Lucky in Las Vegas with Keith Richards & The Rolling Stones

Keith and Blue Lena backstage in Las Vegas-Photo taken by Bill Bolton

My scarves given to Keith in Vegas & Atlantic City

Keef in Vegas-Photo by Bill Wilson

My friend E & I flew into Las Vegas on Friday November 10th. We had tickets to see the Who that night at Mandalay Bay with our friend Joe who had flown in the day before from Pittsburgh. We had a room at the Las Vegas Hilton, which worked out well, since it was on the LV Monorail line and we didn't even have to walk 10 miles through the casino to get to it or to the coffee shop. We picked up our tickets first, and were surprised to learn that the casinos had sucked up most of the floor seats, but we were able to get 20th row by the catwalk...our "worst" seats in the past 3 tours, showing you how really insanely spoiled we are.

Joe took us to an excellent dinner of filet mignon at the steak house at Harrah's (thanks Joe!) and from there we headed to the Who gig. We had 12th row center seats, which were great, and since a few rows were missing they ended up being 9th row. Since the crowd sat down for most of the show (imagine that), we could see fairly well. The Who played a set mixed with new stuff & old hits, and it was a rocking show (this my first time seeing them without John Entwistle), but as much as we enjoyed their set, we came out knowing that they weren't as good as the Stones!

On Stones show day we did some shopping, had a nice lunch, again treated by the ever generous Joe. We went to the MGM early & waited in line to get the event shirt before it sold out. We chatted with some fellow fans and checked out the Stones art show in the lobby area. After that, we got a 25 ounce mango margarita and sat down to do some people watching before getting in line to enter the MGM Grand. All of the sudden my phone rang, and my friend Bolts was calling me to find out where I was. We immediately jumped in line and headed to the backstage area to meet him.

We ran into Blondie first & said hello and then goodbye, since we didn't think we'd see him in Atlantic City on the 17th. Blondie was in a good mood and gave E & I big hugs. We then saw Tim Ries and had a small chat with him, as well as our friend Preston, before seeing Bill. Bill told me that I might be able to get my photo with Keith in the snooker room after the boys were done playing snooker. That was so exciting to hear, since I'd been waiting for the correct opportunity since Boston back on September 20 when I was first offered this exciting prospect of a photo together with Keith (but the stupid Boston gate security would not let me take a purse into the venue & so my purse & camera were put back in the car). We headed inside the RS Inn and grabbed some food & Becks beer. We saw lots of folks we knew like June, Gary, Nate, Angie, Allie & Rick. Later after we secured a couple of chairs at a table with Tim Ries, Joe (sneaky!) joined us. The place was jam packed. They had a regular hard liquor bar (which is unusual) in addition to beer & wine this time. We had more filet mignon and then lobster tail-yummy.

At one point I went out to go to the loo and couldn't because the band was coming by for the Meet N' Greet. Lucky fans Artie & Dawn were part of tonight's Meet n' Greet. We had found out earlier in the day that sadly Mick's father, Joe Jagger, had passed away today, and everyone was worried that Mick wouldn't be able to go on with the show. Mick had just flown back from London after seeing his dad for the last time. He put on a brave face, and when the band passed us in the hallway Mick said "hi" to us and smiled broadly, with no evidence that anything was wrong. We were asked by Stones personnel not to discuss it with anyone and if anyone asked about Mick's Dad to simply say "no comment", since the news had not really gotten out yet.

Later on, when my phone had not yet rung, I was beginning to doubt that I'd ever get that photo op with Keith since Vegas backstage was so crazy busy. I only had one more show after this one (Atlantic City) and that was a rescheduled show and AC was bound to be as nuts as Vegas. Finally the RS Inn was closing and we were being asked to go to our seats, so I held my breath and decided to make a last ditch call and surprisingly I was asked where I was and within seconds I was at the RS Inn doorway and whisked behind the backstage inner curtain and up the backstage hallway. We were walking fast because it was very close to show time, but things were in slow motion for me.

In a few minutes I entered the doorway of the room marked "Wardrobe", and was told to wait in the doorway area. I did so, standing beside the road cases filled with the band's stage clothing. Jo Wood walked in carrying 4 hangers of Ronnie's t-shirts and bustled past me to hang them up. After she left, while I was waiting, I admit, I did caress a few of Ronnie's shirts. I didn't speak to anyone who passed. I just waited. Jake Cohl was the only one really within sight, in a back room I could see him from the doorway. I wasn't nervous. Or maybe I was in shock?

I was then told to get my camera ready, so I turned it on, but it has a 1 minute automatic shut off if left idle. So, of course it shut off as soon as Keith swung around the corner, looking just fucking fantastic and ever the pirate with a huge smile, and he immediately gave me a big "hello dahling" and a bear hug. Keith had not yet changed for the stage and was wearing a purple long sleeved tee shirt with light blue stripes and a green crushed velvet vest, with his favorite Japanese flag head band/scarf. He had an old Asian coin tied into the right side of his hair and a bit of shiny silver dangling from the left. He also wore his Pirates of the Caribbean skull ring on his left ring finger. Bill re-introduced us (I had been lucky enough to have met Keith a few times before, but never privately like this and I had never gotten a photo with him before) and I gave Keith a red, white and black skull scarf, which he promptly hung around his neck. I thanked Keith for letting me see him and he said "Thank YOU, you keep on giving, and all I do is accept." Now that's a sweet quote! Keith seemed in an excellent upbeat mood, all smiles, genuine, friendly, cool, sweet, everything you'd imagine he'd be. He instantly made me feel at ease. Keith grabbed me and pulled me close and Bill asked how to turn on my camera and then he took a few photos of us. I was praying I did not blink, since I often have my eyes closed when pictures are taken with a flash. I didn't even notice until afterwards that Keith put on his sunglasses for the first photo, and then took them off for the second...but I definitely do remember him leaning his head against mine and squeezing me close. Then a woman walked by that I didn't recognize and she took my camera & snapped a photo of me, Bill and Keith together. When I lined up next to them I was originally on the far right side and then Keith said "YOU get in the middle" and I said "I'll be happy to be in the middle!". A sandwich of two of the best guys ever!

