background image
41
"They say the country is evenly divided, and boy is that true. One half of the audi-
ence cheers and the other half boos," she said. "I don't understand this country
sometimes and I really fear for it. The government is making everybody in the
world hate us, including the people that used to be our friends."
What happened next depends largely on who you listen to. According to some,
reaction to the dedication died down, Ronstadt performed the song, and the audi-
ence offered a standing ovation. However, according to others, the concert erupted
into chaos.
"It was a very ugly scene," Aladdin president Bill Timmins , who attended the
concert, told the Associated Press . "She praised [Moore] and all of a sudden all
bedlam broke loose."
79
Timmins claimed that concertgoers threw cups at the stage
in protest and stormed out of the auditorium in masse, ripping down promo-
tional posters as they left the building.
Many eyewitness accounts contradict Timmins' report. One attendee was Paula
Francis , a local TV anchorwoman. "I was stunned to read in the newspaper that
anyone had a negative reaction," she said. "There were loud boos and there was
quite a bit of applause. But everyone calmed down right away and seemed to
enjoy the rest of the performance. At the end of the song, there was a standing
ovation. I didn't see anyone who was upset."
80
Ronstadt says that she was unaware of any dispute beyond the immediate
booing. "No one threw drinks or anything in the concert hall," she recalled. "I
don't know what people did in the lobby, but if they behaved like naughty school-
boys, that's not my fault. I doubt it was the first time they had drunk people in
Vegas, you know?"
81
Regardless of which set of recollections you believe, what happened next is not
in dispute. Timmins ordered Ronstadt removed from the property immediately.
As soon as she walked off stage, she was escorted out of the hotel, not even
allowed to return to her suite to retrieve her personal items. She was told that she
was not allowed back, as a performer or as a guest, now or ever again.
"We needed her off the property," said Tyri Squyres
, spokesperson for
the Aladdin . "She wanted to incite the audience, and she incited them to the
point where they were very upset. Squyres claimed that half of the audience left
in protest, which seems substantially higher than estimates offered by other
attendees. Squyres added that Ronstadt did not make a scene when asked to leave
the property, saying, "She wasn't happy, but she was cooperative."
82
Approximately 100 concertgoers contacted the Aladdin box office afterwards
requesting refunds, a number cited as both large and small by both sides of the