Talk and Book Signing at the Mob Museum

SAVE THE DATE:

I am thrilled to announce that I will be giving a talk at the Mob Museum on Saturday, April 27th at 2:00 pm. Afterwards, I will be signing copies of my new book, Gambling on a Dream: The Classic Las Vegas Strip 1930-1955.

mob museum.jpg

The Mob Museum

300 Stewart Ave.

Las Vegas, NV 89101

Saturday, April 27th

2:00 pm

Catalog Image.jpg

The Las Vegas Strip We Once Knew

Las Vegas has changed a great deal over the last twenty-five years. Growing from the sparsely populated city many of us grew up with in the 1960s into a sprawling metropolis of over two million.

Back then, the Las Vegas Strip was revered as the “Entertainment Capital of the World”. Up and down that five- mile stretch of Boulevard, some of the greatest names in entertainment played the hotel showrooms. From Frank Sinatra to Judy Garland to Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, they entertained guests twice night, first at the 8:00 dinner show and later in the night, at the 12:30 am Late Show (there was even the occasional Late, Late Show on Saturday nights). They often were booked for two weeks or more and the hotel marquees were in constant rotation.

Performers such as Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Sam Butera and Freddie Bell and the Bellboys and the Mary Kaye Trio kept the various lounges jumping from late night to early in the morning. They often rotated throughout the night with comedians such as Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett and Shecky Greene.

There was no walking the Strip back then. In those days the hotels catered to tourists in automobiles. There were often large expanses of desert between hotels. Gas stations, bars, diners and family run motels dotted the landscape between the larger hotels.

Giant neon signs that could be seen up and down the Boulevard danced in the dark night skies providing a show all their own.

Back then, people dressed up to go to a show, with the men sporting tuxedos and the women draped in sparkling evening gowns and draped in furs and jewelry.

It was a party that was never supposed to end.

Today that has all but vanished from the famed Las Vegas Strip as giant resorts built out to curb appeal to the modern tourist in search of fun, shopping and fine dining.

You can revisit those days in the new paperback version of my book, Gambling on a Dream: The Classic Las Vegas Strip 1930-1955 which covers the histories of the first 10 hotels built on the Strip in those years. The companion DVD offers video interviews with the men and women who were there and helped to make that history.

You can get a personally autographed book and the companion DVD here:

http://classiclasvegas.com/shop

In the meantime, enjoy some images of the way it used to be:

Images courtesy of the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, UNLV Special Collections, Joel Rosales, and the As We Knew It: Classic Las Vegas Collection

Request for photos and info on the Pussycat A-Go-Go

This is an old post from our original blog and one of our readers asked if I could post it here:

Any photos and history. I was a bass player with Don Corey and the Camps in 1966 at this club.

August 1, 2013 | Bob Ruppell 8/1/2013

The Pussycat A Go Go was opened in 1964 by Garwood Van, a
longtime musician and bandleader on the strip. The Pussycat (had NOTHING to with the Pussycat dolls!)was the first live rock and roll dance club on the strip. It featured two stages, a back-bar stage, for smaller musical groups and/or Go Go Dancers that alternated with the larger bandstand on the dance floor. The club wouldn't really start kicking till after 2:00 AM, when the dancers, showgirls, musicians and those who worked the strip would arrive. By 1965, the Pussycat had earned its reputation as "THE" place to go for dancing and socializing. It was not unusual to find many of the strip headliners such as Johnny Carson, among many others, bumping and grinding on the dance floor. The Pussycat was also the hottest place in town to hear and see the newest, up and coming groups and artist, such as Sly and The Family Stone( who played the Pussycat beginning in 1967 as a six piece group) The Checkmates LTD ( with Bobby Stevens ) played their first Las Vegas gigs at the Pussycat. The Pussycat started the trend of dance clubs the major hotels now enjoy. The success of the Pussycat was quickly copied by other venues elsewhere on the strip as well as downtown, but none captured, then or now, the excitement of the Pussycat.
The Pussycat also featured a small restaurant and a tiny casino, 2 or 3 Blackjack tables and a couple of dozen slots. The Pussycat survived until the late '60's. The Wynn properties now occupy the area where the Pussycat and the Colonial House ( with it's Pussycat-style club) once stood. The Pussycat A Go Go was truly the first, and some would say the hottest, dance club Las Vegas ever had. Anyone who had the experience of visiting the Pussycat in it's heyday, would agree. (Ask Sonny Charles, he was there!)

