PALM BEACH, MAR-A-LAGO, & TRUMP 50 YEARS FROM NOW

 

But who in the hell will even care about Trump and his Mar-a-Lago 50 years from now?

Hearing of the deaths of  Carrie Fisher, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, Zsa Zsa Gabor and other famous celebrities recently and especially all the talk about Palm Beach and the oh, so private and exclusive Mar-a-Lago these days and the “great Donald Trump,” takes me back to memories of my band and singing days at famous places and private parties of celebrities and high society, especially in Palm Beach. The high falutin’ grandiose put ons have never changed.

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Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach

All during 2016 we saw tens of thousands of people lined up for many hours to attend and/or see Trump and his multi-multi million dollar plane land at his rallies. He carried on then and still does like he is some kind of god. Likewise for personal appearances of a lot of famous people, as if they are some kind of god from outer space or somewhere and are so greatly important. When, in all actuality, we humans are all built exactly alike, physically, and have to perform the same daily duties, whether on gold plated toilet seats or mere plastic.

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Mar-A-Lago back view

Tickets to these celebrity events and/or a “look see” these days amount to hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. But some people eat it up. Lately, there was a piece about Trump’s sons, whereas a sizable contribution would bring a private audience with THE Donald. Wow!!!

My first glimpse of the phenomenon that may be called being ga ga over seeing celebrities began for me in the early ’50s, when I first moved to New York. Free attendance to radio and early television shows was my introduction to the celebrities of the day. Speaking of Carrie Fisher, her dad, Eddie Fisher, big and famous, was doing his live TV show in a theater just south of Radio City Music Hall, and I was at the dress rehearsal just before the live air show. He didn’t have a good ear for musical time and missed a couple beats on song in the rehearsal. Nobody said anything, but I heard it. I thought sure he would goof up the same on the air. So during the break just before air time, I introduced myself and we chatted about the both of us singing with the Army bands; him in DC and me in Atlanta (Third Army). We were both drafted about the same time. Then I mentioned the goof and sang the line and counted it for him. He thanked me and damn if he didn’t sing it right on the live show. All the big names, including Eddie, had their professional photos done at James Kriegsman in New York. I wasn’t a big name but I scraped the forty bucks together and had my next photo shoot there and I struck a pose just like Eddie and his poses.

I’ll never forget the words of my first bandleader I worked with in New York at that time, Harry Settle. He would always say about any situation, “It don’t matter. Fifty years from now, we’ll all be downstairs.” And there was always a laugh or two over that. Oh, but how true about fifty years from now. Who’s gonna care? And what about a hundred? Totally ancient history.

In the winter of 1956, I was fortunate enough to have a winter job in Palm Beach singing and playing at THE place in Palm Beach, Nino’s Continental Restaurant’s Moulin Rouge Room on fabulous Worth Avenue.

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Worth Avenue 1950’s

 

Worth Avenue today

Everyone who was anyone came there. The highest of high society, and the richest and biggest names with big money. And I got to see first hand how they came and danced the two step, got drunk and pigged out just like the rest of us do. The only difference was that they all had a “few” more multi-millions than the rest of us, and apparently loved to display that fact. Us lowly ones with little or no money would never see the inside of those places, nor be able to lay out the funds for the great expensive entrees of “Chef What’s His Name.” But fortunately, I was getting paid to play music and witness the events for that whole winter. By the way, musicians usually don’t miss a trick while playing and viewing the audience. We see it all.

Speaking of Zsa Zsa Gabor, later back in New York, I’ll never forget playing house parties for her in the Hamptons and sister Eva Gabor on Fifth Avenue. All their celebrity friends were always in attendance with millionaires everywhere, putting on the Ritz. I played private parties everywhere in Manhattan, Westchester County, Jersey, the Island, where you never knew who might show up. I also played and sang in all the big hotels, like the old famous Astor Hotel, the Waldorf, etc. where all the stars camped, and the Plaza, now owned by Trump, and his favorite places like the Four Seasons and not to forget, the 21 Club on 52nd Street. Some might say, “been there, done that.”

By the way, I have to mention that I lived a block from St. Patrick’s Cathedral when I first got to New York, and went every Sunday and kissed the “great” Cardinal Spellman’s ring. Everyone who was anyone had their visit with Spellman, even Presidents Kennedy and Nixon. He was high and mighty and friends with Pope Pius XII and the word was that he wanted to be the next pope.

Kennedy And Nixon, Presidential Candidates
UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 23: Cardinal Francis SPELLMAN greets the two presidential candidates, John Fitzgerald KENNEDY and Richard NIXON who are facing each other, at the Astoria Hotel in New York. The three men were invited for the annual Alfred Smith memorial dinner. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

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Kissing NY Cardinal Spellman’s ring was the thing to do 

 

I really didn’t know why but kissing a cardinal’s ring was the thing to do. And I did it because I saw everyone else do it. It was something to write home about. I guess it was some kind of special blessing or something about getting out of Purgatory early. I read “Cardinal Spellman’s Dark Legacy” recently, by Michelangelo Signorile and Spellman really was a gem, and now probably “downstairs,” as my band leader friend would say. Signorile wrote: “The arch-conservative Spellman was the epitome of the self-loathing, closeted, evil queen, working with his good friend, the closeted gay McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn, to undermine liberalism in America during the 1950s’ communist and homosexual witch hunts. The church has squelched Spellman’s not-so-secret gay life quite successfully, most notably by pressuring The New York Times to don the drag of the censor back in the 1980s.” So now, all those years later, knowing what I know about him now, I’m sure a lot of alter boys and chorus boys had to kiss his ass and then some.

There’ a story about a Broadway dancer in the show One Touch of Venus who had a relationship with Spellman back in the 1940s; the prelate would have his limousine pick up the dancer several nights a week and bring him back to his place. When the dancer once asked Spellman how he could get away with this, Spellman answered, “Who would believe that?”

But my main point here is just to say “so what” or another way of putting it, “who cares?” Well said, I believe. The rich used to be known as millionaires, but now, we hear of only billionaires. So here we are now, hearing all about Mar-a-Lago and the billions there in Palm Beach and who owns it and where and how Trump spends every minute with his billions and does his tweets. Next thing you know, he’ll be having everyone kneel and kiss his ring, higher and mightier than any cardinal, or Russian president.

With this in mind, and the newspapers and television channels telling us all about the Trump family, Palm Beach, and Mar-a Lago, I can’t help but remember Harry Settel’s remark, and how Trump, if his billions may be able to keep him alive, will be all of 120 years old if only his billions could keep him alive fifty years from now. But more than likely THE Donald will be long gone. And when his name is mentioned at that time, people most certainly will ask, “Who??” He’ll most probably be “downstairs” with Spellman.

