Welcome to Las Vegas, where Elvis has definitely not left the building. The king of rock ‘n’ roll still reigns supreme in the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”
Elvis’ enduring popularity in Vegas is a tribute to the bonds forged between the singer and the city in a seven-year run between 1969 and 1976, a period fondly remember as the “Vegas Years.” It’s a legacy that continues to this day.
“He was the show in town — the one everyone wanted to go to because he was just really hot and was coming back with new music,” said singer Terry Blackwood, a member of the Imperials who sang backup for Elvis. “Everyone wanted to see Elvis.”
Elvis was never to perform again in Las Vegas, but the city never forgot the entertainer. Perhaps it was fated that a city which embraced Elvis the entertainer, would want to hold on to Elvis the myth. Even before his death, tribute artists were performing as Elvis. The King used to love catching Brendan Boyer’s impression of him, during the Irish Show Band’s performances in the Stardust Lounge in the ’70s. Las Vegas continues to offer tributes to Elvis nightly, 365 days a year.
A year after Elvis’ death a statue was dedicated in his honor at the International (now known as Westgate Las Vegas) hotel.
Elvis is also honored with a star on Las Vegas’ Walk of Stars. He was inducted in 2008 and his star can be found in front of the Riviera near the famous Crazy Girls statue.
At the Hard Rock Café gold records, belts, a smashed guitar and a telegram from Elvis and the Colonel to the Beatles are just some of the Elvis memorabilia on display.
In 2010 the Strip’s entertainment titan, Cirque du Soleil, partnered with CYK and its subsidiary, Elvis Presley Enterprises, plus MGM Mirage to create an Elvis Presley show at Aria.
“Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis” closed after a two-year run, but tributes to the King continue to this day including “Legends in Concert” at the Flamingo Las Vegas, “The King Starring Trent Carlini” at Westgate Las Vegas and “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s.
Long live the King.
Article by Kristine McKenzie and Jennifer Whitehair