Chicago singer gets duet of his dreams

A Chicago singer is riding a river of emotion after an impromptu duet with Garth Brooks.

The big moment in Steve Richards’ career came when Brooks asked the audience for questions during his 10:30 p.m. performance Saturday at Wynn Las Vegas.

Richards, who was wearing a “fire engine red shirt so he couldn’t miss me,” said his “dream” was to sing with the country legend.

Brooks agreed and had Richards, 56, sit on the edge of the stage while seeking an extra microphone.

Brooks told the audience that he had a dream for years as well: He wanted to play baseball with “the big boys” and followed through on it by going to spring training with the San Diego Padres.

With that, Brooks handed the mic to Richards and said, “Tonight, you’re singing with the big boys.” When Brooks said they would be singing “The River,” Richards asked whether he would be starting.

No, Brooks said, “The big guy starts it first. Then, you come in. Are we clear on this?” Then he added, “This guy wants my job.”

What Brooks didn’t know is that Richards was a ringer: He has been singing Garth songs for years in his tribute shows, along with Elton John, Elvis, Paul McCartney and Billy Joel tunes.

“Neil Diamond is my forte,” said Richards, who said he gave up a photography career in 1989 to become an entertainer.

Richards nailed “The River.”

“It sounded like we rehearsed it,” he said by telephone from Chicago.

When they finished to a standing ovation, Brooks screamed, “Steeeeeeve!” and “grabbed me and hugged me,” Richards said.

Afterward, someone from Brooks’ camp asked Richards to hang around. A few minutes later, an autographed photo from Brooks was delivered.

It was signed: “Steve Thanks for the duet. God bless Garth Brooks.” At the end, Brooks wrote “The River” and circled the two words.

As he left the theater “on a cloud,” Richards said, audience members recognized him in the casino and asked whether the duet was a setup.

“Then this gentleman comes over and says I’ve been a friend of Garth’s for years, and I was backstage with him after the show. He can’t stop talking about you backstage. He said he had more fun than anything he’s done in Vegas. He had more fun because it was impromptu.”

I asked Richards how long had he been planning his dream duet trip to Las Vegas.

“I was almost killed in July when a car came barreling into a store at 45 miles per hour. I was buying a pair of glasses.”

After pushing a lady out of the way, Richards was badly injured and is still in therapy to regain his ability to walk.

After cheating death, he said, “I had nothing to lose. I’m a fan of singers who touch souls with their songs and voices. He’s the real deal.”

BEHAR SLAMS ANGLE

“The View” co-host Joy Behar condemned GOP U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle for a “Hitler youth” ad and said Angle is “going to hell, this bitch.”

Behar vilified Angle and the TV ad that attacks Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Illegal aliens are portrayed in a sinister light in the campaign commercial.

“I’d like to see her do this ad in the South Bronx,” Behar yelled. “Come here, bitch. Come to New York. I’m not praying for her. She’s going to hell. She’s going to hell, this bitch.”

Conservative-leaning Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed the commercial is in poor taste

Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen said, “Sharron’s focus is on the voters of Nevada, and that is where her focus will continue to be through Election Day.” Sarah Palin, on her Twitter site, responded with, “Wow, what class.”

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Las Vegas headliner Lani Misalucha will host a show with the first taping Thursday at the Crown Theater at the Rio. “It’s Vegas with Lani Misalucha” will begin airing on Nov. 30. Thursday’s taping, which starts at 2 p.m. and is free, will feature Louie Anderson. The show will be on Cox Cable 123 and NBC 3.2 over the air.

THE PUNCH LINE

“In his new autobiography, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones says he loves a good high. Who could have guessed that?” — Jay Leno

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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