Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: “Bop, boze-de-boze-de-bop, se-de-bop”

My wife Jennifer is a wonderful woman. She’s always very supportive of my music blogs and selections. Even when she’s not thrilled with a blaring trumpet solo she’ll never nag, “For heaven’s sake why did you toss that thing in there?”

Jennifer also never questions the lack of 80’s material, a favorite musical era of hers. She knows better. I don’t like 80’s music. There are exceptions, of course.

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“This is the smile that launched a thousand hips.”
Quote from the star of this week’s oldie blog

This rocker just announced plans for an all-new solo residency tour at the House of Blues in Las Vegas next year. He’ll kick off a nine-date stop there in January with a mixture of  his solo songs.

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Roth is remembered for being the frontman  for Van Halen’s group. Back then music videos exploded as an important and popular element of pop culture. This concept wasn’t new. In the 60’s, for example, the Beatles did videos of taped recordings rather than actually appear on variety TV shows like the Hollywood Place.

But in the 80’s, led by Music Television (MTV), videos were everywhere, helping to launch stars and careers. Think Madonna. The theme was usually choreographed storytelling.

In 1985, while still the lead singer for Van Halen, David Lee Roth took a 1931 Bing Crosby recording and turned it into a romping rollicking production.

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That got up to #12. A bigger hit was the video Roth did before the Gigolo medley, peaking at #3.

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Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Not your typical wedding song

The Drifters performed from 1953-1966. Enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the group succeeded in connecting rhythm & blues of the 1950’s with soul music of the 1960’s.

One of the members was Ben E. King who got into a dispute with Drifters’ manager George Treadwell over a salary increase and royalties. So King left to go out on his own in May of 1960. The following year he had his first solo hit, “Spanish Harlem.”

King’s follow-up was composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller who wound up writing 20 songs for Elvis. “Stand By Me” would be voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. Here’s a snippet.

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Ben E. King died in 2015 at the age of 76.

Now let’s head overseas.

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St. Joseph’s Church is a Roman Catholic Church located on Park Street in Monaghan Town in Ireland.

Last month Shane and Rachel McNally were there to get married and not surprisingly were a bit jittery.

Hannah O’ Brien organized the surprise.

“I realized that there were going to be plenty of singers and musicians attending the wedding and saw the opportunity to do something special for the happy couple who love music,” said O’Brien. “I asked family and friends from both sides and we held secret rehearsals for 5 weeks running up to the big day with [the band] Starling Blue teaching the harmonies and melody.”

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Linda

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That’s Linda Ronstadt, the world’s first woman rock star.

She’s now 73.

And she’s getting even more attention she truly deserves.

LINDA RONSTADT: The Sound of My Voice is a musical biography that tells Linda’s story through her own words and music, and by  professional colleagues.

The documentary opens in theaters next Friday. There is a screening at Milwaukee’s Oriental theater on September 13.

I’m happy to re-post my oldie blog from July of 2018.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Isaac had to go to the bathroom

This week, one of the many great collaborations from…

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Hal David (top) and Burt Bacharach.

Their composition of “Walk On By” released in 1964 was a top ten hit for Dionne Warwick, spending 13 weeks  on the Billboard chart.

The song was actually a B side until famous New York DJ Murray the K wanted listeners to vote on the record’s two sides. asked listeners to vote on the single’s two sides. The audience selected “Walk On By”  over “Any Old Time of the Day.” The lyrics were typical for a Warwick recording.

“I didn’t get the guy very often in those days,” Warwick said.

Five years later another performer recorded a much different take.

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Before we get to Isaac Hayes’ version, a quick story.

When I worked at WTMJ radio I’d often pop backstage at the State Fair’s Main Stage to visit with many of the security folks I knew. Eventually they asked me to put on a uniform and help them out, so I did for several years.

On August 13, 2004, Hayes was the headliner.

A very nice man, but obviously not as young as he used to be.

