Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 | 11:17 a.m.
Tim McGraw, Faith Hill at the Venetian/Richard Corey
Former McDonald’s French Fries server and cashier Audrey Perry hit stardom in 1995 with the Top Five hit “Let’s Go to Vegas,” a song about persuading her boyfriend to elope on the Strip. Turns out that life imitates art and now comes true for the girl who changed her name to Faith Hill and married Tim McGraw in a barefoot wedding ceremony in October 1996 at his aunt’s home in Louisiana.
The couple, who still claim the highest-grossing tour in country music history with “Soul2Soul II,” have enjoyed three tours together. They met and married on the “Spontaneous Combustion” tour and in recent weekends when he’s starred with Kenny Chesney in their top-selling “Brothers of the Sun” cross-country jaunts, she has joined him for their amazing hit duet “I Need You.”
It seems that Las Vegas needs them, too, and they’ve promised to perform their 2007 smash in their new run of shows here. This morning, the Venetian and the Palazzo executives unveiled the couple as new headliners in what they describe as the hotel’s most epic music residency in its history.
Hotel executives, Nashville music experts, the stars themselves and their business agents and managers have kept the deal under wraps until this morning’s official announcement. The press conference confirms my exclusive, first posted on April 30, months before others guessed it from my story.
Faith and Tim become the third country superstars to rule the Strip and will rival neighbor Garth Brooks, a guitar pick away at the Wynn, and Canadian songbird Shania Twain, who starts her residency run at Caesars Palace in December.
Vegas DeLuxe has learned that tickets go on sale this week for Tim and Faith’s debut weekend of shows Nov. 16-17 directly opposite Garth’s four shows across the street at Encore Theater in the Wynn. Advance buzz had Tim and Faith’s dates competing against Garth and ahead of Shania’s run.
I’m told that the first stage of this new Venetian/Palazzo residency will run through April in one of the 1,800-seat theaters, with shows likely to be extended and with two additional option runs. Garth has already agreed to more dates than he originally negotiated.
The Venetian can present the couple’s concerts in either its Phantom or Blue Man Group theaters, as both vacate those venues shortly. However, the currently vacant Jersey Boys theater could be used until “Rock of Ages” makes its home alongside the Venetian in December.
Tim, the 45-year-old son of New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies pitching star Tug McGraw, has racked up 11 consecutive #1 Billboard albums and 21 #1 singles, with 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and 11 Country Music Awards. His album sales top 40 million, and he’s the third bestselling country singer.
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's I Need You
Tim McGraw in New Orleans
Faith, 44, also has sold more than 40 million records, with eight #1 singles and three #1 country albums. Billboard named her the top adult-contemporary artist of the decade in 2009. Incidentally, she failed to win an audition back in her early days in Nashville to become one of Reba McEntire’s backup singers!
Tim and Faith have interesting and similar stories about the search for their real-life parent. Faith, who was adopted as an infant, didn’t know her biological mother until 1990. Tim thought his stepfather was his actual father until his mother revealed that Tug McGraw was his biological father. Tim was 11, and it took another seven years before the baseball star acknowledged paternity.
The happily married couple of 16 years live outside Nashville, and it’s believed that just as Steve Wynn made a private jet available to Garth for his jaunts in from Oklahoma that Las Vegas Sands chieftain Sheldon Adelson will provide one of his private luxury planes for the Las Vegas appearances.
Sheldon and Tim bonded during the negotiations as both are enthusiastic supporters of Wounded Warriors projects. Tim heads up Home Front, a partnership between Chase and USO’s Home Front campaign for mortgage-free homes to members of the military. Sheldon annually treats military service families to complimentary flights and stays at his Las Vegas properties.
After this morning’s press conference, Tim rejoins Kenny with stops this weekend in Ontario, New Jersey and Maryland. Check back here later for our editors Don Chareunsy and John Katsilometes’ reports of the press conference.
And to Tim and Faith: Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!
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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