The first thing to know about a Tony Orlando show is that there is no set list.
There’s an opening number and a closer. For everything else, the 71-year-old entertainer just feels out the audience.
It’s a show business trick he learned from guys like Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darrin.
“If they want to hear Led Zeppelin, we’ll do Led Zeppelin,” says Orlando, who plays Tuesday, Aug. 18 at Table Mountain Casino.
Yes, the singer has been known to run through a cover of “Whole Lotta Love” a song he notes was recorded four years before his own hit “Tie A Yellow Ribbon.”
During his 50-plus-year career, Orlando has become a show business pro.
New York rapper Computa releases his version of ‘Knock 3 Times’ (feat. Tony Orlando) Aug. 21.
He was a teen idol who had his first hit at 16. It was a song called “Halfway to Paradise.”
He recorded demos for singers like Carole King and Barry Mann and, as a music publisher, signed James Taylor. As a singer, he had five No. 1 hits, including “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” and “Knock Three Times” (both with Tony Orlando and Dawn).
Orlando hosted a variety show (also with Dawn, aka Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson) that ran on CBS from 1974 to 1977 and starred in the musical “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” on Broadway.
His dream is to play Zorba.
He’s been a celebrity spokesman for Nutrisystem, hosted informercials for Time Life music and guested on Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Telethon for 25 years. He has headlined shows in Las Vegas and Branson, Missouri, where he was the entertainer and vocalist of the year.
Orlando was featured on the first season of VH1’s series “Behind the Music.”
And he still averages 135 tour dates each year.
“I always wanted to do it all,” he says.
The best entertainers – guys like James Cagney – have been like that, he says.
“Cagney was able to dance and do ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and be one of the best dramatic actors.”
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug, 18
- Table Mountain Casino, 8184 Table Mountain Road, Friant
- Tickets: $29-$59 VIP
- 800-541-3637, www.tmcasino.com