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Barry Manilow has just surpassed the King himself, Elvis Presley, for the most shows at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
What is the context? The 70s icon’s career spanned decades and produced chart-topping hits.
- With songs like Mandy And CopacabanaManilow’s smooth vocals and laid-back tunes generated tens of millions in record sales, spawned a cover by none other than the Minions, and cemented his status as one of the most popular American artists of the 20th century.
What is the problem ? This is serious resistance, both for Manilow and for Vegas as a place to see live music.
- Beginning in 1969, Presley began his own residency at the Westgate, then named the International Hotel. By 1976, the dynamic American icon had performed 636 concerts, before his untimely death the following year.
- Manilow performed his 637th show last weekend, breaking the record during a series of shows benefiting several charities, including the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center and Victoria’s Voice.
- Paying homage to the late legend, Manilow covered “Hound Dog” during the show, wearing a red jacket with Elvis’ iconic TCB lightning bolt logo stitched on the sleeve.
- His achievement was recognized at a concert last week, when he received a key to the Las Vegas Strip.
What are people saying? A lot. And not just about the record breaking, but also about the evolution of the Vegas residency and how its perception has changed over the past few decades.
Here’s what Manilow had to say to fans during the performance:
It’s really all up to you guys. You know I love all the awards and everything, but I wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you for coming tonight and throughout the years.
And his thoughts on the status of a Vegas residency in an interview with ABC Audio:
We called it… “cheeseball”… “old fashioned”… You take a look at these casinos and you can take a look at the billboards, it’s young people playing in Vegas. These are great deeds!
And here’s more on that from entertainment writer Matthew Kelemen, who spoke with NPR about the evolution of Vegas:
There was a time when it looked like a place where artists went to retire. They’re usually veterans, but they’re so dynamic. There are a lot of people in the audience, unlike most places, they all come from different places, the only thing they have in common is their dedication to the headliner.
Want to know more about the culture? Listen Consider this explore if we are currently witness the death of movie stars.
And now ?
- Vegas continues to attract artists, with U2 beginning its residency at the Sphere on Friday.
- They will join Usher, Adele and Lady Gaga to take Sin City for a spin.
- Yet the performance records of Manilow and Elvis combined don’t come close to matching the longest residency ever in Vegas: Donny and Marie Osmond’s 1,730 shows.
- However, Manilow also just announced other Vegas dates stretching into 2024, so it’s impossible to say what. miracle could be around the corner (get it?)