article by Suzanne Philips
photos by Larry Cunningham/CFM
The Cannery Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas hosted friends and fans of the late singer Elvis Presley to honor his birthday, January 8th. The “Celebration of the King’s Life” show brought out some of Elvis’ employees and close friends as well as co-stars of some of his most loved films.
Elvis On the Air’s Steve Christopher was the MC for the evenings events and delighted the crowd with his Elvis trivia and kept the show moving smoothly. Sonny West, who was one of Elvis’ bodyguards and close friends for many years spoke about his time with Elvis and some of the pranks that they used to pull on the film shoots. West was wearing his “TCB” necklace that Elvis had given him as a gift. Elvis had the necklace created and gave them out to people that were special to him. West recalled that one night Elvis asked him to give him back his “TCB” necklace so that he could give it to a visiting celebrity. West refused. He told Elvis that is was very special to him as it was the first necklace and that Elvis had given it to him. It couldn’t be replaced.
The legendary Stamps Quartet, who toured with Elvis took the stage to share their high-energy brand of Gospel music. While only one original member of the group, Ed Enoch, still remains with the Stamps, they are still delighting Elvis fans with memories and great music.
Darlene Tompkins, who co-starred with Elvis in the film “Blue Hawaii” and Cynthia Pepper, co-star of “Kissin’ Cousins” were on hand to meet with fans and share their memories of working with The King.
Comedian Sammy Shore who opened for Elvis during his live concert shows, had the crowd in stitches doing some of the bits that Elvis loved best. Longtime friend Jimmy Velvet was also on hand to talk about his memories.
The night wrapped up with a stunning performance by Johnny Fortuno. Fortuno, whose own vocal style sounds remarkably like Elvis, isn’t trying to be like all of the other Elvis impersonators out there. While he did wear some Elvis inspired outfits during the Cannery show, it’s his voice that really recalls Elvis’ style. Even though Fortuno was under the weather, he really gave his all onstage and the standing ovation crowds really loved him for it.
The “Celebration of the King’s Life” show gets bigger every year. For more information on how you can attend next year’s shindig, check out www.cannerycasinos.com.
For more information on Elvis on the Air go to www.elvisontheair.com.
For more information on the Stamps Quartet, check out www.thestampsquartet.com
For more information on Johnny Fortuno check out www.johnnyfortuno.com
For more information on Elvis Presley – check out www.elvis.com