvis, Elvis show portraying the young 50’s Elvis and it was his brother that helped him hone his dance moves.
In 1997, he travled to Memphis to compete in the World Elvis Competition. To those in the business, this is the creme de la creme competition taking place in Elvis’ hometown. After taking the stage, it was apparent to the judges that day, that only Darren Lee was deserving of the coveted title of #1 Best Elvis Impersonator in the World!
Trials and tribulations have definitely come his way, but it’s all been worth it to Darren, to bring him to this amazing point in his life right now. “Burn’n Love” is comprised of a stellar cast of talented musicians and performers that bring solid energy every night.
The show pays homage to Elvis, who held a special place in his heart for Hawaii. Through his epic concerts like “Aloha from Hawaii” or films like “Girls, Girls, Girls”, Elvis made his mark in the Aloha state. “These people love Elvis, more than anywhere else,” Darren has said. “I never envisioned that it would be like this!”
- Recipient of the Queen Elizabeth’s “Diamond Jubilee Award” in recognition of excellence in his field
- Winner of the 1997 “World Elvis Competition”
- Longest performing Elvis tribute artist in Las Vegas history