A Las Vegas tribute artist is keeping a rock legend forever young as Canadians clamour to see him perform as one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
The popularity of Vic Vaga’s Rod Stewart tribute show is running high in Canada as he mimics the Grammy Award-winning artist’s songs, look and persona.
Although based out of Las Vegas, Vaga is now spending many of his days at his second home in Vancouver and is making his way to the Foothills next week.
The internationally renowned look-a-like will perform at the Black Diamond Hotel and Bar Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. through Rock-a-Billy Entertainment.
“My show is an exact mimicry of a Rod Stewart show in the mid-’80s,” explained Vaga. “Rod was very animated so I’m tossing around my hair, kicking soccer balls. It’s not just going to be some guy in blue jeans and messed-up hair.”
Vaga has been a fan of Stewart’s since he first heard his song You’re In My Heart in seventh grade. It’s the first song the young Vaga learned to play on his guitar.
Vaga said it was Stewart’s cocky attitude and heartfelt, relatable songs that got his attention.
Years later, Vaga learned the feeling isn’t mutual.
“I met him once,” said Vaga of Stewart. “He’s not a fan. He’s fully aware of me. I invited him to my wedding and he didn’t come.”
The meeting was four years ago when Vaga sat beside Stewart for a fan club group shot.
“I said, ‘Hey Rod, and he said, ‘Hi.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to spill my beer on you’ and he said, ‘Good.’”
It was during Vaga’s college years that people told him he looks like Stewart.
“I never saw it but they did,” he said. “I resented the girls in college calling me Rod all the time. Rod was on MTV a lot back in those days.”
In the 1980s, Vaga played in classic rock cover bands before going into the entertainment nightclub industry where he ran nightclubs, booked entertainment and managed bands.
At Halloween parties, Vaga often dressed as a Robert De Niro character, but in 1990 he was stumped.
“The video for the song You’re in My Heart from Rod was playing on MTV at that very moment and I thought, I’ve got a T-shirt and torn jeans,” he recalled. “I put some blond hairspray in my hair. I did it as a dare to myself.”
Stewart became Vaga’s go-to Halloween costume and he was soon winning contests. In one case, he won a used car.
A celebrity look-alike agent in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas discovered Vaga.
In 2008, Vaga attended a professional look-alike tribute convention in Florida and made the decision to change his career.
“I decided I didn’t want to be part of the real world anymore, I didn’t want to work anymore,” he said. “I shouldn’t say that, it is work, but I’m self-employed. I have to constantly look for gigs, it’s not like I have an agent booking for me.”
Vaga honed an individual act and it snowballed from there. In 2011, he was doing shows in Las Vegas and soon became a full-time tribute artist. He realized Stewart’s music was what people loved hearing.
“People in my age group are looking for something that has substance and soul,” he said. “A lot of stuff nowadays is just crap. Somebody like Rod, who has a multitude of hits, has provided a soundtrack to many people’s lives. We all grew up on Forever Young. It was many people’s prom songs.”
The smiles on his audience’s faces are worth every moment for Vaga.
“You get many people in the audience who are happy to be there just because of the great memories,” he said. “If anything keeps me going it’s the audience. A lot of times I get stories out of people saying, I saw Rod here. Everybody has a Rod story for me. His presence has never stopped, luckily for me.”
Tickets to see Vaga’s tribute show cost $30 and are available at the Black Diamond Hotel & Bar and at Okotoks Sobeys (cash only).
For more details call 403-612-7046.