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Steve Rossi’s Beatlemania ties run deep


Nothing will surpass Steve Rossi’s claim-to-fame moment on Feb. 9, 1964.

Thousands of stories have been written mentioning his milestone: performing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” with comedy partner Marty Allen on the night the Beatles were introduced to U.S. TV viewers.

But there’s this little-known nugget: Rossi also witnessed another Beatles’ moment that represented a game changer for the music industry.

It happened on Aug. 15, 1965, the day the Beatles opened their North American tour at the height of Beatlemania. Rossi had no idea he would have a role in that one, too.

The day before, a friend in New York called to say he was coming by to pick him up.

“He said, he’d meet me at this deli around Brooklyn,” Rossi recalled.

When Rossi’s friend arrived, he was driving an armored truck. That’s pretty cool, Rossi thought.

It became the ultimate joy ride when Rossi’s friend, who had a top role in providing security for the Beatles, filled in the details.

They were on their way to Shea Stadium, the friend said, and Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon were in the back of the truck and “nobody knew about it,” Rossi said.

There sat Rossi, riding shotgun for a band with more wattage than Times Square.

“There was a solid window between us (and the Beatles),” Rossi said. “There was no conversation between us.”

When they got to Shea Stadium, which had opened the previous year as the home of the New York Mets, the truck pulled up to the back of the stage to deliver the Fab Four.

Shea started rocking when the record crowd of 55,600 fans, mostly teenagers, saw the truck arriving.

“I’ve never heard such noise in my life,” said Rossi, who turns 82 on May 25.

He was unknowingly witnessing a wave of the future in the music industry. With records set for attendance and revenue, eyes were opened to the incredible potential of holding concerts in major stadiums.

Being part of Beatlemania added to Rossi’s amazing ride that started 60 years ago when he came to Las Vegas as a featured singer in burlesque icon Mae West’s beefcake revue.

SUPER DIVA

While The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was exulting over Bruno Mars’ halftime performance at the Super Bowl a week ago, the folks at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts had their own reason to celebrate.

Superstar opera diva Renee Fleming, who got raves for the version of the national anthem, was booked many months ago for Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center.

“I thought she did an extraordinary job, probably the best ever for a Super Bowl,” said Myron Martin, president and CEO of the Smith Center.

By the way, Martin added, Fleming’s music was arranged and conducted by Rob Mathes, “who was our musical director for opening night at the Smith Center.”

“Small world,” he said, “but it doesn’t surprise me.”

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Twenty-seven dancers and acrobats from Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” performed two acts during Sunday’s Beatles tribute on CBS. They teamed up with Pharrell Williams and Brad Paisley on “Here Comes the Sun” and contributed to the finale with the likes of McCartney, Starr, Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox and others. Also featured on the 50th anniversary show was Las Vegas’ Imagine Dragons, whose world dramatically changed when they won a Grammy Award two weeks ago. …

The indie film community is abuzz over news that Chris Ramirez of Las Vegas-based Lola Films is co-producing a full-length feature film here, thanks to the newly enacted film tax credit legislation. Filming starts next month. The story is based on punk rock roadies “Frank and Lola.” It co-stars Dakota Fanning, 19, and Jeremy Allen White, 21, who plays Lip on the Showtime dramedy series “Shameless.” Gerardo Naranjo, who wrote it, will be directing. …

There are months-old rumors that Steve Wynn might be shopping Jeff Koons’ “Tulips,” the three-ton steel sculpture that was purchased for $33.7 million in the fall of 2012. It has been on display in front of the Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas.

SIGHTINGS

At Hyde Bellagio on Saturday: Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, a Bishop Gorman product, tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Miles Austin. … Singer Lionel Richie, dining with a trio at Andrea’s (Encore at Wynn) on Saturday night. … Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter and fiancee Lauren Kitt, holding their co-ed bachelor and bachelorette parties at the Palms over the weekend. They partied at Moon, ghostbar dayclub, and N9ne Steakhouse. They’re getting married in April. … Actresses Minka Kelly and Mandy Moore, having dinner together at Hakkasan (MGM Grand) on Saturday. Kelly’s late mother, Maureen Kelly, was a showgirl and exotic dancer in Las Vegas. Kelly’s father is Rick Dufay, a guitarist with Aerosmith. … The celebrity crowd at Friday’s “Fighters Only” world mixed martial arts awards at The Venetian included: UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, rock legend Gene Simmons and son Nick Simmons, Austin “Chumlee” Russell of “Pawn Stars,” TV personality Mario Lopez, Holly Madison, James Davis of The Chippendales, “Best Ink” star Sabina Kelley, rapper Daddy Yankee, former NFL star Terrell Owens, “The Amazing Race” and Chippendales star James Davis, Claire Sinclair, Angel Porrino and Melody Sweets.

THE PUNCH LINE

“When I started hosting, Justin Bieber wasn’t even born yet. That’s why we call those ‘the good old days.’ ” — Jay Leno, during his NBC finale on Thursday.

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter@Norm_Clarke.