Debbie Reynolds – So Full Of Life and Spontaneous Generosity

Debbie Reynolds & Harry Karl, Caesars Palace, Nero's Nook, Jan 1967I didn’t get to meet Debbie Reynolds the night she and her husband came to see us. My mistake, though our lead singer, Dave, had the honor. It happened on one of the most remarkable nights in our career as entertainers and musicians. We’d been hired by Caesars Palace in late December of 1966 to help open the re-imagined Nero’s Nook Lounge nestled next to the new hotel’s casino. It was a gorgeous showroom and the hottest ticket in town. I hadn’t realized when I’d signed the contract that we’d be limited to singing ballads and mellow pop songs, like the Letterman. Another restriction in our contract forced us to appear as The Big Spenders instead of Stark Naked and the Car Thieves, another difficult pill to accept.

We decided we couldn’t live with the constraints being placed on our performances any longer. The Saturday night we decided to break out and play our best material whether pop, rock, or rhythm and blues regardless of the consequences just happened to coincide with a night full of stars from movies and television, international personalities, and hotel headliners from all up and down the Strip. Behind the curtain, we stood nervous but excited. We couldn’t be sure the audience wouldn’t hate us, or the entertainment manager wouldn’t close the curtain in the middle of the show. We risked losing our new 3-year contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (and in the end it did), but together, we’d made the final decision to be true to our nature in the dressing room before coming to the stage, so here we were.

We opened with an Otis Redding tune, “Can’ Turn You Loose,” if I remember correctly and moved through our version of Bobby Hatfield’s “Unchained Melody.” It was probably Sam and Dave after that, and we mixed in “The Way You Look Tonight,” Letterman style, and on through the set list until we came to our closer. The audience response had been more than we could’ve hoped for so far. We’d worked long hours to perfect the Four Seasons “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and I don’t think the Seasons could’ve done it any more justice that we did that night. But the topper of the entire show came as we started into the song’s dramatic ending. I’ve excerpted the following from Night People since I can’t tell it any better …

“I tried to make out the figure moving below us through the blinding lights, until . . . wait—holy crap! That’s Debbie Reynolds down there pulling on Dave’s leg!

“Sing it, baby, sing it!” she yelled. A broad, encouraging grin spread across her face as he stood braced, high above her, to hit the high full voice note near the end of I’ve Got You Under My Skin. When we peeked through the curtain earlier, we’d seen Debbie Reynolds seated at an aisle table a few rows from the stage with her husband.

As Dave’s ringing tenor swept high, and then higher, into a dramatic falsetto run, she’d stretched on tiptoe to grasp the only part of him she could reach, his left pants leg just above a white patent leather boot. Laughing with joyful spontaneity, she shook it back and forth, like a dog with a sock puppet.

Dave had to be as astounded as the rest of us, but he closed his eyes, pushed his mic farther up and out, and leaned back to let those golden pipes of his rip.

“I’ve got you . . .” Dave crooned a cappella, working into the final phrasing of the song with the movie star still hanging onto his pants leg, staring at him with a wide smile. I stole a glance at Mac, his eyes wide as beacons. I knew mine were just as big as we joined our voices with Les and Craig in building the ending harmony.

“Never win, never win . . .” The lounge erupted, peppering another standing ovation with yells and excited shouts that crackled over thundering applause. More people rushed to the front of the stage as we hit the big finish and took our bows while the frenzied uproar mounted to a pounding pressure.

I looked left toward the rest of the band, trying to take us in. Jackets from our dark suits lay rumpled around us. Purple-and-white polka-dotted ties hung loose or strewn across the stage or amps. Burgundy cuff links on our custom tailored white-on-white dress shirts sparkled in the brilliant light. Leonard was sopping wet behind the drums, his dress shirt translucent.”

