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