Music

Remembering Sam

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Photo: Aaron Mayes
E.C. Gladstone

It’s hard to overstate the legacy of Sam Butera, who died here June 3 at 81; the flashy but deceptively agile tenor sax player and arranger was undeniably the key ingredient that made Louis Prima and Keely Smith’s legendary lounge act at the Sahara’s Casbar Lounge world-famous, legitimizing Las Vegas in the ’50s as an entertainment crucible. Prima was already a known entity, but it was the bar-top-crawling, genre-hopping verve of fellow New Orleans native Butera, and his stopless pre-mash-up medleys that drove the post-midnight sets to infamy among fans and fellow performers (Sinatra was a regular) alike. Elvis and the Crazy Girls have statues—how about Louis, Keely and Sam?

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Beyond the Weekly
Jazz saxophonist Sam Butera dies (6/3/07)
Play it again, Sam (4/23/00)
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