Stardust bites dust

New York, March 14 :

The end of the Stardust was marked by as much razzmatazz as its beginning. The 32-storey tower, the last remaining bit of this Las Vegas legend, was lit up with fireworks and laser beams before it came crashing down at 2.33am on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people turned out to watch the Las Vegas landmark being reduced to 28,000 tonnes of rubble. “As corny as this may sound,” said Bob Dylan’s drummer Mickey Jones who was a regular to the casino over its 48 years, “it’s breaking my heart”.

Jones was there, aged only 17, when the casino opened over the weekend of July 4 in 1958. Its 1,032 rooms made it at the time one of the largest hotels in the world, along with its other claim to fame: the famous Stardust neon sign standing 18 storeys tall and including more than 11,000 bulbs.

The Stardust catered specifically for working class Americans, with room rates starting at just $6 a night. But the scale of its gambling ambitions attracted some of the biggest celebrities of the period.

Elvis Presley was a frequenter, as was Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Muhammad Ali, then still trading as Cassius Clay, trained for a heavyweight fight there in 1962.