Walking Hayes to the stage, I said to him, “Well Mr. Hayes, what’s it going to be tonight? Two, three hours.”

“@#$%& no,” he said with a big laugh.

And yes, he did “Walk On By, ” a track from his album, “Hot Buttered Soul” that timed out at more than 12 minutes

His manager warned me that during, “Walk on By,” there would be a rather lengthy drum and keyboard solo, and that I should watch to help Hayes back to the dressing room. This was an intentional built-in bathroom break. Sure enough, Hayes used the middle of “Walk on By” to relieve himself.

This is a shorter version from an unknown TV show.

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Almost four years to the day of Hayes’ State Fair concert he was found unconscious by his wife Adjowa at his home near Memphis, apparently having collapsed while using a treadmill. He was pronounced dead at Memphis’s Baptist Memorial hospital, and was thought to have suffered a simultaneous stroke and heart attack. Hayes was 65.

BONUS

Kool & the Gang have been performing since 1964 and enjoyed big success in the 1970’s. But their R & B and soul tunes never reached #1 until the group converted to a full-fledged disco sound (some would argue they sold out) in 1980 with “Celebration.” Before that anthem, there was “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging” and others. And before that, there was…jazz?

Yes there was.

Robert ‘Kool’ Bell and his brother Ronald grew up in Jersey City, NJ and developed a passion for music from their father who was a professional boxer and a serious jazz lover who just happened to be a close friend of Thelonious Monk.

Robert played bass. Ronald took on several horns. The two formed the Jazziacs in 1964 with several neighborhood friends: trombone player Clifford Adams, guitarists Charles Smith and Woody Sparrow, trumpeter Robert ‘Spike’ Michens, alto saxophonist Dennis Thomas, keyboard player Ricky West, and drummer Funky George Brown (all of whom, except Michens and West, still remained in the group more than 30 years later).

Mention Kool & the Gang today and “Celebration’” immediately comes to mind. But in the late 60’s and early 70’s the band was performing material that would never see a top 40 chart.

Before the band went commercial in the 70’s, they recorded two live albums, “Live at the Sex Machine” and “Live at P.J.’s.” The tracks were anything but disco.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Woodstock

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

From an MSN poll as of Thursday:

Have you ever wished you were at the original Woodstock?

  • 32%

    Yes

  • 63%

    No

  • 2%

    I was

  • 3%

    No opinion

Total responses: 488,473 votesSinger Joni Mitchell wasn’t there, but wrote and recorded “Woodstock” that was released in March of 1970. Her-then boyfriend Graham Nash gave Mitchell some perspective on the concert she missed because her manager advised her it would be a better career move to appear at the time on television’s The Dick Cavett Show.

Woodstock was only the second gig for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But their set list included 16 tunes.

Nash wrote this week in The Rolling Stone:

Backstage was totally chaotic. There was so much dope that it’s very hard to remember anything.

The next day, back in New York, it was like, “Did that really happen? Was it just a giant acid flash or a hallucination?” It was only later that I began putting it into perspective. It was a coming of age, a flowering of a generation of kids who decided they could take responsibility for their own lives and affect their destiny, that they could coexist with a few hundred thousand other people and not get into violent scenes and have a great time.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released their “Woodstock” single shortly after Mitchell’s version and it made it to #11 on the Billboard chart.

Well, I came upon a child of GodHe was walking along the road

And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going

This he told me

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Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm

Gonna join in a rock and roll band

Got to get back to the land and set my soul free

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We are stardust, we are golden

We are billion year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

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Image result for imaGE, PHOTO, PICTURE, WOODSTOCK, 1969

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Official details of 50th anniversary Woodstock event leakedTravel Woodstock 1969

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Finally, memories from folks who were there.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: CCR

THIS IS ANOTHER IN OUR OCCASIONAL OLDIE BLOGS IN 2019 FEATURING MUSIC FROM 50 YEARS AGO IN 1969.