And by the way, I heard that Palm Beach’s Nino’s Continental 50 or so years later is now a parking garage, and I guess he and his famous clientele everyone would read about are all “downstairs,” or at least somewhere, out of sight and out of mind.

And in fact, now, I believe we can truly say “Who in the hell cares???”

Having Fun Baiting 419 Scammers Now On LinkedIn

I just discovered a wonderful and fun way to pass a couple hours by way of a LinkedIn email I received from an obvious 419 Nigerian scammer. I couldn’t stop laughing at what I wrote to them. But  whatever you do, don’t believe a word of what I wrote to them. Somehow, they have managed to sneak into LinkedIn, with authentic looking credentials, friends, and business professionals, to make them look real. Of course, LinkedIn will be informed as well as the proper authorities. And I don’t mean to offend any religious person who may read this. But when anyone  lies and plays the religious card to steal, opens themselves to any and all means to expose them.

I’m sure that most of us have been a target of the well known scams offering millions of dollars to unwary recipients. The first time this happened to me, I was totally unaware of the game of these criminals and was sucked in by what appeared to be total honesty by “Abou,” who turned out to be the classic scammer working from the west coast of Africa. I was only sucked into paying for two long distance phone calls that probably rang up to money in his pocket. And when I was informed and was sent documents of proof of the shipment that the multi-millions in “cash” would be shipped in boxes, and  for me to pay to have them forwarded to me. Or the alternative was  to fly to Spain and collect the boxes with the cash, my further research made me catch on to their game. There would also be more fees for me to collect the “empty” boxes. And then I got calls and email wanting to know why I didn’t show up in Spain. They are experts at their game of crime and there are a million stories outlining their tactics of swindling millions from unwary folks.

So, a couple weeks ago I got this email through LinkedIn from “business” contact professional Anna Maria, with a look of total realness, and with 106 business contacts. Her profile was that  did “legal” work and I assumed she was another lawyer. And so, I accepted her as a contact to add to my 193 contacts. And then, talk about ingenuity and imagination, she sent me this, verbatim, punctuation and all:

“Greetings. I know that this letter may come to you as a surprise, I am Mrs. Anna Maria Agara from Italy. I am Philanthropists.and have been engaged in the building and establishment of humanitarian foundation Because of my present ill health I am currently in the hospital where I underwent treatment for lung cancer, and I am contacting you to donate the sum of $12.5 million USD with trust. this fund is meant for building of Orphanage Centers, less privileged widows and HIV/AIDS Victims in the society, ETC, in fulfillment of my late husband wishes.and you can invest this money in any where of your choice We have been married for many years without any child and the doctor confirmed to me that I will not live more than four months from now,that’s why i am taking this bold step donating this fund to you. Contact me on this my private email address: (—————), so that I can send you more information. Remain blessed, Mrs. Anna Maria Agara.”

She states that she is from Italy and that is the assumption. But whoa! Does this smell of 419 or what? She/he doesn’t know me from Adam and assumes (From my LinkedIn profile) in her writing that I am a good Christian? I then proceeded to ponder over what and how is she/he going to try to swindle money out of me now that she/he has the LinkedIn contact and my email address. Or, if I don’t play my cards right, will she/he get into my computer and get personal information or plant a virus if I piss her/him off? Her next email, while assuming I am a “good” Christian and she is trusting me, a stranger, went like this (note the same punctuation and typos):

“Beloved one in the Lord.I am Mrs Anna Maria Agara,  Am sorry to come into your privacy. I wantto hand over this noble project to you with trust.i have beendiagnosed with Esophageal cancer .It has defied all forms of medicaltreatment, right now, I have only about a few months to live and Iwant you to distribute my funds($12.5 MILLION US DOLLARS) to charitieshome as my promise to God.i have set aside 40% for you and your family. please i want you to stand as new beneficiary of my husband fund,and i will make sure that the bank transfer the money into your account,all the document is with my attorney Recently my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next four months due to cancer problem, though what disturbs me most is my stroke. Having known my Condition, I decided to donate this fund to church or Better still a Christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein.”

Right! Usual story. And why would she choose me, a stranger over her “church” to administer millions? Am I that stupid? No! I’m supposed to give her my bank account numbers and guess what? And so, I searched the Internet search engines with these questions,  “how to play with scammers” and “playing 419 scammers at their own game.” I found these three websites, http://scamsandshams.wordpress.com/, http://www.419eater.com/html/baiting.htm, and http://www.419eater.com.

Those groups of people thrive on wearing the criminals down, wasting their time and spreading the word to the unknowing many about how to handle them. I was cracking up reading some of the baiting tactics. But wait until you read mine. If you are up for it, they all present good advice to wear the bastards down but warn not no to piss them off, threaten them or call them names, for fear of retaliation of sending you a virus, etc. Some were real gems, and so I started writing and composing some gems of my own. I took Mrs. Anna Maria’s cue of hers being a strong religious game when seeing her assumption that I am Christian, she wrote:

“I want you to use this money support churches, Orphanages, Research centers and widows propagating the Word of God and to ensure that the house of God is Maintained. The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that Giveth. I took this decision because I don,t have any child that Will inherit this Money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I Don,t want my Husbands money to be misused use by Unbelievers. I don,t want a Situation where this money will be used in an ungodly Manner,that is the Reason for taking this bold decision…”

She went on to ask for 1. Name; 2. Address; 3. Country 4. Phone; 5. Age;  6. occupation 7. Email

(And signed)
Yours in Christ,
Regards,
Mrs Anna Maria Agara.

And so, how does she/he know if I am Christian or not? Well, I took the advice of the aforementioned baiting site and said that her lawyer and my lawyer should talk. And then came her Barrister Paul Jean with his crap. I sent him my lawyer’s 13 questions to answer which he ignored totally. After my second request to answer came his/her response with the phony documents. Remember that their emails are reproduced here exactly as they were sent, punctuation and grammar. Lawyers, with many years of study,  generally learn to speak and write properly :

(From: jopu jopu) Barrister Paul Jean
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 10:39 AM
Subject: Fwd: Attn Mr Don Meehan.

“Mr Don Meehan,
Feel free in this transaction, because every thing about this transaction is legal and reality, but this transaction must TOP SECRET, security reason.
One more thing, Mrs Anna Agara said you and i should not allow any body to be aware of the fund, because there husband family member need the fund, so keep this to your self alone, until the fund is to get.
Open attachment find death certificate including with deposit certificate of Mrs Anna Agara late husband documents.”

