Barry Manilow looks on at his concert in Las Vegas on September 21.

Barry Manilow looks on at his concert in Las Vegas on September 21. / Getty Images

Barry Manilow has just overtaken The King himself, Elvis Presley, for the most shows at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

What's the context? The '70s icon's career has spanned decades and has produced chart topping hits.

  • With songs like Mandy and Copacabana, Manilow's smooth vocals and laid back tunes have led to tens of millions of record sales, spawned a cover by none other than the minions, and cemented his status among the most popular American artists of the 20th century.

What's the big deal? That's some serious staying power, both for Manilow and Vegas as a place to see live music.

  • Starting in 1969, Presley began his own residency at the Westgate — then named the International Hotel. By 1976, the hip-thrusting American icon had played 636 shows, before his untimely death the following year.
  • Manilow played his 637th show this past weekend, breaking the record during a series of shows benefitting a number of charities, including Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, and Victoria's Voice.
  • Honoring the late legend, Manilow covered "Hound Dog" at the show, wearing a red jacket with Elvis' iconic TCB lightning bolt logo stitched on the sleeve.
  • His achievement was recognized during a concert last week, when he was presented with the key to the Las Vegas Strip.

What are people saying? Plenty. And not just about the record being broken, but the evolution of the Vegas residency and how its perception has changed over the past few decades.

Here's what Manilow had to say to fans at the performance:

It really is all about you guys. You know I love all the awards and all, but I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you. Thank you for coming tonight and through all the years.

And his thoughts on the status of a Vegas residency in an interview with ABC Audio:

It was known as ... 'cheeseball' ... 'old-fashioned' ... You take a look at these casinos and you can take a look at the billboards, these are young people that are playing Vegas. These are big acts!

Manilow signs his autograph for fans in the U.K. in 1983.

Manilow signs his autograph for fans in the U.K. in 1983. / Getty Images

And here's more on that from entertainment writer Matthew Kelemen, who spoke with NPR about Vegas' evolution:

There was a time when it was looking like a place where entertainers went to retire. They are usually veterans, but they're just so vibrant. There's people in the audience, unlike in most places, they're all from different places, the only thing that they have in common is their devotion to the headliner.

Want more on culture? Listen to Consider This explore if we are currently witnessing the death of movie stars.

So, what now?

  • Vegas continues to draw performers, with U2 starting their residency at the Sphere on Friday.
  • They will join the likes of Usher, Adele and Lady Gaga in giving Sin City a whirl.
  • Still, Manilow and Elvis's performance records combined don't come close to matching the longest-ever Vegas residency: Donny and Marie Osmond's 1,730 shows.
  • However, Manilow also just announced more Vegas dates extending into 2024. So it's impossible to say what miracle might be around the corner (get it?)

Learn more:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit