Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sammy Davis Jr., Britney Spears, and other slot machines

Altovise Davis, Sammy Davis Jr.'s widow, is second from left

The photo above appeared in Jet in 2002 with the caption "Keeping Sammy's Legacy Alive." Sammy Davis Jr.'s legacy was being kept alive at that time by gaming companies that licensed Sammy's image and name for a line of slot machines. These machines can now be found in casinos across the country and maybe around the world.

Sammy Davis Jr. kind of makes sense as a slot machine character, since he was part of the Rat Pack, which was associated with Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world. But a number of other musical figures have also appeared on slot machines, like Queen and Britney Spears, and some of them don't seem to fit into the casino scene quite as well. 

These slot machines are not a new phenomenon. Musicians have served as thematic fodder for mechanical and electronic games for years, like the Kiss pinball machine in 1978 and the Journey arcade game in 1983. Now we have these crazy slot machines.

Sammy Davis Jr.

Here's one of the Sammy Davis Jr. machines:

Dean Martin

The name and cartoon likeness of Rat Packer Dean Martin also appear on slot machines. The estate of his buddy Frank Sinatra doesn't seem to have sold Frank out to the game companies yet, but we're waiting. A Joey Bishop slot machine would be welcome too.

Rolling Stones

The only explanation I can think of for why a Rolling Stones slot machine exists is that the Rolling Stones are famous and were willing to cash in. 


The Queen slot machine also seems weird to me, but I'm not part of the target audience for slot machines.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley is an obvious candidate for being turned into a slot machine, because of Viva Las Vegas. The game lets you choose your era of Elvis: Memphis, Hollywood, or Vegas.


In the tradition of the 1978 Kiss pinball machine is the Kiss slot machine: 

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's estate licensed his name and image for a couple of different slot machines after Michael died. CNN ran an article about it in 2011. I doubt that Michael would have been cool with this when he was around.

Britney Spears 

Britney headlined in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, and now she's a slot machine.

Antonio Vivaldi

Even classical music is fair game (so to speak) for slot machines. "The Four Seasons" by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi provided the theme for this machine. 


This old-fashioned mechanical slot machine is a replica of Liberace's personal slot machine. The Retrologist has a number of photos of, and information about, the Liberace exhibit at the Time Warner Center in New York, where this photo was taken. Unlike the slot machines above, this model was never commercially available.

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