DEATH CERT

Note that is reads “English Version.” What other versions are there? I learned that English is the official language in Nigeria, so, why can’t they get it right when writing? Note that Anna Maria above in bold said she was from Italy. And the death is in Lome, Togo, (almost ten years ago) west coast of Africa, where Nigerian scams rule.

 

DEPOSIT

Note that it says:  “Original Copy?”  Deposited 14 years ago. American funds? Not Togo or Euro? NOTE COMMISSION ON TURNOVER – .5%  .5% OF 12.5 MILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS = $60,000. I’ll bet the ranch that this is obviously to be paid by the turnover to the sucker. 14 years, not touched, no activity no interest paid etc.? Also, nothing here about Italy, and when I did a Google search for http://www.siabd.com they returned:

Oops! Google Chrome could not find http://www.siabd.com

(Barrister Paul Jean continued) “Bellow is message, which you will re-send to the bank headquarters through there E-MAIL ADDRESS <ccb.ccb@one.co.il> immediately, because the bank headquarters is waiting for your response now. Bellow is message, which you will re-send to the bank headquarters through there E-MAIL ADDRESS <ccb.ccb@one.co.il> immediately, because the bank headquarters is waiting for your response now.”

When I saw what was on the documents I wrote Mrs. Anna Maria, outdoing myself playing the “religious card and name dropping” I wrote this:

“In a dream last night I believe that I received alms from the Almighty in Heaven with a blessing and a message. I have received, on occasion, important revelations like this that prove to be true. And in this blessed moment it is a revelation that your life will be spared and that you will live a long life. I have great faith in Jesus that He will not increase your despair AND THAT YOU WILL LIVE TO BE 100.”

I went on to write: “Lastly, and most importantly, your Barrister attorney Mr. Paul Jean is without Christian Trust, inasmuch as he has sinned exceedingly against the most Holy Commandments by lying to me and has not answered important questions my attorney set forth regarding your late husband’s Trust. He is not of the Lord’s friends, but apparently a friend of Satan. And certain things have occurred to make me believe he is not on your side and is on the side of the relatives of your dead husband who are trying to take the fund from you for their own selfish purposes… I need someone who I can trust and I cannot at this point trust Mr. Barrister Paul Jean. If we are to continue with this transfer, I would prefer not to do business with Mr. Jean, since he has not been up front with me and he does not have my 100% trust…”

Note that I purposely misspelled the word Barrister once as Barraster. (As in Bare ass ter)

The next day I was almost falling on the floor laughing out loud when I pulled out all the stops and wrote this:

“Dear Mrs. Anna Mara Agara,

I am extending my forgiveness of Barrister Paul Jean and I will explain herein. I had a very heavy heart last evening after sending you the email yesterday. And so, I decided it was imperative to attend Confession to my dear priest friend, Monsignor Yehudi Houdini. He was the illegitimate son of one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century,  Yehudi Menuhin. Msgr. Houdini and I attended seminary together and were ordained to the priesthood together on May 31, 1970. He stayed on, but I left the priesthood after three years because I decided that the Lord needed me to perform my many talents doing His work assisting others out in the world. Monsignor Houdini (He likes to be called Yahoody) is probably one of the greatest cellists in the USA now, and he wears his hair, mustashe, and beard exactly like Jesus. We both play in the local symphony orchestra, and it is just an awesome Heavenly sight. And people come from miles away just to see what appears to be Jesus sitting there with utmost emotion, sometimes in tears, playing and praying every single note on his historic Andrea Amati cello from 1600. However it is disturbing to me and others that because of his age he must color his hair and beard to continue to look like Jesus and he is criticized for this.

“But to sit across from Monsignor Yehudi Houdini at Confession in a small darkly lit reconciliation room, you would think you were talking directly to Jesus and the chills usually run up and down my spine. The same prayerfulness and stature in the playing of the notes on the cello can be seen in Yehudi’s posture when his eyes meet mine in the reconciliation room. This is the ultimate God experience and gives the penitent an extra assurance that his sins are truly forgiven, and that he is in God’s hands. After saying the Penance given by Msgr. Yehudi of three Hail Marys, and the Monsignor’s instruction to trust the words of Barrister Paul Jean and ask his forgiveness, I felt a great burden lifted. Do you think the Barraster will accept my apology? By the way, the rumors are that the Monsignor will be appointed to Bishop in the near future and that he may one day be elected Pope.

“When I told Yehoodi of my dream and my apparent revelation, he reminded me that in all of history of revelations of Jesus and Mary at Fatima, Bayside, Medjugorje and lately at Oshkosh, Looneyville and Ding Dong, Texas, Fart, Virginia and Timbuktu on the African Coast, discernment of all these heavenly visions and apparitions must be discerned properly, since Satan comes in posing as Jesus and Mary. Msgr. Houdini warned me that the news to me in my dream about you, Anna Maria, being healed and living a long life could very well be Satan lying with his dirty tricks, and NOT Jesus. Therefore, he cautioned me not to believe this so quickly, and that you may, indeed, pass into His Heavenly Arms soon, as the doctor has predicted, in months or even days as Barrister Paul Jean has indicated to me. And further, he has directed me to extend to Barrister Paul Jean a token of forgiveness and that I should also return to converse with my trust in him, and not judge him.

 

‘As you know, priests are sworn to secrecy under the pain of mortal sin in the confessional and cannot reveal to anyone what is said in the confessional. And we know that secrecy with Mr. Agara’s Fund is of utmost importance because of Mr. Agara’s relatives wanting the money. Lastly, the Monsignor pleaded that I implore of you to have a priest come to your hospital bedside and deliver the Last Rites to insure your place in Heaven at God’s side where you belong. Also, please tell me the name and place of your hospital, as I would like to send you roses. And so, lets proceed with the Trust as soon as possible and I promise to do all that you have wished for.

Yours in Christ, Don Meehan ”

Like I said, don’t believe a word of what I wrote.

Oh for goodness sakes! She/he has ignored my last plea extending forgiveness to her/his Barrister (Baraster) lawyer and the next day has now sent the exact same original plea. I can’t wait to continue to play the religious card. Please stay tuned.

P.S. So, please  glance at the “official” Certificates and see if you can spot some phoniness. Please leave some comments on what you see and also spread the word about the criminals.  

TO BE CONTINUED

Super Bowl should be two games (and one more if there is a tie) Also added about races

Super Bowl and/or Sudden Death in Any Race Sucks

As of April 16, 2014, I am adding my thoughts to this post to include any game or race that ends with seconds or a fraction of a second of a winner being declared the champion. I have watched over and over about horse races being won by a hair, and of course, I’ve expressed below about the Super Bowl, any and all contests which imply that second place is just isn’t good enough to be declared a champion or the champion. I can relate to the awful feeling of losing a race or a game by such a very small amount of time, or twist of fate.

