Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Other News

For this Seattle cab driver, channeling Elvis had consequences

When you get into a taxi cab, you usually know what to expect. But if you ever stepped off a Seattle sidewalk and into Dave Groh's cab, you would have gotten something very unexpected. Elvis.

Groh first dressed as Elvis back in 1999. It started as something of a fluke — he tried it out, costumers raved, he discovered there were perks to being unusual. That led to regular appearances as "Cab Elvis," karaoke machine and all.

But, as with being the real Elvis, being Cab Elvis comes with some pain. Groh got caught up in the rock 'n' roll lifestyle and ended up developing an addiction. He doesn't blame it on Elvis, but he does say there was something about being The King. It just made people want to share their drugs with him. "It was more socially acceptable, I think. Oh yeah, let's do drugs with Elvis Presley!"

That life almost killed Dave. To save himself, he moved to Hawaii for a while. Being away did him good. He got sober. He got married. 

He moved back in 2015, and he found that working full time as Cab Elvis wasn't what it used to be. With Uber and Lyft on the scene, the economics of taking a cab had changed, and being Elvis became more distracting than profitable. "I had people that would get into a bet in a bar. They'd say, 'I can get Elvis Presley to walk into this bar in 10 minutes.'" They'd call for a ride, but they wouldn't really go anywhere.

Even though Groh doesn't work as Cab Elvis as much as he used to, he does think there is an important lesson in his decision to do something a bit unusual. "If you have a way to spread some joy in the world, if you can make people smile and it doesn't cost you anything, why in the world wouldn't you do it? Do what brings you joy, and if it brings joy to other people, then do it."

Groh also was the subject of a short documentary film by Andrew Franks, "The Best Cab Ride of Your Life." 

Related Content