Updated November 5, 2021 - 6:35 pm
J.T. The Brick and his wife, Julie, owe it all to the Rolling Stones and the fabled Center Bar at Hard Rock Hotel.
The Stones are still rocking. So are J.T. and Julie.
The Center Bar, sadly, is not.
The popular national “Mad Dog Sports” host on SiriusXM and veteran broadcaster (whose legal name is John Tournour), attended the historic Stones show at The Joint at the Hard Rock on Feb. 15, 1998.
It was the day after Valentine’s Day, but love was still in the air.
The Brick had a front-row ticket to a singularly wild Stones show on its “Bridges To Babylon” tour. The series was playing arenas except for the Vegas date, where 2,000 fans jammed into the old Hard Rock music hall (today’s Theater at Virgin Hotel Las Vegas).
We took to calling that Stones concert The Fire Code Show, for its potential violation of capacity limits.
The concert was remarkable musically, opening with a spree of “(I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” “You Got Me Rocking” and “Flip The Switch”) and for its superstar celebrity turnout. The list was dotted with such name-checks as Jack Nicholson, Sting, Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Gwen Stefani, Jenny McCarthy, Dennis Hopper, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson.
The Hard Rock casino floor was raging. As was customary in The Center Bar’s golden era, J.T. sidled up to a stranger at the bar. She was solo, having won the opportunity to buy a balcony ticket by dropping her ticket to a previous John Mellencamp show at the Joint into a drum for a random drawing.
Julie’s name was drawn, and she was set for the Stones show, further mapping this couple’s path to destiny.
“We started talking, and I said I would find her in the balcony during the show, and during Sheryl Crow’s set I grabbed a pass, which was a medallion, and took it to her and brought her down,” J.T., who works frequently as host and emcee of Las Vegas Raiders events, said Friday. “What a night. It was the greatest show they have ever done, in my opinion. Julie and I started dating the following week. But if I were three feet in either direction, it would’t have happened.”
John and Julie were married Sept. 4, 1999 at Guardian Angel Cathedral in Las Vegas. The reception was at Monte Carlo, today’s Park MGM. This year, the couple celebrated their 22nd anniversary.
“Everything I have in my life is because of that night,” said The Brick, who has a pair of front-pit tickets to Saturday’s show at Allegiant Stadium. “I’m not even going to tell you what they cost. But we had to be at this one.”
Three Stones throws
A trifecta of memories from Stones shows caught in Vegas, and one during my days in Chico in Northern California:
Nov 18, 2005, MGM Grand Garden Arena: Early in the show, Mick Jagger chugged a bottle of water, then kicked the container into the crowd. The bottle landed just over the heads of Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci of the Killers, a random development as the two were at the show as fans.
This was just as the band kicked into “Tumblin’ Dice.” Jagger also seized the city’s hot tourism slogan, saying, “I’ve heard that new slogan, ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ Does that mean my money, too?”
That concert fell in the midst of a remarkable run at the Grand Garden Arena, during which Paul McCartney and U2 Played in the Grand Garden, the zenith of the venue’s 28-year history.
May 11, 2013, Grand Garden Arena: Katy Perry arrived in an unbilled, but expected, duet on “Beast of Burden.” She and the band had sent word over social media before the show that she would be onstage. What wasn’t planned was Perry popping Jagger in the face with the mic during the wild performance. The tour also marked the return of Mick Taylor, a Stones stalwart from 1969-‘74.
Nov. 4, 1989, Oakland Coliseum: Going off the Vegas listing for this historic show, the first concert at the Coliseum or the Bay Area after the ‘89 Loma Prieto earthquake. My father had actually fluked his way into tickets, hearing on the radio the show was about to go onsale and pulling into a Tower Records store (a depiction of this ancient ticket-buying process can be found on hieroglyphics on the side of the Coliseum).
This was the “Steel Wheels” tour, with Living Colour opening. Getting to the Coliseum was a grind, with access still curtailed because of freeway damage. Jagger remarked at how grateful he was to be performing a show less than three weeks after the tragedy. “Northern California is a great place to be, but you don’t need me to tell you that.” No matter the conditions, the Stones have always answered the call.
There are no plans to revive “Exhibitionism,” the Rolling Stones memorabilia display at The Palazzo, in Las Vegas. Co-producer Adam Steck of SPI Entertainment said Thursday the exhibit had satisfied its expectations, closing Feb. 25, 2018. There was talk at the time for a return trip. The installations included sets, guitars, drums, costumes and recreations of the band’s flats from London in 1962. Cool enough to have been a permanent attraction.
Vegas guitar great Jimmy McIntosh is a huge Stones fan and historian. He’s even recorded with Ronnie Wood. McIntosh, a member of the “Jersey Boys” band in its days at Palazzo and also Paris Las Vegas, is a longtime player with the Lon Bronson Band. One night at Cabaret Jazz (now Myron’s) at the Smith Center, upon Bronson’s goading, Jimmy Mac recited the entire Jagger rant from the stage at the ill-fated Altamont concert. This takes devotion, rock fans.
Cool Hang Alert
Keeping in the rock mode, the ace cover band Alter Ego plays 1st Street Stage on the Fremont Street Experience from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. The band will toggle the George Thorogood and the Destroyers set on the 3rd Street Stage. We grooved to Alter Ego on June 1 reopening of live entertainment on FSE. They sounded great, even up to 4 a.m.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.