ELVIS….otherwise known as The Big E, King Of Rock ’n‘ Roll, The Memphis Flash, The Jumpsuited One, The Vibrating Valentino, Ol ’Snake Hips, The Tennessee Troubadour, Mr. Sideburns, The Hillbilly Cat, The Cool Cat, or just EP. I think The Vibrating Valentino wins in the nickname department.
Viva Las Vegas was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman as the title song for the film of the same name starring Elvis Presley…. better-known AS…no I won’t go through that again. Pomus and Shuman wrote several other songs for Presley as well. Among them: “Little Sister,” “Suspicion,” and “Surrender.”
In the movie, Elvis plays a race car driver who has to wait tables at a hotel in order to pay off a debt (no doubt to Colonel Tom Parker!). He performs this song at the hotel’s talent competition accompanied by various Vegas showgirls. Viva Las Vegas was the most successful of the 31 films Elvis starred in, returning more than $5 million to MGM Studios on an investment of less than $1 million.
I do remember this movie on TV. Why do I remember this Elvis movie more than others? No other than the co-star Ann-Margret.
The song peaked at #29 in the Billboard 100, #14 in Canada, #4 in New Zealand, and #17 in the UK in 1964. It did re-chart at #15 in the UK in 2007.
Billy Strange played guitar on this track. According to Strange’s son Jerry, musician’s royalties for the song came in for years thanks to slot machines that play the song.
The song was revived by ZZ Top, who took it to #10 in the UK, #16 in the Billboard Rock Charts, #34 in Canada, and #17 in New Zealand in 1992.
Everything that is famous about Las Vegas comes up in the song…such as roulette, neon, hot dice, pretty women, blackjack, one-armed bandits, and bright lights. The song has served as an advertisement for the city although having a small consolation for losing everything…If I wind up broke up well
I’ll always remember that I had a swingin’ time… Oh OK! A swinging time is worth it!
The Dead Kennedys also did a cover of the song…in their own unique way.
Viva Las Vegas
Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
Got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn,
So get those stakes up higher
There’s a thousand pretty women waitin’ out there
And they’re all livin’ the devil may care
And I’m just the devil with love to spare, so
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas
How I wish that there were more
Than the twenty-four hours in the day
Even if there were forty more
I wouldn’t sleep a minute away
Oh, there’s black jack and poker and the roulette wheel
A fortune won and lost on ev’ry deal
All you need’s a strong heart and a nerve of steel
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas with you neon flashin’
And your one arm bandits crashin’
All those hopes down the drain
Viva Las Vegas turnin’ day into nighttime
Turnin’ night into daytime
If you see it once
You’ll never be the same again
I’m gonna keep on the run
I’m gonna have me some fun
If it costs me my very last dime
If I wind up broke up well
I’ll always remember that I had a swingin’ time
I’m gonna give it ev’rything I’ve got
Lady luck please let the dice stay hot
Let me shoot a seven with ev’ry shot, ah
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas,
Viva Las Vegas, viva, viva Las Vegas