Laura Trent remembers watching her brother, Trent Carlini, perform as Elvis for the first time.
“I thought, ‘That’s not my brother! Is that really my brother?’ ” Trent said in a phone chat Saturday morning. “I was so amazed. Elvis was his hero. What a great show.”
That was at Roosevelt Theater in Chicago in 1990 when Carlini had just embarked on his Elvis tribute persona. Carlini moved on, and up, to co-star in “Legends in Concert” on the Strip. He also forged a long-running career in his own Elvis productions in Las Vegas, especially at the Las Vegas Hilton, where Presley sold out every performance from 1969 to 1976.
Carlini was planning a new touring production, dated for Jan. 8, 2020, when he suffered a massive stroke on Nov. 23. He was in a coma until he died Dec. 8 at Centennial Hills Hospital in Las Vegas. He was 57.
To honor his decades in Las Vegas, Carlini’s family is hosting a celebration of life at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Space, honoring Carlini’s planned production and also Elvis’ 85th birthday.
Trent will be joined at the event by Carlini’s daughters, Thalia, Isabella and Sophia; and his son, Gabriel.
The celebration will incorporate video and photos of Carlini’s life and career, dating from his youth in his original hometown of Porto San Giorgio, Italy, through to his headlining days in Las Vegas.
The family had considered holding the event at the Westgate Las Vegas, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton and LVH, where Carlini spent most of his Vegas residency. But the hotel’s performance and convention spaces are overtaken by CES, which opens Tuesday would have pushed the date to later this month.
“We would have loved to have it at (Westgate), but that date was too important for the girls and his son,” Trent said. “We wanted to respect that date, and were looking for a space when The Space came open.”
Trent is a performing artist and also a seasoned songwriter. She pitched original songs to her brother to complement his Elvis act.
“I wrote a few songs for him, he would record them, and then he would say, ‘No, I can’t. Even if the song is beautiful, I can’t,’ ” Trent said. “He felt it was cheating on his fans, because they expected Elvis from him. He’d say, ‘I don’t want to disappoint the people who come to see Elvis.’”
Carlini was with “Legends” at Imperial Palace when he arrived in 1990. In the years since, he also performed at Shimmer Cabaret at Las Vegas Hilton (later LVH), the since-imploded Boardwalk and Riviera, the Sahara, Steve Wyrick Theater (now Saxe Theater) at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, and Hooters (now OYO), where his stage show “The King” closed in January 2017.
Carlini, whose legal name was Roberto Romolo Sfasciapagliari Trentacarlini, had been booked on the road up until he suffered his stroke in November. Adhering to his wishes, Carlini’s ashes will be buried next to his mother, Aloisia Sfasciapagliari, in Porto San Giorgio.
Trent said her brother would have wanted to be remembered as “the next best thing” to the legend he portrayed.
“He was very, very devoted musically, and he loved Elvis so much,” Trent said. “In his private life he was Robert, all the way, with his family. But he performed as Elvis his whole life, and he would have continued if he was still alive.”
Plans are coalescing for the last days of Hard Rock Hotel, which shuts down Feb. 3 and will be closed through November 2020, when it is to reopen as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
The fancy final party will take place Feb. 1, with Vegas bands and entertainment performing on the casino floor and a send-off speech by Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of JC Hospitality, the owner of the resort-casino.
The party rolls into Super Bowl Sunday, with Fox Sports Radio host J.T. The Brick (legal name John Tournour) broadcasting from the hotel. On Feb. 3, staff, friends and longtime customers are invited to a closing hang at Center Bar and Lucky’s 24/7 — the only two F&B locations open on that day. Bosworth said the doors will close, with a “ceremonial locking,” between 4 and 6 p.m. that day.
“The re-opening will be a big, spectacular party,” Bosworth says. “This will be a memorable closing for our locals who supported Hard Rock for 25 years.”
Michael’s Got Talent
Michael Grimm, the Las Vegas singer/songwriter who stunned a national TV audience by winning Season 5 of “America’s Got Talent,” is back on the show’s “Champions” spin-off. The NBC series returns at 8 p.m. Monday, though Grimm’s first appearance has not yet been announced (he is not in Monday’s lineup of 10 acts).
Grimm’s soulful spin through “When A Man Loves A Woman” topped young opera star Jackie Evancho to win the finale on Sept. 14, 2010. He currently is a recurring headliner at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz with his “Night of Southern Rock ‘n’ Roll” coming up Jan. 26. Grimm returns to Cab Jazz on Feb. 18.
Terry Crews returns as “Champions” host, with a judging panel of Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Alesha Dixon and Heidi Klum. Tall, operatic, comedic clown Puddles Pity Party, who has headlined Cab Jazz and also Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, also is in the “Champions” lineup. A duet between between Puddles and Grimm, sometime or anytime, would be fantastic. #IslandsInTheStream
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.