Busting Vegas Myths: Elvis performed 837 sold-out shows in Vegas


Published on: September 25, 2023 at 08:04 pm.

Last updated on: 28 October 2023 at 07:43 h.

Sorry, Barry Manilow. It didn’t surpass Elvis Presley’s record for consecutive sell-outs at Westgate in Las Vegas this weekend. According to the board displayed at this casino resort, you still have 200 concerts left to play there.

Elvis plaque at the Westgate Hotel
The plaque attached to the famous bronze statue of Elvis at the Westgate Hotel is false. (Image: drfumblefinger.com)

Just kidding, Barry. The number on the plate is Honka Honka’s Burning Folly.

On September 8, 1978, near the anniversary of Presley’s death, Barron Hilton, then owner of the Las Vegas Hilton, unveiled a bronze statue of the King, sculpted by Carl Romanelli, at the height of Hilton’s “Always Elvis” convention.

Unveiling of the Elvis statue
Conversation of Vernon Presley (Elvis’s father), Priscilla Presley (his ex-wife), and Barron Hilton (Paris Hilton’s grandfather) after the false Elvis statue and plaque were unveiled in 1978. (Image: Reddit)

According to the plaque hanging on the pedestal, Elvis performed a record 837 consecutive shows at the hotel, which opened as the International, from July 1969 until December 1976.

That number is 201 more sold-out shows than Elvis actually gave.

This could have been the result of an innocent mistake, of course. Then again, there are other, equally plausible explanations.

Some suspect that Hilton, which bought the International Hotel from owner Kirk Kerkorian just a year after Elvis’ eight-year residency, inflated the number of concerts Elvis performed to cover up blatant fire code violations.

If Elvis had actually played to 2.5 million people, as the billboard claims, it would have meant that the showroom would have been packed well beyond its stated capacity of 1,150 people. Even at 837 concerts, that’s 2,986 people per show. But that’s still better than admitting that, in 636 performances, 3,930 people were allowed in at a time.

The manager did it

Another possibility is that both the shows and their total audience were exaggerated in numbers by someone who specializes in exaggerations.

Not only was Colonel Tom Parker secretly an illegal immigrant from the Netherlands, which is why it is believed he never allowed Elvis to tour outside of the United States, but Elvis’ long-time manager never served as a colonel in any organization.

Two and a half million Elvis fans can’t be wrong, but the paintings can be wrong. (Image: Amazon.com)

If Elvis was the king of rock ‘n’ roll, then Parker was the king of rock ‘n’ roll.

What’s the point of a few hundred extra offers when no one bothers to count them all, anyway?

A skeptical mind

Except that someone an act The trouble of counting them all. When Westgate purchased the property, which was briefly known as LVH, it sought to highlight its historical connection to Elvis.

In 2015, the casino resort debuted “Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition, the Show, the Experience,” which also offered guided tours of the facility, including what remains of the king’s former apartment on the 30th floor.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley makes one of the first 636 appearances at the former International Hotel in Las Vegas in 1969. (Photo: thetimes.co.uk)

Since the attraction was a co-production with Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Angie Marchese, Graceland’s chief archivist, took it upon herself to make sure the exhibit got all the facts right. The number 837 did not make sense. Over and over again, Marchese hand-counted the records for every Elvis performance at the International and Las Vegas Hilton, and time after time, he reached 636.

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The record was corrected, but the plate was never corrected. Her misinformation continues to be repeated in social media posts and in articles that published source information prior to the Marchese audit setting the record straight.

Look for “Vegas Legends Busted” every Monday Casino.org. To read the Legends of Vegas preset, visit VegasMythsBusted.com. Do you have a suggestion for a Vegas legend that needs busting? Email corey@casino.org.

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