Does Las Vegas Owe Memphis a Debt of Gratitude?

Does Las Vegas Owe Memphis a Debt of Gratitude?

When you pop a journey from Memphis to Las Vegas into Google Maps, it will tell you that the journey is about 1,578 miles, or a three and a half hour flight on Frontier, American Airlines or United.


In reality, geography aside, the deep south and Tennessee in particular has a significant connection to Las Vegas and the gambling scene built around it, thanks in large part to the music that flows through its southern roots.

The origins of southern music can be seen through the likes of Johnny Cash, who helped to create a crossover appeal by widening the draw of southern gospel music, while, nowadays, the Memphis Blues are widely known as one of the more famous types of "the Blues". What has helped link this incredible music to a city that is famous for gambling and the pursuit of hedonism, though, is the fact that these musicians and the music they put out helped to inspire the likes of Elvis Presley and other huge stars who went on to help put Las Vegas not just on the map but at the very center of the map for many around the world.

This can be highlighted by the fact that bands inspired by the southern blues sounds went on to create some truly stunning rock ‘n roll. The Rolling Stones, for instance, with their blues roots, went on to create songs that linked music and Las Vegas-style gaming in tracks like Tumbling Dice. While these songs and musicians helped to create a link of some sort between the two cities, it is clear that one man stands in legend as the reason there is a big link between Vegas and Memphis, and perhaps a debt of gratitude from the former to the latter.

The King and his shadow

Memphis, Tennessee, is one of those places that is truly iconic to many people, a lot of whom have never set foot on American soil, let alone in the great state of Tennessee. Of course, to many, the true reason to visit Memphis is not just to enjoy the lovely weather and great food, but to come to see the home of the King, Elvis.

Of course, Elvis is very much still alive in Memphis today, with impersonators, the Memphis Music Attraction, as well as, of course, the Graceland Mansion, all allowing those who love the King to come and experience a taste of his life and to get an idea of how he lived and took on the influences that combined to create his unique brand of rock and roll. This combination of country blues and gospel rhythm helped him to become a man who could sell over one billion records around the globe, meaning that roughly one in seven people on the planet could, statistically speaking, have bought one of his records! Perhaps the most telling sign that Elvis is still very much a part of modern culture is the fact that over 600,000 people visit Graceland every year - but this isn't the only part of culture that pays homage to Elvis. Indeed, Obsidian Entertainment, who created Fallout: New Vegas, paid homage to the King in the game with references to a group called The Kings, who all dressed in an Elvis style. There are lots of other Elvis references scattered across the game too.

A man who still lives in the present, even if he died in the past

While many fans may be bothered by the fact that not one of Elvis' reported 18 number one hits are included on the soundtrack of the game, the truth is that the pop culture connection to Elvis, and indeed Memphis and its music scene, is still going strong. Elvis is best known for his love of Cadillacs and the fact that he was probably hastened to his grave by his love of the world-famous Elvis sandwich but he is, of course, also known for other modern culture references, keeping his spirit forever linked with Las Vegas in popular culture, as Betway Casino highlight to good effect. In fact, some experts have calculated that Elvis' name is still worth quite a lot, thanks to merchandise, music sales, guided tours and more. There are even collectible coins available at the official Elvis Store today, and the entire estate has been estimated to add up to around $300 million, according to Bankrate. Elvis' affection for the Las Vegas spirit and knowledge of the games on offer is best exemplified in his song Viva Las Vegas, which is known around the globe as being the theme song that connects the great city of Las Vegas with the King of Memphis.

With this in mind, it is arguable that Las Vegas owes Memphis a great debt of gratitude; if it weren't for the way that some of the great blues, rock ‘n roll and singers from other genres helped to glamorize the world of gambling and Las Vegas, then it is entirely possible that the city wouldn't be as romanticized and as loved as it is today.

A link that still holds true

With Elvis either very much having long since gone home (as his conspiracy theorists would have us believe), or long since dead, there can be no arguing that the cities of Las Vegas and Memphis don't still have strong connections. Having seen Frontier launch a new direct service between the two cities, they are clearly still very much connected.

Whatever the future holds, Las Vegas certainly owes at least a small debt of gratitude for the fact that those from Memphis truly chose to embrace the popular culture and thrill of gambling. Otherwise, the iconic hotels such as the MGM wouldn't be seeing tourists spending an average of over $800 dollars in the city in 2017 according to Las Vegas Sun and helping to make it a true bastion of tourism worldwide.

Interested in becoming a Contributor?