Somewhere buried in my basement is a box of old 45’s, and in that box…

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John Fogerty was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine in 1993.

“Green River” is really about this place where I used to go as a kid on Putah Creek, near Winters, California. I went there with my family every year until I was ten. Lot of happy memories there. I learned how to swim there. There was a rope hanging from the tree. Certainly dragonflies, bullfrogs. There was a little cabin we would stay in owned by a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody. That’s the reference in the song to Cody Jr. The actual specific reference, “Green River,” I got from a soda pop-syrup label. You used to be able to go into a soda fountain, and they had these bottles of flavored syrup. My flavor was called Green River. It was green, lime flavored, and they would empty some out over some ice and pour some of that soda water on it, and you had yourself a Green River.

Released in the summer of 1969, the song peaked at #2 on the Billboard chart.

National Public Radio recently reported on CCR:

Here was a group from San Francisco that was pointedly not interested in, or aligned with, the city’s most intriguing (and best-known) export, psychedelic rock. A band that was not into drugs, that positioned itself as counter to the counterculture. A band that mythologized the American South with an exotic mixture of blues, New Orleans R&B and rockabilly, despite being a product of California. A band that had a sound built for FM radio, but songs that adhered to the tight verse/chorus requirements of AM.

Read the report and hear the band here for some pop music history.

BONUS!

Abbey Road in the news.

 

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Creepy?

This Sunday at the Wisconsin State Fair…

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This week’s oldie features Gary Puckett.

If you’re familiar with his big hits you know where the blog title above is coming from.

Puckett and his band formed in 1967 in the state of Washington and took their name from the nearby city of Union Gap. How they got into the business is rather interesting.  Securing a big break wasn’t easy because as Puckett likes to remind his audiences, 300 to 400 separate 45-rpm records were sent to radio deejays weekly in the ’60s. Competition, naturally was fierce. One day the group was pitching themselves in southern California.

“I’m in the car with all the guys in the band, going down the street on Hollywood Boulevard,” Puckett said. “I’m tired, I’m frustrated. All the other record companies had told us that day that they love my voice, love our outfits but our music wasn’t their area of expertise and then they’d send us down the hallway to someone else and nothing came of it. We’re going down the street, about a quarter mile away from the freeway that will take us back home to San Diego, and I see CBS Records and say to the guys in the band, ‘pull over, keep the car running, I think I’m only going to be a few seconds.’ I go inside and there’s a lady at the phone center like in the old days. I walk up to her and say, ‘hi – you wouldn’t want to hear a new group would you?’

“She said to wait a minute, then directed me down to the hallway to the second door on the right. I walked down and there’s (record producer and former country star) Jerry Fuller, hanging Ricky Nelson’s gold record (“Travelin’ Man”) on his wall. And I’m a huge fan.”

Fuller went to see the band’s act the next weekend and signed them to a contract.

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As part of their gimmick the group wore Civil War Union uniforms. And as their popularity grew they had to travel to the south, in those Northern outfits, in the 60’s.

“We were a little hesitant to go,” said Puckett. “We got this concert in Birmingham, Ala., when they used to do the big radio-station promotional things. We thought, ‘Gosh, what are we going to do? What if we walk out on stage in these outfits and the people go, ‘Boo’? So we got this Confederate flag that was probably 4-by-7, and we rolled it up and laid it over the keyboards. When they introduced us, we walked over and two of us grabbed a corner of the flag — and 6,000 people gave the rebel yell. And we were in.”

Fuller wrote their second big hit, “Young Girl” that reached #2 on the Billboard chart, even though it had…those lyrics.

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run girl
You’re much too young girl

With all the charms of a woman
You’ve kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe you’re old enough
To give me love
And now it hurts to know the truth

Beneath your perfume and your make-up
You’re just a baby in disguise
And though you know that it’s wrong to be
Alone with me
That come on look is in your eyes

And yes, people are aware and often ask about…those lyrics.