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Home page of Smyrna Yacht Club Site

I was drawn to follow the Smyrna Beach, Florida Regatta over the past weekend, where my son, John, of Meehan’s Irish Pub in St Augustine (some of the best damn food in Florida) was racing his sailboat in the annual event. The Smyrna Yacht Club Website states above on the homepage:  “This is the one sailing event in the southeastern United States where you have a chance to have your name engraved for posterity on a historic Lipton Cup Trophy…Such a historic trophy sits in the trophy case at Smyrna Yacht Club…”

The race was three days and I was kind of heartbroken to receive this from John when he  wrote:

“This is amazing and upsetting. We lost a place in first race by two seconds, lost 1st place in second race by 12 seconds and lost first place in last race by 38 seconds. If we were 52 seconds faster over three races we would have won the entire event. It just shows every second and detail counts.”

But seconds away from first place doesn’t mean he is not a champion, and I guess I’ll go on forever with those thoughts, and not to echo the words, “better luck next time,” since I understand the work and the determination to be out there striving to be the very best you can be. And I really know that John was the very best that he can be. And in my books, he is a true winner and champion! And I am damn proud! CONGRATLATIONS JOHN!

 Now, on to thoughts about the Superbowl.

There should be at least two games in the Super Bowl. The sudden death thing is totally unfair, I believe. Two great teams and maybe one little screw-up in the last minutes doesn’t make that team inferior and shouldn’t cost them the crown. Two games could be a better way of deciding the champions. And then, if they screw up again they are a decided loser. And if they both win one, then play a third one.

Not much in this post about music and recording, except that when I am practicing my piano and guitar scales on the weekend, I’m usually glued to the TV watching football games. And I have to say that there is nothing more exciting than to watch a football game in the last one or two minutes with all the suspense of each team striving to win, with a crowd of fifty to seventy-five thousand screaming, and NFL transmitting to millions all over the globe. And suddenly, someone fumbles, or there is an interception, or some other little goof by one player, or a sack, a missed pass, onside kick gone bad, or running the clock down in the last seconds. All of these things happen to even the best teams with the best players. And who is the best team when one wins a game early in the season and loses to the other team later on?

Is it really fair that one of these little screw-up’s can decide the champ, especially at the Super Bowl? I don’t think so, and I’d like to spread the word with my thinking and hope we can get a campaign going. All of these things seem to prove that more than one game is needed to win as world champions. It seems apparent that a series is in order or at least two games. What do you think? I think it is really unfair and should follow the lead of the World Series and there should be two games, and a third to break a tie. And if that one is sudden death then so be it, since they both had their shot at it. But at least it would be more fair than the way it is now.

The suspense that would be created is beyond words, plus it would be giving the opportunity for many more thousands to see the games most probably in two different cities in two or three weekends. This is not to mention the many millions more that would be spent by fans attending the games, plus the million dollar thirty second ads for the network.

 

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Beaumont High School football star, Max Greiner

My first fascination with football began with my photography interests, when my close-up photo of my sister’s cat was in a national contest up against Beaumonter (Texas) photographer, Dick Fullbright’s photo of Beaumont High’s coach, L.B. Griffith in a tense moment at the bench during a game telling star football player Max Greiner what to do. Dick won first place and I got “Honor of Achievement” which encouraged me to be a photographer for the rest of my school days. And that year found me with my lousy camera, photographing for the yearbook, all the players, the teams, Greiner, and friend J.P. (Big Bopper) Richardson, who was also a star player,

 

JP AND max

J.P. (Big Bopper) Richardson #85   Max Greiner #82

Next, I decided that I wanted to play football and I went out for the try outs. Well, I was all suited up in my armor, and the coach lined us up to tackle the runners from the A team. Little did I know. I stood there crouched as Max Greiner came flying at me with the ball at God knows how many miles per hour. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground not knowing what hit me. Well, that was it for me and playing football. I learned later from J.P., who was also kicking some butt out there, that this was a tactic of the coaches to weed out some of us dummies who thought we could be football stars; have the star players throw us on our butts. He would put the biggest and strongest all-stars he had out there to discourage us wannabes. And after that, I assure you that I did not wannabe a football player. I wished that J.P had told me sooner but then he said it was a secret the coaches didn’t want to get out.

JP RICHARDSON 004

 

Well, Max Greiner starred for four years on the Texas A&M team and I never saw him again, and of course, you know about J.P. Never had to tangle with J.P. We stood side by side in the chorus singing tenor for that year.

It’s kind of funny though that every time I turn on a football  game I think of those times and those guys, and laugh about it and think of how much I love to watch games nowadays. When the weekend comes I usually have a game on no matter what I might be doing. In fact, right now I am channeling back and forth between a Carolina and Miami game and a New York Jets and Baltimore game. Forty-six seconds to go and Carolina scores four over Miami. Now with thirty-eight seconds to go Miami is trying hard to score and win. Ten seconds to go and a pass is missed on the one yard line. One more play and he can’t find a receiver. He’s sacked and its over, Carolina by four. Had that receiver caught that pass with ten seconds to play, Miami would have won. It was long and right into his hands but he missed it. And that’s the way it goes with football. The network quickly goes to a load of commercials and then to Minnesota and Green Bay tied at twenty-six even and in sudden death overtime and three minutes to play. Back and forth and now it’s two minutes to go. Green Bay has it now with one minute to go. Then it was twenty-four seconds with Green Bay on their own twenty. Now, it is one second and it wraps up with a tie. And here I thought there had to be a winner.

Later, in another game Dallas, in the last ten seconds broke a tie with a field goal over the New York Giants.

So, it is these kinds of last minute happenings that really make a sudden death one game Super Bowl unfair. And what happens in the Super Bowl with a game tied like this one? There’s not a winner? I wish there was a channel that would take only the last two minutes of all the games and transmit them, especially the close ones. That would be most exciting. But let’s hear it for having two Super Bowl games and one to break a tie.

Higher than high Society – Higher than high with Guy – Lombardo that is

CONTINUED

I was out of the Army August 19, 1954, and a daughter was born the day after. The big dilemma was whether to head for Nashville or New York. And New York it was, since I had more of a chance for work in New York and I also knew people there. I’d have to start all over in Nashville. I already at least had a  job connection with a relief band for Ray Anthony’s big band at the Hotel New Yorker Terrace Room for a few months.

For that winter of  ’55, what could be better than to spend it playing with a band down in Florida? So, we headed for Nino’s Continental in downtown Palm Beach. The only problem was that society people only liked to dance to fast two beat music. So, every song, whether a ballad or up tempo had to be played only in that manner. Every song was the same and you couldn’t really get any kicks playing jazz or four beat or even slow two beat. So, as a musician, playing a high society job would become quite boring after several hours, however, it paid the rent.

