Elvis lives – And he "feels so right" after joint replacement!
Elvis tribute artist Jimmy Fields
performs regularly despite
having undergone knee
replacement surgery. In fact, Fields and his
wife, Mary, who also performs with him
onstage, have both had knees replaced
but are going stronger than ever.
A bad knee was hampering Elvis tribute artist Jimmy Fields, but that’s all right, mama, he didn’t let that send him to Heartbreak Hotel.
Instead, Fields opted for knee replacement surgery, and now when he gets onstage he can conjure up the spirit of Elvis Presley as well as ever.
The retired nuclear engineer, who served 26 years in the U.S. Army, performs as Jimmy Fields, Elvis Tribute Artist. He sings at reunions, parties, nursing homes, fairs and even in national competitions. He has a repertoire of about 150 Elvis songs, and he puts on a Vegas-style show wearing a sequined white jumpsuit.
Onstage Jimmy will do kicks and splits just like Elvis – despite having undergone knee replacement surgery in 2011 at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC). His wife, Mary, also performs with him and acts as his manager, and amazingly, she’s had knee replacement surgery, too, in 2013.
“People can’t believe it when I tell them, ‘Oh, my husband had joint replacement.’ And we both had it!” Mary said.
The couple lives in Fall Branch but met about five years ago when living in New Mexico. Jimmy had done small Elvis shows but hadn’t turned it into a full-time hobby until Mary gave him the support he needed and took over the booking and promotions – “Kind of like Col. Tom Parker did for Elvis,” he said. “She gave me the push I needed and gave me a lot more confidence in my singing, so things progressed from there, the shows got bigger and I started doing lots of competitions.”
Mary wasn’t a performing singer, but while they were in New Mexico she secretly took singing lessons and then surprised Jimmy during a show by walking onstage and singing with him.
“People thought it was part of the act,” she said, “but it was new to him.”
Mary does a Marilyn Monroe style of performance, and the two of them sing several duets. Lately they’ve even been joined onstage by their 3-year-old grandson, Colton Magnuson, who wears a mini-jumpsuit and dances around as Elvis sings. Audiences love it.
But their Elvis shows would’ve been badly curtailed without their knee replacements. Both of their surgeries were done at The Joint Replacement Center at Johnson City Medical Center.
Jimmy suffered a severe knee injury in combat training in 2004 when he snapped it sideways and broke it. He underwent two reconstructions – in 2005 and 2007. He had to constantly wear a brace. It was an aggravation and limited his mobility.
In 2011 he had his replacement surgery done at JCMC.
“It’s improved a lot of things for me,” he said. “I still have some pain and I still have to be careful with it. When I do those moves, I have perfected the technique and how much pressure I can put on the knee. But I have a lot more stability and now I don’t have to wear a big ACL brace but just a small, supportive brace as a precautionary measure.”
Mary injured her knee playing softball, breaking it under the knee cap.
“I suffered for many years, wore a brace and put off the surgery,” she said. “It was bone on bone. It reached the point where I could barely walk. It was hard to even get the knee into a restaurant booth.”
She had her surgery at JCMC in 2013. Now she can wear high heels, dance during the shows and she even goes bowling.
“I can do so much more now,” she said.
Jimmy’s Elvis tribute shows have grown in popularity, thanks to Mary and to the stronger knee, and he’s done well in several big competitions. On his resume he lists top-three placings at the International Ultimate Elvis Contest in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in 2009 and at I’ll Remember You Elvis Tribute in Live Oak, Fla., as well as a top-six finish in the World Cup for Elvis Tribute Artists in Dallas.
“Those competitions are great but it’s not all about winning,” he said. “You go into it with the attitude that it’s more about entertaining the crowd, and you learn more about what you’re doing and about the response from the audience.”
Jimmy and Mary perform at several local nursing homes and have done successful full productions at The Renaissance Center in Kingsport and at Blue Moon Dinner Theatre in Johnson City. They often donate portions of the proceeds to veterans’ groups and do numerous charitable shows, cancer relays and community events.
“When we do nursing home shows, it’s amazing to see how it affects people,” Mary said. “When you walk in, they seem like they’re in their own little world. Then when we start singing they just come to life like a flower. I get tears in my eyes every time we go.
“I love to see Jimmy’s interaction with people. The ladies’ eyes just light up and they come out of their shell. You see people crying in the audience as he sings to them. He’ll go around shaking people’s hands and give them a scarf or a kiss on the cheek. I think it takes them back to a happy time in their life, and you can see their joy.”
As for little Colton, he started coming with them to shows when he was 14 months old and would start dancing to the beat. So they brought him onstage for several numbers.
“And he’s been doing it ever since,” Mary said. “He is now requested at a lot of shows.”
Mary, who is retired from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas after many years in their communications and marketing department, said she and Jimmy were thrilled to be featured at the recent Joint Replacement Reunion that The Joint Replacement Center at JCMC hosts each year. Everyone who had joint replacement at JCMC during the previous year is invited back for entertainment and food. The reunion is also a chance for former joint replacement patients to share rehab war stories and talk about how far they’ve progressed since surgery.
“Just to see the life-changing outcomes this surgery has brought to people is a blessing to me,” said Misty Spano, program coordinator of The Joint Replacement Center at JCMC. “People who’ve come through here and received joint replacement can do all kinds of things. It’s amazing how active some of them are.
“We’ve had people bounce back from surgery to do gardening, motorcycling, zip-lining, hiking and parasailing. We have former patients who do all kinds of traveling, extensive walking, climbing on and off buses and touring places. Dancing is a very popular activity for them, but this is our first Elvis.”
The Center at JCMC is one of only two accredited joint replacement centers in the region; the other is at Indian Path Medical Center in Kingsport. Both are members of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA).
“I just want to say to the staff at The Joint Replacement Center: Thank you very much,” Jimmy said in his deep Elvis voice.
For more information about Jimmy Fields, Elvis Tribute Artist, visit www.ETAjimmyfields.com or email Mary.firstname.lastname@example.org.