Elvis Presley – Viva Las Vegas

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.

Elvis and Ann-Margret Dance Together In Scene From 'Viva Las Vegas' |  Country Rebel – Unapologetically Country

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


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

33 thoughts on “Elvis Presley – Viva Las Vegas”

  1. I remember this being a feature-length advertisement for the Las Vegas “experience.” Had seen the ZZ Top video before, but the Dead Kennedys treatment was new to me. Have yet to get to Vegas but it is on the list of things to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used to watch Elvis movies back in high school as here in Tbay the American channels we got were from Duluth and everyday at 4:30pm they would show a movie. Saw not only the Elvis movies but a good dose of Plant of the Apes as well!
    Those damn stinking apes lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those Elvis movies…some were fun. The one I remember the most is the one where he is in the motorcycle and he rides around inside a round thing…oh Roustabout.
      I like the Dead Kennedys version.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Elvis, especially his ’50s songs. While I think it’s fair to say “Viva Las Vegas” isn’t up there with gems like “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Jailhouse Rock,” it’s not a bad song. The same cannot be said about most of the movies in which Elvis was put in by the Colonel. They were god awful.

    Many ZZ Top videos make me smile including this one. How about that neon guitar!

    I hadn’t heard the fun rendition by the Dead Kennedys – fierce, they were really living it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea it’s not one of his classics but it’s a fun one. I really like the Dead Kennedy’s version! It’s a fun song.


  4. certainly one of his better known and most remembered songs, I think. I remember the ZZ Top cover too, thought it was quite good. If I ever get that time machine working (LOL), I think I’d pop back to LV in that era, see it when it had all those original neon signs and small, old-time casinos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hate that the original casinos are all gone now…that kinda sucks. I’ll go with you…just promise to drop me off at the Cavern also!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This IS a good Elvis number- some bad filler songs were tacked tacked on to the string late of 50s-60s lightweight flicks- ‘Kissin’ Cousins?’ ‘Harum Scarum?’- ‘Change Of Habit’ fer Chris- crying out loud!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…he would just get stand up and start singing in a airplane… don’t forget the classic “Clambake, gonna have a clambake”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was a kid when all of the Elvis movies came out and I enjoyed every one of them. I also like all 3 versions you shared here today. Each has its own charm. My mom used to call him Elvis the Pelvis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES….I missed that name. I was having a bit of fun with it. Roustabout is the one that is really ingrained in my head…him on a motorcycle riding in that cylinder.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always liked the line about not caring you’ve lost every penny, cause you had a swingin time… Viva Las Vegas! I like most Elvis stages, even this mid-60s autopilot stage, but I do love both the ZZ Top and Dead Kennedys’ versions too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You have to read my latest blog which covers my thoughts on the Elvis movie and more. Being a former musician myself, I saw beyond his glamour to reveal the real Elvis in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great Elvis record my mum loved Elvis right up to the end and this was pure 60s fun. We liked the movie too Ann Margaret was great but not quite as great to me as Nancy Sinatra in Speedway. Fun In Acapulco was a family fave too. I hate rub it in but i got to see the old Vegas in 1979 and again in 1987. I was a student – making up for notvgetting on an exchange programme a bunch of friends did a touring holiday with me. We drove down the strip and i took a few night time photos of the neon signs and casinos and made an art piece outvbof one 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you got to see the way it was before it turned into Disney…not that is a terrible thing but I would have loved to have seen the old Casinos like The Landmark where Howard Hughes was holded up.

      Liked by 1 person

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