It was a tough gig, but exciting inasmuch as some of Palm Beach high society were there nightly, giving us a glimpse of how some among them enjoyed their nightlife. People like Horace Dodge Jr. from the Dodge clan, Henry Ford II and wife, Anne, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were regulars among many. There was also Jimmy Woolworth Donahue,  the son of Jesse Woolworth Donahue, a Palm Beach resident, and reportedly one of the wealthiest, of  the Woolworth clan. Mrs. Donahue also frequented Nino’s.

The King had adjudicated and renounced the English Throne to marry perhaps the most famous divorcée in British history. And he went from being King of England to being the Duke of Windsor, and apparently hung out with high society among the Palm Beach crowd.

400px-Edward_abdication

Instrument of Adjudication of King Edward the Eighth

And there were some pranksters rumored among them, whereas word got out somehow that there was laughing and bragging about one of them who was instrumental in recently shattering the letters “ES” on the New York Essex House Hotel sign making it read “SEX HOUSE” at night.

essex house

New York scene showing the Essex House sign

It was a seven nights a week gig and we never stopped playing even if there wasn’t a soul in the place. When we would get our five minute on the hour break, wed hang out in the kitchen and see how some great dishes were made, and fight over leftovers like shrimp scampi. It was the first time I had seen raw hamburger served.

With all that money floating around, we only got one tip the whole time we were there. After playing her favorite song every time she came in, one of the famous wives, at the very end of our engagement, gave us a $50 tip to split five ways.

Well, after witnessing higher than high society and their higher than high falutin’, it was back to New York with a long band job in Jersey, and 18 months at  RCA Institutes studying radio, audio, and television. I commuted from Bayside, in Queens to RCA in Manhattan for school five days a week, and rode with the leader to the Mayfair Farms Restaurant in West Orange. It was a long hard grueling time of my life, playing and singing six nights a week and going to school five days a week, full time. There was hardly any time for study. But it would pay off on down the line.

To top it off in 1956, when we were playing  in Jersey, five hours, 8 to 1 AM, at the time in the turning the clocks back an hour in the Fall, our brilliant leader expected that since the clocks were set back an hour from daylight saving time (1 AM back to midnight), that we should play that extra hour for no extra pay. No, he didn’t win that one.

It was 1957 and I was still writing my songs and doing my demos. One day I walked into MGM Records with my demos and asked to see Frank Walker, the president. I knew that he had originally signed Hank Williams, and since Hank’s death, he had been looking to find someone to replace him. I dropped a name of one of his artists who I said sent me and I walked right into his office. Well, damn if he didn’t sign me. I guess I really impressed him, because he sent me out to produce four country sides in New York on my own. My records were released and damn if they didn’t have me sounding like Hank Williams.  He had put in a bid for Elvis’ Sun Records contract along with RCA a couple years before that.

It wasn’t long after that MGM session that Music Corporation of America (MCA) agent, Larry Funk, called me one day and said he would like to place me singing and playing with Guy Lombardo. I joined the band in September, 1957 and we went on the road working our way to the Las Vegas Desert Inn. LV STRIP HISTORY asked me to write about the times there for their publication and I couldn’t resist. So, I wrote:

“We were there for at least two months, seven nights a week in the big room. I sang and played upright bass with Guy Lombardo at the time at $350 per week. (7 nights a week at $50 a night) I was by far, the youngest in the band, 26, and they all called me Junior and kidded me. Larry Funk of MCA booking and big band fame put me with the band to use a spring board like other boy band singers (Merv Griffin- Freddy Martin, etc.)

So it was bass and tuba and on opposite ends of the stage. We had to guess if we were playing the same notes at the same time being about thirty feet apart. It was after Jones Beach and some road dates. I believe it was around September-October-November. In order to get to Disneyland and LA with no day off, I had to fly out right after the last show and fly back in time for the first show with no sleep. Shows were one hour and I had trouble staying awake. It was the funniest band ever. Brother Victor was the outcast and he had to dress with the sidemen. This was because he didn’t make it with his own band and he was punished. Like he wasn’t even family.

We flew from NY to Chicago to begin a string of one nighters on the way to Vegas. When I first got on the bus in Chicago, I went back found a seat and sat down. It wasn’t a regular bus, just another charter. But one of the “elders’ came back and said, “That’s my seat. I’ve been sitting there for 27 years.” Scared little me got up and waited for a seat and finally, Tuba player, Fred Exner invited me to sit with him. We became great friends back in New York. What was funnier was that each Lombardo brother, Guy, Carmen and Liebert had a girlfriend meet them at the bus and travelled with the band. It was also the drunkest band I ever worked with. We called Guy’s action with the baton the “goose” since he really didn’t conduct with it, you would always see the baton going up like when you would goose someone in the rear. Although I did sing a couple solos and with the trio. Carmen and Guy (and Kenny) thought Kenny Gardner was the best singer in the world. But when I started to be just a little bit better than Kenny, I got fired back in New York”. – Don Meehan

It was another seven nights a week job and the only way I could get to see MGM in Hollywood was to get there and back in one day. And I did. The only problem was after not getting any sleep was trying to stay awake during the comic’s routine.

We came back to New York in October of ’57 to a Command Performance and reception for Queen Elizabeth II at the huge Park Avenue Armory. We also did the Ed Sullivan show once, and then on to the Roosevelt Grill, Guy’s old stomping grounds. Well, I lasted a little bit past New Years Eve, 1957 to 1958, when they decided they didn’t need an upright bass and a tuba. I always felt out of place. And they referred to Kenny Gardner as the best singer in the world. So, Larry Funk’s idea of him being a springboard for me was a bust.

DON W GUY 1958

A screen shot of me playing bass  in the hour long 1957-58 New Years Eve  movie from the New York Hotel Roosevelt –This scene runs from 23:20 to 23:31

 These are two screen shots  if me with the band. The one hour long  video is out there of New Years Eve. 1957-58 and there  I am playing about 30 feet away from the tuba player on the other side of the stage, supposedly playing the same notes in sync. And I couldn’t even hear George the drummer most of the time. Once  in awhile, Guy would motion to me to play softer, and I would soften down to nothing, making out like I was playing and nobody knew the difference.

GUY LOM 24.53

Another screen shot from the 1957-58 New Years Eve  movie

When I joined the band in the September before, it was on a record date at Capitol Records at their West 46th Street Studio in New York. When I asked where I should play, they said anywhere I want. And then, I waited for them to put a microphone on me and they never did. Well, that was easy money. Frank Abbey (Abbruscato), who had been an engineer at CBS Records since 1969, was at Capitol at the time, remembered the occasion when I jogged his memory. Not sure if he was the engineer mic-ing or not mic-ing the bass, but he was the first engineer ever hired by Capitol Records.

