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Boxing great picking up mic

It’s never too late for Joe Frazier to make a comeback, as long as he doesn’t try to sell grills.

The 67-year-old boxing great is reviving his R&B group the Knockouts, a parallel career he pursued even in the prime of his boxing days. Frazier even played the Caesars Palace lounge in 1970, before any of his epic fights with Muhammad Ali.

Having sold his Philadelphia gym two years ago, Frazier will pick up the microphone Friday through June 12 as the special guest of Harmik, the Tom Jones impersonator who plans to model the revue after Jones’ TV variety show from 1969. Always-reliable singer Marva Scott also is on the bill for the show that has a two-for-one ticket offer.

Harmik says he did a corporate date with Frazier more than a year ago. “Everyone just got happy seeing Smokin’ Joe shakin’ it,” he says. “He radiates nothing but joy and love.”

Frazier recorded several singles for Motown and Capitol in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with “First Round Knock-out” the most likely to be remembered. But he says his singing career began much earlier, in his childhood.

“I had to sing every Sunday in church. If I didn’t sing on Sunday, Mama would want to know why when I got back to the house. And I’d have to go get a switch.”

In his boxing years, “music was a time-keeper for me. When I went to the gym on days when everyone was gone besides me, I’d play my 45s, put about six or seven of them on.” Timing his bursts of training to a three-minute single was the secret to “why I could work the whole three-minute round.” And his secret weapon? The Dells’ unusually long, six-minute “Stay in My Corner.”

On the phone, Frazier launches into an unsolicited imitation of arch-rival Ali and sings snippets of “Knock on Wood” and “Great Balls of Fire.”

“You never know where time goes,” he says. “Maybe getting closer to the graveyard. But the good Lord’s been good to me over the years and I’m still walking, I’m still talking, I’m still singing and I’m still having fun.” …

“The Rat Pack is Back” is trading the retro-Vegas ambience of the old Plaza showroom for a casino with occupiable hotel rooms. The show closes there June 12, and reopens the next day at the Rio’s Crown Theater. It will run at 8:30 p.m., after the current tribute to the Platters, Coasters and Marvelettes at 7 p.m.

The Crown Comedy Jam moves its stand-up comedy into the adjacent restaurant space that some might remember as the Fiore Steakhouse.

The Plaza closed its rooms for remodeling in September, and the casino floor has operated amid renovations. “It’s been a struggle,” producer Dick Feeney says, with the show relying mostly on group sales.

Now he’s happy to claim a more prestigious address, where “Rat Pack” and Chippendales shouldn’t be a threat to one another. The showroom is leased to an independent promoter, but Caesars Entertainment is including “Rat Pack” in collective promotions. …

A couple’s personal breakup has fractured into two burlesque conventions this weekend, with the outcome to determine whether the move grows the market or tests the patience and loyalty of fans.

Luke Littell and Laura Herbert were fans who helped 84-year-old burlesque veteran Dixie Evans move her Exotic World collection of memorabilia from the Barstow, Calif., area to Las Vegas, where they tried to find a new home for the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

In lieu of a physical museum, the couple organized a fan gathering and competition each year with producer Frederic Apcar. But when Herbert and Littell split, it took a federal judge to help sort out who had claim to what recently.

Evans and Littell stayed with Apcar, who says he had a multiyear contract to produce his event at the Plaza. Now known as “The Dixie Evans Burlesque Show,” the Friday and Saturday events add a little Japanese wrestling to the mix on Friday. Herbert’s Burlesque Hall of Fame events will be at The Orleans today through Sunday.

Apcar compares the situation to people going to multiple events such as a concert and a club in the same night. “Eventually I know it will make money, and I will make money at it,” he says. …

You can’t plant him in your penthouse, but we don’t know why he would go back to his plow. At any rate, Brody Dolyniuk says goodbye to popular cover band Yellow Brick Road after the June 18 “Symphonic Road Show” (classic rock covers with orchestra) at the Henderson Pavilion.

The band will continue on with new singer Kelly Christian. Dolyniuk has been developing “Brody’s World,” his showcase of rock impressions, in front of live audiences in hopes of a gig on the Strip. …

This week brought the return of “America’s Got Talent.” While we wait to see if the NBC talent show will be as good to Las Vegas performers as it was to Michael Grimm last year, it’s a good time to note that the harmony group Mosaic launches an affiliation with the Silverton on Friday.

The Las Vegas-based group didn’t go the distance on “Talent” in 2009, but gained momentum from the exposure and now is set to perform at the Silverton at least four times before the end of the year. Mosaic will be promoted as the new face of Veil, the new name for the fancied-up version of the prefab structure for concerts (and now, weddings).

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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