Bill, Blue Lena, Keith

I just couldn't stop smiling. But, funny, either could Keith. He was in such a great mood & so genuinely at ease and friendly with me as if he'd known me forever. We really didn't talk much. I mean what can you say to Keith other than "Thank you!"? Everything else he's heard before, but the thanks really were coming from my heart. I told him I'd been waiting for this moment since I was about 12 years old and then thinking of the song "Far Away Eyes" I exclaimed "Thank You Jesus, Thank You Lord!" and Keith laughed out loud and said "Don't thank THEM!" obviously not connecting it to the song lyric, to which I replied "Thank you Keith!". It was a funny moment. Then the 3 of us walked out of the wardrobe room and down the hall together to Camp X-Ray, where Keith said goodbye to me at the door and I said thanks for at least the 100th time to both Keith and Bill. I remember watching Keith duck into Camp X-Ray and then peak his head out again and smile & wink at me one more time. He had such a sparkle in his eyes. It was now almost show time. I think I floated out of the backstage area to where E, Joe, Allie, Rick, and several other friends were waiting in the hallway for me. I hadn't even seen the photos myself yet and I was so afraid I had closed my eyes when the flash went off (thank God I didn't). I think now that it was over I was finally shaking, and incredulous at what had just taken place, as if it had been a dream. Pinch me!

Not a lot of words were spoken between us, but the emotion and the happiness and Keith's genuine spirit could truly be felt. He really did touch my heart, as did Bill for offering me this unique opportunity with Keith. Contrary to popular belief I did not ask for this opportunity, I was given it. It took 25+ years and 5 tours, but good things indeed come to those who wait.

I was on cloud nine as you can imagine, as we headed to our seats. I kept turning my camera on to show people the photos. I was so nervous about something happening to the pix. I think some people were just as shocked as I was! I got a lot of "No fucking WAY!" from fans and the occasional "You BITCH, I hate you!" as well. My friends were happy for me, but of course couldn't help hating me at the same time and I don't blame them since I was living every Keith fan's dream that night. Art & Dawn were in the same boat with their rare opportunity.

When the lights went down we were already on our feet cheering, it was great to be in a row with familiar faces. We were right next to Allie's cousin Barbara and Marcia was next to her. Knowing the state Mick must be in, I figured this would either be a phenomenal show or a terrible show, thankfully it was the former. The entire band was on fire tonight, perhaps trying to help Mick through it. His raw emotion all went into tonight's show.

The setlist was as follows: 1. Start Me Up 2. It's Only Rock N' Roll 3. Shattered 4. She Was Hot 5. Sway 6. Streets Of Love 7. Live With Me 8. Midnight Rambler 9. Tumbling Dice 10. You Got The Silver (KR) 11. Connection (KR) 12. Under My Thumb 13. Rough Justice 14. Get Off Of My Cloud 15. Honky Tonk Women 16. Sympathy For The Devil 17. Jumping Jack Flash 18. Satisfaction 19. Brown Sugar (encore)

No major surprises, but it was nice to hear a jamming version of Sway again one last time, and I always enjoy hearing Live With Me. So the setlist was not what made it a great night, it was the band, they were just animals. From the opening chords of Start Me Up, they lived up to Keith's "open the cage & let the tigers out" schtick. It was cool to see the scarf I had given Keith tucked into his left coat pocket. Bill Wilson captured that on film for me in his great shots that night.

Keith with my scarf in his pocket-Photo by Bill Wilson

All throughout the night we looked at each other in amazement commenting on how good the band sounded, and how surprised we were that the crowd was not as lame as we expected it to be either (Vegas sometimes is lame due to comped tickets and so many non-fans in the audience). Streets of Love brought tears to my eyes and Midnight Rambler was excellent. When it was time for Keith's set there was no deeper appreciation coming from anyone else but me that evening. You Got The Silver was perfect and Connection was the best version I've heard yet, tight, and Keith was even dancing! Keith made a reference to his head injury saying "You can bruise it, but you can't break it", which got a huge laugh from those of us who knew what he meant.

Photo by Bill Wilson

We decided to head to the B stage for the first time in a while. The B stage in Vegas is always a pain because security there is so insistent on people going back to their seats. They threw a lot of the early people out, but we managed to get on the front corner with just 3 people in front of us. It was nice hearing Get Off My Cloud again & joining in on the "hey, hey ,you ,you" line.

Once Sympathy started we were starting feel sad that the show was going to end soon, it was THAT good. Keith even jumped off the ramp at one point, causing fans to panic. When the confetti fell, and the final bows took place, everyone around us was all smiles and all we heard was "That was awesome". Some people claimed it was even better than the Beacon, so that was definitely saying a lot. One thing for sure, it was a perfect night, thanks to Keith, a lotta help from my friend Bill, and the Rolling Stones!

See My Las Vegas Photo Album Here

Keith with my scarf in his pocket
Photo by Bill Wilson