Viva Las Vegas: A look at Elvis’ impact on Vegas

Elvis Presley performed his last Las Vegas concert nearly 45 years ago, but the King of Rock N’ Roll’s influence on the city still reigns. 

On what would’ve been Elvis’ 86th birthday today, we take a look back at the legacy he left behind in Vegas. 

“The Atomic Powered Singer”

At just 21-years-old, the Memphis rockstar was riding off the success of his debut 1956 hit single “Heartbreak Hotel.” The same year, Elvis’ longtime manager Colonel Tom Park booked Elvis for a two-week gig at The New Frontier Hotel and Casino to further propel him into the national spotlight. Even though he was billed as “The Atomic Powered Singer” in local ads at the time, audiences weren’t nearly as impressed.

Elvis wouldn’t perform in Vegas again until a little after another decade. 

Viva Las Vegas!

Shortly after his first Vegas stint, Elvis began his acting career and eventually became synonymous with the city with his role in the 1964 box-office hit Viva Las Vegas. The singer received critical acclaim for his role as Lucky Jackson―an aspirational racecar driver―and his onscreen chemistry with actress Ann-Margaret. The film also gave birth to an unofficial anthem of the same name for the city.

Despite the film’s infamous wedding scene between him and Ann-Margaret and being romantically linked with her during the filming, Elvis would instead end up tying the knot with Priscilla Ann Beaulieu in 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel. 

The Golden Years

Elvis performed in Vegas again in 1969 at the International Hotel to a sold-out crowd. Elvis would continue a long-lasting relationship with the property for the next seven years, where he performed to over 800 sold-out shows to an estimated 2.5 million people. It was during this time that many consider was the peak of Elvis’ career.

Following the King’s Footsteps

Elvis never returned to Las Vegas after 1976 and passed away the following year at his Graceland estate. 

The legacy of the pioneering Southern-Crooner still lives on in Vegas. Elvis fans can still find remnants of the past including if they look hard enough the original location of the International―now known as the West Gate Las Vegas Resort and Casino ―which has a street named after Elvis that leads out into Las Vegas Boulevard. 

Fans can also visit the Little Chapel of the West featured in Viva Las Vegas, where couples can choose an Elvis-themed wedding package.    

Besides all of the pompadour-adorning impersonators roaming across the city, it’s safe to say the King still lives on in Vegas.