Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 | 2 a.m.
The resemblance to superstar Prince is uncanny, yet it wasn’t until 17 years ago at a Halloween party dressed up as the superstar singer that Jason Tenner realized it was going to start a long-running showbiz career.
“I certainly didn’t start out planning to be his double. In fact, I didn’t love his music back then. I was more into classic rock,” Jason told me. “I became aware of the reaction as people at the party first noticed the lookalike. That’s when I really fell in love with his music, too.”
Since the summer of 1997 at a small club near UNLV, now a Laundromat, Jason began his “Purple Reign” tour of Las Vegas. “We’ve just about played every hotel in town since,” he laughed. “But it did take us four years to get to the Strip from the UNLV club. I have a videotape of the show at the very beginning, but nobody will ever see it because it was that bad!
“I didn’t think of us as a ’70s and ’80s disco cover band. It was never planned as a goal to do a production show. I was happy with it just being a club show. It was more of an extended hobby — it wasn’t really to work but to just do music.”
After runs at Planet Hollywood, Rio and Fitzgeralds before it transitioned into The D Las Vegas, Jason is now back with his new-look Prince show “Purple Reign” at The D with an all-star cast.
I posted my review of the show shortly after its recent premiere, which won him great reviews and applause from sold-out crowds. “Purple Reign” is a knockout and nonstop high-energy show with brilliant music and dancing with sexy Jennifer Romas. Our thanks to Tom Donoghue for his photo gallery.
“Performing as the Prince character is still fun, challenging and physical,” Jason continued. “I look at it as an acting job because I overemphasize the character. Offstage, I’m a family guy with kids, but onstage I get to exploit my quirky personality and play a lot of instruments.
“This is our third full incarnation of the show with the impersonators of Morris Day and The Time. The show is a spinoff and takeoff of ‘Purple Rain’ with their antagonistic relationship, and Jennifer is our hottest new dancer. I didn’t know that in real life there was a little rivalry, and that reality allows us to have art imitating life.”
I complimented Jason on his band members: “They are probably the most musically tight group we’ve had in our 17 years. They all believe and want to do it, so they become spiritually in tune,” he said. His drummer is L.C Crawford, Dr. D.B. ( Damon Bartlett) is on keyboard, D’Andre on guitar is the group’s musical director, and Jaxon Duane rounds out on bass.
I asked him if he regretted that he doesn’t have the same mega-bucks success as the real Prince. “I like doing this. There’s no pride issue. I perform the music and enjoy every moment of it. I have absolutely no regrets. I am very happy being Jason Tenner in a Prince tribute show rather than it being the Jason Tenner show.
“I have five hits of my own. I’ve just finished a 16-hour recording session, and we’re finishing two albums of material for release under my own name.
“It’s been a wonderful journey, and we couldn’t be happier returning to The D for its downtown party atmosphere. Its new showroom has allowed us to incorporate exciting elements into our signature acts.”
And if the one-named, once-no-name singer from Paisley Park in Minneapolis dropped in one night? “I think he’d have a grand time and would be very pleased with our tribute to him,” summed up Jason.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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The D Las Vegas is the new revved-up name for a longtime downtown Las Vegas hotel, Fitzgeralds, which had been in operation since 1987.
Owner Derek Stevens rebranded and refurbished the hotel in fall 2012 to give it a motor city theme, using the nickname of his beloved city, Detroit, for the name of the new hotel. He also brought in two restaurant favorites from Detroit: American Coney Island and Joe Vicari's Andiamo Italian Steakhouse.
The property features 638 remodeled contemporary rooms and suites. The unique two-level casino included slots and table games. Dancing dealers are featured on the first floor. And the second floor transports guests back in time to old-school Vegas with its Vintage Casino.
The casino also features the LONGBAR, the longest bar in Nevada, where sports fans can watch games on big screen TVs. Outside on Fremont Street, D Bar invites guests and passerby alike to enjoy refreshing frozen libations and specialty cocktails as talented, trickster bartenders send bottles and glasses flying through the air.
The Showroom at the D features the interactive comedy show, "Marriage Can Be Murder," where guests can be part of the mystery.