Debbie Reynolds put the icing on the cake for us that night. Her spontaneous encouragement and appreciation, more than anything else, endorsed our decision to let loose and show ourselves for who we really were. After the show, there was a note inviting Dave and the rest of us to her table. Dave beamed as he went out to meet her. Me? I’d chosen to go to Sammy Davis, Jr. who had also sent us a note. I’d recently read his autobiography, “Yes I Can” and wanted desperately to meet him, and that was a great privilege. But I sacrificed meeting one of the most amazing superstars ever to grace show business. Someone so full of life and so willing to share it, she’d rushed to the stage in front of everyone to express her excitement. To me, it’s not just another Las Vegas anecdote, it’s a moment of generosity I’ll never forget. I’m sure I’m giving voice to all of us on the stage that night when I send a wish from us that she rest in peace knowing that ours were among the thousands and thousands of lives she touched.

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Night People Hits 4 AMAZON BESTSELLER LISTS!

(From Pronoun Book Tracking)

Congratulations!

Mac, Les, Larry, and Dave

Mac, Les, Larry, and Dave

NIGHT PEOPLE, just landed on an Amazon bestseller list.
Your book is now on four Top 100 lists
(and counting!)

*New!*

#60 … > Kindle eBooks > Humor & Entertainment > Pop Culture

Your other bestseller lists:

#3 in … > Arts & Literature > Composers & Musicians > Pop
 
#36 in … > Music > Musical Genres > Popular
 
#37 in … > Humor & Entertainment > Pop Culture > Music

NIGHT PEOPLE – On Sale For One More Day at $3.99 – Get Your Copy Now.

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Night People chosen for Claremont Authors Collection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 25, 2016
Contact Person: Rose Ash 909-626-4166

CLAREMONT AUTHORS BOOK FAIRE

photo of Claremont Pub LibraryThe Friends of the Claremont Library, in partnership with the Claremont Public Library, is pleased to announce their inaugural Claremont Authors Book Faire, to be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Claremont Public Library.

Contributing authors to the Book Faire include such notable Claremont authors as Jill Benton (biography), Chris Rubel (fiction), Allen Callaci (memoir), Diana Linden (art history), Joel Harper (children’s literature), Joe Woodward (biography/local history), David Allen (local history), Monique Saigal-Escudero (memoir), Paul Steinberg (environmental policy), Larry Dunlap (memoir), Yi Shun Lai (fiction), and Wendy Lower. An exhibit, featuring authors from the Collection and the Book Faire will be on display in the lobby of the Claremont Public Library through the month of September.

All of the Authors participating in the Book Faire are included in the Claremont Authors Collection, a special project of the Friends of the Claremont Library. Originally conceived by former Claremont mayor and local historian Judy Wright, the Collection brings together the works of notable writers who have resided in Claremont or have a significant association with the city. The Collection is permanently housed in the Claremont Public Library. Claremont authors are strongly encouraged to consider donating their work to the Collection. Donation guidelines can be viewed by going to www.claremontlibrary.org

Writing About Miracles

maxresdefaultThe recent deaths of two important people in my life as covered in, Things We Lost in The Night, have caused me to continue examining how I conceive the Universe. The Introduction of Night People is a single paragraph about the uncertainty of the thin veil between life, and not-life titled Change. I included it because a specific theme of Night People is change. The Introduction in book 2, Enchanted, is a bit more of how I see the nature of our existence as I write about it. It’s here to remind me of the hypocrisy of being human in general, specifically as an author, in how I refer to miraculous or supernatural events in my writings. This is a second draft version of it — I can’t guarantee it won’t get altered a little before publishing.

Are FREE WILL and PREDESTINATION
mutually exclusive?

“If you can accept that we exist in a universe, or more accurately, a multiverse gigantic beyond comprehension, exclusively containing sparsely scattered objects made of matter or energy, that are subject to unyielding laws and rules embedded in its fabric, then it should be easy to allow that Predestination is the natural way of reality.
 
