Tommy Ward’s life has not been the same since Larry Ruvo saw the teenager’s future 2½ years ago.
Ward was performing with a group of Las Vegas Academy jazz students for a prestigious international food and wine event at Caesars Palace.
Ward’s group opened for Caesars’ headliner Matt Goss.
Halfway through their two-hour set, after Ward sang Frank Sinatra’s “My Funny Valentine,” Ruvo came up to him and introduced himself, along with Kenny Ortega, the director of Michael Jackson’s planned comeback tours.
Ruvo’s world revolves around fine wines, Sinatra and a megagala to benefit the brain research facility he founded in his father’s name.
Ruvo told Ward, “I want to make something happen. I think you’re fantastic.”
During the next few months, they had brainstorming sessions, discussing “ideas, strategies and potential contacts,” recalled Ward, who turns 20 on Sept. 19.
“One day he left me a voice mail and asked me to meet him at the Wynn with a guitarist. He wouldn’t give me any information and just asked that I be there, ready to sing.”
When they arrived, they were directed to one of the suites, which had heavy security outside the door, Ward said.
“I was freaking out because I had no idea what Larry was planning. When the door opened, we walked in and Quincy Jones was sitting there on the couch. Larry ushered me into position and then said, very plainly, ‘OK, go.’ ”
Ward said he “froze” in front of the 27-time Grammy winner, “but I sang for my life.”
A few weeks later, Ruvo invited Ward to sing at the VIP party for his Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala.
Jones was there and a few days later, Ward signed a management deal with Quincy Jones Productions.
Ruvo recalled telling Ward “early on, I’m not an entertainment manager but I can help you. In lieu of a commission, I only ask as you become more and more successful, I hope you will remember Keep Memory Alive.”
Ruvo said he remembered a story that Sinatra signed a lifetime contract with Harry James, a famous trumpet player and big band leader. According to legend, Sinatra’s godfather, Willie Moretti, put a gun to James’ head to null and void the contract for a few thousands dollars.
Ruvo told Ward, “Tommy, Sinatra had a lifetime contact. I don’t want a lifetime contract.”
About 10 days ago, Ruvo received an email from Ward, with an update, “that soon I’ll be able to return the favor and support Keep Memory Alive in a real way.
“Things have been going great with Quincy. We hired a Grammy Award-winning songwriter to collaborate on the first four songs of my album — which Quincy has agreed to executive produce himself. Which is beyond exciting.
Ward said he had met a top music exec and they had realized they had met at Michael Buble’s private show at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
“I thought he was the bartender and I wanted some water,” Ward told Ruvo.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
A who’s who of prominent Las Vegans attended the wedding of gaming scions Sean Lanni and Lindsey Hornbuckleon Saturday at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar Hotel outside San Diego. Lanni is the son of former MGM Grand chairman Terry Lanni and Hornbuckle is the daughter of Bill Hornbuckle, president of MGM Resorts International.
ON THIS DAY
May 15: 1905: Although American Indians, Mormons and others had lived in the valley for many years, the city of Las Vegas is officially founded. Four years later it becomes the seat of Clark County, named after mining magnate William Clark, who became a U.S. senator from Montana. He was one of the wealthiest men in the U.S.
Denver Broncos general managerJohn Elway, playing blackjack at the MGM Grand on Saturday. … Newly hired UNLV men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies and former NBA star Carlos Boozer, in the crowd at Drai’s nightclub (Cromwell) on Friday to see R&B crooner Jeremih. … Retired Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho, spinning heads at Encore Beach Club (Wynn) on Friday. He was in town to play for Las Vegas FC in Saturday’s game against Miami FC at Sam Boyd Stadium. … At Frankie Moreno’s “Under the Influence” show at Planet Hollywood Resort on Friday: “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman, former “America’s Got Talent” winner Mat Franco, who headlines at The Linq, “Absinthe” star Joy Jenkins, and cast members of “Million Dollar Quartet” (Harrah’s) and “Jersey Boys” (Paris Las Vegas).
THE PUNCH LINE
“It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by Gwyneth Paltrow. Not as fascinated as she is, but still. Pretty fascinated. I especially love her lifestyle website Goop, your No. 1 source for $5,000 juicers.” — Stephen Colbert