Elvis Presley, an iconic and highly influential musician, has forever left his mark on the world through his groundbreaking rock and roll music and legendary persona. Although his popularity knows no bounds, it is undeniable that he holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. While he was originally from Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis quickly found a new home in the bustling city of Las Vegas. Back then, the city was not quite the same as it is today and lacked the convenience of no deposit bonus casinos online. Nevertheless, it proved to be a perfect match for his original and charismatic personality. In this article, we will delve into how Elvis Presley claimed Las Vegas as his own and the fascinating relationship between the King of Rock and Roll and the ultimate city of sin.
A Rough Las Vegas Debut
Elvis, despite his fame in the entertainment industry, initially faced a cool reception upon his arrival in Las Vegas. However, he gradually won over the crowd and became one of the city’s most sought-after attractions. Already a rising star in the South and Midwest,
Elvis made his debut in Las Vegas in 1956. Accompanied by Scotty Moore on guitar, he mesmerized the audience with “Heartbreak Hotel” and three other songs. However, when the music stopped, the crowd was silent, and some fans appeared unimpressed. This experience served as a reminder that the world was still adjusting to Elvis’s revolutionary presence. Despite this initial setback, Elvis’s charm and talent eventually won over the hearts of the people, cementing his place in the history of Las Vegas.
An Undying Connection Between Elvis and Las Vegas
In a mere two weeks, Elvis managed to captivate an older and more sophisticated crowd who typically preferred the likes of Freddy Martin’s music. Initially, critics weren’t too impressed with his performance, with some likening it to “a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party.”
However, as the world began to recognize Elvis’s musical brilliance and the emergence of a new genre, his performances gradually gained the admiration they deserved. Elvis also thoroughly enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere of the desert oasis, immersing himself in everything from the amusement park’s entertainment and activities to the mesmerizing musical performances and playful flirtations of showgirls. “I tell you what, I just love Vegas,” he conveyed to the Memphis Press-Scimitar upon his return home, as documented in Peter Guralnick’s book, Last Train to Memphis. “I’m going to head back there at the earliest opportunity.”
Elvis remained true to his word and continued to return to Las Vegas over the years, using it as a refuge from the demands of his Hollywood career and tours. His love for the city was so strong that he decided to shoot a movie there. In 1963, he starred in his 15th film, Viva Las Vegas. The city even played a role in inspiring the King to marry Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel. Musically, Elvis experienced both highs and lows in Sin City. While he enjoyed tremendous popularity, there were also times when he struggled to win over the critics. Nevertheless, his record-breaking, four-week engagement at the International Hotel in July 1969, which drew 101,500 patrons, was a major success.
Sold-Out Shows until the End of His Residency
Elvis continued to make regular appearances at the hotel, which was eventually renamed the Las Vegas Hilton, where he performed two shows each night for much of the mid-1970s. The King found solace in the “Elvis Suite,” a sprawling 5,000 square foot room on the 30th floor. Unfortunately, as time went on, Elvis’s health and personal life began to deteriorate, causing his performances to lose their once-energetic spark. Despite these challenges, his devoted fans continued to flock to see him, resulting in all 636 of his shows at the venue being completely sold out.
Part of Las Vegas for Eternity
Elvis’s final performance in Vegas was part of a remarkable series of 15 shows in just 11 days, ending on December 12th, 1976. Although the legendary musician passed away on August 16th, 1977, his impact on the city did not diminish. In fact, that same year, the Graceland Wedding Chapel began conducting Elvis-inspired weddings, sparking a thriving industry. Today, the city continues to honor Elvis’s legacy through various means, such as hosting tribute performances by both professional impersonators and casual hobbyists at the annual Elvis convention, and by commemorating him with a street named in his honor and a statue of him in the lobby of his former hotel. Elvis Presley truly was The King who ruled Las Vegas.