Our bodies, constructed of matter and energy also include our brains, likewise subject to these rules. The wonder of this incredible organ, this brain of ours, is that it is somehow able to host a mind, an entity that it is NOT composed of matter or energy. This remarkable awareness is able to receive physical signals relayed through our brain from our five senses to fabricate a model of the multiverse we can comprehend. For the most part, all of this is already accepted physics and the science of the brain though no one can explain the method of how the brain’s mind-hosting takes place.
 
The mind is the control mechanism of our surroundings, through it, we can direct our bodies to Change, within certain limits, the natural Predestination of the multiverse. Though these actions cannot contradict natural regulation, the results can be profound. The fundamental order of the multiverse may decree that a rock will fall from a cliff by force of gravity over time, but a human mind can move it’s host body to avoid being crushed if it happens to be beneath it. This is evidence that sentience can exercise Free Will (and proof of its existence), subject to the unalterable physical rules of the multiverse.
 
This demonstrates to me why there really aren’t any miracles, only events we cannot understand. However, I’m willing to use this label in a literary sense for incidents I can’t explain, so when I refer to miraculous or supernatural events in my writing, you’ll understand why.”

 

Death of an Aristocat

Chuck, Dave, Pat, & Larry - The Reflections 1964

Chuck, Dave, Pat, & Larry – The Reflections 1964

The doorbell on the side of our house next to the driveway rang. This doorbell, with its own higher pitched ring than the front doorbell, rang in the my bedroom in the basement, commonly referred to among my friends as the dungeon due to my insistence that it be painted battleship gray and because to get to it, you had to traverse the furnace room with it’s spooky tentacled maze of vents rising up from of the furnace’s heart to snake across overhead. In my teen years it had served as the bridge of a starship, the conning tower of a submarine, and clubhouse before becoming our rehearsal room. I went up the basement stairs and ushered in Hasty Smith and another guy who seemed to tumble down the open steps all elbows and knees. Chuck Tunnah, Hasty said, introducing him to Pat Baldwin and me, was an inch or two over six feet and kind of gawky like he hadn’t quite grown into his skeleton. He had dark hair combed back from a widow’s peak that made him look fiendish.
“Now listen you guys. Don’t start that “Charlie the Tuna” crap with me,” he said with a big grin, like the Joker’s in Batman, in reference to the Starkist Tuna cartoon spokesfish, “because I do taste great and unlike that cartoon Tuna, I have great taste. Just want to get that clear”

That was how I met Chuck Tunnah, the fourth singer of my original vocal group as we formed the Aristocats, in the Fall of 1957. On July 5, 2016, Chuck, Charles E. Tunnah, died peacefully at 75 years of age in an easy chair with the Indianapolis Star in his hands. As with so many of my friends and associates passing into their later years are beginning to disappear I fear my blog will become an obit page, so I will resist that except in special circumstances. Though Chuck and I had not been in touch for many, many years, this loss struck very close to home to me. Hasting Smith, Jr., mentioned above, and Chuck sang in our high school choir and the exclusive Madrigal singers, and both patiently taught Pat Baldwin and me, both complete neophytes, how to learn and sing the popular music we liked. Hasty soon left us to go to Purdue, and eventually to become a nuclear rock scientist in Los Alamitos, New Mexico, where he passed away prematurely and suddenly as he warmed up to begin an early morning run.

Chuck, Pat, and I found Dave Dunn and went on to become the Reflections, and to record and release our first two records in Indianapolis in 1964. One of them, In The Still of the Night, became a regional hit on Chicago’s WLS, outcharting the Beatles for a couple of weeks. Chuck is the bass singer who first started the bass line that brought that version of a classic to prominence for us.

In Night People though, Chuck is introduced and disappears in the same paragraph; he never made the trip to California and on to the adventure that turned us into Stark Naked and the Car Thieves. Though he could be generous and kind, he could also be loud and obstreperous and because of that, he ended up relegated to staying in Indiana. He, and Hasty, have now passed beyond the curtain of life. When Hasty died, I felt the harsh breezes of change whispering through the hole in my history he left behind. The wind has picked up.