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September 2, 2014

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Toasting to eight years in Las Vegas, Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips says, ‘There’s no end in sight’

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Steve Marcus

Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie and Lydia Ansel perform during “Monday’s Dark” with Mark Shunock, a monthly charitable event, at Body English in the Hard Rock Hotel on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. Proceeds from this event benefited local nonprofit Aid for Aids of Nevada.

‘Showbiz Roast’ of Chris Phillips

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Eternally tan and bleach blond Chris Phillips celebrates Zowie Bowie’s eighth anniversary in Las Vegas on Friday night at Red Rock Resort. “We’re just getting started,” he laughed. “I’m staying here for the rest of my life.

“It’s the way I want to spend my life — surrounded by two or three lovely buxom young ladies singing and playing music.”

It was 30 years ago that Chris put together his band with the sole intention of someday getting to Las Vegas and staying here.

“It was a simple dream with one goal,” he told me. “I didn’t want Broadway. I wanted the Vegas lifestyle. I wanted what Sinatra, Elvis and Anka had in the ’70s and ’80’s in Vegas. I wanted to be not just a Vegas guy but the Vegas guy.”

The dream came true when members of the Fertitta family from Station Casinos spotted Chris with then partner Marley Taylor at the Barcelona Club in Phoenix, made them an offer and moved them to Las Vegas.

“That was the first change to my life,” said Chris. “I’ve been very fortunate. Here I am eight years later. The locals took to us. There’s no end in sight, and we’re doing better than ever.”

As I reported in 2012, Marley split, married the band’s bass player and moved back to Phoenix. “That was another change,” Chris continued. “Her leaving forced me to make things better. I auditioned 15 songbirds and found two who were totally unknown to Vegas — Nieve Malandra and 20-year-old Christina Amato, who had never sung before.

“I think of what I do in terms of a family and not a business, so I put them under my wing and being so new they clicked, fell in step, and we were singing as one.

“Then came the biggest change of all — meeting Lydia (Ansel) at Gordie Brown’s birthday party. Not only did she become my girlfriend and the light of my life, but also with the electricity and magic of her violin, she brought us the spirit of a garage band.

“Since then, things have only gotten better with even more opportunities.”

In addition to corporate work across the country, Zowie Bowie appears every Thursday night on Fremont Street, every Friday night at Red Rock Resort and now is about to start every Saturday night at Blue Martini in Town Square from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“I’m still trying not to grow up,” joked Chris. “I want to maintain the Vegas guy image for ever. I love Las Vegas, and I’m living the experience I dreamed about long ago.

“It’s the most exciting city in the world. We never sit home because Vegas has the excitement I always knew it had, and we go out every night to enjoy it.”

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.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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