And like I said, it wasn’t only the drunkest band, but the funniest band I ever worked with.

 

Elvis, Hank and Me – and Steve, Tom, Horace, Chet, Owen, Tommy and Jerry

CONTINUED

When the Opry fired Hank Williams in 1952 for drinking too much, Horace Logan hired him for the Louisiana Hayride. When the Opry told a teenage Elvis Presley to stick to truck-driving, Logan gave him a break, but of course with the same help that Steve Sholes and Tom Parker gave me earlier. And it was at the same $18 a show that he had paid me two years earlier. The experiences with the two stars, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley, provided Logan’s title for his 1998 memoir, “Elvis, Hank and Me: Making Musical History on the ‘Louisiana Hayride.'” Others may have referred to the “Hayride” as the “Junior Grand Ole Opry.” Logan preferred to call the Opry “the Tennessee branch of the ‘Hayride.'” Twenty-seven radio stations in four states were carrying the Hayride and in December of that year, 1952, the CBS Radio Network picked up the Hayride. Boy, did I miss out.

What a bad pill to swallow, having to leave the Hayride. I went on to Fort Sam Houston, Texas Army Reception Center on August 19, 1952, and my vocal talents were immediately accepted and recognized there. I filled in for Vic Damone on the weekly Fourth Army Band broadcasts while he was on furlough. Then, they told me they wanted me there after basic training to replace Vic Damone. Fine with me, I thought.

We were there two weeks, then they shipped us to Camp Rucker, Alabama in the Third Army area for four months of basic training, with assurances that I would then go back to Fort Sam. It didn’t happen. There were other plans for me to stay in the Third Army area. I found out later by chance who orchestrated this and why.

Commanding General A.R. Bolling’s chauffeur, a sergeant, bunked with our show cast and band at Third Army Headquarters, and was also just one of the guys we’d hang out with. One night, the two of us struck up a conversation, and I told the story of how I was supposed to go back and replace Vic Damone at Fourth Army. He said he would tell me a little secret about me being where I was if I promised to never ever tell anyone

He proceeded to tell me that he had overheard a telephone conversation with his boss, General Bolling, back in late ’52 or early ’53, talking to whom he thought was Fourth Army General White. He indicated that it appeared to be a very heated conversation about this singer that the other general had wanted back at Fourth Army to sing with the band there. The sergeant said his boss told the other general that he was sorry but he needed this guy here in Atlanta for his traveling show and also to sing with his band. The sergeant indicated that the singer was me. I was so damned important and didn’t even know it.

We did seventeen weeks of basic which ended the last week in December, 1952, and a much deserved furlough, and I was assigned to the Camp Rucker Band when I would return. I had made plans to meet Steve Sholes and Chet Atkins in Nashville on my furlough after basic, the first week in January to do my record session. But I developed a bad cold and laryngitis and had to cancel. So I headed for my mom’s house in Beaumont on a bus. I’ll never forget while passing through Hank Williams boyhood hometown of Montgomery, Alabama on January 1, 1953, and hearing the news of his death.

There would be no more days off to go to Nashville for a while. It so happened that I’d have a couple days off after the talent contest in Fort McClellan, mentioned in another post. So I set it up to be in Nashville on Valentines Day 1953, the day after the contest. It turned out to be a double session with Porter Wagoner in the morning and me in the afternoon. Here’s how Porter’s sessions were listed:  14 February 1953 [09:30-12:30] Thomas Productions, 109 13th Ave. North, Nashville, TN – Porter Wagoner (Chet Atkins, Velma Smith, Don Davis, Charles Grean, Dale Potter, John Gordy. Producer: Stephen Sholes) and it lists the songs. Evidently, it was Porter’s band plus Chet and Charlie Grean.

I was all set to record all of my own songs when Sholes threw out all but one, That Long Long Road of Love.  He wanted me to do a cover on Seven Lonely Days, which was climbing the charts. I was proud as could be to be recording with Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley, Tommy Jackson, and Jerry Byrd. There were some great solos by Chet and Tommy Jackson, and Sholes used that long echo that he used later on Elvis. I wanted to modulate and go up a half step but they wouldn’t let me. Modulating a country song to another key was unheard of. It was like a curse and not country. It is commonplace today to change keys and it would be interesting to know who was the first  country artist to do it. I wanted to be but it was too New York at that time. Thinking back on it, since the song was in the key of G, they’d have to go up to Ab and I wondered if some of the players could play in that key. It wasn’t a so-called country key.

So, I braved the rest of the Army days, singing with the band and working at the service club. That final day was arriving fast. I couldn’t decide whether to head for Nashville or New York.

TO BE CONTINUED

I could have been Elvis! Maybe! Or somebody? Elvis and I got $18 a night on the ’50s Louisiana Hayride

But a few ifs, ands, buts, maybes, how comes, and bad timing got in the way. My biggest problem was that I didn’t focus on a style, since I was singing all styles. How can anyone like and even play all styles of music, country, swing, Texas, jazz, classical, rock and Greek 7/8 and 9/8? I can and I did and I do (Sounds like a song title). That part has been easy for me. You have to like it or even love it to play it and/or sing it. I was raised on all kinds of music. My sister had me singing the pop songs of the day when I was six or seven years old. As I got older I’d sing like Bing Crosbyand loved the pop swing bands of the day like Woody Herman as much as I loved Bob Wills, and all the other country and western bands and singers of the day like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. We had an old piano, so I took some lessons and then my Mom bought me a big old jumbo Gibson guitar that I then learned to play when I was getting into my teens.

But first, I believe it is rather timely that I talk about this racial thing. It was bad enough being wartime and going to the movies and hearing the audience roar when a German or a Japanese pilot was shot down. It was also about that time in my life that I really saw and witnessed the racial and ethnic hatred that existed all around me, very much of which had a lasting impression on me of asking “why?” We are all made the same. Those “others” were  human beings, the same as everyone, and were treated with such total disrespect and hatred. And I could not get with this thinking. My mother, rest her soul, had an African American maid come to the house often and she had to go around to the back door to come into the house. When Mom would send me to the store, she would say, “Son go over to the (and she’d use the “d” word for Italian) store and get some bread,” or whatever. These acts of our parents, historically, were supposed to be learned and become a part of us. But some were and some weren’t. Some, I remember as being totally against all logic.

It was the day before my birthday, June 15, 1943, when my big brother, who was 17 at the time, told me he was going out and raise hell and beat up some (and he used the “n” word). It turned out to be a huge race riot when thousands marched on city hall. He was among the whites who were armed with guns, axes, and hammers. They terrorized black neighborhoods and many blacks were assaulted, and many buildings were burned.

