Attorney Nikolas Mastrangelo, 64, grew up in Detroit and often found himself on street corners singing harmony with his childhood friends. But then what self-respecting Motor City boy didn’t in those days of doo-wop, be-bop and rock?
It never crossed his mind that music was in his future.
“I came from a typical Italian family: It was ‘Go get your education and start a career,’” says Mastrangelo, nattily dressed as always in a shirt and tie—an appropriate getup not only for his evening gig as an elegant crooner, but for his day job as an attorney.
Mastrangelo came to Las Vegas in 1978 to work for Clark County District Attorney George Holt.
“I did 22 jury trials in the space of 11 months,” Mastrangelo says. “I only lost one.”
Later he worked for a young attorney general named Richard Bryan, who would go on to become a two-term governor and U.S. senator.
“I had the unfortunate task of serving the order closing the Aladdin Hotel,” Mastrangelo says. “I had to march through the middle of the casino with the order. If looks could kill …”
While on the job, Mastrangelo met the heads of security for various casinos. One of them introduced him to Frank Sinatra. Ol’ Blue Eyes took a liking to the young lawyer, and they became friends.
“He told his security, ‘When this kid comes in, let him see the show from backstage.’”
Until nine years ago, Mastrangelo was happy enough practicing law and frequenting the lounges where his pal, legendary Vegas keyboardist/vocalist Joe Darro, performed. But one open-mic night at Nora’s Cuisine on West Flamingo Road, Darro invited Mastrangelo onto the stage. The attorney had consumed just enough alcohol to accept the challenge. A side career was born.
Since then, he’s taken on several steady gigs—most recently on Saturday nights at La Scala and on Friday nights at downtown’s Lady Silvia. He also fills in as a Sinatra tribute artist in Shades of Sinatra at the Clarion Hotel.
Singing, he says, is a form of therapy. He can forget about torts and contracts and all manner of jurisprudence. And sometimes, just for a moment, the former street-corner crooner wonders what might have been had he just kept on singing.
“It was never my goal to be a singer. I just like singing as a counterbalance in my life.”