This was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman as the title song for the film of the same name staring Elvis Presley. In the movie, Elvis plays a race car driver who has to wait tables at a hotel in order to pay off a debt. He performs this song at the hotel's talent competition accompanied by various Vegas showgirls.
Pomus and Shuman wrote several other songs for Presley as well. Among them: "Little Sister," "Suspicion," "Surrender" and "His Latest Flame (Marie's The Name)."
The song captures the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. Elvis' character in the film is from out of town, and he has that enthusiasm and awe that comes with the chance of hitting it rich in the city.
Just about every Vegas archetype shows up in the lyric: roulette, neon, hot dice, pretty women, blackjack, one-armed bandits (slot machines), bright lights. The song could easily serve as an advertisement for the city (and it has), especially considering the last line, which offers consolation to the many who lose to the house:
If I wind up broke up well I'll always remember that I had a swingin' time
Billy Strange, who co-wrote "A Little Less Conversation," played lead guitar on this track. Glen Campbell is sometimes erroneously attributed for this part - he played on Elvis' cover of "What'd I Say" that was also on the Viva Las Vegas soundtrack.
According to Strange's son Jerry, musician's royalties for the song came in for years thanks to slot machines that play the tune.
Viva Las Vegas was the most successful of the 31 films Elvis starred in, returning more than $5 million to MGM Studios on an investment of less than $1 million.
The song was revived by ZZ Top, who took it to #10 in the UK in 1992.
As part of a series of re-releases of Elvis songs in the UK in 2007, this re-entered the UK chart at #15, two places higher than its original chart placing of #17 in 1964.
The Pfizer drug company used this song in a commercial for their erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, changing the lyrics to "Viva Viagra." The ad generated a fair share of buzz, as some Elvis fans were dismayed to see his song transformed into an ode to Viagra.
Hardcore punk band Dead Kennedys covered this for their 1980 debut Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, but singer Jello Biafra rewrote some of the lyrics to mock compulsive gambling and drug abuse. For example, Elvis' line "'Cause even if there were forty more, I wouldn't sleep a minute away" is changed to "Even if I ran out of speed, boy, I wouldn't sleep a minute away" and "Let me shout a seven with every shot" is changed to "Got coke up my nose to dry away the snot." Their version was used in the 1998 dark comedy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, starring Johnny Depp.
Suggestion credit: Kyle - Seattle, WA
The song is featured twice in the film The Big Lebowski. During the film it is performed by a Rock band called Big Johnson featuring Bunny Lebowski, the wife of Big Lebowski. During the closing credits Shawn Colvin performs a softer version.
Jennifur Sun from RamonaBilly Strange played for the Wrecking Crew for many years. He also plays that weird sounding guitar part in the Bob y and Blue Jeans version of Zipady Doo Dah.
Jennifur Sun from RamonaHated the town, but like the song. Always wondered who played that rocking lead guitar.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 3rd 1964, Elvis' 70th Billboard's Hot Top 100 charted record, "Viva Las Vegas", entered the chart at position #87; and on June 7th it peaked at #29 (for 1 week) and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100... It also reached #29 on the Canadian RPM Singles chart... Seventeen days later on May 20th the movie of the same name opened in theaters across the U.S.A. and Canada... One other song from the movie, a covered version of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say", also made the Top 100, it reached #21... R.I.P. Mr. Charles (1930 - 2004) and to The King (1935 - 1977).
Jerry from Nashville , TnFor the record.....Billy Strange plays the lead guitar in Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" .
Barry from Sauquoit, NyBruce Springsteen has performed this song in six different concerts; the last two times in concerts in Las Vegas itself...
Matt from Houston, TxYou know those viagra commercials are ironic. middle aged men who get together to sing happily about not being able to get an erection. I hope they are very happy together
Ken from Louisville, KyA part of this song was heard in the movie "Looney Tunes: Back in Action".
Chris from Cleveland, OhElvis has to be rolling over in his grave every time that "Viva Viagra" ad appears on TV...
Joshua from La Crosse, WiThe ZZ Top version is found as a bonus track on their Greatest Hits CD, also released in 1992.
Mark from London, EnglandThe punk group The Dead Kennedys recorded this as the last song on their Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables album. They changed the lyric: "Let me shout a seven with evry shot" to "Got coke up my nose to dry away the snot"!