DEAR JERRY: While in Las Vegas in March, we went to the Flamingo to see the Wayne Newton show. The evening was wonderful, but I left with a few unanswered questions:
During the show, it was mentioned that Wayne headlined in Vegas more than any singer ever. Approximately how many shows has he given?
Contrary to what people used to think, he assured us he was not an overnight success, and that “Danke Schoen” was not his first record. What did he do before then?
Evidently young Wayne's asthma condition prompted the family move to Phoenix. There, he appeared regularly on a TV variety show. Which show might that be?
He still looks great but what is his age?
Dale Preston, Evansville, Ind.
DEAR DALE: This Las Vegas mainstay first appeared on stage there in 1959. Back then the act included his older brother Jerry, and they were billed as the Newton Brothers.
By 1961 it would be the Newton Brothers Featuring Wayne.
Jerry quit the act in '63, whilst Wayne began a solo career as one of the most recognizable names in music history.
In 1979, People Magazine declared Wayne “The Most Successful Performer in Vegas History.” With success directly proportional to ticket sales, no one on the Strip outranks him.
It is good you ask only for an approximate number of shows, since no one, including the only person attending them all Wayne Newton knows exactly.
Most estimates indicate Wayne's record number of Vegas shows to be close to 26,000. Whatever the number, it increases every time he takes the stage, which he still does about 15 times a month.
Overnight success? Hardly.
Wayne and Jerry recorded about two dozen tracks between late 1954 and the summer of '63 when he finally hit it big with “Danke Schoen.” These are all available on “The Real Thing,” an easily available Bear Family CD.
The Newton family moved from humid Roanoke to dry Phoenix in 1952. From 1954 through '58 Wayne and Jerry were regulars on the Lew King's Rangers, a very popular radio and television show.
Last month, April 3rd to be exact, Wayne celebrated his 64th birthday.
DEAR JERRY: I have Neil Young's “Comes a Time” album, about which I have a theory and a question.
On many LPs named after one of the songs featured, the title tune is the first track on Side 1.
With this LP, “Comes a Time” is the second track on Side 1. The song chosen to open the program, so to speak, is “Goin' Back.”
Do you think “Goin' Back” is the original or intended title of this album?
My suspicion about this is not merely based on the track sequence, but more so on a rumor I heard years ago that “Comes a Time” was actually the second, or replacement, title of the album.
Plus, “Goin' Back” is a pretty good title.
Noreen Friar, Lebanon, Pa.
DEAR NOREEN: As Meat Loaf once mused, two outta three ain't bad.
“Comes a Time” is definitely a substitute moniker, and “Goin' Back” is an excellent title.
Briefly, here's what happened during the summer of 1978 with this project:
Among the factory's first batch of this 10-tune collection (Reprise MSK-2266) are sampler copies showing the title as “Give to the Wind,” which, as you may know, is not a song on this or any other Neil Young record.
Most of these test pressings, made for the media and music reviewers, are named “Comes a Time.”
Inexplicably however, a handful show the title as “Give to the Wind” and not “Comes a Time.”
Most of these have a plain white label with very little printing, but at least one of these gems exists with a commercial (orange) Reprise label - the same as on “Comes a Time” and Neil's other Reprise LPs.
No sales of this unique “Give to the Wind” pressing are known, but its value must be at least $5,000!
IZ ZAT SO? Wayne Newton is just one of a handful of young boys and girls who kickstarted their entertainment careers on Lew King's Phoenix-based radio and TV shows.
Others include singers Marty Robbins, Tanya Tucker, Duane Eddy, and Rusty Draper, and actresses Lynda Carter, Linda Day George, and Vonda Kay Van Dyke.