The Scene: Las Vegas on Sunday when the Rolling Stones and Elton John simultaneously performed club dates--Sir Elton opening the MGM Grand's $8-million Studio 54 disco; the Stones playing the Hard Rock's 1,400-seat space, the Joint. Being a mile apart just begins the distance between them. In October, the two sides exchanged barbed comments that ended with John comparing Keith Richards to an arthritic monkey.
Who Was There: The Stones had the satisfaction of drawing bigger names--Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy, Johnny Depp, Drew Barrymore, Sting, Tom Arnold, Sherry Lansing, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steve Tisch; Elton's crowd--including Susan Anton, Gwen Stefani (who attended both shows), Bill Macy, Elisabeth Shue, k.d. lang, Bryan Singer and Djimon Hounsou--did good by attending an AIDS benefit.
The Venues: For both sets of fans, intimacy was the key. Studio 54 is an eye-opening, three-story club done in metallic industrial disco style. John played grand piano on the dance floor. The Joint has the feel of a medium-size movie theater, complete with balcony, and the Stones were on stage. "I've never been that close before" was heard at both locales.
Best Frozen-Smile Moment: When fans outside Studio 54 began singing "The Partridge Family" theme as David Cassidy walked down the red carpet.
Problems the Stones Didn't Have in the '60s: The Hard Rock's overachieving air-filtration system sucked the marijuana smoke out of the room. You'd find more ambient cannabis fumes at a city council meeting.
Problems the Stones Still Have in the '90s: A small scuffle (Ed Ruscha called it "a mini-Altamont") broke out in the VIP-laden front rows during "Jumpin' Jack Flash." And Tommy Lee had the bright idea of spraying champagne on everyone.
Quoted at Elton: "The first night I went to the original Studio 54 in New York, there was a girl walking around completely nude with shoes on and a little beaded purse," said Tony Curtis. "That was the first night. After that it got even better."
Quoted at the Stones: "I love them in this venue," said Penny Marshall. "I don't want to see them in Dodger Stadium. They're a garage band."
Money Matters: John's performance benefited his AIDS foundation to the tune of $1 million; the Stones performance benefited the Stones. And the hotel probably took a loss on them. However, the Hard Rock's Peter Morton said, "It's literally the best money I ever spent."
The Bottom Line: In 1972, Mick Jagger made a famous statement about not wanting to end up like Elvis, playing Las Vegas with "all those housewives and old ladies coming with their handbags." He lucked out. They all went to see Elton.