SKOWHEGAN — Saturday night was supposed to have been Tom Cole’s final performance as Elvis Presley, after 30 years of shows channeling the King with a “hunka hunka burnin’ love.”

The sold-out crowd of about 450 people at T&B Celebration Center in Skowhegan swooned, but those who could not get tickets clamored for more, Cole said Monday.

Tom Cole, of Skowhegan, performed his Elvis Presley act for a sellout audience Saturday night at T&B Celebration Center in Skowhegan. It was billed as Cole’s final show, but there could be one more. On the drum kit was a Somerset County sheriff’s plate bearing 1312, Cpl. Eugene Cole’s call number when he was shot and killed in the line of duty in April. Contributed photo by John Harlow

“The band has been commenting on our private chat today,” he said. “They want to do another but on a bigger stage and venue so more people could attend. We were swamped with calls after the sellout.”

So will the almost 60-year-old Cole don the sequined, white jumpsuit and sideburns for another shot at “All Shook Up”?

Maybe.

“I honestly don’t know,” Cole said Monday. “I’m still sore — although if enough people wanted it, I’d probably give it one more go.”

Either way, Saturday night was an emotional stroll down memory lane, as Cole emerged from a door at the back of the venue to the theme of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” taking the stage in rising smoke to a rapt and raucous crowd for what everyone thought was the last time.

The six-piece band with four backup singers opened with the song “See See Rider,” a cover of Gertrude “Ma” Rainey’s 1924 blues song that also was covered by Presley.

In his white jumpsuit, Tom Cole, of Skowhegan, performed his Elvis Presley act for a sellout audience Saturday night at T&B Celebration Center in Skowhegan. It was billed as Cole’s final show, but there could be one more. Contributed photo by John Harlow

Cole was cool in his Elvis get up, his legs shaking and his voice intoning the King’s trademark “Thank you, thank you very much” after some of the songs. He was clearly working hard but also clearly having fun, singing Presley hits including “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” “All Shook Up,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Mounted on the band’s drum kit was a Somerset County Sheriff plate number 1312 — for Tom’s brother and longtime bandmate in Borderline Express, Cpl. Eugene Cole, who was shot and killed in the line of duty April 25 in his hometown of Norridgewock.

“We had Gene’s guitar where he would stand, and I placed a special scarf over it,” Tom Cole said Monday. “I dedicated ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ in his memory.”

Tom said his older brother, Gene, started playing music at 7 years old. He said their father, Philip Cole, played guitar and “just taught us all. It was a family tradition.”

Tom’s son Scott Cole has his own band, Uncle Spudd, and opened for the Elvis show Saturday night.

Tom Cole, of Skowhegan, performed his Elvis Presley act for a sellout audience Saturday night at T&B Celebration Center in Skowhegan. It was billed as Cole’s final show, but there could be one more. Contributed photo by John Harlow

As a lead guitarist, Gene played with Tom in Borderline Express beginning in 1987 for more than 20 years, and after his retirement from the group in 1994, he continued to fill in for them occasionally.

“When I first joined the band, 30 years ago, it was mostly country and oldies,” Tom said in April. “Then as music progressed, we progressed. We played everything, playing mostly bottle clubs — Smitty’s, Melody Ranch, Fox Den and the Solon Hotel.”

Tom said the band still plays gigs around Maine. Most recently, Gene and Tom, known as The Cole Brothers, would play at T&B’s in Skowhegan every month.

Tom also recorded a CD of five songs written by Gene Cole that were produced in the renowned Hilltop Studios, Nashville’s longest running professional recording studio. The words of the songs, sung by Tom Cole, were written by Eugene Cole more than two decades ago for his wife, Sheryl Cole.

As for stepping off the stage Saturday night for what could be the last time as Elvis, Tom Cole said it was with mixed emotions.

“Stopping after 30-plus years — just felt it was time,” he said Monday. “Bittersweet. Actually sad. The crowd was so awesome. I’m going to miss them. And the band was amazing.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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