Rick Michel is one of the best singing impressionists that I’ve had the pleasure of watching over the years in Las Vegas. I’ve known this guy for what seems like a hundred years (actually about 25 years) and I have just discovered that he has had a very interesting life—regardless of the typical overnight sensation label a lot of entertainers receive. Let me tell you a story.
After being discharged from the Navy in1975, the future entertainer, singer, impressionist, let his hair grow long and grew a mustache. He purchased a back pack and began to hitchhike across America. By 1976, he landed in Las Vegas and began to look for some work—any kind of a job would do. A pit boss at the Golden Gate Casino, downtown, took a liking to Michel and hired him to be a Keno writer—no experience needed. But, he had to cut the hair and delete the mustache. After a few months, the wanderlust returned and our guy bid adieu to Las Vegas, by jumping aboard an open freight train and heading for the West Coast (he hoped). “It was marvelous watching the sunset in the desert as the train rumbled along,” Rick said, describing the trip. He jumped off in San Bernardino and hitchhiked to Santa Monica, picking up jobs here and there. At night he slept in a sleeping bag on the cliffs of Santa Monica.
Around 1977, Michel heard there were open mic nights at the Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood. From the time he was a youngster, Rick, would entertain his family with impressions and as he grew older his reputation grew as a pretty good impressionist. He would also entertain his fellow sailors while at sea. “I thought I was hot stuff and I wrote some pretty funny jokes…at least they were funny to me!” So our guy signs up for one of the spots allotted by the owners of the Comedy Store, Mitzi and Sammy Shore. Well, to make it short, Rick Michel learned very quickly that he wasn’t quite as hot as he thought. Another thing, he was told to get rid of the long hair and mustache again.
“I decided right then that I needed to study more and get better material, if I wanted to make a living as a comedian/impressionist. And that’s exactly what I did,” Michel smiled, remembering driving to San Diego, Riverside and other comedy clubs to perform. Eventually, in 1980, he landed a spot in a show in a small theater on the outskirts of San Diego as a singing comedian. He returned to Las Vegas in 1981, where he was hired to perform in “Hollywood Plays Broadway,” at the Tropicana Hotel.
We jump forward to 1993, when he met the great impressionist, Rich Little. By this time, Rick was pretty well known as a wonderful entertainer, singer and impressionist in Las Vegas. Michel was asked to join Little on a world tour. “Of course I accepted,” he grinned. “So, for the next three years, I got to study with the master, as they performed everywhere. It was the best school I ever attended,” he laughed.
Rick, will present his “Sinatra Forever” show, focusing totally on the music of Frank Sinatra, as he salutes and interprets, “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” standards with a 24-piece orchestra on Saturday, Feb. 23 in the M Pavilion at the M Resort Spa Casino at 7:30 p.m. Michel has been touring his “Sinatra Forever” show around the country, as well as internationally, with performances in Canada, Mexico and Chile. Michel has been called “the closest thing to Sinatra we have ever heard” by “Variety.”
More than half the members of his orchestra at the M Pavilion will be musicians that played with Frank Sinatra. They will back Michel in a 26-song set that will cover everything, from Sinatra classics such as “Witchcraft” to even lesser known hits such as, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” from the musical, “Guys and Dolls.”
Tickets for “Sinatra Forever, starring Rick Michel” are $19.50 and $29.50, plus LET. They can be purchased at the M Resort Box Office located at Player Services, by phone at Ticketmaster 800-745-3000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
Oh, yeah, his hair is trimmed and he has no mustache!
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
NASCAR star, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will appear at the Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities’ annual NASCAR Driver Auction, Thursday, March 7, at Sam’s Town Live!, inside Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall. Junior will participate in a question-and-answer session with FOX Sports analyst, Chris Myers, during the event. NASCAR fans have voted Earnhardt Jr., the “Most Popular Driver” for 10 consecutive years and the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports AMP Energy Chevrolet SS, has earned 19 Sprint Cup Series wins, his first coming on April 2, 2000.
Fans will also have the opportunity to bid on the ride of a lifetime – to meet with and ride around the speedway with their favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, or NASCAR Nationwide Series hero, during the pre-race driver introduction lap for the Kobalt Tools 400 or Sam’s Town 300. (The winning bidder must be at least 18 years of age to ride with their driver.) Doors will open at 5 p.m. and admission is free. The charity event will kick off NASCAR Weekend in Las Vegas. Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway begins on Friday, March 8, with Stratosphere Pole Day, the NASCAR Nationwide Series takes center stage on Saturday, March 9, with the annual Sam’s Town 300 at 1:15 p.m. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400, is scheduled to start at noon on Sunday, March 10. For more information about the NASCAR Driver Auction and Speedway Children’s Charities, please call Paulette Anderson at (702) 632-8242 or e-mail SCC LV at [email protected].
A young man named, Jeff Stults will do what every aspiring singer dreams of on Saturday, March 9, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Stults, a Las Vegas resident and vocal talent, won the recent FOX 5 TV/Sam’s Town Speedway Superstar competition and will sing the national anthem prior to the start of the Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. “I’m looking forward to singing in front of the biggest crowd I’ve ever performed for…and, I’m totally honored to be singing for a nationally televised event,” Stults said. “This is a huge honor for me.” Jeff is 26-years-old and is an employee at Gondola Adventures at Lake Las Vegas and a gondolier at the Venetian Resort and Casino. He has been singing locally for several years. Race sponsor Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall and FOX 5 TV, stage the annual open audition, to find a talent to sing the national anthem and chose Stults out of more than 50 contestants.