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Prince’s Vegas run was brief, but intense and memorable

Prince’s lone Las Vegas residency was brief — too brief — but as bright as a fireball in the night sky.

Celebrities rarely seen here showed up at Club 3121, formerly the Club Rio showroom, to party like it was 1999.

Among them was David Letterman’s bandleader, Paul Shaffer, who took in the show, which started at midnight, and the jam session, which got underway between 3 and 3:30 a.m. in the adjacent 3121 Jazz Cuisine.

“All you had to do was buy a drink and you could drink in Prince’s music from a foot or two away during the jams,” said Laura Herlovich, whose public relations company, PR Plus, represented the iconic musician during his Las Vegas stint.

“I remember the look of joy on Paul’s face watching Prince work his musical magic from a couple feet away — amazing musicians sharing their love of music.”

Prince, whose real name was Prince Rogers Nelson, after his jazz musician father, died Thursday at his home in suburban Minneapolis. He was 57.

Prince seldom engaged in chitchat from the stage, but he would walk through his jazz club greeting fans at their tables.

While he projected a hypersexual persona onstage, his music often had spiritual messages. He grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist, but later converted to Jehovah’s Witness.

One night at the club, he opened with “Sexuality,” but substituted the word “spirituality.”

Herlovich has a theory that one of the reasons he chose the Rio for his residency was his love of the color purple.

Lucky for the Rio, their showroom was wall-to-wall purple. On opening night, a purple carpet awaited VIP’s.

On another night, he had the crowd buzzing with curiosity after dedicating “Purple Rain” to someone “I promised I would play this for.” There was speculation he was referring to CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley, who died a day before Prince opened his Las Vegas show.

He had an eccentric side. During the late 1990s, I saw him play with his back to the audience at a nightclub called The Church, which was in another life.

Prince rarely did interviews. Opening night in Las Vegas was no exception. But that didn’t stop a local blogger who sat down with Prince’s rep for a lengthy interview.

The next day, the blogger sent a juicy scoop to the national website he worked for. Using the information he gathered, the blogger fabricated an exclusive interview with Prince. The interview was removed from the website a short time later, as was the blogger.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Clint Holmes reunites with Sante Fe and the Fat City Horns for the first time in nearly a decade on Saturday night at the M Resort. They were the house band during Holmes’ headliner run at Harrah’s from 2000 to 2006. The show starts at 7 p.m. …

Dan Bilzerian, best known for his playboy lifestyle and 16.7 million Instagram followers, has a book coming out this fall. Published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books, “Blitz” will go behind the curtain, according to PageSix.com, to reveal the “wildest, untold stories” of poker-playing, high-flying Bilzerian, who loves guns, luxury cars and an ever-present entourage of women.

SIGHTINGS

The Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo Las Vegas, in a tribute to Prince, turned their building signs purple on Thursday night. They turn green today in support of Earth Day. … Grammy nominee Flo Rida, with a large group at Red Square Restaurant & Vodka Lounge at Mandalay Bay on Tuesday. He was in town for the Wine & Spirits Wholesale of America Convention. … Tamar Braxton and Jeannie Mai of the daytime talk-variety show “The Real,” meeting the cast of “Absinthe” after Wednesday’s show.

THE PUNCH LINE

“In Washington, D.C., yesterday Ben and Jerry, the ice cream guys, were arrested for being part of a political protest on the steps of the Capitol building. But some good did come out of it. They got a lot of new attention for their cause. Also, they got a new flavor of ice cream, which is Toilet Wine Toffee Crunch.” — Jimmy Kimmel

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., operator of The Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo and Convention Center.

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

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