New Release - Book 'Elvis In Las Vegas: How The King Reinvented The Las Vegas Show
July 31st marks the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s groundbreaking comeback performance in Las Vegas, an event that not only revived Elvis’s career, but also changed the face of Vegas entertainment.
Richard Zoglin tells the story in ELVIS IN VEGAS: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show, a revisionist take on late-career Elvis and how he altered the course of entertainment in Las Vegas. “It was a fruitful relationship for both,” Zoglin writes. “Las Vegas saved Elvis, at least for a little while. And Elvis showed Vegas its future.”
Elvis was at his peak as a stage performer: trim and still impossibly handsome, his voice richer and more expressive than ever, his onstage charisma undimmed by age and the years of absence….he reinvented himself, expanded his range, and deepened his artistry in a way that few other entertainers have.”
“Elvis’s comeback show was a landmark event, both for Elvis and for Las Vegas,” Zoglin asserts. “For Elvis it was a big gamble, a last-ditch attempt to revitalize a career that had fallen into disrepair—treading water in a sea of bad movies, records that no longer made the charts, and a decade of increasing irrelevance in the fast-changing world of rock ‘n’ roll.” Prior to his comeback, Elvis hadn’t done a live stage performance in eight years.
For Vegas, Elvis’s comeback changed the entire entertainment template, from a sophisticated Sinatra-style act to a big rock-concert-like spectacle. “He created the model for a different kind of Vegas show,” Zoglin says, “no longer an intimate nightclub encounter for an audience of a few hundred, but a big-star extravaganza, playing to thousands. He paved the way for the lavish shows of stars like Cher and Dolly Parton—and, much later, Celine Dion, Elton John, and a new generation of pop stars enlisted for Vegas ‘residencies.’”Elvis’s comeback was a monumental success.
A record-breaking 101,000 people saw Elvis during the engagement—two shows a night, seven nights a week, for four solid weeks, every show sold out. The reviews, from the trade press to some of the nation’s top rock critics, were nearly all ecstatic. Elvis would return to Las Vegas every six months for the next seven years. He performed more than 600 shows there, and sold out every one. Each of his sellout engagements was a bonanza for the city, bringing in visitors from around the world and giving a boost to business all over town.
“He brought his showmanship, his matchless voice, and the urgency of an artist on a mission to redeem himself,” Zoglin writes. “Las Vegas brought the crowds. Neither would ever be the same again.”