On the day Elvis Presley died, Mark Kogan was sent to tell Frank Sinatra the news. Kogan manages the world’s most successful tribute show ‘Legends In Concert’.
I worked for Jerry Weintraub at Concerts West,” Mark tells Noise11.com. “I was out in the Alpine Valley waiting for Frank Sinatra to fly in. Earlier in the day I got word that Elvis had died and I was asked if I would please tell Mr. Sinatra.
“I went to meet him at the airport. We would usually pick him up with a police escort, police in front and police in back and he’d jump into a limo. I didn’t have a chance to tell him when he came off the plane. He jumped in the limo and rode through Alpine Valley in lower Wisconsin.
“I got out of the police car and went up to him as he got out of the limo. I said, “Mr Sinatra, I am sorry to have to tell you Elvis Presley has died”. The look on his face, we are all mortal, but here you have two legends. One who has just heard the news the other legend has died.
“He went into his office to find out what happened. In those days you didn’t really know the details, the cause of his death, it wasn’t like it is now. What he did, he talked about what Elvis had done charity wise, and then held up a glass of wine and said “I’d like to make a toast. I may be the Chairman of the Board but The King is dead”. That was something special of him to have done”.
Mark’s Legends In Concert show is in Australia for a residency this week starting at The Palms at Crown. “We have an Elvis Presley tribute with Kevin Mills,” he says. “Kevin is one of the top Elvis tribute artists in the world. A bit of trivia about him. Years ago he was a movie extra for ‘Taps’ starring Tom Cruise. Kevin was a wrestler in high school and another of his friends was on the movie too and told Tom Cruise that Kevin was a wrestler. So Kevin gets asked by Tom Cruise to wrestler and he beat Tom Cruise in a wrestling match. That’s not on Kevin’s bio. It’s a great story”.
The show features tributes to Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Cundi Lauper, Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder, Kenny Rogers and Tina Turner. Damien Brantley is Michael Jackson. “People would never recognise him on the street but he transforms into Michael Jackson. It is quite amazing,” Mark said.
John Anthony is Rod Stewart. “At the airport when we picked him up today most people could tell he was Rod Stewart,” he said. “These are all great musicians and performers as well as being tribute artists. For the female artists, Rainere Martin as Donna Summer starts the show. Lori Mitchell-Gay is Tina Turner and Nellie Norris plays Cyndi Lauper”.
Although it’s a tribute show, only three of the eight artists featured have passed on. “What Legends has become over the years is about featuring the superstars of past and present,” Mark says. “It is about the artists who have really touched our hearts. That’s really one of the things I find so fascinating.
There are more tribute artists in the world now than ever. Legends in Concert is now the longest running tribute show in world. “Legends was the pioneer of the tribute shows,” he says. “It started in 1983 with a six week run and here we are 35 years later. It signifies people are really hungry for the music that touches their heart. It triggers all these great memories. One of the lessons I’ve learned in life is that there is nothing better than feeling good and this is a feeling food show”.
While every perform actually sing, Legend in Concert also features a real live band led by musical director George Safire. “George has a great background,” Mark says. “He has played with Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, Lesley Gore, Wayne Newton. His son Daniel is playing bass and his son Alan is playing drums. Then, to highlight the local side of it, we’ve bought in Quentin Roth on keyboards. He plays with Pseudo Echo”.
Ross Middleton from Sydney is also in the band He does lots of session work and has played sax for Leo Sayer, Glenn Shorrock and Jon Stevens. “The band has energy. We also have eight dancers, four male, four female and they are all from Australia,” Mark said.
Legends in Concert is on a The Palms at Crown Casino from 10-27 January 2019. Get your tickets from Ticketmaster. WARNING: DO NOT BUY TICKETS FROM VIAGOGO. Labor has called for an investigation into Viagogo scams.