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Wayne Newton battles back pain to celebrate No. 60 in Las Vegas

Updated May 17, 2019 - 5:59 pm

Wayne Newton played it cool on his 60th anniversary performance at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace on Wednesday night. Just a show and a cake happily topped by his anniversary number.

Newton played it low-key as he is still recovering from spine surgery, which took him out of action for a little more than four weeks. Newton returned May 6, and marked his anniversary a day before his official date of May 16.

It was May 16, 1959 that the Newton Brothers — Wayne and Jerry — debuted at Carnival Room at Fremont Hotel.

Newton was filmed Monday night for an appearance on NBC News, which aired Thursday. He recalled being dubbed “Mr. Las Vegas,” a tribute to his tireless schedule of playing at such fabled Vegas hotels as Sands, Frontier, Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Stardust and Las Vegas Hilton.

“When people started calling me that, I thought it was because I just wouldn’t leave,” the 77-year-old Newton says. “But it is the greatest compliment one can be paid.”

The NBC clip reveals a remarkably slim Newton. He has dropped to 170 pounds, by far his lightest weight in his adult life, as a result of recovering from surgery and a curbed appetite because of his continual pain.

But Newton is returning to the stage and his usual schedule at Caesars on Monday night. Any further celebration of No. 60 will take place later this year, possibly at Newton’s famous Vegas property, Casa de Shenandoah.

“As long as I can bring happiness into people’s lives, what I was sent here to do might have been fulfilled,” Newton says. As for lasting 60 years, he never expected that type of longevity.

“Oh my God, no,” Newton says. “I’m as shocked as anybody.”

‘Jukebox’ plugged in

The effectively choreographed, powerfully voiced gents form Human Nature have returned from a tour of its native Australia. The tour marked the group’s 30th anniversary, during which they received the prestigious Order of Australia honor. The award is the country’s highest recognition for outstanding service.

H.N., the quartet of Andrew and Mike Tierney, Phil Burton and Toby Allen, are also celebrating their 10th year as headliners on the Strip. They are due for a refresh of their “Jukebox” show, under the title, “Human Nature Sings Motown and More,” at Sands Showroom at the Venetian.

The return of “Motown” to Human Nature’s show title is a nod to yet another anniversary this year — Motown’s 60th.

The You Man Tube

Luxor headliners Blue Man Group has set loose a YouTube documentary series, “Becoming Blue,” which surfaced like the Blue Men themselves — kind of out of nowhere. Six actors and musicians are tracked through an eight-week training course to become Blue Men.

The artists are shown catching marshmallows and learning to drum on PVC pipe in a Blue Man-fashioned training camp.

Not all will make it — I wouldn’t expect any to survive, judging on BMG’s own statistics. Just one in 1,000 would-be Blue Men actually appear onstage. Figuring out who will or won’t is part of the fun. That, and slamming a snare drum filled with blue paint.

A.J. to Hulu

A documentary that has sent a ripple through the Vegas entertainment scene, “The Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary” debuts on Hulu on Aug 16.

The streaming platform paid $2 million for the documentary, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January.

Of course, because this is A.J., there is a second documentary set for release.

“Always Amazing,” in development at the same time Johnathan was working on “Untitled,” is being released in three weeks. Director Steve Byrne made that announcement Friday. The film centers on the relationship between Johnathan and his 30-year friendship Aussie comic Joel Ozborn.

Hellyeah’s ‘Welcome’

Heavy-metal outfit Hellyeah, drumming great Vinnie Paul’s final band, releases “Welcome Home” on Sept. 27. It was the album the band was wrapping when Paul died on June 22. The first single, the album’s title track, was issued this week. The band has also set up a Crowdrise online fundraising campaign to raise money for the American Heart Association. The band is also touring July and August. No dates in Las Vegas, but is winding up Aug. 17 at at House of Blues in Dallas, about 180 miles from Paul’s original hometown of Abeline, Texas.

If I went even a week without seeing Paul on the scene, it was usually because he was in Texas, raisin’ all kinda hell.

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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