Saturday, September 28, 2013
Call me old-fashioned, BUT. . .When history is writ large, it will turn out that not even global warming will have had such a deliterious effect on humankind as cell phones, blackberries, iphones, and their ilk. Not only do they destroy human thought and interaction, kill language and communication, cause massive freeway pileups, induce cancer and kill bees, but god knows what else. Just ask Louis ("Pootie Tang") C.K. I've got a cheapocheapo one in my pocket turned off that I use maybe a couple of times a month in place of disappeared payphones (Bring 'em back.) And. . .that's it! When I hear a customer in Trader Joe's ring up someone just to ask, "Should I get one or two?," I go into a blind rage. GET TWO, you braindead schmuck AND throw away the phone!
Posted by Bill Reed at 11:13 AM
Friday, September 27, 2013
Nat Shapiro's birthday today, when only yesterday a.m. I came across a couple of photos of him for which I've been exacavating the place for the last few months. The pic of him at his desk was taken by me in 1980 at his W. 57th Street office (the nerve center of a great show biz, ummm, empire); the closeup was snapped by trumpet great Joe Wilder and even has his stamp on the back! Thanks, Joe.
Posted by Bill Reed at 5:28 AM
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Today---September 24---is the 100th birthday of still-active jazz singer Herb Jeffries (born Jeffrey). Here is part of an interview I conducted with him in 1991:
"On April 29) 1933, the switch was thrown in Chicago opening the two-year World's Fair-like Century of Progress Exhibition whose attractions included, according to one report, 'a partial reconstruction of a walled city in China, a golden-roofed lama from Jehol, a picturesque nunnery of UxMal representing the Zenith of Mayan culture and a teahouse from Japan.' Singer Herb Jeffries remembers:
'I went from Detroit to Chicago to check out the World's Fair there. Back in Detroit I'd been singing in dime-a-dance joints and that was pretty much it for me. Chicago was like the beginning of the world for me. I've been to a few fairs---Seattle, New York---but nothing ever like that. There was a wide outer drive for cars, four and five lanes wide. Everyone was working. It was alive like I've never ever seen a city ... not even Paris, where I lived for ten years, as alive as Chicago during the 1933 World's Fair. Before too long I got a job singing with the Earl Hines band, and I remember the Dillinger slaying on Indiana Avenue in 1934, engineered by the Feds. We all got word of it ten minutes after it happened; it was all over the place --- on the telephones, the radio. We were all living at the nearby Trenier Hotel where a lot of black entertainers stayed, and I jumped on the running board of a car and went around there to where it happened to take a look. The blood was still splattered all over the movie theater, all over the sidewalk because, boy, they just mowed that guy Dillinger down. I can still see in my mind the tear sheets of the picture that was playing there---Manhattan Melodrama--- and the glass over them shot all out. They had obviously planned this whole thing very meticulously because otherwise they would have killed the woman in the box-office. I'll never forget that as long as I live.'"
Bill Reed. Hot from Harlem: Twelve African American Entertainers, 1890-1960. Kindle Edition.
And additional natal felicitations to another fine singer, Rebecca Kilgore!
Posted by Bill Reed at 4:59 AM
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Album cover by Robert Pompa
In addition to my Tim Hardin post of a few years ago, last night I re-recalled a funny and morbid (at the same time) show biz anecdote that involved him. I included it in my memoir Early Plastic. To wit:
"During the period of the Woodstock mansions and international tours, Tim more-or-less disappeared from the lives of those who had known him on [the Lower East Side's] 9th Street. Some accused him of high-hatting them. But when he ended up on Pompa's doorstep in 1979 like a beached whale, his old friend took him in. One afternoon Pompa and Tim went to a mid-afternoon Hollywood Boulevard showing of the Paul Simon movie One-Trick Pony, containing a scene in which two characters are shown arguing over whether Tim Hardin was still alive or not. It gave Tim the best laugh he'd had in years. Eerily, he did die not long afterward, officially of 'natural causes,' but there's little doubt he was offed by heroin addicts in the Hollywood neighborhood where he lived, over a rather large stash known to be in his possession. The cops disn't even bother to investigate; here was just one more dead junkie they didn't have to deal with any more."
Posted by Bill Reed at 10:56 AM
Friday, September 20, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Friday, September 13, 2013
The most under-recorded of all first-rate jazz singers, Don Nelson, died at his home on Tuesday in Studio City, CA. Nelson---who penned the immortal Ricky Nelson catch phrase---"I don't mess around, boy" was a regular on brother Ozzie's writing staff. On the off-chance that you're still not making all the right connections, or have the severe and irreversible misfortune of being under-fifty, we're talking about the most successful live action TV series of all-time, Ozzie and Harriet. Don recorded his lone LP for Mode Records in 1957.
Nelson sings track number three my on A Fine Romance program devoted to "One Shot Wonders."
He DID lay down a handful of songs for a Dixie-tinged mainstream album about twenty years after his Mode release, but. . .who's counting Mrs. Shapiro?
Posted by Bill Reed at 10:15 AM
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Posted by Bill Reed at 11:12 AM