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CHICAGO – CENTRAL TIME ZONE

Maria
Against the advice of his attorneys, R. Kelly hosted a birthday bash for Maria in Chicago.

And on the advice of her attorneys, Maria didn't attend.

Anyway ... that didn't stop R. Kelly from treating those who did show up to some of his greatest hits. Like "Bump 'N Grind" and "I Believe I Can Fly."

But it was when he began to sing "Happy Birthday" that R. Kelly lost his composure and was reduced to tears.

When asked why he was so upset, R. Kelly responded, "I just wish she could have been here and ... aw, who am I kidding? She's no good to me now!"

To which his publicist shouted, "That was off the record! You hear me, off the record!"

After a brief intermission, R. Kelly emerged from his dressing room wearing – as he called it – a "mourning suit."

When pressed for more details, R. Kelly said he was wearing the black mask in honor of Maria's lost status as a minor, and that he would never sing again -- or at least not until the new season of "Zoey 101" on Nickelodeon, starring Britney's younger sister, Jamie Lynn.

Now we move out west to the MOUNTAIN AND PACIFIC TIMES ZONES.