Advertisement

These are the concert residencies that helped define the Las Vegas strip

Editor’s Note: The CNN Original Series “Vegas: The Story of Sin City” showcases the heart and history of one of America’s most beloved and notorious cities in four immersive episodes. Tune in Sunday, March 24, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.

Las Vegas is a city brightly lit by it’s rich history, extravagant hotels, luxurious dining experiences, perpetually rolling dice and, of course, one-of-a-kind musical residencies.

Considering the 120-year-old Nevada city was once passable by dirt road only, it’s come a long way, particularly in the entertainment and music space.

These days, everyone from Mariah Carey and Adele to Garth Brooks and Lionel Richie are holding court at resort performance venues checkered along Las Vegas Blvd. But there are a few artists who came before them that helped pave the way.

Here’s a look at some of the most influential musical residencies that have helped define Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world.

Usher

Usher performs in Las Vegas in 2023. - Aaron J. Thornton/WireImage/Getty Images
Usher performs in Las Vegas in 2023. - Aaron J. Thornton/WireImage/Getty Images

Usher’s “My Way” residency gave reason for a lot of moms to let loose and have a fun weekend in Sin City. The shows kicked off in 2022 at Park MGM’s Dolby Live theater, and by the time the “Yeah” singer wrapped his residency in December 2023, it had become the year’s buzziest offering on the strip. Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba and Zendaya flocked to see the show. Usher previously performed his “Usher: The Las Vegas Residency” through 2021 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Between the two, Usher played a total of 100 shows and raked in over $110 million, according to Billboard.

Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton performing his 'Once Before I Go' residency at the Tropicana Las Vegas in 2009. - Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Wayne Newton performing his 'Once Before I Go' residency at the Tropicana Las Vegas in 2009. - Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Wayne Newton is as synonymous with Las Vegas as casinos. One of the pioneers of Las Vegas’ musical residencies, Newton has performed for more than 40 million people throughout a record-setting 50,000-plus concerts in town. In 2023, he returned to the Flamingo Las Vegas, where he performed his very first headlining show in 1963 – with his “Wayne: Up Close and Personal” residency, to sing his classic hits while regaling the audience with footage and personal stories recalling his decades-long career. Known as Mr. Las Vegas, the performer has become such a local icon that streets are named after him.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley takes a break from singing during his stint at Las Vegas.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images) - PA Images/Getty Images
Elvis Presley takes a break from singing during his stint at Las Vegas. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images) - PA Images/Getty Images

Elvis Presley made history in 1969 when he took up a residency at the off-strip Intercontinental Hotel, now known as the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, at the peak of Elvis-mania. In his seven-year run, her made women swoon in over 600 concerts before his final show in 1976 – just one year before his death. The memory of the “King of Rock n’ Roll” is so woven into the fabric of Las Vegas that a bronze statue of the performer stands inside the Westgate hotel today and, of course, you can walk into almost any local chapel and have an Elvis impersonator officiate your ceremony. Long live the king.

Celine Dion

Celine Dion and her dancers rehearsing for a 2003 performance of Dion's 'A New Day' residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. - Tomasz Rossa/CDA Productions Inc/Getty Images
Celine Dion and her dancers rehearsing for a 2003 performance of Dion's 'A New Day' residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. - Tomasz Rossa/CDA Productions Inc/Getty Images

Celine Dion earned the nickname “the Queen of Las Vegas” during her historic 16-year run as a resident performer – and for good reason. Her impact in the city is marked by her debut 2003 residency “A New Day” at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, a theater that was built specifically for the “Power of Love” singer – a groundbreaking feat. Dion’s ensuing success ushered in a new era on the strip. Her popular show helped turn Las Vegas-based residencies back into the status symbols they were once considered. In 2019, after performing over 1,000 concerts for more that 4.5 million people, Dion took one last glitzy final bow. With $681 million in ticket sales, Dion’s Las Vegas act is widely considered one of the most successful.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross held court at the Venetian Theater from 2015 - 2017. - Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Diana Ross held court at the Venetian Theater from 2015 - 2017. - Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

In 1970, Diana Ross performed her final show with The Supremes at Las Vegas’s now-demolished Frontier Hotel. In 2015, Ross returned to the strip with her “The Essential Diana Ross: Some Memories Never Fade” residency at the Venetian Theater, performing a greatest-hits spectacle that spanned her decades-long career as one of R&B’s most influential artists. Ross’ act gave concertgoers the sweet nostalgia of her Motown era with songs such as “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love” included on her setlist, in addition to some of her most beloved solo hits like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I’m Coming Out.” She continued to dazzle concertgoers in her signature costumes until she closed out her “Memories” residency in 2017.

Elton John

Elton John performing at Caesars Palace (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns) - Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images
Elton John performing at Caesars Palace (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns) - Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

After two residencies spanning two decades, Elton John played a total of 450 concerts at the Colosseum at Caesars palace, a venue in which he’s performed more concerts than anywhere else in the world. Kicking off his five-year run with his 2004 “Red Piano” residency, he returned to the strip in 2011 with his “Million Dollar Piano” show. He sold nearly 2 million tickets between the two by the time he took his final curtain call in 2018. The “Rocketman” singer teamed up with Yamaha to create a custom-built piano for “Million Dollar Piano,” which features LED lights synchronized with images shown throughout the show on stage.

Britney Spears

Britney Spears performing her 'Britney: Piece of Me' residency at the Axis Theater in the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas hotel in 2016. - Marco Piraccini/Mondadori/Getty Images
Britney Spears performing her 'Britney: Piece of Me' residency at the Axis Theater in the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas hotel in 2016. - Marco Piraccini/Mondadori/Getty Images

There was a time where Las Vegas residencies were considered something best suited for artists of yesteryear. That changed when Britney Spears, still at the peak of her pop superstardom, debuted her “Britney: Piece of Me” residency in 2013 at Planet Hollywood’s Axis Theater. With setlist songs that included some of her most iconic hits, Spears’ residency drew in $137.7 million in ticket sales throughout its four-year run, according to Forbes. Spears became the first artist housed inside the then-newly renovated theater, where she played just under 250 shows. Since Spears brought pop music to the strip, many artists in the genre have followed suit including Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Adele.

U2

U2's Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bram van den Berg performing their 'Achtung Baby' residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas in 2023. - Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
U2's Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bram van den Berg performing their 'Achtung Baby' residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas in 2023. - Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

U2 can always be counted on for immersive concerts. They took their approach to innovative new heights with their “U2:UV Achtung Baby” residency at Las Vegas’s newest crown jewel, the MSG Sphere at the Venetian. The residency kicked off in September 2023, marking the grand opening of the hotly anticipated state-of-the-art venue, as well as Bono and The Edge’s first live performance together in four years. The Sphere is the strip’s most recognizable new addition with its crystal clear LED screens projecting sharp images to its dome-shaped exterior. The venue also boasts a uniquely powerful audio system and offers a 4D multi-sensory experience with various immersive features that compliment a large-scale concert experience. U2’s “Achtung Baby” residency concluded earlier this month.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com