PERFORMING ARTS

Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show

S. & S. Jul. 2019. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781501151194. $28. MUSIC
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A title such as Elvis in Vegas sounds almost redundant—for a time in the 1970s, Elvis Presley was Vegas and Vegas was Elvis Presley. After Memphis, Las Vegas is the city most fans associate with the King, and visitors today still seek out Elvis lore. Presley’s late-period transformation into the Vegas-residency icon—the sequined jumpsuits, flared collars, and bell-bottoms—happened as the city and country were changing and played a big role in the modern development of Las Vegas as an entertainment destination. To set the scene for the King’s arrival, Zoglin (theater critic, Time; Hope: Entertainer of the Century) offers a condensed post–World War II history of the city. While this is not new ground, the author writes about it with a welcome freshness and a feel for the “Ring-a-Ding-Ding” of the time: Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Liberace, and the Mob’s influence. Zoglin then illustrates how Presley revived his act following his film failures in the 1960s and brought rock and roll to a town that had previously shunned it.
VERDICT For Presley devotees and readers who enjoy entertainment history.

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