Jimmy "Orion" Ellis

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Jimmy Ellis
Orioningold photo by Shelby Singleton.used with permission.JPG
Jimmy Ellis as "Orion"
Background information
Birth nameJames Hughes Bell
Also known asOrion, Ellis James, Shadowman, Steven Silver
Born(1945-02-26)February 26, 1945[1]
Pascagoula, Mississippi, United States
DiedDecember 12, 1998(1998-12-12) (aged 53)
Orrville, Alabama, United States
Years active1962 – 1998

Jimmy Hughes Bell (February 26, 1945 - December 12, 1998), who used the stage name Orion at times in his career, was an American singer. His voice was similar to Elvis Presley's, a fact which he and his record company played upon, making some believe that some of his recordings were by Presley, or even that Presley had not died in 1977. Ellis appeared with many artists including Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tammy Wynette, Ricky Skaggs, Lee Greenwood, Gary Morris, and the Oak Ridge Boys.[2]

Early life[edit]

Ellis was born in Washington, D.C.,[1] United States, into a single parent home. His birth certificate states the mother was a secretary named Gladys Bell and the father was Vernon (no surname).[3] When Ellis was two, they moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he was put up for adoption.[1] When he was four, Ellis was adopted by R.F. and Mary Faye (nee Hodges) Ellis.[1] He attended Orrville High School, where he excelled in baseball, football and basketball.[1] After winning a state fair competition, his first professional performance was in a nightclub named Demon's Den in Albany, Georgia.[1] Ellis entered Middle Georgia College on an athletic scholarship, then transferred to Livingston State University.[1] He trained horses while working to launch his music career, and eventually signed with Sun Records.[1]


On December 12, 1998, Ellis was murdered during a robbery in his Orrville, Alabama pawnshop, Jimmy's Pawn Shop.[4] Jeffrey Lee was convicted of the murder of Ellis and employee Elaine Thompson and the attempted murder of employee Helen King. Lee was sentenced to death, and his appeal against the sentence was refused on 9 October 2009.[4]

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King[edit]

In 2015, film-maker Jeanie Finlay released a documentary film after pitching it at Sheffield Doc/Fest's 2013 MeetMarket about Ellis' life and career entitled Orion: The Man Who Would Be King.[5][6][7][8] The film went on to win 'The Discovery Award' at the British Independent Film Awards 2015.[9] It was released theatrically in the US by Sundance Selects on December 4, 2015.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Denisoff, R. Serge; Plasketes, George (1995). True Disbelievers: Elvis Contagion. Routledge. ISBN 9781560001867.
  2. ^ "Tragedy of the man who sounded TOO MUCH like Elvis". Daily Mail. 16 August 2015.
  3. ^ Film: Orion: The Man Who Would Be King (2015)
  4. ^ a b "LEE v. STATE | FindLaw". Caselaw.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  5. ^ Mark Kermode. "Orion: The Man Who Would Be King review – wonderfully weird | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  6. ^ "Orion: The Man Who Would Be King (2015)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Ben Kenigsberg (2015-04-17). "'Orion: The Man Who Would Be King' Review: The Ultimate Elvis Impersonator". Variety. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  9. ^ "British Independent Film Awards 2015: the winners in full". BFI. 2015-12-06. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  10. ^ "Sundance Selects acquires 'Orion: The Man Who Would Be King' for US Theatrical release". Orionthemovie.com. 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2016-11-21.

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