“Sure, I get that a lot. I mean, what is ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ all about? We’ve always been singing about girls and libidos,” said Puckett.

Creepy?

“Most people wanted to think it was about a guy who was a bit shady. But that’s not the case. It was written by a guy who was upstanding and like, ‘Hey, you told me you’re old enough to give me love and now I know the truth, so get out of my mind!’ That was the way I always thought about that song.”

As hot as the group was, with a lot of help from Fuller, they dumped him. They didn’t want to pursue the same soft rock style and wished to write their own material.  At the time Puckett said you couldn’t do 60’s-like songs in the changing new decade of the 1970’s. And like most bands the members had their differences. So they dumped each other in 1971. Puckett went solo but he and the Union Gap never enjoyed the same skyrocketing fame. They’re now consistently booked on the revival tours.

“I wish I had not thought that I knew better than anybody else,” Puckett said. “I wanted to continue recording and to write, but I wanted more control over my musical life. The problem was that things were changing, and I wasn’t aware that things were changing. Life just takes its turns… The political scene and the musical scene were changing. By 1971, the 1960s were being booted out the door.

“Jerry Fuller was a smart and talented writer and producer and knew how to guide us through those hits. He knew the value of a success formula. Jerry would say the hardest thing to do is follow your last success. You have to follow a hit with something strong, and I think that was his forte. Those songs had success built into them.”

Before the group disbanded they hit the Top Ten with the third hit in a row and the last written for them by Fuller in the fall of 1968.

Left: "Young Girl" indeed — the October 1968 cover of Teen magazine. Right: The Union Gap's classic lineup: Kerry Chater (bass), Gary "Mutha" Withem (keyboards), Paul Whitebread (drums), Puckett and Dwight Bement (sax).Left: “Young Girl” indeed — the October 1968 cover of Teen magazine. Right: The Union Gap’s classic lineup: Kerry Chater (bass), Gary “Mutha” Withem (keyboards), Paul Whitebread (drums), Puckett and Dwight Bement (sax).

Puckett is now 76.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie (07/26/19): Funny sounds

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Our darling 10-year old, Kyla was actually the inspiration for this week’s oldie.

Seems she and other friends get a kick out of this quick little ditty.

I have no idea who gets credit or who should be locked up for unleashing that noise to the world.

But when Kyla giggled like crazy one night as it played on her smartphone I thought of a true forgotten oldie.

And we’ll get to it, but first, do you recognize this artist?

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Of course you don’t.

That’s Piero Umiliani, an Italian composer who did the score for this film.

Surely you saw the movie, or if not, you’ve heard of it.

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Of course not.

Here’s why. This 1968 narrated pseudo-documentary examines the cultural, sexual and night-time behavior of the Swedish people.

Back in September of 1969, Bernard Drew of the Gannett News Service in a TV GUIDE-like review wrote the movie “reveals the fair city of Stockholm to be a kind of Gothic Sodom and Gomorrah filled with every kind of debauchery and perversion imaginable and its fair and beautiful people a race which emerges from the womb straight into the gutter.”

Themes include sex education, leading directly to wild immorality, with contraceptives available by vending machine; TV interviews with teenage girls who reflect on their first sexual experiences at ages six and up; teenagers who make out freely in front of helpless parents; wife‑swapping clubs; etc.

Because this was a mondo film, a genre filled with inaccuracies, what you had in this documentary could very well have been “fake news.”

Somehow out of this rotten tomato came a minor hit on the Billboard chart from Piero Umiliani.

THIS, I’ll bet, you’ll remember.

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The original remained on the chart for six weeks, but only made it to #55.

Forgotten and forgettable? Nope.

The Muppets then debuted their version on “Sesame Street” in November of 1969, and the Ed Sullivan Show three days later.