The next day, my 12th birthday, he bragged to me about how they beat up the blacks and that they killed one. News reports are varied about how many people were killed, however ONE SUCH REPORT stated that 21 (twenty-one) were killed. So, my home town of Beaumont joined New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Mobile, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as sites of bloody race riots in the summer of 1943.  Aside from two alleged rape cases, the Ku Klux Klan  had planned to host a regional convention of the Klan two weeks later on June 29 in Beaumont, and expected to bring 15,000 to 20,000 Klansmen from all over the South to hear the “imperial emperor” of the KKK, speak.

Without a doubt, huge media attention on this intensified racial tensions. And there I was, growing up in this deep seated hatred, meant to be passed along from generation to generation with total brainwashing. And I hated it. Later in high school, when riding the school bus, every day several of the boys would shout out racial slurs to every black person they would see along the way. And this is just a small sample.

Thank God I wasn’t influenced by all of this to follow that Deep South brainwashing, which I despised more and more as I got older. My thinking never changed and I am  even more against it now than ever before. 

Well, back to trying to grow up in a polluted environment. I  started playing guitar and singing and met Clyde Brewer, stepson of Shelly Lee Alley of  Shelly Lee Alley and the Alleycats, a prominent band in that day. Shelly invited me to work with them. One night the bass player got stoned on booze and chewing Benzedrine, and Shelly turned to me and said to play bass. What the hell? I never played bass. So I thumped around and finished the night with big blisters, but figured after that I might like to learn the bass.

Clyde told me the story of when Shelly turned to him one night and said to play fiddle, and he had never played fiddle before. So, I learned on my own with no lessons and I’ve been playing ever since. I bought an old beat up bass and really started learning, and was playing with country and pop bands and even playing with the Lamar College (now U.) dance band in Beaumont when I was 15. In high school, I was singing just about everything, and high tenor and operatic in the choir.

JP RICHARDSON 004

J.P Richardson, later the Big Bopper, and I were side by side tenors and became great friends. The irony here is that  J.P. stayed in Beaumont and became a big star and I went to New York and “also ran.” My director set me up with a scholarship to North Texas State, but although I could sing classical I just didn’t want to sing it and tie down for four years, so I turned it down. In those days people were also prejudiced with their music. Either you liked classical or you didn’t. And I just couldn’t get with classical, however I played classical bass in the high school orchestra.

I couldn’t wait to leave town after graduation, and after several road band experiences and some bass lessons, I arrived in New York at age 19, and found a room on Sixth Avenue in the block north of Radio City Music Hall, between 51st and 52nd Street. How lucky I was to be right across the street from all the famous jazz joints. I would carry my bass over to the Three Dueces

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and sit in with Sol Yegged, and then over across the street to Jimmy Ryans. What a damn thrill that was. I’d walk a block the other way to Radio City Music Hall, and for fifty cents, I could see a movie, the Rockettes, the Corp de Ballet and the orchestra.

I learned from the road that when you get to New York, you go and hang out at Charlie’s Tavern, and meet other musicians.

Charlie's Tavern
Charlie’s Tavern in New York

Guys mostly never bought anything, and Charlie didn’t mind if you just hung out. I met Everette Hull, who had just formed the Ampeg Bassamp Company. He took me over to show me his first prototype of his bass with a mic mounted inside. I was later working for him building amplifiers. As I related in my last post about six months later I landed a gig at the famous old Hotel Astor in Times Square, with the highest paying pop dance music job in town. A year later, after the big bands, the Grand Ole Opry cast and band came to the Astor Roof and we were the relief band. Imagine, one of the hottest and biggest dance spots in New York, with all the Hee Hawness of the typical Country and Western music of the day, with our band there playing all the pop music of the day. And the Dixie Dinner Special was $2.00, while a full coarse dinner was $3.75

grand ole opry astor

New York just wasn’t quite ready for country and western music. But it was a most fabulous experience for me and I hadn’t even turned 21. I got to know everyone including Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Eddie Hill and all the Nashville musicians. Eddie Arnold came over with his manager, Tom Parker, to catch the show and also our pop band. 

It was at the same time that RCA Victor’s country A & R producer, Steve Sholes, heard my demo of my song, That Long Long Road of Love  and signed me to record that and three other sides. So, one night, my publisher, Al Gallico,  Steve Sholes, Charlie Grean, who was Steve’s boss at RCA and his bass player, and Colonel Tom Parker were all seated there discussing plans for developing my career. Parker wanted to manage me but I had recently signed a management contract with big band manager, John O’Connor, in New York and I wasn’t sure if I could get out of it. Actually, that turned out to be a bust  trying to get out of the contract. Sholes and Parker had already set it up for me to go down and be a regular at the, Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana, where Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and a bunch of others sprang from. Sholes and Parker brought Elvis in to the Hayride two years after me. Yeah, we both were getting paid $18 a Saturday night. It was later called the “Cradle of Stars.” I would have to pull up newly established roots in New York and head back to Texas and Louisiana, and spend some time building a following on the “Hayride.” Sholes and Parker had great plans to build me into a star, the way that they did Elvis later.

I had to stay signed with John O’Connor in New York but since he wasn’t doing anything for me I was still trying to get out of it. I gave my notice to Alan Holmes at the Astor and headed to my old home at my mom’s in Beaumont. I’d commute to the Louisiana Hayride on Saturdays and try to set up with some bands there to work with and travel and build a following.

Well, I got some boots and a Stetson, loaded my bass into its coffin, got on a train again, guitar in hand and headed for Texas.  I couldn’t pass through Lafayette, Louisiana without stopping and spending some time with my big brother, Dan, and his family, and then it was on to Beaumont with wild anticipation about the Hayride.

The moment I stepped off the train to a bunch of waiting relatives in Beaumont, the first words out of my mom’s mouth were, “Son, you got your draft notice.” Shit, there goes everything I’d been working for and hoping for, out the door. I’d have to report in less than two months. So, I went to the Hayride halfheartedly a half dozen times and had to hear from Horace Logan that I had to get back into southern country mode. I’d been up north a little too long I guess. Meanwhile, Tom Parker was losing interest because of the Army. And Steve Sholes wasn’t excited either, since we couldn’t plan anything.

TO BE CONTINUED

A Tribute and Thanks to Paul Jean! Who the hell is Paul Jean? And what’s with Paul Jean? “MORE!”

