After rock bottom, Perez rocking his way back


The second half of the year can only get better for Franky Perez, a Las Vegas favorite who had to put his career on hold after he woke up in a mental ward just before Christmas.

Perez is a native Las Vegan and “almost famous” rock singer who broke ground for full-on rock in casino lounges, a trend that’s become almost standard in locals-oriented gaming.

But while Perez was making progress in Los Angeles last year, chipping out victories such as a cover of “Higher Ground” for the “Sons of Anarchy” soundtrack, or seeing his Pusher Jones project on the affiliated soundtrack for a little movie called “The Avengers,” his six years of drug and alcohol sobriety were going by the wayside.

“I’m doing all these things and playing with all these people and living my wildest dreams, but inside I’m dying,” he says.

How bad did it get? So bad that members of Camp Freddy — a Los Angeles party-rock band pulled from the Guns ’N Roses era — told him to get his life together before he could rejoin them.

“That’s the first time in my life anyone’s told me not to go onstage,” he says. “They knew nothing else would hit me. I’ve hit every bottom that I could in life. The one thing no one’s ever said is, ‘Don’t go onstage.’ ”

The rebuff sent the 38-year-old into a deeper spiral, and that’s when he blacked out and woke up to find himself in a mental ward. “I’m in a gown and had no idea how I got in it. That’s when I realized two things. First, there’s a lot of things that I am, but one is not nuts. And two, I’ve hit a complete bottom.”

So this week, Perez called from Malibu Beach Sober Living to say he’s back, ready to play the Palms Lounge, one of his favorite venues, with his band The Truth on Saturday and June 8.

“I’ve had some believers in that town and some big supporters,” Perez says of paving the way for the Sin City Sinners and other full-volume ensembles to expand the cliched definition of a Las Vegas lounge act.

“I don’t put on a lounge show, I put on a rock ’n’ roll show. It’s gonna be loud, and it’s gonna be long. It’s gonna be unpredictable and that’s just what I do.”

Perez is looking for distribution for “the most honest” album he’s done. It’s called “Addict” and was “recorded in its entirety in Vegas hotel rooms” before he went into rehab. “It’s cathartic music that’s sort of my swan song out of this.”

Hearing it now, “I’m glad that it’s there because it reminds me of how bad it got.” He also has a newer album “Heavy Heart” — which, despite the title, was recorded “prerelapse” and is lighter in tone — and is donating all proceeds to the Dream Again Campaign to fight human trafficking.

Perez will follow his two Saturdays at the Palms with weekly Thursday gigs inside the Irish pubs at Palace Station on June 13 and Green Valley Ranch Resort on June 14.

“Music is the road to recovery,” he says. ...

Garth Brooks’ surprise return to Wynn Las Vegas is perhaps a sign not to hold our breath for “Funhouse.” The new show supervised by resort developer Steve Wynn himself is “still moving forward,” a hotel spokeswoman says.

But when Brooks seemingly wrapped his acoustic shows last year, it sounded like any return to film one for video release would have to hurry, before the stage was gutted for the new show. That won’t happened before July 4-6, when Brooks performs again for cameras and those who buy tickets for $145.75, which are cheaper than they were for most of the official run. ...

To the surprise of no one, “Centerfolds of Magic” sounds like it’s finally down for the count at the Plaza. Sunday was the last performance of a troubled revue that would have made for better reality TV.

John Lewis, who lays claim to the title and the continued commitment of “Rock of Love” star Taya Parker, says he and a new investor will try to place their first incarnation of the show at a new property.

This sounds a little intimidating. Mary Wilson, the Las Vegas-based Supremes legend, was in the opening-night audience for Human Nature’s official launch at The Venetian in February. But Thursday, a planned return visit to the Australian quartet’s Motown salute will be with Otis Williams of the Temptations and Duke Fakir of the Four Tops. Safe to say if one of the Aussies forgets a lyric, reach out and they’ll be there. ...

And why are Williams and Fakir in town? They are part of AARP’s big Life@50+ gathering at the Las Vegas Convention Center. But for my money, it’s Friday morning’s kickoff event that sets the bar high: Don Rickles and Bob Newhart together “in conversation” at 9:30 a.m.

The two have been friends since they both worked the Sahara in 1963. “It sounds corny, but we have the same kind of values (as far as) spending time with the family,” Newhart explained in 2004.

“We take vacations together. He makes me laugh and I make him laugh and the wives get along. If there’s any secret to it, that’s it.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.