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Hotel plans tribute concerts to honor Elvis' smash success in Vegas, four decades after his death

Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut when he was just 21. But he made his name there after a 1969 performance led to more than 800 consecutive sold-out shows at what was then called the International hotel.

On the 40th anniversary of his death this month, the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, formerly known as the International and, later, the Las Vegas Hilton, will pay tribute to the King.

Donny Edwards, an Elvis tribute artist who has performed at Graceland, this week will sing at the Westgate.
Donny Edwards, an Elvis tribute artist who has performed at Graceland, this week will sing at the Westgate. (Donny Edwards)

Tribute artist Donny Edwards will appear on the same stage in the former International on Friday and Saturday for performances of “The King Lives!”

Backed by a 10-piece orchestra, Edwards will lead audience members on a musical journey, from Elvis’ early years in the 1950s through the jumpsuit years of the 1970s.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. shows range from $45 to $84.

Before or after the show, fans may consider chowing down, Elvis-style, at Sid’s Cafe. From Friday to Aug. 18, the Westgate’s coffeeshop will be serving specials that include some of Presley’s favorite foods: among them a grilled peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich. Served with chips or fries, it costs at $14.

Fans can also visit the gold-colored statue of Presley in the Westgate’s lobby.

During the 1970s. Elvis was famous for his jewel-encrusted jumpsuits. He's seen here performing at the International on Aug. 17, 1971.
During the 1970s. Elvis was famous for his jewel-encrusted jumpsuits. He's seen here performing at the International on Aug. 17, 1971. (Jim Swift/Las Vegas News Bureau)

Presley died at age 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, at Graceland, his mansion in Memphis, Tenn. His longtime connection to what’s now known as the Westgate included a stay in the hotel’s penthouse.

A story on the travel booking website Vegas.com says Presley performed 837 consecutive, sold-out shows at the hotel between 1969 and 1976. More than 2.5 million people attended the concerts.

Elvis first performed in Sin City in 1956 at the long-gone New Frontier hotel. His final show, at the Las Vegas Hilton, was on Dec. 12, 1976, about eight months before he died.

In Vegas, Presley’s legacy lives on through impersonators who perform not only in hotels along the Strip but also perform and appear at wedding chapel ceremonies.

And the theme song from his 1964 movie “Viva Las Vegas” remains the city’s unofficial anthem.

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