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 name James Hughes Bell
Also known as Orion, Ellis James, Shadowman, Steven Silver
Born (1945-02-26)February 26, 1945[1]
Pascagoula, Mississippi, United States
Died December 12, 1998(1998-12-12) (aged 53)
Orrville, Alabama, United States
Genres Rock
Country
Rockabilly
Gospel
Occupation(s) Singer
Songwriter
Years active 1962 – 1998
Labels Various
Website http://www.orionjimmyellis.com

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, 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]

Death[edit]

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]

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Title Label Tracks (If additional were available) Credited As
1964
"Don't Count Your Chickens" Dradco Don't Count Your Chickens / Love is But a Love Jimmy Ellis
1972
"Blue Moon of Kentucky" Sun Blue Moon of Kentucky / That's All Right Jimmy Ellis
1973
"Changing" Sun Changing / I Use Her to Remind Me of You Jimmy Ellis
"There You Go" MCA There Ya Go / Here Comes That Feeling Again Jimmy Ellis
1976
"It's You Again" Boblo It's You Again / The Closer He Gets Jimmy Ellis
1977
"Tupelo Woman" Boblo Tupelo Woman / Just Out of Reach Jimmy Ellis
"There You Go" Boblo There You Go / Here Come's That Wonderful Feeling Again Jimmy Ellis
"Movin' On" Boblo Movin' On / My Baby's Out of Sight Jimmy Ellis
1978
"I'm Not Trying to Be Like Elvis" Boblo I'm Not Trying to Be Like Elvis / Games You Been Playing Jimmy Ellis
"That's All Right" Sun That's All Right / Blue Moon of Kentucky "?"
"Save the Last Dance For Me" Sun Save the Last Dance For Me / Am I To Be the One Orion
"Cold Cold Heart" Sun Cold Cold Heart / Hello Josephine Orion
1979
"Honey" Sun Honey / Ebony Eyes Orion
"Washing Machine" Sun Washing Machine / Before the Next Teardrop Falls Orion
"Remember Bethlehem" Sun Remember Bethlehem / Silent Night Orion
"Stranger in My Place" Sun Stranger in My Place / It Ain't No Mystery Orion
1980
"Faded Love" Sun Faded Love / Texas Tea Orion
"Am I That Easy to Forget" Sun Am I That Easy to Forget / Crazy Arms Orion
"Rockabilly Rebel" Sun Rockabilly Rebel / Memphis Sun Orion
"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" Sun Crazy Little Thing Called Love / Matchbox Orion
"Be Bop A Lula" Sun Be Bop A Lula / Break Up Orion
1981
"Born" Sun Born / If I Can't Have You Orion
"Some You Win, Some You Lose" Sun Some You Win, Some You Lose
1982
"Feelings" Sun Feelings / Baby, Feel Say Yes Orion
"Honky Tonk Heaven" Sun Honky Tonk Heaven / Morning, Noon and Night Orion
"Listen To Daddy" Sun Listen to Daddy / (some copies has) I'll Sing What to Dream (or) Remember Bethlehem (1979) Orion
"I'm Saving Up My Pennies" Sun I'm Saving Up My Pennies Orion
1984
"I'm Saving Up My Pennies" Kristal KS I'm Saving Up My Pennies (1982) / I'm Starting Over Orion
1985
"One Hundred Pound of Clay" Kristal KS One Hundred Pounds of Clay / Because He Lives Orion
1986
"Thank God for America" Southern Tracks Thank God for America / I Make the Livin' Jimmy Ellis
1987
"Sunday Father" Southern Tracks Sunday Father / Thank God for America (1986) Jimmy Ellis
"Down in Mississippi" Vulcan Down in Mississippi Steven Silver
1990
"Unchained Melody" Radio Active NR Unchained Melody Orion
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" Stargem I Want you, I Need You, I Love You / Plastic Saddle Orion
"Love It Back Together" Stargem Love It Back Together / If That Isn't Love Orion
"Feel Right" Stargem remains unreleased and remains as a private item Unknown
1999
"I'll Be With You Always" Golly Music I'll Be With You Always Jimmy Ellis

Albums[edit]

