Volume 10, Issue 2 - March/April 2008

life beyond the auto glass business

I Wanna Talk About Me

Most days, Michael Preston of Raleigh, N.C., works as an installer for Safelite Auto Glass. But, every now and then, he finds his inner spirit—that which he shares with country star Toby Keith. For the last six years, he’s been impersonating Keith on a semi-regular basis. He performs mostly at children’s charity events and birthday parties throughout the year. Preston has been in the glass industry for approximately 15 years, having started at Pilkington North America (formerly LOF’s) distribution center in Charlotte, N.C. He has since worked for a variety of glass shops, including Danny’s Glass Shop in Hampton, Va., and he worked for Safelite once before in the late 1990s. At present, he has been back with Safelite for about three months.

How did you become a Toby Keith impersonator?
I started getting into it about six years ago. People kept telling me I looked like him, and I later found out we have almost identical backgrounds. The way I got started on truly impersonating him, though, is that one night a friend and I were out and he kept bugging me to sing. Finally, I said, “There’s not enough whiskey in this bar to get me to sing.” I was wrong.

How are your backgrounds similar?
We’re the exact same size, 6-foot 3-inches, 250 pounds, we both drive Ford trucks, we both played two years of semi-pro football, four years apart, and my stepson and his stepdaughter are the exact same age. His wife’s name is Trish; mine is Tillie. And, in the song “Whiskey Girl,” he mentions a ’69 Mustang—that was my first car. Both he and I were in the service too—I served in Beirut, for four years in the Navy, two in the Army. It was dual service.

What semi-pro football team did you play for?
The Charlotte Outlaws—and as much of a cowboy as Toby is, our emblem was the bandit.

What types of gigs do you play?
Right now, mostly I work with charities for families with special-needs kids. I don’t make any money doing it, but I help kids and that’s what matters. I do it a couple times a year, and for a birthday here or there.

What are your favorite Toby Keith songs?
My favorite one is “American Soldier”—that’s one of my all-time favorites because it’s very personal to me. “I Wanna Talk About Me” is one of the most fun to do, and “My List” is a great song to do because it’s about taking the time to appreciate what you have and spending time with family.

Have you ever seen him in concert?
Yes, several times, and I’ve met him twice. I won a contest once through his fan club and got to see his final dress rehearsal before a show in Nashville, Tenn.

Do you do any other impersonations?
No, [Toby Keith] is the only one everyone else wants to see. After all, I’m 6-foot, 3 inches, and 250 pounds—he’s the one I look like.

Who are you other favorite artists
I listen to all types of music—Alan Jackson, Randy Travis and Charlie Daniels. I can go back to Conway Twitty and Don Williams too, but I’ve also seen Metallica. I also have an appreciation for jazz. I just can’t listen to pop music.

What’s your all-time favorite album?
Probably one of my all-time favorites is “2112” from Rush, which was recorded in 1977.

What’s your favorite Toby Keith album?
“Shockin’ Y’all” is my all-time favorite, but his latest album, “Big Dog Daddy,” is an amazing album too. 

Do you have any other musical talents or interests?
I just started to learn to play the guitar. I’d love to get a band together someday. 

Calling All Readers
Do you have a fun hobby you think would make an interesting “Avocations” story? If so, please e-mail pstacey@glass.com.

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