Bob Lougheed is lucky to be alive – he knows it, he embraces it and he lives each and every day like it could be his last on Mother Earth.
The cancer survivor will never forget sitting in a Philadelphia medical center in 2007, wondering what in the world he was going to do next, and listening as the surgeon who saved his life looked at the Claymont native and spoke the words Lougheed will never forget.
“Once it was all said and done,” he recalled, “Dr. John Hoffman, who I really credit for saving my life, looked at me and said, ‘Lougheed, you got lucky. Now go out and do something you like and be happy.’”
And that’s exactly what he did. When his alter ego, the late great Elvis Presley, takes the stage these days, it’s with a newfound lease on life and with a vigor and enthusiasm that is unmatched. After being one of the rare few to survive a battle with pancreatic cancer, he knows very well that this is his second chance, and he’s spending every minute doing what he loves.
“When I first learned that I had cancer, I got that stare, and I wondered what would happen next,” said Lougheed, a New Castle County native who moved to Southern Delaware in 2009. “But I’ve always been a very optimistic and upbeat person. I don’t know why I was spared, but I’m not going to waste a day; I certainly see other people go through this and not get so lucky.”
Lougheed spends a great deal of time these days performing for the benefit of cancer victims and cancer research organizations, mostly in Southern Delaware. Putting on his Elvis-replica jumpsuit and belting out the King’s songs for a cause near and dear to his heart is a special responsibility for the 50-year-old cancer survivor, and he takes it very seriously.
As for Elvis, Lougheed has always been a sort of “super fan” of the King of Rock-and-Roll. He recalled, even as a young boy, walking around his New Castle County home and belting out songs such as “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Hound Dog.”
He believes he was meant to do what he’s doing right now, though he never dreamed it would take off the way it has in such a short amount of time.
Until January of 2010, Lougheed was merely a guy who occasionally sang in a bar, had fun with some of the world’s most legendary songs and simply enjoyed his newfound lease on life.
Then, one night, someone heard him, and asked him to perform for someone special. And the rest is history. Now he does a weekly set of shows at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino and performs throughout the region on a regular basis.
He’s come very far very fast and is enjoying life to his heart’s content.
“I was just out goofing around and singing in a bar one night, when somebody heard me and asked if I would come and sing for a lady at an assisted-living facility,” Lougheed recalled. “She was 90 years old and shared Elvis’s birthday, so they would always bring in someone to sing for her. They rented me a suit, and I went over and did it for free; that’s how it all started.”
Today, Lougheed makes his living portraying the legendary Memphis singer who is renowned throughout the world as one of the greatest and most beloved performers in history.
He certainly looks the part, right down to the gold chains and the trademark sideburns Presley sported through most of his entertainment career. One of the most heavily copied singers in history, Elvis is a legend, and Lougheed tries his very best to channel that persona each and every time he gets on stage.
“There was only one Elvis, but I take a lot of pride in my performances and my shows,” said Lougheed. “But it has to come from within; if you’re faking it and you’re not really into it, people will know… I really, really enjoy what I do.”
For nearly a third of Lougheed’s live performances these days, he never realizes a single dollar of income. But what he receives is so much greater – he was lucky enough to survive a serious battle with cancer, and if he can give even one person the same chance he received, then every minute of his time is worth it.
He has performed for the Relay for Life event many times, had donated time to the Children’s Cancer Network, has traveled to Ireland and has raised money for a woman in Pennsylvania who is also fighting pancreatic cancer.
He serves as his own agent, puts on shows with the help of family members and treats audience members like they’ve been close friends for years. He loves what he does and feels fortunate for the opportunity to do it, and he’s living every day, every minute, to its fullest.
The last couple of years have been a whirlwind, but have also provided some of the best times of his life. Lougheed is “living the dream,” putting on the sequined jumpsuits of the King of Rock-and-Roll and gyrating his hips to tunes popular a half-century ago or more.
“It’s almost like asking a kid if he ever dreamed of hitting the winning home run in the World Series,” said Lougheed with a sly grin. “I always dreamed about doing this, but did I ever think it would get to this stage? Absolutely not.”
To learn more about Bob Lougheed, visit www.boblougheed.com or visit him every Thursday night at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. You can’t miss him – he’s the one who looks like “The King.”