October 21, 2013 | Basse B

Nice article Basie B. My band, Stark Naked and the Car Thieves began playing at the Pussycat in 1966. Very improbably, we got an audition for Caesars to open Nero's Nook lounge, along with Checkmates, Ltd. only at the last moment they changed our name to "The Big Spenders" to help promote Sweet Charity that started a little after we did. There was a certain amount of controversy over all that and we returned to the Cat to play with bands like Sly Stone, Gary Pucket & the Union Gap, Six the Hardway, Fifth Cavalry, Tom Chase's great horn band. Jim Morrison had driven over from Orange County, Ca, to see us the night he got so badly beaten there, Unfortunately, it was our night off so we were no help. We were also there when Sly was chased off the stage and out of town. We went on to play the Flamingo Skyroom and the International Hotel's Crown Room, the second time Elvis was there and occupying the 17 bedroom suite next door. I'd enjoy talking with anyone who has information or memories of these days, especially as it relates to the band. I'm working on a memoir of the years between 1965 and 1971 called THINGS WE LOST IN THE NIGHT. You can see more about it athttp://larryjdunlap.com. Please contact me through the site. Best wishes to all.

June 8, 2014 | Larry J Dunlap

Hi Larry. I also played at the 'Cat' with our group The Orange Colored Sky in 68-69 three times I think.We had Morrison forced on us by the entertainment director Jack I think his name was (short guy bad toupe) Jim was so drunk (as usual) I had to hold him up on stage by the scruff of his jacket while he tried to sing a song. I remember thinking to my self at the time, that Im holding a dead man here.

May 26, 2016 | Tony Barry

The Poor Boy's played the Pussycat 1965. A great dance club and was packed all of the time. Loved playing there!

May 20, 2017 | Bob Allen

The entertainment director at the Pussycat in the mid-late 1960's was Jack Turner. (This was in his pre-toupee days)! Have often wondered what became of Mr. Turner, as well as another headliner (and Lana Turners last husband) Dr Ron Dante/ Ron Pellar, who played the Pussycat in 1966/67.

August 26, 2017 | Tony Barry

Hi stagemates!
I appeared at the "CAT" the summer of 1964 or 65 (can't recall) with a group out of Saginaw, MI called The "Estyles." The other group was, of course, the Checkmates. I wonder whatever became of them??
I remember Lana Turner and especially. Dr. Dante who taught me a lot about Hypnotism (a whole book could be written about what I did with that info.😄
I know that Dante was for real cos he put my close friend Danny under and made him do a bunch of stuff totally out of character for Danny. In case you ever wondered,it was 4 real!!!
Anyway,good to reminisce after all these years. Interestingly,that Devil's music--R&R-- Helped pay my way to a law practice now in its 41st year.the bass player became a PhD in Psychology and guitar player/lead singer a Civil Engineer. Much more in music accomplished, but solid careers backed it all.

Best,Richard. (State Bar of Michigan #P-27181)

September 30, 2017 | Richard Dumas

My band, The Estyles played the Pussy Cat in 1996. The Checkmates were the house band and we were a traveling band out of Saginaw, Michigan. We met a lot of movie stars as we played. Guys like Bobby Darin sat in with us. Dr Dante did a great intermission show. That was the hottest club on the strip. Since we played until 6 am in the morning, the entertainers came to dance to our music after their performances were over. It was a great club and we had a great time playing there.

April 17, 2018 | Dr Don Steele

Autographed Copies of Gambling on a Dream Now Available

Now that the holidays are over and you can relax, why not do so with an autographed copy of my book, Gambling on a Dream: The Classic Las Vegas Strip 1930-1955. Learn about the early days of the Strip, when it was just a two-lane, pot-holed, blacktop linking southern California with the small town of Las Vegas. You can discover the in-depth histories of the first eleven hotels built on that lonely stretch of road and how the visionaries who built those hotels, turned that stretch of the highway into the fabulous Las Vegas Strip.

The book covers the architecture as well as the neon signs and offers stories from the men and women who were there.

If you love Las Vegas history (and who doesn’t) or if you want to learn about the hotels that made the Strip of today even possible, this book and the companion DVD offer plenty of glamour, glitz and history!

Personalized autographed copies available now: Gambling on a Dream book/DVD

Screen Shot 2019-01-06 at 3.11.40 PM.png