Welcome, my friends, to the mad, mad world of Eilert Pilarm – a land where every day is Christmas and everyone spends their evening at karaoke. Born Eilert Dahlberg in 1953 in Anundsjö, Sweden, Eilert Pilarm (the name chosen because it had the same initials as his hero) has to be the world’s worst Elvis impersonator. In a world full of bad Elvis impersonators, that’s one hell of a boast.
The former farm hand and labourer began performing in 1992, almost always to backing tapes, and started to build up a loyal following. TV and radio appearances in Scandinavia and further afield followed (he even appeared on Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast in 1999) and by 2001 he was the most-booked live act in Sweden. Eilert’s TV appearances were, to put it mildly, often rather odd: on many programmes he would turn up, bedecked in an Elvis-ish jump suit, and start cooking, imitating Elvis at the same time. Kind of like the Muppet’s Swedish Chef, but dressed by Liberace and singing a bad version of In The Ghetto.
He self-released three cassettes - the stunningly originally-titled Elvis 1, Elvis 2 and Elvis 3 - before the big time came a-knocking: his debut CD Greatest Hits was released in 1996 on MCA, the same year that Eilert finally got to visit Graceland. "I can't work out whether he's brilliant or just incredibly stupid and doesn't realise what he's doing," said iconic DJ John Peel at the time, calling Greatest Hits one of his favourite albums of 1996.
Three more CDs followed; Eilert is Back! In 1998, Live In Stockholm in 2000 and Eilerts Jul (Eilert's Christmas) the following year, a collection which often appears in lists of the worst album covers of all time. His rise to notoriety amongst bad record aficionados was complete when he appeared in the Irwin Chusid book (and accompanying CD) Songs in the Key of Z, the must-have guide to the world of outsider music.
After performing more than 600 gigs, the Swedish Elvis retired from live appearances in 2002. However we still have Eilert’s music and here, for your enjoyment, is what must rank as the highlight of his entire recorded oeuvre – Eilert Pilarm’s version of the Elvis classic Jailhouse Rock.