More of what? Well, it’s a long story. Taking a look back at my old New York days, I was 19, barely out of high school, 1500 miles from home, had played a lot of places for my age, on the road for a time, played in Canada twice, and all the big hotels in New York with different bands. My vocal and drama coaches had drilled it into me to live and breathe the lyrics of a song when singing. And I did. It was 1951 and I had the best steady playing and highest paid band job in New York with the Alan Holmes band in the Hotel Astor Broadway Lounge.

TME SQUARE ASTOR

1951 – Looking north on Broadway is the Astor on the left. Look close at the marquee and you’ll see “Sheraton Astor Hotel – Alan Holmes & orch.”  That’s us!

NY HOTEL ASTOR

1951 – Looking south on Broadway is the Astor on the right. The Broadway Lounge was there on the right where you see the second floor circular windows.  

On New Years Eve we could get a great view out on the crowds from the center window over the marquee, and see the ball drop. In the summers we were the so-called relief band with the big bands like Sammy Kaye and Freddy Martin up in the Astor Roof Ballroom.

I would put so much feeling into a song that some nights, Martin’s boy singer, Merv Griffin, showed a bit of jealousy of my singing. But then I showed a little jealousy when the Hollywood starlets like Polly Bergen and others came to swoon over Merv. On the east side of the ballroom was a beautiful view of the Broadway lights in Times Square, and looking down west from the ballroom was usually a most beautiful view of a row of big passenger ships, docked on the Hudson River. I had never flown in a plane, nor been on a ship, and since those beautiful ships were such a sight to see, I always dreamed of going on one. Maybe someday I might play with a band on a cruise, I thought. Well, I finally did, but many years later, and it turned out to be a highlight in my career.

It was now the ’60s and I had some exciting times, great job at Columbia Records, singing and playing with some great New York bands, singing demos for some great writers, and singing on some great paying commercials. One of the bandleaders I freelanced and played and sang club dates with, Paul Jean, also booked cruises. So, one night I told him about the Astor view of all the ships, and how my biggest dream was to go on one of them. I asked him what would be the possibility of this happening? It just so happened that he was taking a small band on the Queen Mary in three weeks. Would I be interested? Damn straight, I’d get some time off from Columbia. You don’t make much money, but there is free room and board and a chance to see some far off places in the Caribbean.

I didn’t know at the time, and it wasn’t made public, but once on board, word soon got out that the cast and crew including Frank Sinatra starring, were aboard the ship for the filming of the 1966 movie, Assault On A Queen. We had a good band and I did my share of singing the hits and standards. I was singing one of my best songs, More, in the ship’s elegant main lounge one night, and it happened to be a song that Sinatra had recorded on an album a couple or more years prior. I didn’t know it but he was sitting in the back of the lounge and when I had finished, he rose to his feet and applauded. I was dumbstruck. The greatest of singers, Frank Sinatra was standing and applauding for Don Meehan? Wow! Was that something to write home about or what? I went over and thanked him, met briefly and heard him tell me to keep up the good work. What a frigging thrill! I thanked him, shook his hand and I never saw him again. He had been my idol since high school days, and there he was cheering me on. This event did wonders for my confidence over the years. If Sinatra liked what he heard, then I must have had something to offer, I felt. In addition, that song with its meaningful words, became my favorite to this day as you’ll see later in this post.

Arriving back from the Nassau port as the shuttle neared the ship, we had passed right by a barge with the end doors open and down, and set up with movie cameras about a hundred yards away from the ship, obviously preparing to film our departure in an hour or so. I figured that our sailing that night would probably be a major scene in the movie, so I decided I would be in the movie. I went to my cabin and grabbed the bedspread and went to the position under the first lifeboat on the starboard side. I’d be that tiny speck up there under the lifeboat waving the bedspread. When we began to sail, I unfurled the spread and began to wave it high and wide to the cameras.

RMS_Queen_Mary_Long_Beach_January_2011_view

What would you think if you saw the movie and some idiot was waving a bedspread under that first lifeboat

When I saw the movie, they obviously edited it to where the ship was well on the way and to a point where no waving bedspread could be seen. I probably disrupted an expensive one take only scene. And I asked myself through the years, “Why would you pull such a dumb stunt like that?” No answers have emerged, except my usual craziness, and to say, “Yes, I was there.” But the memories of Frank Sinatra applauding me that night would be etched in my mind forever, and Hail to the Queen!

Four years later, unbeknownst to me, that undear first wife had been secretly planning a divorce, and while I was in LA recording the Barbara Streisand movie, On a Clear Day, she had cleaned me out of everything, the savings and checking accounts, safe box, and stocks and bonds that I had lovingly put in both names. Dumb ass I was and in total shock, since I had no clue it was coming. Being totally broke, I was never ever so pissed off in my life as when she handed me a card with her lawyer’s name on it. A bloody divorce ensued that left me with at least my CBS job, a few club dates and a struggle to stay alive.

I met up playing with old friend and bandleader Paul Jean again at that time and I asked him if he might have a cruise that I could go on and get me away from the shit for a few days. The answer was yes, and the timing was perfect. He would be leading a trio on a ten day cruise job on the great ship, the France, and would love to have me there. And I would love it even More.   SS_France_Hong_Kong_74

The beautiful ship, The France

It was a great getaway.  As the greatest luck would have it, the second day out I met Fran, from Philly, and we wound up spending all the time we could together. I would sing some of her favorite songs in the lounge, one of which also happened to be my favorite, More, and of course, I would sing it a couple times every night. The more I sang it, the more I felt the true meaning of the words. We really got to know each other during those few days, as well as our togetherness on as many days as possible after the cruise, and falling in love. About nine months later we said our vows to spend the rest of our lives together, and Fran became the true woman in my life, my hero, my queen, my strength, and my everything. The words of that song, More, could not have had truer meaning then or now.

Two years later we were forced to go for custody of my children, since their mother was hauled in for neglect. There was a huge custody battle, but with Fran at my side, we finally got custody, and learned the ex had paid judges with my hard earned money she took. Imagine the fears, worries and anxiety of a young woman, barely 28 years old, suddenly forced into and having to become the mother of my four neglected kids. But neither I nor my children would have survived without the More than the greatest love of Fran, there by my side all the way.

And once more, a Tribute and Thanks to Paul Jean, for bringing Fran and me together. On July 16, 2013, Fran and I will celebrate our forty-first anniversary. And every word of that song, More, rings loud and true now as it did then. We’ve lived through the good and the bad as the song goes: “waking, sleeping, laughing, weeping.” And as a side note, I can still see Frank Sinatra standing there, applauding and cheering me on after singing those same words. Maybe he was somehow seeing into the future and my growing love for my loving wife, Fran, who is “More than the greatest love the world has known  –  No one else could love you MORE.”

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY SWEETHEART!!!!   July 16, 2013 And may we have many many MORE!