[Dixielandjazz] Memories...sparked by mention of Tony...

Charlie Hooks charliehooks2 at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 5 19:56:41 PDT 2005

Tony Bennett I never met or played behind.  I've admired him while 
working to back up others almost his equal like Sinatra and Sammy 
Davis, Jr.    Paula Kelly and the Modernaires--?  Well, Paula Kelly, 
Jr., anyway.  And the Mods: the only one left from the originals was 
Tom What'sHisName [Traynor (?)], whom I got drunk in his room just 
before we were due on stage, and the result was devastating: he was 
the "leader" and he couldn't think where he was, much less what was 
to sing. Fun, but mean...

When I first came to Chicago back in 1978 I was working 5 nights a 
week with Barrett Deems on Jim
Beebe's band at the Blackstone Hotel (the great hotel that opened in 
1912 with all the greatest musicians in the world: Enrico Caruso and 
lessers.   And they still came: the best musicians, the best singers 
and entertainers--if not to the Blackstone, which was a hair mouldy 
by that time, then to the Hilton on Michigan Ave just across Balbo.  
They came in droves to hear Barrett and Jim, who also had a pretty 
good rep by that time.  Which he more than deserved.  I slid in on 
those guys' reputations.   Fantastic history... The Blackstone on 
Michigan Ave at Balbo: the Great Lady of Chicago hotels until Carter 
screwed it:

There was Jimmy the Bellboy, black hair greased down and dyed at age 
75--didn't look a day over 70--vetted and served every president 
since Roosevelt.   "Who'd you like best, Jimmy," I asked him.

"Hey, Charlie, Harry Truman!   I put his bags down and he threw an 
arm around me: 'O.K., Jimmy--where the hell do I get a drink?"

"Carter?" I asked him, just to have fun.

"Idiot," Jimmy judged.  "What was the matter with that guy?"

"Beats me,"I said.  "And a lot of other people, too!"

The Carter people changed hotels because the Room Service wasn't open 
all night.   I guess they couldn't  start drinking until after Carter 
went to bed.


My home parish welcomes all denominations, but mainly they prefer 
tens and twenties.

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