Thursday, May 20, 2010

This week's LVW col: Oh, Brothers!

Who knew how far this recently acquired fascination with the Smothers Brothers would take me? In addition to the initial podcast interview from May 6, after they startlingly retired in front of me I was first to cover it in the national media with this AOL News piece and then followed up for AOL News with an in-depth discussion with Tom Smothers. That also begat a second, 17-minute podcast of my May 18 chat with Smothers. And, of course, there's this column I had planned to write all along before the retirement/break/whatever. Fun. Enjoy.

Oh, Brothers
How a vintage act taught me to love Vegas for its oldies

While the rest of the city’s attention was focused squarely on the Miss USA pageant on Sunday, I was a couple miles west, taking in a far more important popular-culture event. That it passed with as little fanfare as it did was baffling, but something tells me that even if there had been fair warning, most of the entertainment press would still have been at Planet Hollywood, hoping some dimwit with huge fake boobs said something politically incorrect.

I was at The Orleans, where the Smothers Brothers were on stage together for the what may have been the last time.

And here’s the irony: I was there to do a column about how fortunate Las Vegas is to have all these oldies acts. I was going to remind everyone to see them before it’s too late.

Then Tom and Dick go and prove my point. Near the end of their 90-minute, tuxedo-clad show, Dick rambled a bit about how much he admired and enjoyed his brother, which is how you knew something was up, because for 50 years they’ve been publicly annoyed by one another as part of their shtick. Dick referenced how this is probably the last time they’d perform together on “a stage like this,” so thanks to the full house who had come. Then the show was over and the audience dispersed, many baffled. The brothers, now 73 and 71, later confirmed their retirement from touring.

I went back to the May 6 interview I did for my podcast and realized that, in fact, Tom did say, “We’re kinda retiring, taking a sabbatical for 10 years. Then you come back when you’re 90 and they give you a Kennedy Center Honor if you can still walk.” I thought he was kidding.

And speaking of kidding, I suspect you think I’m exaggerating when I say that this was the most important thing to happen in pop culture last weekend. Could I seriously believe the retirement of a duo whom half of America probably thinks is already dead is of more significance than what Miss Oklahoma thinks of Arizona’s immigration law?

Read the rest at


mike_ch said...

These oldies acts exist here because that's a lot of retirees here and in the nearest communities. That's pretty much it.

I'm not sure how much money they make for the resorts, though the Boyd group in particular does aim toward the blue-haired crowd.

I was at the age where I remember when these guys were on TV, and yeah I thought The Yo-Man was pretty cool when I was give years old, but when you retire that far removed from the spotlight it means you either didn't know of your own irrelvance or (in the Smothers case) you simply didn't care.

Anonymous said...

I highly enjoyed seeing Neil Sedaka at the Orleans a year ago. Something for everyone, considering he does his fun 60's hits like "Calendar Girl" and "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" as well as Seventies stuff like "Laughter In The Rain" and the ballad version of "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do." He even threw in a classical piano piece. His voice is still all there and he was pretty funny too. Definitely one for your list, Steve!