Janis McKay
Janis McKay
Bassoonist • Educator • Author

Played Out on the Strip:

The Rise and Fall of Las Vegas Casino Bands

by Janis L. McKay


From 1940 to 1989, nearly every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip employed a full-time band or orchestra. After the late 1980s, when control of the casinos changed hands from independent owners to corporations, almost all of these musicians found themselves unemployed. Played Out on the Strip traces this major shift in the music industry through extensive interviews with former musicians. In 1989, these soon-to-be unemployed musicians went on strike. Janis McKay charts the factors behind this strike, which was precipitated by several corporate hotel owners moving to replace live musicians with synthesizers and taped music, a strategic decision made in order to save money. The results of this transitional period in Las Vegas history were both long-lasting and far-reaching for the entertainment industry. With its numerous oral history interviews and personal perspectives from the era, this book will appeal to readers interested in Las Vegas history, music history, and labor issues.

The book is unique and it tells a story that is vital to the history of Las Vegas and entertainment.
— Michael S. Green, author of Nevada: A History of the Silver State
Casino orchestras are a big piece of the Las Vegas story that has stayed hidden in the shadows of the stars—just as the band always did—until now. Lucky for us all, ‘Played Out on the Strip’ brings into the spotlight the supporting players who gave a young city a rich new dimension and deep well of talent. Janis McKay has done them, and us, a real favor.
— Mike Weatherford, Las Vegas Review-Journal entertainment reporter and columnist
‘Played out on the Strip’ is crisply and vividly written and the anecdotes provide a personal and highly entertaining touch. It is a wonderful story of this heretofore unchronicled niche in the music industry and a good read for those with an interest in the entertainment industry.
— Robert Bruns, Sigma Alpha Iota "Pan Pipes" Summer 2016 Publication
Her vivid writing style creates a setting that is easy to imagine...Played Out on the Strip is a memorable and well-written book that should encourage further research.
— Crystal Van Dee, Nevada in the West Magazine, Fall and Winter 2016