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Mr. Las Vegas Wayne Newton hangs with Journey on the Strip

Updated July 24, 2022 - 11:45 am

Neal Schon mentioned to his VIP guest Friday night that he’d dropped out of high school to join Santana at age 15.

“I never looked back,” the guitar great said.

“That’s how old I was when I came to Las Vegas,” said the guest. “Me and my brother, playing the lounge, six shows a night, six nights a week. And I’ve been doing this ever since.”

Wayne Newton was the VIP, as he and his wife, Kathleen, met Neal and Michaele Schon before and after Journey’s show at Resorts World Theatre. Mr. Las Vegas said to Schon, “I thought I could play guitar, until I saw you play. I need to go home and practice.”

“But you play, what, 13 instruments?” Schon said. “I can play guitar. I can play bass. I can play some keyboards. And I’m a frustrated drummer. That’s about it.”

Wayne, who has returned to his headlining series at the Flamingo, had not been to a Journey show before Friday. But Kathleen had seen the band in a World Series of Rock festival at Municipal Stadium in her home town of Cleveland. Aerosmith, AC/DC and Scorpions were also on the bill.

“I’m totally fan-girling here, but I’ll never forget it,” Kat Newton told the Schons.

“I remember Cleveland Stadium,” Schon said of the old multi-purpose home of the Browns and Indians, demolished in 1997. “This place (Resorts World Theatre) is way nicer.”

Vocalist Arnel Pineda met Newton just before the show and asked him if he still sings “Danke Schoen” in his act.

“I do,” Newton said. “It was supposed to be pronounced ‘Danke Shern,’ but I changed it.” Pineda then smiled and sang out the song’s intro.

Multi-instrumentalist and long-running band member Jonathan Cain told Newton he had seen the Newton Brothers perform on tour in Chicago in 1958. “I was just a kid, and you were incredible. I was inspired,” Cain said. Newton answered, “I was a kid then, too, and thanks!”

The Newtons sat on stage left/house right, visible from the crowd. Near the end of the show, Schon strode over and greeted the couple as the crowd roared.

“I was thinking about bringing over a guitar, but I didn’t know how that would go over,” Schon said to Newton afterward.

“You should have! I would have loved it,” said Newton.

“Come tomorrow night!” Schon said, grinning.

“Ah, I can’t,” Newton said. “I’ve got a show.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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