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Richard Marx ready to play the hits in Las Vegas residency

He was 12 when he hit Vegas for the first time — and in love.

Chart buster Richard Marx remembers it this way: “It was the first show I ever saw and there was Olivia Newton-John. I was actually so in love with her, but we didn’t have tickets in advance.”

No tix, no problem. “My Dad greased the maitre’d,” Marx recalled, laughing. “We got really close up, too. About 20 feet from the stage. Many years later, I ended up singing with her and writing songs with her, which just brought it full circle”

Grammy winner Marx, who has made countless hits and sold more than 30 million albums in his nearly 30-year career, talked with the Review-Journal ahead of his residency at the Flamingo Aug. 15-Sept. 2.

Review-Journal: What is a typical Sunday like for a Chicago-guy-turned Malibu resident who is married to the lovely Daisy Fuentes?

A typical Sunday is not crazy different from most days, if I’m home with Daisy. We aren’t early risers and love to sleep in. We also have two pit bulls who crawl up into bed with us as soon as we stir. That’s the official dog cue that they can jump up. You move an arm and they’re in the bed. The rest of the day in Malibu is long walks on the beach and a hike in the mountains. Living in Malibu is like living on vacation. Daisy and I are pretty much homebodies.

So, no swanky Sunday brunches?

Daisy is an amazing cook. She dedicated a lot of her energy in the last two years to converting all these recipes into the vegan version. If only every restaurant could take a page from her. When I’m on the road, I miss this tofu scramble Daisy makes. You would never in a million years know that it’s not eggs.

Tell us about your Vegas show. Are you playing all the hits?

I will concentrate on the hit singles when I tour, plus two or three different songs from the most recent album. I’ll change the set lists up from night to night. As for the hits, it’s not a hardship to play these songs. I love to play them every single night and I’m really grateful.

What will you and Daisy do in your free time while you’re here?

We’re outdoor people. We’ve already scoped out places to go outside and play some tennis. I’m also writing a bunch of material for a record. I’m even spending some of the time learning Spanish for Daisy and her family.

Is this so you can say romantic things to Daisy in Spanish?

I have a cheat sheet of romantic things to say to her in Spanish.

You write such romantic songs. Are you a mushy guy in real life?

I’ve always been that way. I love romance and I’m not the kind of guy who gets lazy about that kind of stuff. Now, more so than ever, I’m romantic and my partner is someone who truly appreciates it. Daisy is as cool and funny and smart as she is beautiful. When it comes to romance, her reaction is also a great motivator. When I’m away, I have someone show up with flowers and a note. The small stuff is what counts.

Let’s rewind to the ’80s or the major hair era. How much effort did it take for you to have that feathered mullet?

Ah, the ’80s. I remember it took all of five minutes to do my ’do. I had this thick, wavy, curly mane of hair and I never used product or hair spray. I would use a round brush and a blow dryer to get it as straight as I could. Then I’d walk on stage and in two songs, I’d have the biggest ’fro. In the ’80s, it was perfect. I was trying to rock the Mel Gibson ‘Lethal Weapon’ look.

Speaking of big names, you’ve been famous for so long. Who have you ever met who knocked your socks off?

I never met Elvis, but did meet a bunch of people in Elvis’ life, which was amazing. One of my first idols was Tom Jones. I remember I was in Vegas about eight years ago and I met Tom. We did a little work together in a studio and a show. After the show, I was hanging out with Tom Jones and thought, ‘This is just about the coolest guy ever.’ He really made an impact. Same goes with Kenny Loggins — a huge influence. We hang out together.

Back to your 12-year-old self seeing Olivia Newton-John in Vegas. Did you think she was singing just to you?

Of course, she was only singing for me. (He laughs). The funny thing is I used to sing her song “Suddenly” in my basement when I was younger and pretend I was singing with her. I’d imagine looking into her eyes and singing it. Flash forward 20 years and we did a charity event together. She said, “I’d love to do ‘Suddenly’ with you.” Then Olivia asked, “Do you need the lyrics?” I was like, “Um, I don’t need the lyrics.”

You will stand there, sign autographs and really talk to your fans. Why not throw some rock-star attitude?

That’s not who I am. Fans coming up who have supported me are welcome. They’re not an invasion. I want people who walk up to me to be glad they came up to me. You take a minute or two. You talk.

And you rescue pit bulls, too.

I was one of those people who bit into the pit bull myth and was leery of them. When Daisy and I were dating, she decided to foster this pit named Bronx. This 105-pound dog shows up at our door. Consider that my fingers are part of my livelihood. It didn’t take long, however, to see how misunderstood and how sweet this dog was and how he was part of our family. Now Bronx and I have a real special bond.

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