And in 1977…

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Get Down

Take any average hit record from the past. You know that part in the middle of a song placed between a few verses that often is an instrumental? What’s that called?

You know what I’m talking about. But here’s an example. Chris Montez scored a top five hit with the following song in 1962. We join in progress before that part I’ve described.

Montez has just completed these lyrics:

Hey baby won’t you take a chance?
Say that you’ll let me have this dance
Well, let’s dance, well, let’s dance
We’ll do the twist, the stomp, the mashed potato too
Any old dance that you wanna do
But let’s dance, well let’s dance

Hey, baby, yeah, you thrill me so
Hold me tight, don’t you let me go
But let’s dance, well let’s dance
We’ll do the twist, the stomp, the mashed potato too
Any old dance that you wanna do
But let’s dance, well let’s dance

And to the clever video we go.

Cool organ, right?

Then Montez jumped right back in for the finish that is usually called the OUTRO.

It’s not difficult to figure out there are a few parts to every song.

There’s the INTRO,  the first few measures, usually instrumental.

Think “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations. An unusually lengthy intro, this one had a distinctive bassline plus electric piano, guitar and strings.

You know. It led to the opening lyric. “It was the third of September.”

That’s the INTRO.

Next comes the VERSE, which directly follows after the intro and repeats with different lyrics 1-3 times throughout the song. You got the example above with “Let’s Dance.”

Then in the Montez example you’ve got the organ solo.

AHA!

The solo.  The spot where the singer stops singing and, depending on the type of solo, the band may or may not stop playing while an instrument takes the “spotlight.”

As one musician described on social media, “It’s not that it is important for the singer or the audience, but it is something very iconic to rock music. It is a time when the other musicians show some of their skills, and also so they can get some of the attention too. More often than not, lead singers are the ones who get most of the popularity and are associated with the band’s name.”

The solo.

How does that relate to this week’s oldie?

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Festa opened today on Milwaukee’s fabulous lakefront.

On Saturday…

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K.C. and the Sunshine Band perform at 9:00 pm on the Harley Davidson stage.

From the group’s Facebook page:

Whose music has been featured at EVERY major sporting event in the world including the Super Bowl, World Series, Conference Championships, The NBA, Collegiate Bowl Games National Championship Games, the NASCAR racing circuit and championships, The World Cup, The Indianapolis 500, The Kentucky Derby, EVERY Holiday Parade include the famous Macys Thanksgiving Day parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade, Political Party Conventions, Presidential Campaigns, and nearly EVERY wedding, confirmation, and bar mitzvah in the world?

Whose music has been featured on more than 200 motion picture film soundtracks?

He has been called the “Founder of the Dance Revolution.”

He is Harry Wayne Casey, better known as the founder and leader of KC and The Sunshine Band.

Here’s their second album.

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KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND was released in 1975. My goodness. It went triple platinum and had four #1 hits. The band  became the first act to score four #1 pop singles in one 12-month period since the Beatles in 1964.

One of the hits from that album was “Get Down Tonight.”

The single that got all the radio play across America was not the album track. It was an extremely shortened version, heavily edited and butchered. That whole middle section was chopped to pieces.

The actual solo? A few seconds.

Many radio listeners never got to hear “the solo” until they bought the album. And they really missed out.

Enjoy. The solo will be quite evident.

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Back in the 20-hundreds I worked security backstage at the Main Stage at the WI State Fair. I got hooked into moonlighting when I had press credentials, and some of the backstage people whom I had known for a long, long time asked if I would put on a bright yellow Security shirt and give them a hand.

That’s when I met KC. We spoke briefly about his concert at the Republican National Convention (Yes, Casey Finch, better known as KC, is a staunch Republican). Here’s a photo from his Facebook page.

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My job for KC’s State Fair show was all about the steps leading up to the stage, and helping KC’s dancers in big boots make it safely on and off the stage.

