There are many types of regulars.
Most commonly there are the guests who eat, drink and socialize at a particular venue. But there are also those who perform, whether it be jokes, songs or any other skill worthy of a stage. Another type still are those who are also employees, and are simply at the venue whether they are working or not.
Then there is Tommy Rocker. A curious combination of all these entities.
A lifelong rock n’ roll musician, Tommy was touring Vegas some years ago when he found success in a number of venues in and around the Las Vegas strip (his was the only show to ever cause the MGM casino to run out of tequila). To capitalize on this he decided to go into the local bar business himself, using his savings and a loan from the SBA to build Tommy Rocker’s the bar from the ground up in 1995.
“I wanted to see my name in lights so I bought a sign”, Tommy jokingly recollects.
And he has been rocking there ever since, having played multiple nights each week for the better part of 20 years.
And this is not for a lack performance options … as he is still very much in demand as a touring musician. But the sheer love of music and performing compels him.
And when you watch him play it is hard not to feel like he designed this place just for people like him.
Because while most people build a bar then (hopefully) find regulars to patronize it, it almost seems like he was a regular that built the perfect bar to match. And the entire rock n’ roll, service industry, gaming and local scenes are thankful, as Tommy’s is without a doubt one of the most enduring and eclectic bars in the city.
Not only is it the #1 service industry hangout on the strip … but is also one of the few bars where you will find bartenders, stripppers, military personnel, business men, and cops mingling, all while a group of Parrot heads sings along to Buffet at their monthly get together. Its a crowd you definitely have to see to understand.
Then factor in events like the Back of the House Brawl, which is a monthly live chef competition and food truck showcase by Relish Events, and you have a 24/7 venue that genuinely has something going on 24/7.
And you will more often than not find Tommy in and around the action. You may not notice him … because unlike many owners who frequent their own venue for no other reason than to be treated like the owner, Tommy is much more likely to blend in and mingle or be strumming his guitar on stage (regardless of whether it’s a crowd of 2 or 200).
And while the raucousness of his behavior may have decreased over the years, his love of music and people has not.
This vibe has created some pretty amazing scenarios. From a wedding reception turned nudist dance party (you’ll have to get the full story from Tommy) to drop-ins from some of the best musicians in the world (including most members of Buffet’s band), there is rarely a dull moment at Tommy’s.
But Tommy’s fondest memory was when a random guy at the bar asked him if he knew “Cool Change” by the Little River Band. Being one of Tommy’s favorite songs, he immediately complied … although he was a bit surprised as that track is not very well known.
At that moment the gentlemen ran to his car and got his saxophone. He then joined Tommy and proceeded to roll out a solo that was one of the best Tommy had ever heard. After the performance Tommy had to ask who the man was …
It was the saxophonist for Little River Band.