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Elvis in Vegas

How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show

About The Book

*The inspiration for the CNN original series Vegas: The Story of Sin City*

“Outstanding pop-culture history.” —Newsday

The “smart and zippy account” (The Wall Street Journal) of how Las Vegas saved Elvis and Elvis saved Las Vegas in the greatest musical comeback of all time.

Elvis’s 1969 opening night in Vegas was his first time back on a live stage in more than eight years. His career had gone sour—bad movies, mediocre pop songs that no longer made the charts—and he’d been dismissed by most critics as over-the-hill. But in Vegas he played the biggest showroom in the biggest hotel in the city, drawing more people for his four-week engagement than any other show in Vegas history. His performance got rave reviews; “Suspicious Minds,” the song he introduced there, gave him his first number-one hit in seven years; and Elvis became Vegas’s biggest star. Over the next seven years, he performed more than 600 shows there, and sold out every one.

Las Vegas was changed, too. By the end of the ‘60s, Vegas’ golden age—when the Rat Pack led a glittering array of stars who made it the nation’s premier live-entertainment center—was losing its luster. Elvis created a new kind of Vegas show: an over-the-top, rock-concert extravaganza. He set a new bar for Vegas performers, with the biggest salary, the biggest musical production, and the biggest promotion campaign the city had ever seen. He opened the door to a new generation of pop/rock artists and brought a new audience to Vegas—not the traditional well-heeled older gamblers, but a mass audience from Middle America that Vegas depends on for its success to this day.

At once “a fascinating history of Vegas as gambling capital, celebrity playground, mob hangout, [and] entertainment Valhalla” (Rolling Stone) and the incredible “tale of how the King got his groove back” (Associated Press), Elvis in Vegas is a classic feel-good story for the ages.

About The Author

Photograph by Howard Schatz

Richard Zoglin is a contributing editor and theater critic for Time magazine. His book Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America is considered the definitive history of that seminal era in stand-up comedy. Zoglin is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and currently lives in New York City. His late wife, Charla Krupp, was the author of the bestselling books How Not to Look Old and How to Never Look Fat Again.

Product Details

Raves and Reviews

“A smart and zippy account of the watershed moment when the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll came to Sin City to reclaim his squandered talent... Mr. Zoglin is in his element.”

– Wall Street Journal

“Zoglin’s smart and entertaining book… combines genuine affection for its subject with a keen sense of show-biz history and a lively style... [Elvis in Vegas] has snap and verve... This is outstanding pop-culture history.”

– Newsday

“Las Vegas is among the most American places in America, Elvis Presley was among the most American Americans ever, and the era chronicled here was the giddiest stretch of the American Century by far. Thank you, Richard Zoglin, for this brilliantly imagined, deftly written, perfectly delicious book about our perfectly weird country.”

– Kurt Andersen, New York Times bestselling author of Fantasyland

“Zoglin is such a slick pop writer that his prose goes down like rainwater.”

– Booklist

“If you love Vegas-era Elvis — and who does not? — you will love this book. It’s packed with juicy stories — about The King, of course, but also about Frank and Dean and Sammy, Wayne Newton, Liberace, Sonny and Cher, Barbara Streisand, Howard Hughes, the mob and dozens of other outsized characters who played roles in the incredible transformation of a sleepy desert town into the glitziest city on Earth.”

– Dave Barry, New York Times bestselling author of Lessons from Lucy

“[A] fascinating tale of how the king got his groove back and Las Vegas refreshed its own image... Blending new interviews with top-drawer research focusing on how Las Vegas evolved as the pleasure capital, Zoglin produces a gem of pop culture history.”

– Associated Press

“Zoglin perfectly captures a seismic moment in 1969 when Elvis tore the roof off the International Hotel and ended the reign of the Rat Pack. This is the story of a spectacular head-on collision.”

– Conan O’Brien

“A fascinating history of Vegas as ‘gambling capital, celebrity playground, mob hangout, entertainment Valhalla,’ with cameos by everyone from Abbott and Costello to the Rat Pack, whose boozing excess is chronicled in detail.”

– Rolling Stone

“Pizzazzy… [Zoglin] is among the best showbiz chroniclers… Elvis in Vegas is the story of American industry, but also a canny look at the price of commercial glory.”

– Shelf Awareness

“Zoglin sets up what he calls ‘the greatest comeback in music history’ with the precision of a patiently plotted thriller.”

– Memphis Flyer

“We know that Elvis’ 1969 Las Vegas comeback began his life’s twilight—but from the purple haze of Nevada’s western desert, Zoglin recaptures the horizon-filling blast of that spectacular sunset... Zoglin’s book does what he wanted—it brings readers all the way back to that last cresting surge in Elvis’ mighty career.”

– Daily Beast

“Illuminating and absorbing.”

– People

“You can tell Mr. Zoglin is extremely passionate about his two main subjects, Elvis and Vegas, and the meaning of their intersection... He delivers the story with great care, the same way Elvis and Sinatra did with a song.”

– East Hampton Star

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More books from this author: Richard Zoglin