Mr. Leonard's problems with management date back to Sept. 11, 1964 when the 17-year-old musician, known then by his stage name Georgie Porgie, was booted out of Attleboro High School for refusing to get a haircut. The story was picked up in papers from Boston to Saigon. 

Contending that his Beatles cut was integral to his rock 'n' roll persona and therefore his livelihood--and that barring a student over hair length was simply unreasonable--Mr. Leonard and his parents sued to overturn the suspension. 

On Dec 7, 1965, a mere 10 years before punk rock turned mohawks, buzzcuts, dye jobs and dreadlocks into teenage rites of passage, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts dealt a blow to hippies everywhere. Judge John Spaulding, writing for the court, held: "We are of opinion that the unusual hairstyle of the plaintiff could disrupt and impede the maintenance of a proper classroom atmosphere or decorum": Mr. Leonard's shoulder-length coif would have to go. 

"[I] deteriorated around the time of this whole thing," he said. "I think I was just a provincial guy making some music and got a lot of attention. You know, I didn't know what to do with that. I was moderately successful on a mediocre level." 

In true rock 'n' roll style, Mr. Leonard, who refused to trim his locks and never did finish high school, cashed in on his notoriety. His band opened for the Rolling Stones in Providence. ("We got $75. I don't know what they got.") He got a record contract and put out some singles. 

Georgie Porgie and the Cry Babies gigged in New York. But the big break never came, and Mr. Leonard moved to Miami, where he spent four years as "as tourist attraction," playing the circuit on Collins Avenue. 

In Florida, he wrote a rock opera called "Bozo." "I don't know what it was. It had an abortion scene with a giant fetus that came out, and there was a Pope that did a dance with a prophylactic. It was very successful in all the colleges in New England--Northeastern University, M.I.T. It was very well received. Then we worked in Boston with it, and we had really good crowds. I just couldn't get it over the top." 

After kicking around with other bands, he came back to New York to put together "The Commander Video Show" in 1978. The show starred Mr. Leonard, who pogo-sticked in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sang a love song to a fish, hawked T-shirts and engaged in twisted, sophomoric skits. Mr. Leonard talks about the show with a mixture of amusement and embarrassment. Commander Video's monologues were "usually awful"; his adventures were "not really subversive, just ignorant." 

Low on cash, he went out and got his first-ever "straight" job, working as a foot messenger. He was 31 and the job lasted one day. With his then-wife Libie pregnant with their son Geo, Mr. Leonard bagged the show and headed back to New England to learn about fixing presses and to take over the family business. 

About two years ago [1994] Mr. Leonard hit upon the idea for Elvis Sinatra. The video concept was born more out of necessity than comedy. "I figured this would be a really great way to do it..., 'cause I knew the guys wouldn't go into the city. And I knew, too, that it was not a matter of doing something for three performances and then something happens. I mean you got to do this over and over and over, and then usually nothing happens." 

Not that Mr. Leonard envisions a bidding war over the Elvis Sinatra concept. I have a joke--Welcome to the guys from RCA!--you know, the guys from RCA Pizza." 

Mr. Leonard spent seven months and some considerable money filming the band in his large, windowless abode in Providence. Although the house is huge and has a swimming pool smack in the center of it, Mr. Leonard called it "completely undesirable." Mr. McKinley , who smiles at the thought of the place, seconded that motion. "You'd never be able to sell this house," he said, describing an aboveground bunker. "You could sell it to the neighbors, and they'd buy it to tear it down." 

Recently, the musicians of Elvis Sinatra convened at a Providence club and played a live gig for the first time. Mr. Leonard had a revelation about this act. "So here I am thinking that the band knows all the songs 'cause I play with them every Thursday night, you know? I really am thinking that way. Of course, they don't, they never play with me. It's taken a life of its own. It's like that "Twilight Zone" where the guy is a ventriloquist. It ends up where the puppet is telling the ventriloquist what to do." 

Mr. Leonard added, "Most of the stuff comes from thinking about an idea and then being really amused about it. If it amuses me, then I just go with it," said Mr. Leonard, who loves to use the video screen for sight gags. In "Us Handsome Guys," a trio of middle-aged guys strut their stuff looking like debonair insurance salesmen. In "The Dead Man," a breakup song in which Mr. Leonard sings, "in her imagination/There's an assassination," two back up singers point rifles and hold a noose. 

Then there's this dream of taping a duet with Alan Gershwin, George Gershwin's son. "What I want him to do is have him doing one of his father's songs with me. So he'd be on the screen and I'd be singing with him.. I just love the idea, the history. And I like him. He's a real character." 

Not long ago, Mr. Leonard underwent a series of psychological tests to try and find out what he should do with his life. "The next thing I know, this woman who did the testing said, You could have been a doctor, you could have been a lawyer--you could have been anything." 

Then the woman made a suggestion, and her words reverberated with an unwitting irony that must have shot Mr. Leonard all the way back to the beginning of his excellent adventure. "She said, 'Maybe you should go see a guidance counselor.'"

Home | Gigs | Press | About Elvis | MP3 Lounge | Lyrics | Buy Elvis Stuff