One of them who needed and accepted my help that night was Maria De Crescenzo, pictured below at the far right.

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My goodness how I hated working that night. 🙂

KC spoke this week with John Mercure of WTMJ Radio.

Listen

BONUS

My late mother’s birthday is Saturday.

Here ‘s a Billboard magazine from September of 1946.

If you look on charts listed on pages 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, a certain record by Eddie Howard was very popular at the time.

Mom was the sort of person who never bragged or tried to one up anyone or steal the show. But she loved telling this story.

It had to be the mid to late 1940’s. Mom was working at Omar’s Bakery on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

Suddenly one day, a male figure stood at the front window and waved enthusiastically to Mom and the other gals working. The gentleman was unmistakable.

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He was in town appearing at the Riverside. Mom and the others shrieked or screamed or giggled or all of the aforementioned. I think Mom said some cried.

Eddy Howard never stopped inside to buy a cruller or long john. Just as well. He would have received lousy service. All of the women would have passed out.

Mom enjoyed telling that story, though she never wanted any attention directed her way. Whenever she heard “To Each His Own,” Mom seemed to wander off into another land.

 

 

 

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Doc

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Doc Severinsen turned 92 this week.

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From the Associated Press:

Severinsen, best known for leading the band on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,″ was born Carl Severinsen in Arlington, Ore., and nicknamed Doc for his dentist father. As a boy he wanted to be a jockey. He played trumpet in a band that performed between horse races in the afternoon and at horse shows at night at the Oregon State Fair.

“I’d walk around the stables looking at my favorite horses,″ he recalls. “I had afternoon and evening horses I loved. I know their names to this day.″

He got his first big music job at 16, when he went on the road with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra. He later played with the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Charlie Barnet and became a freelance musician in New York.

Severinsen says he still remembers locations of restaurants with cheap spaghetti.

When he took a sideman job with NBC in 1949, Severinsen says, “There were so many jobs for musicians in those days, most of the good trumpet players weren’t interested. I thought, `This is terrific.‴

He was a “Tonight″ band member when Carson became host in 1962 and was promoted to leader in 1967.

“The show was put together as we went along. A lot of it, we would just wing it. It was stimulating,″ Severinsen said. “You never knew what was going to happen when you went to work. And it stayed stimulating.

“The last six months with Johnny Carson were even more so. Once people realized he was leaving and there was going to be a big change, everybody wanted to be on the show. People started watching it more intensely than they had, and the buildup of emotion was tremendous.″

Severinsen said he was prepared to stay with the show as long as Carson did. But when Carson left in 1992, so did Severinsen.

One of the biggest thrills of my broadcasting career came in either 1980 or 1981 when I was working in news at Milwaukee Public Radio.

The station programmed news and jazz music at the time.

One day we were doing one of those God-awful annoying on-air fundraisers, and that afternoon I was in one studio and the on-air jazz host in an adjacent studio, and the two of us begged for money.

Severinsen was in Milwaukee to perform a concert that night, and the station arranged for Severinsen to call in for a live interview done by the jazz host and me.

We were about the time Doc was to phone us when the host (I just can’t remember his name, good guy) informed me on-air that we would not be getting the call as expected.

Why not?

“Because,” the host said, “Doc is in the hallway right now and is about to join you in the studio.”

In mere seconds the celebrity trumpeter walked in, extended his hand, said hello, and plopped himself in the chair to my right. It was amazing.

For over an hour we interviewed him even though his staff person said it could only go about 45 minutes as I recall. He was every bit as personable and funny as you’ve seen him on TV.

Doc also came bearing gifts. Anyone who called in with a pledge would receive tickets to the show. The phones went bananas.

Somewhere in my basement is a cassette tape with the entire interview. Unforgettable.

I also remember that the vast majority of those who called in for tickets never paid their pledges.

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BONUS

From the spring of 2011 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, with the Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force.

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart

You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
A paradise where roses bloom
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain