Feature Column
Exclusive to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame

Column 5 - published December 5, 1997

!! LAS VEGAS IS A 1950's TOWN !!

LAS VEGAS is probably the most futuristic and modern city in America, if not the world. Progress and "newness" are everywhere. There isn't a couple of months which go by that a new, bigger, better, funner Casino doesn't open. So then, wait a minute, if it is such a modern and progressive city, a city for the year 2020, how can it also be a 1950s town?? There is a contradiction here?!?

Not really.

Of all the decades in American History the 1950s was the most modern, the most forwardlooking, the most optimistic, the most exciting and the most colorful one. This spirit, this attitude of optimism that in America you can achieve anything your heart longs for, that you can touch the sky, that you can rope the moon, like Pecos Bill did while riding his pony, this attitude permeates Las Vegas. There never was a Vietnam War, a Hippie Movenment, a Watergate, an Energy Crisis or a Whitewater Scandal in the psyche of Las Vegas. Time moves very fast here, and yet also time has stood still here. Neon, that icon of the 1950s, is still king in Vegas, even though it's getting some competition from Tuscan marble. If you don't like marble, go downtown, where you'll still find plenty of the "old" Las Vegas with enough Neon to last you a lifetime! The Cool Neon Cowboy, Vegas Vic, is still there, wearing his blue-jeans with the cuffs rolled up in classic 1950s style! He also has a super-sexy girlfriend, with fringed Western microskirt, her legs up in the air to make any red-blooded Westerner pay attention! Her name is Vegas Vicky and she is a classic 1950s Western pinup gal! Wow what a pair!
HERE IS an interchange we had on the Rockabilly Mailing List: (Legjaw, Joe Wajgel, is one of the founders of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame)
In a message dated 97-02-25 02:03:55 EST, Legjaw, my co-paesano, writes, first quoting my adios signature:
Rockin' Ronny, from LAS VEGAS where the WHOLE TOWN is a JUKE BOX!! - Hey, I like that, and it is absolutely correct! Neon "bubble tubes" everywhere you look (except in the 'burbs, although there's even a few there), fifties architecture (New York, New York; The Strat), et al.

And I replied to that: Yeah, that's it!! This is why I love the place so much!! This whole town is a big huge 1950s DINER, JUKE BOX and PIN BALL MACHINE all rolled into one!! Las Vegas is a TEX AVERY cartoon brought into real life!!
LAS VEGAS is a huge rayon pink and black H-BAR-C Western shirt covering one million people!! Las Vegas is where the myth of America becomes reality!! Where the words "Rockin' All Nite Long" really mean that! I mean 24 hours, all nite and all day! The 1950s never stopped in Las Vegas: this is a mammoth CADILLAC which never lost its FINS!!!! Las Vegas is shocking and outrageous just like LITTLE RICHARD and TUTTI FRUTTI were in 1956! That's why I love it and feel 20 years younger!
Rockin' Ronny Weiser, from SIN CITY suckin' in the NEON at every opportunity.
THE ABOVE pretty much should give you an idea why we are stuck in the 1950s here, and moving quickly towards the year 2000!! When it comes to music there is plenty of good stuff for a 1950s Rock'n'Roll aficionado like myself in Neon City: We often see Sam Butera & the Wildest, an explosive mix of Rhythm & Blues, New Orleans Jazz, Rock'n'Roll and Italiano Lounge Bop. Very fun, exciting show. The Treniers who have been rockin' since the 1940s are still jumpin' and shouting their risque Big Beat rockers! They show us you can still rock into your eighties! Sonny Charles & The Emeralds sounds much like Jackie Wilson & Sam Cooke with his smooth sharp brand of rockin' Soul Music. Wow!! Cornell Gunther and the Coasters rock on forever. Cajun and Zydeco all the time at The Orleans Casino. Blues with Long John Hunter (was on Rollin' Rock Yucca Sound EP) and others at Boulder Station and the Sand Dollar Saloon. There you also have the fantastic Rockabillyish ShuffleAires and the Ruffnecks. Swing with The New Morty Show at the New York New York. Swing on Tuesdays at The Hop, and the Hard Rock Casino on Wednesdays. The Royal Crown Revue rocks 'em at the Desert Inn. Rockabilly and Jump Blues on Fridays at the Hard Rock Cafe. So far we saw Russell Scott & His Red Hots, The Sun Demons and Hot Rod Lincoln. Dragstrip77, our own Las Vegas Rockabilly band, plays all over town. Johnny Legend and His Rockabilly Bastards visited us twice in the last few months. Earlier we had Big Sandy, The Hillbilly Hellcats and Ronnie Dawson. Rock Pioneers like Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, Etta James and many more often do concerts in Las Vegas. Junior Brown is coming up and The Derailers played last nite.

(pictured at left: "Rockabilly Rasputin Johnny Legend shocks them at Rancho Ronny")

And let's not forget my "Rancho Ronny Rockabilly Roundups", Rockabilly concerts here in my house!! The first one had The Sprague Bros featuring Deke Dickerson. Special guest stars were Ray Campi, Tony Conn, Rip Masters and Dragstrip77. On the second one it was the Horton Bros from Texas, with special guests Johnny Legend and Colonel Jim Silvers. On the third concert Toini & The Tomcats from Norway tore up the place. Toini's reputation as the Scandinavian Wanda Jackson is certainly well deserved. So this town is cookin' and it's bound to get wilder. We have a yet small, but very enthusiastic bunch of Rockabilly Rebels and Swingin' Hep Cats, who are carrying the banner of Rockin' Bop Music to the limit!

My 9 year old son Jeremy has formed a sports team in school he named "The Rockabilly Rebels". My other son Benny does a report on Rollin' Rock, while his fellow classmates cover Elvis and other 1950s legends. In his grade school now, some of the kids are talking about Ray Campi and Elvis and Gene Vincent the way they used to talk about Football players. Rollin' Rock Records (with Yours Truly) had its first recording session in 17 years!! Saturday November 22, 1997 was the magical day. Jorge Harada, leader of Dragstrip77 deserves the credit, or the blame, for dragging me out of hibernation!!

Nearly every Casino in Las Vegas has a 1950s-style diner, the funnest one being Roxy's Diner at the Stratosphere which features waiters karaoking 1950s Rock'n'Roll songs. The Wild West and the Cowboy are still very predominant in the psyche of Las Vegas, as well as a theme for Casinos (Boomtown, The Frontier, The Gold Coast, The Golden Nugget, Sam's Town, etc.,etc.) Need I remind you that the 1940s and 1950s were the decades when the West and Western Wear reached its peak popularity?

Outside of Texas we probably have more Cadillacs (the classic 1950s Rockabilly car) here than anywhere else. In Neon City Elvis is our official mayor-for-life. Rockabilly is fermenting in Las Vegas, I can feel it in the air!! We are rockin' into the future, we are rockin' into Fifties!! This is Las Vegas, Pardner, welcome to the Modern Age!


Rockin' Ronny Weiser


LEFT: Diggin' the sounds at Rancho Ronny Rockabilly Roundup Numero 3, Chris (drummer in Dragstrip77) and Rosie Noreen, Anne Sneddon, Official Rockabilly Ambassadoress. RIGHT: Rockin' Ronny & Cool Chicks at Rancho Ronny Rockabilly Roundup Numero 3, Ann Yu, Ronny, Ayla Kiser.

Back to the Latest "Rockabilly Rebellion" Column

E-Mail Ronny

ROCKIN' RONNY WEISER - On-site Rockabilly HOF web page