Literary Las Vegas: Arlene Krieger & Rich Perez


“The NiteKings: A Legendary Las Vegas Band,” written by Arlene Krieger, from stories told by Rich Perez, is just as much Perez’s life story as it is the story of the band.

Perez’s tale begins with the legacy of his parents: His father from the Canary Islands and his mother from Mexico supported the family as migrant farm workers following crops from Texas to Michigan, where they spent much of the year living in a one-bedroom apartment. For a brief time, the family saw a way out of poverty. Perez’s father, George, found a job at General Motors, and his mom waitressed. But then their world caved in. George died from stomach cancer, and within two months, the family of nine children lost their mother, too. Rich Perez was passed from older brother to older sister, dabbled in petty crime and finally ended up sleeping in a friend’s car at a truck stop. Music was his only love in life. As a teen, Perez began playing with bands at sock hops and on street corners.

After a short stint in jail, Perez joined the Army. Later, he advanced the music careers of several young musicians, including David Finley, whom he discovered at 16. Eventually, Perez knew he wanted to be the one behind the mic, not just the manager. After working with a series of bands, he became a member of The NiteKings. For more information on the book, visit nitekings.com.

Krieger plans to speak about the book at a local Hadassah meeting starting at 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at a private location. A $5 donation to Hadassah is requested. For location and other information, contact Jennifer Cohen at jcohen1156@gmail.com or 702-340-6885 after 5 p.m. or Karen Krebs at karenkrebs@yahoo.com or 702-845-4811.

Excerpt from ‘The NiteKings: A Legendary Las Vegas Band’

Rich needed a real change. He loved his music, but he needed to put some time and space away from the Detroit area. He had a high school buddy who shared his love for music, Sam Baughy. Sam was a couple years older than Rich and had mentored him into the world of group singing when he was in high school. Word on the street was that he had moved to Las Vegas where the climate was warm and sunny, and money was spent like flowing champagne. Sam was in a group called the Blue Notes, and they were booked four nights a week. The pay was decent, the accommodations adequate, and the opportunities abundant. The thought of going to Las Vegas crept into Rich’s mind and became more enticing as the cold winter weather nights became longer. That night, his dreams were filled with the warmth of the Nevada sun and the rattle of coins being tossed into slot machines.

 

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