by Ray Cooper
It was 2003 and Bette was going on a national tour, KISS MY BRASS. I had not seen Bette since the taping of her TV show in September of 2000, so I was excited that she was going on tour again.
As with every tour Bette would rehearse for many days before the first live show.
This time it would be in Dallas, Texas. A new arena had opened in Dallas, AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER and the old arena REUNION ARENA the city rented out for special events.
Bette had performed at the REUNION ARENA three times and felt that it would be a great place to rehearse her new show in a setting that she would be performing in most of her shows with this new tour.
Bette and crew came to Dallas the Monday after THANKSGIVNG and would be rehearsing the show for ten days before heading out for the first live show in Chicago on December 10th.
I was still living in Dallas and I knew they were rehearsing the show at REUNION ARENA.
I also knew what hotel they were staying at during her days in Dallas, but I also know that when Bette is rehearsing, she is working almost 100% of the time rehearsing and re-writing any changes in the new show. It was very hard but I would not be trying to contact her during those days she was in Dallas.
We closed down our record store in July of 2002, after being in business for 22 years. Dave and I were trying to figure out what was next for us and took almost a year off from looking for the next thing for us.
In March of 2003, Dave went back to cutting hair, but I tried different things and just could not find something that I liked doing that had nothing to do with the music business.
So , let’s just say that I could not afford to be going to see Bette’s live shows like I did in the past years.
Bette returned to Dallas to perform at the AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER on January 29, 2004.
The Bette people had contacted me to help with some of the local stories that Bette could use in her Dallas show. I came up with ten local stories and funny names of towns around the Dallas area. They ended up using seven of them in the show. As always, it was great to hear what they did with my input.
As with every live show it was very well produced and the sets and sound was the best.
The show opens with Bette coming out on a carousel horse that is very high up in the air and then it finally lands on the stage and just before the intermission the carousel horse takes Bette off stage.
This live show was once again one of the best I’ve ever seen.
It was about a month after the Dallas show that I found a job that I wanted to do, but it was in Houston. So, after living in Dallas for 25 years Dave and I moved back to Houston.
I had lived in Houston from 1975 to 1979 and Dave is from Houston so it seemed to be the right thing to do. We still had some friends in Houston and Dave had most of his family there.
Bette would be perfoming in Houston in November 2004.
Our home in Dallas sold in mid-November and our two best friends from Dallas would be coming down to Houston to see Bette’s show with us.
The Bette people had asked me for some local stories about Houston, but I didn’t have that many being I had just moved back there a few months before her show would be in Houston.
Bette performed in Houston on, November 19th. and it was so good to see the show again.
They did use three of my stories in the Houston show.
As in Dallas the show was sold out and was a great show.
I knew that the carousel horse had some mechanical problems in some shows around the country. It would just stop at some point on it’s way to the stage or on it’s way off stage with Bette riding on it. She had to be rescued a couple of times. So, I was hoping that it would stop at some point in the show in Houston, but it did not.
It was kind of strange knowing that I would not be seeing any more shows on this tour after seeing Bette perform in Houston.
Bette had signed a two year contract with CAESARS PALACE, starting in February 2008 to perform 20 weeks each year.
I have to be honest that after moving back to Houston and now finally retiring, I was not that interested in going to see Bette’s lives shows anymore.
But I also knew that I would want to see her show in Vegas at least once. Hey, it’s VEGAS!!
Dave and I had not been to Vegas since, January 2003 when we played in our last slot tournament at the MGM Grand in Vegas, so we were looking forward to going back to Vegas and seeing Bette’s show sometime during her time at CAESARS PALACE.
Vegas is a very tough town for any live performer to perform to a crowd that most of them are not really there to see the performer. Most of the people that go to the shows are not fans of the performer and just want to do something when they are not gambling or eating.
Some of them got free tickets from the hotel they are staying at and just go because it is FREE!
The big production shows (for example CIRQUE DU SOLEIL) do very well in Vegas, but live singers or comedians have to work very hard to get those Vegas crowds to respond to the show.
We went to see Bette’s show at CAESARS on June 28, 2008 and being the last live show I saw was November 19, 2004, I was ready to see this show , very ready!
THE COLOSSEUM AT CAESARS PALACE is a wonderful venue for live shows.
The stage is huge and the sound is the best.
This show has the best opening of any show I’ve ever been to in all my life, bar none!
As always Bette looked great and she works her tail off on that very large stage. Remember, she’s 63!
I know that she was very upset with the Caesars people for only allowing her to perform a 90 minute show. Bette has always loved to give her audience at least a two hour show.
Remember, she had never had an opening act in any of her live shows, it’s all Bette from the first note to the last note. One thing you can say about a Bette Midler’s live shows she gives you your money worth every time when you see her perform.
You can tell that the show seems to be rushed a little to get it done in the 90 minutes they gave her. Plus I heard that she can not be more than five minutes over the 90 minutes.
This is Vegas and Vegas is all about the gambling and not about the shows. The shows are just to give the gamblers a 90 minute break from being in the casinos. The show times are even the best time for the casinos to get the gamblers out of the show and back to the casinos to play and spend money.
If you have not seen Bette live, YOU MUST GO TO SEE HER SHOW IN VEGAS!! You never know she may do what I did someday soon, being that we are the same age, RETIRE!!
I’ve included some photos that I have not used in any of my other stories.
This is my last story and I would like to thank a few people.
I would like to thank Don, Mister D for asking me to do these stories and for all his help putting them together for his site. You are so lucky to have Don as the person that keeps you up to date with what is going on with Bette. He does a wonderful job and this is the best site for any Bette fan.
I would like to thank one of my best friends, Albert for his friendship and we would not have met if it wasn’t for the love and respect we have for Bette. Thanks, Albert!
I would like to thank, Bruce Vilanch for his true friendship all these years. He has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known.
Thanks, also to Ula Hedwig, Charlotte Crossley two of my favorite Harlettes!
Thanks, to Yvette and Bonnie for all your help!
In memory of, Sharon Redd, she was a great singer and a nice person. Also in memory of, Bill Hennessy, he was so funny all the time. If it hadn’t been for Bill, I would have not met Bette in New York.
I would also like to thank all the Bette fans that I have met over the years and it’s just too many to mention by name, but you know who you are.
I would also, like to thank all of you that have read and hopefully enjoyed my stories.
If you would like to e-mail me and ask any questions or make comments, please e-mail me at email@example.com
I will miss writng my stories, but that is all I have to write about. I have many great memories about Bette and company that I will never forget!
Last but not least, TO BETTE!
I thank you, for all the wonderful years of fun, laughs, excitement, from the very first time I met you in New York in 1971, until today. Thank you so much! BETTE, always remember, “YOU GOT TO HAVE FRIENDS”
To read all of Ray’s Bette stories: Click Here