On the heels of his sold-out run of shows at Wynn Las Vegas, Tony Bennett shares some cherished Vegas memories.
NINETEEN-TIME GRAMMY WINNER AND LEGENDARY ENTERTAINER TONY BENNETT recently celebrated his more than 60 years of contributions to the Great American Songbook with “Tony: The Best Is Yet to Come,” at Wynn Las Vegas. Thrilling audiences nostalgic for his catalog of jazz and pop masterpieces (and young admirers recently converted by his appearances with Lady Gaga), Bennett took fans on a journey through his iconic songs that have touched the hearts and souls of audiences for decades and helped cement his status as one of the most vital and charming performers of all time. We spoke to him about his mini-residency at Wynn, his history in Las Vegas, and the pastime he always makes time for when he visits.
Your recent shows at Wynn Las Vegas were a huge hit. Why did you decide to do these shows? “I love performing in Las Vegas as most of the audience is on vacation and they are relaxed and in good spirits, so the shows are always lively. And since I have been touring for over 60 years now, it’s a treat to have a series of shows all in the same town so I can avoid all the travel in between. And it’s nice to have some extra time in Vegas so I can get some painting done while I am there.”
What do you love about playing in Las Vegas? “Well, I experienced the very beginning of Las Vegas, and whenever I am in town and look out at the mountains in the distance from my hotel window, I am amazed at how much has changed in the landscape. What made Vegas so unique when it first got started was the fact that in the audience you would have the top celebrities as well as the general public. And it was very spontaneous back then, so literally anything could happen onstage, which kept things very exciting.”
You must have known everyone who performed in Las Vegas. What legendary performers were you friendly with? “The Rat Pack were based out on the West Coast and I lived in New York City, so I heard about all their escapades in the newspapers just like everyone else. Louis Prima and I were great pals back in the day, and Louis, who was born in New Orleans, provided a lot of advice when all the resorts started to get built in Vegas in the early ’50s. I used to call him “The Chief,” because he was a master showman and was truly an electric performer. I have known Steve Wynn for a very long time and he does everything with such dedication and care, so I enjoyed being at Wynn for an extended stay.”
Your daughter joins you at Wynn. What does that mean to you? “I love the fact that my daughter Antonia has been on the road with me the past few years, and it’s a very natural progression as she always loved to sing and perform, and I can recall many times when she was a little girl that I would bring her onstage with me and she would sing a number. She studied at the Berklee College of Music, and I have enjoyed watching her develop her talent as she has gained more experience as a live performer.”