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July 31, 2014

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‘Rock Vault’ at LVH hopes to swing open for Las Vegas headliners

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

John Payne and Robin McAuley perform with other band members during rehearsal for “Raiding the Rock Vault” in the LVH Theater at LVH on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

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Tracii Guns, John Payne and Pauly Shortino, playing his air guitar, rehearse for "Raiding the Rock Vault" in the LVH Theater at LVH on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

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Andrew Freeman performs with other band members during rehearsal for "Raiding the Rock Vault" in the LVH Theater at LVH on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

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The band in "Raiding the Rock Vault" at LVH wears Las Vegas Wranglers jerseys during "Hotel California" on Sunday, June 23, 2013.

When people who were around the scene in VegasVille during the city’s golden era of star-generated entertainment talk of Old Vegas, they often recall how Strip headliners dropped in on one another’s shows to perform onstage. Members of The Rat Pack and Don Rickles were known to drop in on lounge king Bob Anderson’s late-night shows at Top of the Dunes, for instance, after they had closed out their own showroom performances.

Anyone who has watched Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns at the Palms has watched this practice gain momentum over the past few years. Members of Santana’s band, expressly vocalist Tony Lindsay, have hopped onstage to join the band for a song or two. Christopher Cross and onetime Chicago band member Bill Champlin have performed unbilled sets with the band.

Over the years, Penn Jillette and Drew Carey have joined Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band during its shows at the since-closed Ovation at Green Valley Ranch. Even Carrot Top has scrambled onstage and hit the tambourine with the ribald metal tribute act Steel Panther, also at GVR.

More recently, “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s has welcomed Veronic of Bally’s to the stage for a show-closing rendition of the Johnny Cash-June Carter Cash duet “Jackson” and is working on luring other headliners to the production — Clint Holmes, Taylor Hicks, Matt Goss and Moreno — for similar off-the-script performances.

“Raiding the Rock Vault,” the darlings of LVH and the fun-lovingest band of age-defying rockers in Vegas, is the latest to find a spot for artists who are not already in the show’s band. They, too, are talking with Veronic for a possible version of Journey’s “Separate Ways,” the cast of “Jersey Boys” for a spin on The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and Moreno for Queen’s “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions.”

None of this has been formalized, but there is a distinct feel in the entertainment scene that such crossover appearances can help support any show, and any artist, and help stitch together the city’s many topnotch shows and performers.

“Rock Vault," which dons Las Vegas Wranglers jerseys for “Hotel California,” is strengthening its bond with sports with a special Night of the Champion show Saturday night honoring Leon Spinks. The list of fistic luminaries is impressive, a group who was in town for the first Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony at Monte Carlo on Saturday. Former fighters scheduled to be in the audience to honor Spinks are his brother, Michael, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jake LaMotta, Ernie Shavers, Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, James “Quick” Tillis and Danny “Little Red” Lopez.

Famed officials Joe Cortez and Richard Steele also are on the list of attendees, and the event is to raise money for the Richard Steele Foundation & Boxing Club and the New Vista center for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Spinks won the gold medal in the heavyweight class at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. His greatest moment as a pro was at the hotel-casino now known as LVH. On Feb. 15, 1978, in just his eighth pro fight, he stunned Muhammad Ali with a 15-round unanimous decision to seize Ali’s WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. It was a huge upset, but short-lived, as Ali won the rematch seven months later with a unanimous decision at the Louisiana Superdome. It would be Ali’s final victory.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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