You were quoted in the Asbury Park [N.J.] Press that when you were younger, you thought Vegas was synonymous with “fat Elvis.” True?
I told my wife I said that, and she turned white, and said “You didn’t really say that, did you?” I hope people know I meant that as a tongue-in-cheek comment, really in jest. But I also meant that Elvis is much more than how he was pictured at the end of his life.
My wife and I enjoy Vegas. We [come here] to have fun. I’m not a big gambler. I’m more of a slot machine person. We’ll come there every few months and feel like we treated ourselves. It’s changed a lot through the years.
Some of your fans are likely surprised, though, that you will do a residency here when you had some negative impressions of the city earlier in your life.
I just meant that Elvis was not at a high point in his career when he played Vegas, but I’m definitely at a high point in mine. I’m really loving life, and I’m looking forward to being there and introducing my songs in a new way.
How will the residency be different from your regular concerts?
We are taking some elements of the tour—both the current one and things I have been doing since 1969, starting with Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)—and preparing them for a special show. Vegas is known for glitz and glamour and, even better, known for pure rock ’n’ roll. So we are taking a lot of extra trappings and figuring out how to do both—remain true to 1969 and add extra sparkle. One thing, though—I notice Cher has a lot of costume changes. I will probably wear the same costume, but have many guitar changes!
The residency will celebrate your music of 1969, when you wrote and recorded three separate CCR albums with songs such as “Fortunate Son” and “Down on the Corner.” Who will perform with you?
I will have my band. We’ve been together [as a whole band] for a year and a half. But I’ve played with a lot of them for a long time. [Drummer] Kenny Aronoff and I have been playing together for 20 years.
Any special guests?
A lot of musicians are in and out of Vegas, so if I had a mystery guest, it would be wonderful. But I haven’t called my friends and lined them up. If it happens, it’ll be very organic. That’s much more rock ’n’ roll.
You were very honest about your faults in your recent autobiography, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music. ($30, Little, Brown and Company) How cathartic was the experience?
A couple of things in my childhood left me fixated on honesty. I want that from others, and that means I have to be honest, too. Now, if someone asks me if their clothes look nice, I might fudge a bit. But I have to be honest about things that really matter. If I’m not brutally honest about myself, nothing else I say matters. In the book I talk about my mistakes [such as the unrelenting perfectionism that alienated many friends] and my favorite stuff and how I came through it all and landed on my feet. Life became wonderful for me.
What projects are you planning after the residency?
I have been concentrating on guitar for several years and feel like I am just really getting into a good place. I’m not saying this to be overly humble or fish for compliments. There are some guys that really, really play and are full of incredible guitar chops. I always thought I’d grow up and be like that, but it’s been a “cold water-in-the-face moment.” I didn’t do that, but I hope to do a lot of that on my next record.
Fortunate Son in Concert
Jan. 8-23, Venetian Theatre, $59.50, 702-414-9000, Venetian.com.