Wayne Newton has been performing since he was five years old, but he insisted he never gets tired of entertaining.
He’s known he wanted to be involved in showbiz since he visited the Grand Ole Opry one night at the age of four, he told Fox News.
The evening featured an all-star lineup of Hank Williams, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Kitty Wells, but something else made an unforgettable impression that night.
"I remember, and still do to this day, looking around all the faces of the people in the audience next to me and around me," he said. "And I saw the happiness that they were experiencing as a result of what these performers were doing. And I remember looking at my mom and saying, 'That's what I want to do.' And she took that to mean music. I'm not sure in retrospect if that's what I meant, but that's what it turned out to be for me."
These days, the 75-year-old performs nearly every night at Bally's Las Vegas. As part of his "Up Close & Personal" residency, audiences can ask questions to Mr. Las Vegas himself or even make musical requests.
For years, the star has been an open book to his fans.
In 2015, he opened up his 52-acre estate, Casa de Shenandoah, to the public.
It's currently a glitzy museum, one filled with monkeys, champion Arabian horses, "every kind of bird imaginable," and a massive car collection. Visitors can even board his private jet or explore personal gifts given to him by friends like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Elvis Presley, among others.
"When I built this place, I started with five acres and then as the land became available, I would purchase it and open up the ranch a little bit more," he told us. "We ended up with 52 over the years.
"The first homes I built were for my parents, my brother, and myself when I first came here in 1959. And so then as the ranch grew and the horse herd grew, I would get letters from people saying, 'What's behind those great big walls?' I think they thought it was to keep them out when in fact, it was to keep me in!"
In his lifetime, Newton says he's performed over 25,000 shows in Las Vegas alone. He learned a lot about how to navigate fame from the Rat Pack.
"They took me under their wing because I was so much younger than they were," he said of Sinatra and his pals. "And they wanted to make sure I didn't get in trouble, that I didn't go down the wrong path, or that I didn't show up in any of their parties.
"I think that if I learned anything, it was the discipline that they maintained. That really hit me like a ton of bricks. They were working two shows a night, seven nights a week. And yet they're doing movies in the daytime, television specials, and recording music."
He also got some life lessons from another Vegas icon.
"With Elvis, we really became good friends," said Newton. "He was one of the nicest people I've known. He was the last guy in the world to take himself seriously.
"And it was more important for him that the people got to see the kind of show they paid their hard-earned money to see than to just be doing things that a producer had written for him to do. He was really very wise that way. Because when you start doing things that other people write for you, you quit doing you and you become them, if you know what I mean."
And despite Newton's non-stop schedule, he has zero plans to slow down anytime soon. He told us he plans to keep at it for the foreseeable future.
This Fox News article is used by permission.
(photo credit, article image: JamesPFisherIII, Wikimedia)
Last Modified: August 3, 2017, 10:37 am