Year Title Label Tracks Credited As
1978
Reborn Chairty Honey / Lover Please / Got You on My Mind / Mona Lisa / Before the Next Teardrop Fall / Ebony Eyes / Washing Machine / Baby, I Still Love You / You Can Have Her / Lonesome Angel Orion
By Request, Ellis Sings Elvis Boblo Moody Blue / Return to Sender / Hurt / Kentucky Rain / Can't Help Falling in Love / It's Now or Never / Burning Love / You Don't Have To Say You Love Me / My Way / Love Me Tender / Mean Woman Blues / Teddy Bear Jimmy Ellis
1979
Reborn Sun Re-release of the 1978 album Orion
Sunrise Sun Secret Love / You Can't Judge a Book / San Francisco is a Lonely Town / Then I'll Be Over You / I Heard You Talking With Your Eyes / Stranger in My Place / I Hear you Knocking / Turn Around, Look at Me / Baby You Got It / It Ain't No Mystery Orion
1980
Country Sun Texas Tea / Faded Love / What Did I Promise Her Last Night / Green Green Grass of Home / Crazy Arms / Send Me the Pillow You Dream On / Help Me Make It Through the Night / Release Me / Please Help Me I'm Falling / The Long Black Veil / Am I That Easy To Forget Orion
Rockabilly Sun Rockabilly Rebel / See You Later Alligator / Suzie Q / I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday / Rockin' Little Angel / Crazy Little Thing Called Love / Long Tall Sally / Memphis Sun / Peggy Sue / Matchbox Orion
Glory Sun Where He Leads Me / Sweet Hour of Prayer / I Surrender All / Peace In the Valley / It Is No Secret / I Believe / He Touched Me / Softly and Tenderly / Where No One Stands Alone / Just a Closer Walk With Thee Orion
1981
Fresh Sun There's No Easy Way / Baby Please Say Yes / Born / If I Can't Have You / Ain't No Good / Some You Win, Some You Lose / Look Me Up (And Lay It On Me) / Old Mexico / Rainbow Maker / Anybody Out There Orion
Feelings Sun Feelings / No One Will Ever Know / I Love You Because / What Now My Love / Somewhere My Love / I Can't Stop Loving You / He'll Have To Go / Snowbird Orion
20 All Time Favorites Suffolk Marketing Snowbird (1981) / Save the Last Dance For Me (1978) / Honey (1978) / Please Help Me I'm Falling (1979) / Feelings (1981) / Help Me Make It Through the Night (1980) / Am I That Easy to Forget (1980) / Mona Lisa (1978) / Before the Next Teardrop Falls (1979) / I Love You Because (1981) / Faded Love (1980) / Crazy Arms (1980) / Release Me (1980) / Green Green Grass of Home (1981) / Secret Love (1979) / He'll Have To Go (1981) / What Now My Love (1981) / No One Will Ever Know (1981) / I Can't Stop Loving You (1981) / Somewhere My Love (1981) Jimmy Ellis
1986
New Beginnings I Need You In My Life / Lay Around and Love On You / Sunday Father / America / Never Too Old to Rock and Roll Sweet Mississippi Memories / Back On the Street / Old Time Rock (re-recording) / I Can't Get Used to Sleepin' By Myself / The Way My Dog Loves Me / Her Memory Just Won't Let Us Lay Down / Down in Mississippi Jimmy Ellis
1992
Genuine Stargem Only a Woman Like You / Love It Back Together / Lookin' For a Way / She Wakes Me With a Kiss Every Morning / We Can't Go On Living Like This / Plastic Saddle / I Want You, I Need You, I Love You / Hooked On a Feeling / Separate Ways / If That Isn't Love Jimmy Ellis
The Legend Continues Stargem Feel Right / Since I Met You Baby / Slow Hand / Nothing Short of Dying / Love Is In the Air / That's the Thing About Love / At This Moment / It Only Hurts When I Cry / Tips of My Fingers / Treat Me Nice Jimmy Ellis
Because He Lives Stargem Just a Closer Walk With Thee / Amazing Grace / Where Could I Go But to the Lord / You'll Never Walk Alone / I'll Fly Away / Lead Me, Guide Me / Peace In the Valley / Stand By Me / Because He Lives / Precious Memories Jimmy Ellis
Special Moments Stargem Restless / Lay Around and Love On You / I Need You In My Life / Out of the Blue / Memories Won't Let Us Lay Down / Dream On Me / Can't Get Used to Sleeping By Myself / Sunday Father / Old Pipeliner / Old Time Rock Jimmy Ellis
1996
Steady as She Goes Kardina Steady as She Goes / He Has His Hand on Your Heart / Love is the Only Way Out / Between Hello and Goodbye / Rock Your Baby / I Know Where You Are Coming From / My Boogie Wants to Boogie With You / The Power of Your Love / If You Ever Want a Fool Round / Starting Over Ellis James / (reissued as Orion)
1997
Holiday Tribute To the King Kardina Here Comes Santa Claus / I'll Be Home for Christmas / O' Little Town of Bethlehem / Blue Christmas / Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) / Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees / Silent Night / Santa Claus Is Back in Town / Jingle Bells (re-recording) / It Won't Seem Like Christmas Without You Jimmy Ellis
A Christmas Filled With Love Kardina Christmas Memory / A Christmas Filled With Love / The Funny Little Man All Dressed in Red / An Old Fashioned Christmas / Christmas Spirit / Christmas Eve / The Fireplace / You're All I Want for Christmas Jimmy Ellis
2000* Ellis Sings Elvis - The Last Recordings Kardina Stuck On You / Don't Be Cruel / Crying In the Chapel / All Shook Up / Are You Lonesome Tonight / Teddy Bear (re-recording) / If I Can Dream / I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (re-recording) / That's Al Right (re-recording) / Follow That Dream Jimmy Ellis / Orion

