Karel Gott Performs in Las Vegas, 1967

Screenshot (1616) Screenshot (1615)Karel Gott is known as the “Sinatra of the East.” In 1967, Czechoslovakia’s Ministry of Culture allowed him to perform a six-month residency at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. 

“I objected to the way they announced me: ‘Ladies and gentlemen we proudly present straight from behind the Iron Curtain Mr. Karel Gott.’ I said it wasn’t nice and asked them not to introduce me that way. The American organizers said I should leave these decisions to them as they knew what they were doing. I should understand that I was the first communist to sing in Las Vegas. I said, ‘But I am not one, I have never had anything to do with the party.’ After my performance the women in the audience were standing there saying, ‘Look at him,’ as if I were a monkey.

When I went for my first interview on a radio station in Las Vegas, the presenter told me at the beginning that I was in a free country and that I could say whatever I wanted. I thanked him for the information and then he asked me the first question. ‘Mr. Gott, we know you like American music, who are your favourite American singers?’ I answered, naming all black singers. The presenter said, ‘Mr. Gott, I heard you want to sing in Las Vegas for half a year. It’s a long time. I would recommend that you say Frank Sinatra.’ I liked him but he was not exactly my kind of voice. And the presenter said, ‘He helped a lot of people here.’ It was a kind of Don Corleone, Godfather-type answer.”

Interview from, The Lost World of Communism: An Oral History of Daily Life Behind the Iron Curtain, Peter Molloy, BBC Books, 2009.