Everyone thinks they know about Vegas in the early ’60s, the era of all-night lounges, iconic headliners and the musicians who backed them.
But what were their children up to?
“We needed to create a scene for ourselves because there was nothing to do here,” says Mike Selinsky. “You couldn’t even go to Circus Circus because it hadn’t been built yet. You made your own fun here.”
And make it they did.
For us “newcomers” of the past 30 years, the place across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel has always been the topless Club Paradise. But if you remember it as the Teenbeat Club, you should be at the Henderson Pavilion today.
The Las Vegas Rock Reunion, an all-day festival from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., reunites the club’s house band, The Teenbeats, and 17 other groups from the ’60s and ’70s you never thought you’d hear again: names such as Free Circus, Sailon and Sidro’s Armada.
“We did have our own special world here. There were two worlds. There was the Strip and there was Paradise Road,” says Selinsky, who dreamed up the reunion after authoring a lengthy Wikipedia entry on the teen club.
But the worlds were connected. “You had live music in Las Vegas 24/7. Those were the parents,” explains Lark Williams, the veteran radio personality who co-hosts the festival. Those musicians had children, and those children formed bands. “But you’ve got to realize these weren’t typical garage bands. These were the offspring of really talented musicians.”
Williams met Frank Sinatra when she was 12 years old through her friend Cathy Rich, drummer Buddy’s daughter. The guitarist for Selinsky’s band, The Present Tense, was Bob Lilly, the late son of DeCastro Sisters singer Peggy.
The wide-reaching event honors parents, mentors and early rock promoters who booked places like the old Ice Palace. Veteran arranger/conductor Joe Guercio is trying to bounce back from surgery in Nashville, to be honored himself and to see his son Jimmy’s band Census.
The parents “all believed in us. They bought the equipment, they rooted for us,” Selinsky says.
“One thing we all had in common was we all thought we were going places. We were all little rock stars,” he says. For most, “The one thing we also had in common was it ended.”
Until today, anyway.
As Williams says, “You can lose your passion along the road of life. … That’s why I think this thing grew exponentially. People need it right now. They need to get away from the bills, the foreclosures and the gas prices.
“This takes you back to a time when all you had to do was rock out.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at email@example.com or 702-383-0288.