Tom Ingram is a Rockabilly Promoter, DJ & Businessman who has become the most successful Rockabilly Promoter in the World. His Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekendevent, now in its 23rdyear, is thelongest-running music festival in Las Vegas. It sells out 9,000 tickets in advance annually, and its Saturday Car show event attracts 20,000. He’s been organizing music weekenders for over 30years and has been a DJ for 40 years. Tom was awarded with “Tom Ingram Day,” in 2017, 2018 and 2019, by the Mayor of the City of Las Vegas to acknowledge his contributions to the city’s entertainment and tourism industries.
Tom got his start in Rockabilly as a DJ back in 1976, first in youth clubs, and next renting out rooms in pubs in South London. Before he was even 21, he was DJing a packed weekly club in London, as well as traveling around the UK to do record hops in other cities: Brighton, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol; plus weekenders in Brean, Weymouth, Isle of Wight and others. He was also booked to DJ in other countries including; USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, Finland and Japan. He eventually started working for other promoters, and later founded a well-known English Rockabilly festival called Hemsby, in 1989. When asked what some of the high points of his career have been, Tom said Hemsby was a high point, but the first Viva Las Vegas in 1998 topped that.
What makes Tom’s events unique is that he does things his own way and doesn’t follow the traditional mold used by promoters who came before him. He began promoting festivals because he saw how others were doing things and thought he could do it better, from a fan’s perspective instead of from a businessman’s. He felt they were all missing the idea of making an entire weekend party. He takes the unique approach of putting the event before the money, and organizing an event he would personally want to go to. His love of music pushed him to become a promoter, and he admits in the beginning he didn’t know what he was doing and had to learn as he went.
Tom has overcome many hurdles in the course of his career as a promoter, including other promoters trying to stop him in the UK, and being turned down by multiple casinos in Vegas. It wasn’t until an acquaintance, Seymour Heller, (manager for The Treniers, as well as Liberace), put in a word for him with The Gold Coast Hotel, that he was able to bring his dream of starting a festival in Vegas to life. He launched the first Viva Las Vegas in 1998 at The Gold Coast, and it was held there for 11 years until 2009, when the event became so large that he moved it to the much larger sister property, The Orleans.
Some past performers at Viva Las Vegas that Tom was most proud to book were Chuck Berry, Ruth Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Little Richard, Dick Dale, Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin,to name a few. One of his favorite VLV moments was greeting Chuck Berry upon arrival, watching him play, and looking out at the crowd thinking, ‘I did this.’
Looking back over his 30 year career as a Radio and Club DJ and Event Promoter, the recurring pieces of what brought him to this point are his love for music, his tenacity to keep going even when huge challenges come at him; and the friends, club owners and connections he’s made along the way. His determination followed by success showed other promoters around the globe that they could do it too, so he inspired others by doing things his own unique way. This resulted in all of today’s successful Rockabilly weekenders being run by people inside the scene rather than by outsiders.
Tom is an inspiration to many, and is followed globally by over 20,000 people through the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. In addition to this, he co-owns and DJs on Rockin 247 Radio, which streams rockabilly online 24 hours a day worldwide.