When Lady Gaga wrote of saying goodbye to her dying horse, the news shook a famous Las Vegas Arabian horse breeder. He’s also a famous entertainer: Wayne Newton.
Gaga had cut short her time at the Critics Choice Awards event in January to be with her ailing horse, Arabella. As Gaga wrote on her social-media pages at the time, “I am so honored and blessed to have won both Best Song and Best Actress alongside Glenn Close this evening. My heart is exploding with pride. But it saddens me to say that just after the show I learned that my angel of a horse, Arabella, is dying. I am rushing to her now to say goodbye.”
Newton, who still owns 45 Arabian horses, says he got chills when he read that message. He also recognized that horse’s name, tracing it through the bloodline of his own stable to a white Arabian named Aramus.
That horse, one of Newton’s original purchases in his breeding program in 1970, went on to win several U.S. and Canadian equestrian competitions. Several horses bred from Aramus, a regal white stallion, were named Arabella.
“When her horse died I was really sure of its bloodline,” Newton says. “I was very touched at how much she loved that horse, and reached out to see if she wanted to come out to the Shenandoah and take a look and see if she wanted to have one of our horses on the ranch.”
The offer from Newton, one of the world’s leading breeders since the 1960s, remains in place.
“Horses have always been there for me, through all of the ups and downs,” he says. “When I need to have peace and sanity, I go to my stables. I know what it’s like to love a horse, and to lose a horse. I absolutely would have her come out and see our horses.”
Arabella means “yield to prayer,” and as Gaga wrote, “Our souls and spirits were as one.”
More Newton-Gaga connection
Newton also found a link to the Gaga universe through her bandleader, Brian Newman. Drumming great Louie Bellson had encouraged Newman to take up the trumpet when Newman — currently headlining his 11 p.m. “After Dark” residency at NoMad Restaurant — was in grade school in Cleveland.
Bellson also taught Newton to play drums, “back in the day,” as they say. Bellson’s big band twice opened for Newton at the old Desert Inn. Newton watched Bellson lead the band and wanted to add a drum solo to his own stage act.
“I remember, my first lesson I actually flew to Houston, because Louie was playing the Cork Club there,” Newton recalls. “He was married to Pearl Bailey and they were headlining. That’s how much I wanted to learn. So, he gave me my first lesson, and he also gave me a drum kit. I was happy to use them both.”
Keep on truckin’
Las Vegas Hilton — er, sorry, the Westgate Las Vegas — held a fundraiser car wash/silent auction on Saturday afternoon. The event raised about $20,000 for Veterans Village of Las Vegas. Several old, zebra-striped chaise lounge chairs dating to the L.V. Hilton days were sold at (get this) $10 a pop.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) June 1, 2019
A personal favorite was also offered for bid, a mid-1980s GMC Sierra flatbed truck with the original Las Vegas Hilton logo on the doors went for $1,200.
The beast has 39,000 original miles and, as Hilton/Westgate lore has it, has never been driven off the property.
The Moss zone
P Moss is still feeling the effects of his Double Down Saloon being mentioned, in an unflattering way, on old episodes of the Vegas-based network crime series, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Developed by UNLV grad Anthony Zuiker, the show used Double Down as a favorite name-check by investigators when tracking the final hours of people who died mysteriously in Las Vegas.
“It was like, ‘The last time anyone saw him was at about 4 a.m. at Double Down Saloon,” Moss says. “It was in that context. It happened four times, that I know of. I still hear about it from customers.”
The Book of Bobby
Longtime drumming sensation Bobby Morris’ new book, “My Las Vegas,” is out, available on Amazon.com. Morris moved to Las Vegas in 1950, when there were about 30,000 people living here and the city was home to five major hotels. He started at the Last Frontier, and played for such legends as Barbra Streisand, Elvis, Liberace.
Morris was also the back beat during the heyday of Louis Prima and Keely Smith, with Sam Butera and The Witnessses.
Morris still plays, too. “Playing the shuffle keeps me young,” says the original drum machine, who turns 92 on June 30.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.