Australia’s loss is the Las Vegas Valley’s gain. International recording star and Las Vegas resident Greg Bonham is set to appear in his own show, “G’Day Las Vegas,” at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 16 in the Cabaret Jazz venue in The Smith Center, 361 Symphony Park Ave. Backed by a 10-piece band, Bonham plans to cover hit songs from U2, Maynard Ferguson, Bruno Mars and Michael Buble, along with a couple of original works.
Bonham grew up in the Australian Outback, where his family had a 3,000-acre farm, raising sheep and wheat. The youngest of five, his dream to be a performer was shared by his parents. Instead of farm chores, they relegated him to lessons — piano, trumpet, guitar, sax and tap dancing.
“I never doubted my dream (of performing),” he said. “It was a natural thing to do.”
It was so natural, he said he and his siblings formed a band when he was 12, The Bona-Tones. They performed in small venues. At 16, he appeared on TV in the Australian talent show “Showcase,” which is similar to “American Idol.” He became a grand finalist. After that, he furthered his career in Sydney with TV appearances and hit recordings.
He said hearing himself on the radio was the biggest thrill of all.
“I want to tell everyone, ‘Hello. That’s me,’ ” he said.
The steps to his international stardom sound like the opening line of a joke.
“A man walked in … and said, ‘My manager would like you in England,’ ” he said. “… So, I packed up Liz and Rebel (his wife and daughter), and we went to England for six years. And that was successful. And then another man walked into the club in London (where he was performing) and said, ‘I want to take you to Russia.’ He was a producer, and I spent a year in Russia and sold 14 million records there. And then another man walked into the same place, called the Talk of London, in the West End, and he said, ‘Do you want to come to the USA?’ And that was my lucky break to come to America.”
That was 1985. Since then, his career has had him flying all over the U.S. About 12 years ago Las Vegas beckoned, and he moved his family here. He opened for top entertainers such as Jay Leno, Don Rickles and Joan Rivers and was in a show called “Glitz” at the Sands.
Liz Bonham recalled how they built their home just east of The Lakes, finishing it in time for their daughter to get married in it. The home sports a grand staircase, marble floors and conversation areas set off by gilded railings. A Yamaha Baby Grand Piano sits ready for Greg to entertain guests. Their Yorkie, Honey Bunny, greets everyone.
The couple wear matching gold Cartier bracelets and never take them off.
She said stardom has not changed her husband.
“No, he’s always been an optimist, an extremely happy person,” she said. “It’s just that things change. Things have just gotten better.”
These days, he jets off to headline throughout the U.S. and internationally. In the past few years, he’s found an untapped market within the corporate world.
He said another passion is when he’s at the piano, writing a song. He has a couple of songs that were sent to a large publishing company in Nashville, Tenn., which is shopping them around, possibly as movie themes.
“I’d like Tim McGraw to record my songs,” he said. “… I’d like to get a couple of those in a successful show for sure. That’s one of my goals. It’s not easy. It’s very political, a tough world.”
The Bonhams put the pause button on work to enjoy the summers, usually visiting their daughter in Southern California, a place they eventually want to live. He separates his work with what’s important in life.
“Show business is what I do,” Bonham said. “Your happiest moments are when you’re home, when you’re playing with your dog or being with family, doing something that’s close to your heart. Like, I’m happy going to the Leone Cafe at Tivoli Village with Liz and some good friends and laughing about things. Or … down at Huntington Beach, with the dogs on the beach. That’s when I’m happy.”
Tickets start at $42. For tickets, visit thesmithcenter.com or call 702-749-2000.
Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.