Impersonating a dead pop star, or reviving them virtually, is one thing. But more than 40 years ago, Danny O’Day took imitation to a place no one imagined before or since. Rock and Roll Heaven, the touring extravaganza he conceived and promoted, didn’t just pay homage to one deceased icon, but four of them: Elvis, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jim Croce. And it didn’t do it merely with costumes or note-for-note vocal imitations: O’Day hired plastic surgeons to physically alter his tribute singers to look as much as possible like the people they were honoring.
“Jesus Christ — that’s some twisted shit,” says Croce’s son A.J., who was only a grade schooler when O’Day hired an upstart to be resculpted as Croce’s father. “The first thing that comes to my mind is that plastic surgery is the highest form of flattery.”