Gosh darn. Another one of the greats has left us, Don Rickles! Wow, this one is really a huge loss, as if any passing isn’t a big loss, but really, gang, this one goes way back to around 1958-59 (not positive on the year) when one night we stopped off at a little night club in Hollywood, California. We, meaning myself and Joe Louis (the former Heavyweight Champion of the World). We had wrapped up a TV show promoting an up-coming fight, when Joe said let’s go to this place called the Slate Brothers, they have some wild new comedian everyone’s talking about.
We arrive at this small club located on La Cienega Blvd., in West Hollywood. Was it small. I guess SO–it sat about 100, and the stage was like a postage stamp. Fortunately, I was with Mr. Louis as the room was nearly full. One of the brothers (actual twin brothers) was at the door when we approached. I will never forget the short conversation: “Hey, Champ, great to see ya…Mr. Sinatra’s here…would you like me to tell him you’re here?”
That’s the evening I met Frank Sinatra! Frank moved people around to make room for us and began to warn Joe about this guy named Don Rickles. “He’ll lay you low with insults Joe…I mean this guy gives no mercy…he tore me apart the other night…tonight he’ll have you to pick on.”
Rickles was hot that night. And, as promised by Sinatra, he tore into the Champ with some great insults, showing no mercy. At the end of the act, Rickles was soaking wet, Sinatra was nearly rolling on the floor from laughter, and Joe Louis had tears from laughing so hard. I was blown away.
As most everyone knows Rickles soon ended up in Las Vegas in the early ‘60s with the help of Mr. Sinatra and the Slate Brothers, who booked him in the Lounge at the Sahara Hotel. By this time, he had a few low budget movies to his credit, and was getting a ton of word-of-mouth endorsements. Frank had dubbed him at one time, “Bullet-Head,” but the two that took the hook was “Mr. Warmth,” and “Merchant of Venom.”
His biggest break came in 1965 when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he became a regular guest appearing more than 100 times, often when Sinatra was a guest.
Off stage you couldn’t find a better human being. He loved the Los Angeles Dodgers and especially the long-time champion manager, Walter Alston, and later Tommy Lasorda. When I was a sports writer in Los Angeles (1962-65) I remember seeing “Mr. Warmth” sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout as a guest of Mr. Alston. Maybe someday I’ll tell another story as told to me by Mr. Rickles himself, when I interviewed him for a cover story about 30 years ago.
His act was like none other. He would insult anyone and everyone and the people loved it. If you got insulted by Rickles that was considered a compliment. He often picked on me when I would drop in at the Sahara (his first show was usually around midnight or 1:00 a.m.) and the room was always wall-to-wall people. I never had a problem getting a table, as the Maître D knew me. If you didn’t know somebody, forget getting a table. That’s how big he was during the ‘60s and’70s. When he moved down the Strip to work at the then Sands Hotel—where the “Rat Pack” worked the main showroom, it became the hot hotel on the Strip. God those were the nights to remember. Now the last of the Great Ones is gone. Don Rickles joins his pals on a wonderful gold stage where the greatest comedians to ever work a stage are awaiting their man: Standing there with the diamond and gold microphone in his hand is his friend, Frank Sinatra. And, as he steps on the stage, he’s welcomed by just a few of the greats who arrived on that stage over the years. A few like: Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Jonathan Winters, Red Skelton, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and Rodney Dangerfield.
“Hey, you ‘hockey pucks,’ get ready for some great nights…”
Don Rickles…May 8, 1926—April 6, 2017.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Formerly known as “Rock of Vegas,” Fremont Street Experience announces Downtown Rocks, an amplified concert series whose tagline is “One Louder,” emphasizing the unparalleled entertainment, music, and party atmosphere of the destination and experience. Downtown Rocks show cases spectacular lineups and free, nonstop entertainment all summer long, in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas. Dozens of bars and restaurants line Fremont Street Experience, which features the iconic casinos of Las Vegas’ original strip, making it the perfect venue for concertgoers to gather for pre-and post-concert festivities.
Fremont Street Experience will be summer’s hottest music destination offering visitors performances from chart-topping artists in a high-energy environment, all set to the dynamic backdrop of the world’s largest digital display, Fremont Street Experience’s Viva Vision canopy – stretching five football fields long. Downtown Rocks features performances by Rock and Road Tour Artists Fuel, Tonic, Marcy Playground, and Dishwalla on Saturday, June 10. The summer long party continues with performances by Collective Soul, Rick Springfield, Seether and Chevelle. The concert series is just getting started, as additional much-anticipated acts will be announced in the coming weeks.
Downtown Rocks turns it up “One Louder” for concertgoers and Fremont Street Experience fans featuring signed autograph giveaways, band meet and greets, VIP cards for frequent visitors and the opportunity to win VIP passes for the entire concert series. Visitors can relive and share their Downtown Rocks experience through a custom photo backdrop, and merchandise including t-shirts and hats that will be available at every concert.
“This year we are kicking things up a notch with our new Summer Concert Series, Downtown Rocks. The free concert series is our way of saying thank you to our tremendous, loyal fans,” said Patrick Hughes, CEO and president of Fremont Street Experience. “Their support and patronage allows us to show our appreciation in the best way we know how, by throwing parties and free concerts featuring top acts all summer long that deliver exciting, quality entertainment experiences for our fans.”
For complete information on the headliner concerts and nightly entertainment, visit www.vegasexperience.com.
Last Wednesday night, Ricky Martin, one of the most intriguing and impactful performers of all time, launched his new and exclusive Las Vegas headlining residency, “ALL IN,” at Park Theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. The multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning artist thrilled the audience with a non-stop, electrifying show, filled with incredible performances and infused with the personal magnetism that has captivated his audience for decades around the globe.
The one-of-a-kind show, promoted by Live Nation and MGM Resorts International, features Martin performing 21 of his greatest and current hits, including “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “Shake Your Bon Bon,” “She Bangs,” “Cup of Life,” and many more, backed by 16 dancers and a nine-piece live band. ” ALL IN” is helmed by legendary director Jamie King, who has directed more than two dozen tours for superstars including Madonna, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and Rihanna, and wrote and directed the acclaimed Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil show at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. King previously directed Ricky Martin’s 2007 Black and White Tour, and 1999’s Livin’ La Vida Loca Tour. The show features spectacular costumes by Dsquared2, and mind-blowing choreography by over a dozen choreographers, led by supervising choreographers Jason Young and Paul Kirkland.
Tickets ranging in price from $59.50 to $175, not including applicable service charges, are on sale now and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com/rickymartin. For more show and ticket information, visit rickymartinmusic.com. A limited number of VIP packages are also available.
Well, gang, another sad week. Damn!