T.J. JACKSON: Popular Akwesasne Elvis impersonator passes away

T.J. JACKSON: Popular Akwesasne Elvis impersonator passes away

CORNWALL, Ontario – Tributes are pouring in for a popular Elvis impersonator from Akwesasne who wowed crowds with his endless enthusiasm.

T.J. Jackson died Tuesday. Social media posts suggest he passed away following a battle with pneumonia. He was only in his 50s.

Alison Hudson, a local performer with the band Alison Wonderland, said in an interview Jackson was one of a kind.

He put so much of himself into his portrayal of Elvis but never to the point where his unique talent didn’t shine through,” she said. “His costumes were so stunning. I always enjoyed his company and his talent.”

“We’re all just reeling from the news…such a short life and a wonderful man, gone way too soon.”

Andre Piette, another member of Alison Wonderland who got to know Jackson over the years, said the Elvis impersonator took his work seriously.

He was spot on to Elvis. Every time I would see him perform he was captivating. You couldn’t turn away.”

Piette added Jackson enjoyed his Elvis persona off-stage too.

“T.J. would dress up as Elvis on halloween and sing for people and hand out candy at his house,” said Piette. “It was just the kind of guy he was.”

In 2013 Jackson told Seaway News that his love for the king of rock and roll began at a young age because of his parents’ infatuation with Elvis.

“That’s where they first met,” he said.

Growing up in Akwesasne as a child Jackson got his first taste for performing when accompanying his parents to Malone, N.Y. to do laundry on Saturdays.

Next door to the laundromat was a bar where a young Jackson would tap dance and two-step, a skill taught to him by a family friend, while patrons showered him with spare change, as his father and grandfather kept watch over him. “They got to sit and drink and I did all the work,” he laughed.

From there, an uncle taught him guitar, and he would eventually go on to play in country rock bands, for many years, and eventually record a couple of CDs of original music.

It’s Jackson who painstakingly sewed every bead and embellishment onto his jumpsuits, to exact specifications. 

“A lot of people don’t know Elvis was part native, and loved the native designs on his suits.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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