* Released after Jimmy Ellis's death in 1998

Other recordings[edit]

These songs have appeared on other compilations or a collection of songs.

Year Title Album Credited As
1978
"Save the Last Dance For Me" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"Sweet Little Sixteen" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"I Love You Because" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"C.C. Rider" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"Cold Cold Heart" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"Hello Josephine" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"It Won't Happen With Me" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"What I'd Say" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
"Good Golly Miss Molly" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Duets - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends Friend
1978
"Christmas Greetings" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"Jingle Bells" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"Up On the House Top" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"Deck the Halls" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"Joy to the World" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas" Christmas to Elvis Orion
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear Christmas to Elvis Orion
"Away In a Manger" Christmas to Elvis Orion
1980
"Be Bop A Lula" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Trio Plus Orion
"Good Rockin' Tonight" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Trio Plus Orion
"Money" (duet with Jerry Lee Lewis) Trio Plus Orion
"On My Knees" (duet with Charlie Rich) Trio Plus Orion
"Gentle As a Lamb" (duet with Charlie Rich) Trio Plus Orion
"Break Up" (duet with Charlie Rich) Trio Plus Orion
"Sittin' and Thinkin' (duet with Charlie Rich) Trio Plus Orion
"Dixie Fried" (duet with Carl Perkins) Trio Plus Orion
"Matchbox" (duet with Carl Perkins) Trio Plus Orion
"Gone, Gone, Gone" (duet with Carl Perkins) Trio Plus Orion
1991
"He is Gone But Not Forgotten" A Tribute to Elvis (K-Tel) Jimmy Ellis
1997
"Merry Christmas Love" Holiday Collection (Kardina) Jimmy Ellis
"Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me" Holliday Collection (Kardina) Jimmy Ellis
"It's All In the Game" (duet with Andy Lee Lang) Duets - Andy Lee Lang The Shadowman
1999
"Matchbox" (re-recording) They Thought They Were Elvis Orion
2001*
"Puppet on a String" (duet Andy Lee Lang) Together - Andy Lee Lang Orion

* Released after Jimmy Ellis's death

Orion charted singles[edit]

Year Song Peak chart positions[11]
US Country
1979 "Ebony Eyes"/"Honey" 89
1980 "A Stranger in My Place" 69
"Texas Tea" 68
"Am I That Easy to Forget" 65
1981 "Rockabilly Rebel" 63
"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" 79
"Born" 76
"Some You Win, Some You Lose" 83
1982 "Morning, Noon and Night" 69
"Honky Tonk Heaven" 70

Other sources[edit]

  • Elvis: His Life From A to Z (1990), by: Worth, Fred and Steve Tamerious. Wings Books.
  • Elvis Information Network, article by Nigel Patterson, EIN, 1998.[12]
  • Official Orion-Jimmy Ellis Website.[13]
  • The Strange and Ultimately Sad Story of Elvis Sound-Alike..."Orion", article by Michael McCall.[14]
  • The Worldwide Discography Of Jimmy "Orion" Ellis.[15]

References[edit]

  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. 
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 306. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  12. ^ "Welcome to EIN". Elvisinfonet.com. Retrieved 2016-11-21. 
  13. ^ "The Official Web Site". Orion Jimmy Ellis. Retrieved 2016-11-21. 
  14. ^ "Orion". Rockabillyhall.com. Retrieved 2016-11-21. 
  15. ^ "OrionDiscs". oriondiscs.com. Retrieved 2017-10-25. 

External links[edit]