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March 30, 2006 9:03 PM
Posted by Kristi Heim
COURTESY OF GARY NEILL
Paul Allen might have a reclusive reputation, but he sure knows how to party. Not only does he play Led Zeppelin's classic "When the Levee Breaks" on stage for 600 of his closest friends, but he gets Elvis Costello, Robbie Robertson and Dan Aykroyd up there to jam with him.
Allen hosted two lavish parties in Motown around the Super Bowl. Besides inviting the rich and famous, he made sure his frat buddies were there, too.
He flew 12 of his former fraternity brothers from Washington State University's Phi Kappa Theta to Detroit last month for Super Bowl weekend.
One of the buddies, now an accountant in Reno, couldn't get to Seattle, so he was picked up by Allen's personal jet. He climbed in to find Dan Aykroyd and Axl Rose already on board.
On the Saturday before the game, Allen's guests watched Martha Reeves and the Vandellas perform a private show at Detroit's Roostertail club. After the game on Sunday, Allen hosted a crowd of more than 600 at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, which was sealed off for his entourage.
Allen pulled out his Fender Stratocaster to play on stage with Costello, Aykroyd and Robertson. A wobbly Axl Rose came out for one song. The Seahawks and Sea Gals joined the party, along with some other famous guests like Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Gary Neill, a former fraternity brother and instructor at Renton Technical College, took the snapshots you see here. He said the trip was a great surprise.
"I think it's wonderful if he invites me to a bad playoff game," he said. "To get this invitation was unbelievable."
His billionaire status hasn't kept Allen from staying in close touch with the regular guys for 35 years, Neill said.
For a WSU homecoming event last fall, Allen quietly flew to Pullman, and Neill surprised his former high school classmates by showing up with Allen in a downtown tavern.