Everybody knows Elvis Presley will always be associated with Las Vegas because of his years of performing here, but there’s something you probably didn’t know: His first Las Vegas residency was a flop.
Elvis first appeared in Las Vegas in 1956 at the New Frontier Hotel. He was 21 years old.
While Elvis was a hit with teens across the country, his performances in Las Vegas weren’t well received.
A Las Vegas Sun reviewer, Bill Willard, wrote, “For the teenagers, the long, tall Memphis lad is a whiz; for the average Vegas spender or show-goer, a bore. His musical sound with a combo of three is uncouth, matching to a great extent the lyric content of his nonsensical songs.” Ouch.
One of the few positive aspects of his stint at the New Frontier was the song he discovered while making the rounds with his fellow performers. While at the Sahara, he saw Freddie Bell and the Bellboys perform “Hound Dog.”
Elvis liked the song so much, he recorded it, and the rest is history. Here’s the song before Elvis made it his own.
In 1969, Elvis began a run at The International hotel, which would become the Las Vegas Hilton, then the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, now just LVH. For seven years, he performed to sold-out crowds.
Here’s an artist’s take on what Elvis would look like if he were still performing in Las Vegas today. See more.
For the record, tickets to The King’s dinner show were $17.50, made all the more amazing by the fact that price included a steak or lobster, too.