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Elton Rocks the Osbournes

John puts the stars on their feet at the Beverly Hills mansion

October 8, 2004 12:00 AM ET
"Be fabulous," the invitation instructed on the topic of dress. Elton John, the guest of honor and performer at "An Evening at Home With the Osbournes," always dresses with fabulous in mind, and he arrived Thursday night in a black suit with a zipper stretching across the back and down the left sleeve. The crowd also obliged. For men, it meant suits without ties; for women, it meant colorful outfits accented with major cleavage.

About 250 people showed up, walking up the flower-lined stairs of the iconic Osbournes' Beverly Hills home -- made famous by the MTV reality show -- each paying $2,500 to benefit John's AIDS foundation and Sharon Osbourne's Colon Cancer Program at nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

All the Osbournes were present and mingling: Kelly's strapless black dress revealing angel wing tattoos on her shoulder blades, Jack opting for a more conservative look in suit and tie, and Ozzy sporting black tie with tails. Sharon Osbourne, elegantly dressed in black with spiky, magenta hair, came up onstage to introduce the evening and the entertainment. "You're stuck with me and a couple of my friends," she said. "I hope tonight will educate and entertain you."

The educational portion of the evening featured a speaker on colon cancer as well as a video on AIDS orphans: a heartbreaking story about two children in South Africa who represent just a tiny fraction of the 14 million children worldwide orphaned by the disease.

Osbourne returned to the small stage, set up in front of the guest house, to introduce the entertainment portion of the night. "The best, the legendary Elton John!" she announced. "I want to see you on your feet!"

Sir Elton has been in the news quite a bit lately -- less for his music than his profanity-laced tirades against the press and Madonna. So it was nice to see him doing what he does best: performing music, this time beneath stately palm trees in the backyard of the Osbourne mansion. Backed by a band featuring drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone -- who have been with him longer than his current hair -- John rocked through a stripped-down set.

John opened the show with oldies including a rollicking "The Bitch Is Back" and an impassioned, solo piano rendition of "Your Song." Then, shifting gears, he said, "We're gonna do something new: you might as well be the guinea pigs for it," introducing "Answer in the Sky," a tune from his forthcoming album, Peach Tree Road. The new number, a classic John power ballad, generated a clap-along response from the crowd. Another new song, "All That I'm Allowed," showed gospel influences. The band was predictably tight and John was in strong form and voice, seated at his keyboard and pounding out two-fisted rhythms.

"When we did this event last year," John said in a serious moment, "Sharon was ill and had to watch from her bedroom upstairs. I was frightened, but she survived. It's a lesson to all of us. I dedicate this next song to her," he continued, launching into "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." Sharon stood, arms around a seated Ozzy, watching the show. John then closed with a raucous "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)," and he had the whole crowd up and dancing by the end.

The moneyed attendees -- who included 'N Sync's Lance Bass, Quincy Jones, Robin Williams and Jennifer Love Hewitt -- sipped bubbly from Perrier Jouet and dined on miso-cured Alaskan butterfish and five-spice sirloin steak from Asia de Cuba, the trendy fusion restaurant just a few blocks away on the Sunset Strip. Will & Grace's Eric McCormack and Megan Mullally led a live auction, including the sale of an Aston Martin DB 9, purchased by Bass for $220,000. An estimated $1 million was raised by evening's end, to be split between the two charities.

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