From Old Blue Eyes to the Purple One and the King 

added: 5 Dec 2013 // by: Newsdesk 

From-Old-Blue-Eyes-to-the-Purple-One-and-the-King Printable version

From Old Blue Eyes to the Purple One and the King - Classic Vegas residencies revisited

With Britney Spears recently announcing a two-year residency at the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood Casino, and Adele rumoured to be mulling over a multitude of big-money offers to perform in Nevada too, it seems the allure of a run on the Sunset Strip is still as high as ever.

Ever since gambling was legalised in the city in 1931, casinos have vied against each other to become the biggest draw on the famous Strip. Some of the biggest musicians and comedians in history have made this desert city their home, revelling in the glory of seeing their name up in lights on this famous street.

With the eyes of the world returning to Vegas once more, we take the opportunity to look back at some of the marquee names that have graced the Strip's many stages over the years.

Frank Sinatra

The Copa Room in the Sands Hotel and Casino was where it was at during the 1950s and 60s - due in no small part to Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra's commercial appeal had waned somewhat by 1950, and he was subsequently dropped by his label Columbia and MCA in 1952. However, when Jack Entratter - the famed promoter from the Copacabana Club in New York - moved West to the bright lights of Vegas, he decided to give his old friend Frank another shot, and he didn't disappoint.

Sinatra would perform on and off at the Sands for the next decade, making it the place to visit on the Strip. However, Sinatra had many important and powerful friends, and once he got his career back on track, they soon flocked to the hotel too. John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor were just some of the regular visitors to the Copa Room, and Frank also brought his friends from the Summit - otherwise known as the Rat Pack - along for the ride too.

The "Summit at the Sands" events during the early 60s were headlined by Sinatra, with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford making up the undercard. The Summit's golden period was undoubtedly in early 1960, when they would work days filming Oceans 11 in the Sands itself, retire to a steam room for a few hours, then play two shows in the evening to sell-out crowds.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Sinatra however, as his wild lifestyle and raucous parties caused the owners of the hotel all sorts of problems - not least having to write off Sinatra's big losses at the blackjack table. Inevitably, Sinatra's increasingly out-of-control social life drove a wedge between the group's members. Despite releasing the live album "Sinatra at the Sands" to much commercial and critical acclaim in 1966, it wasn't enough to win the favour of the hotel's new owners, causing the singer to have a famous bust-up with Sands executive Carl Cohen in a local restaurant.

In true Sinatra fashion, he smashed to smithereens his relationship with the Sands by driving a golf buggy through its front window, before signing up with the neighbouring Caesars Palace complex the next day.
Although Sinatra's relationship with the Sands was certainly rocky, anyone who was there during the Rat Pack's heyday in Vegas would find it hard to ever forget it.

Elvis Presley

However, Sinatra wasn't the only one to use Vegas as the scene for a marvellous comeback. After seven years away from the stage, Elvis Presley also used the Sunset Strip to show the world he still had it.

The Las Vegas Hotel International's president Alex Shoofey initially booked Presley for a two-week stint at his hotel in 1969. However, after a hugely successful opening performance, Shoofey called an emergency meeting with Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker to extend the stay indefinitely. Although Parker felt they needed more time to see if Presley was up to the commitment, Shoofey had no such doubts and frantically scribbled down a new agreement on the tablecloth. And the rest, as they say, was history.

After this first performance, Presley performed a record 58 consecutive sold-out shows, with the 130,000-plus paying customers over the spell no doubt taking advantage of the hotel's gambling facilities too. Between 1969 and 1976, Presley would take to this Vegas stage to sell-out crowds over 700 times.

During his stint at the hotel - which was bought out by the Hilton chain in 1970 and renamed accordingly the following year - Presley stayed in its penthouse suite on the 30th floor - room number 3000.

During his first year at the hotel, Elvis also recorded and released the live album "Elvis in Person at the International Hotel" to critical and commercial acclaim, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard chart.

Presley's health deteriorated throughout the 70s, and the singer was found dead in his bathroom in Memphis on August 16th 1977. He had been due to play at the Hilton once more the following year.


More recently - and probably of greater interest to Britney and Adele - the artist formerly known as Prince, Prince, also set up shop at a Vegas hotel during the noughties.

After signing with Universal and releasing the album 3121 in March 2006, the Purple One was looking for something other than the usual different-city-every-night tour cycle. Obviously, Sin City was more than happy to oblige.

After discussions between the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino and Prince's advisors, a new nightclub was opened within the complex named 3121.

The star performed every Friday and Saturday evening from November 2006 at Club 3121, with showcase nights taking place throughout the rest of the week.

Performing an ever-changing set, Prince wowed the crowds with a choice cuts from his latest album, as well as greatest hits from his long career such as "Purple Rain" and "Kiss". On the opening night, a cover of "Johnny B. Goode" was also included early on in the set, possibly as a nod to a certain Mr Presley, who also included a cover of the Chuck Berry classic on the aforementioned "Elvis in Person at International Hotel" live album.

The residency came to an end in April 2007 upon the completion of the contract, with Coco Bongo - a Cancun club described as "a cross between Cirque du Soleil and Studio 54" taking its place. Prince would then go to on to perform a similar residency at the O2 Arena in London.

This article is written by Peter Lowes, who is currently writing for Sky Vegas.

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