The golden years of Las Vegas lounge performances were during the 1950s and 1960s. Just imagine: Juan Garcia Esquivel being the opening act of Frank Sinatra! Or a marquee sign of one of the plush hotels in the desert flashing performance for the night like this, “DEAN MARTIN – MAYBE FRANK – MAYBE SAMMY.” The Rat Pack in Las Vegas did not only become an attraction for the high rollers and big names which frequented the gambling city, the Rat Pack contributed significantly to making Last Vegas the Mecca of Lounge Music!
As mentioned in Sara Benson’s Last Vegas City Guide, the so-called “Summit” shows (featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop) turned “this two-bit Nevada railroad town [Las Vegas]” into an “entertainment mecca.” What was the x factor which made the Rat Pack so endearing to the Las Vegas patrons and residents as well? Was it more than the lounge music acts which were an exciting mixture of comedy stints, easy-to-listen songs and beats, and intoxicated impromptu features? Or was it that certain “Hollywood” mystique (and even a shade of Mafiosi colours) which went around with the Rat Pack in their lounge music tour of the hotels of Las Vegas?
In the neon-lit stages of this desert town, however, the answers do not really matter. What matters is what the Rat Pack left to the Las Vegas strip. A legacy of lounge music acts which will be hard to follow. And, while even to this day, many wanna-be’s and look-alikes manage to climb and hug the lights of Vegas to copy Rat Pack routines and clichés, people will always remember the original. For Frank, Dean and Sammy also possess the golden lounge music voice (whether together or individually) which made them a tough act to follow indeed.
And we must not also forget the camaraderie which made their combination work. While Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop eventually dropped out of the pack, leaving the trio to perform, Frank, Dean and Sammy was still a dynamite and exciting combination of lounge humor and music all rolled up into one perfect act.
No wonder, it’s hard to talk about Frank Sinatra without mentioning Dean Martin, or Sammy Davis, Jr. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anymore one of the trio without each other. Their careers in the lounge musical acts of Las Vegas even expanded to their film careers (they were the cast of the original “Ocean’s Eleven” even before George Clooney and Brad Pitt).