Photo by Collin Richie

From ‘225’ magazine: A closer look at ‘American Idol’ winner Laine Hardy

Laine Hardy can trace the exact moment that led him to stardom.

He’s 5 years old, riding in the car with his mom, when “Heartbreak Hotel” comes on the radio. Elvis’ smooth, sultry voice echoes through the speakers, creeping from a whisper to a howl.

By the time the guitar solo hits, Laine is asking his mom who it is and learning about The King for the first time. The song, then 50 years old, is all of two minutes and eight seconds long. But Laine has never heard anything like it. Those electric 128 seconds will change his life forever. Suddenly, all he can think about is wanting to play guitar.

By 7, he’s playing guitar, strumming the chords with his tiny fingers. At 14, Laine starts singing, growing into his signature growling, raspy voice. At 18, he is a fan favorite among American Idol’s nearly 8 million viewers, often drawing comparisons to Elvis himself. And then, Ryan Seacrest is calling his name, and he’s the last contestant standing, confetti exploding behind him, and the audience is erupting with applause.

In a lot of ways, he has Elvis to thank for this very moment.

Read more about the Livingston native and his rise to stardom in the cover story of 225 magazine’s October issue.