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Birth name Jimmy Bell
Also known as Jimmy Ellis
Born February 26, 1945(1945-02-26)
Origin Orrville, Alabama, USA
Died December 12, 1998 (aged 53)
Genres Rockabilly
Occupations Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1961-1982
Labels Sun
Associated acts Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis

Orion (February 26, 1945 – December 12, 1998) was the stage name of rockabilly singer Jimmy Ellis. Following the death of Elvis Presley in August 1977, Ellis dressed and sang in the manner of Presley and wore a mask during public appearances, fueling speculation that Presley had faked his death and returned to singing.[1] Ellis had recorded rock and country singles under his real name for a number of independent labels since the early 1960s before adopting the Orion persona for Sun Records — Presley's first recording label — in 1980.

Sun owner Shelby S. Singleton conceived of the idea of overdubbing Ellis' Presley-styled vocals onto a previously-unreleased 1961 Jerry Lee Lewis recording of "Save The Last Dance For Me". Ellis was billed only as "Friend." The single made #26 on the Billboard Country charts. Another overdubbed pairing with Lewis, a cover of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart" was also released as a single, peaking at #84.


Orion Reborn

Ellis took his new stage name from the 1978 novel Orion by Gail Brewer-Giorgio, which deals with a rock star who fakes his own death to escape the pressures of fame. Brewer-Giorgio would discuss Ellis in her 1988 book, The Most Incredible Elvis Presley Story Ever Told.

The cover of his first Sun LP Reborn, depicting Ellis rising from a coffin, was quickly withdrawn and replaced with a photo of Ellis in a blue outfit standing against a similarly-colored backdrop. The original cover art was restored on the album's CD release in 2005. Many of Ellis' Sun Records releases would be on colored vinyl. Ellis would record as Orion through 1981 when he took off his mask and once again began using his real name, or the name "Ellis James." Though he had vowed never to don the mask again, new Orion releases would be issued sporadically through 1989.


On the night of December 12, 1998, Jimmy Ellis was behind the register at his convenience store — in his hometown of Orrville, Alabama — when three local teens charged into the store brandishing sawed-off shotguns. The gunmen shot him, his 44-year-old fiancée Elaine Thompson, and a friend, Helen King. Jimmy Ellis and Elaine Thompson were killed; Helen King was severely wounded but has recovered. Ellis was survived by his son Jimmy Ellis, Jr.

Chart singles

Year Song Peak chart positions[1]
US Country
1979 "Ebony Eyes" 89
"Honey" flip
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


  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 306. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.  

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