User login

In 1952, Arthur Godfrey dominated radio and tv with Talent Scouts on tv Monday evenings and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends on Wednesday evenings plus a radio program every weekday morning. It was live tv in what is now the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan where the Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason shows were broadcast and where the David Letterman show is broadcast today.

On 6/17/52, Godfrey walked in during our Talent Scouts audition. He was so impressed with what he heard that he invited the Five to be on Godfrey and His Friends even if they lost on Talent Scouts. Godfrey loved jazz. Trombonist, Jazz trombonist, Lou McGarity,  led the orchestra.  Previous contestants had  included, The McGuire Sisters, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone,

     If you thought the national exposure would make the phones ring, guess again. For several weeks no phone call. Then a call from Jack Crystal (Billy Crystal’s father) who was manager of the shrine for jazz lovers in NYC, the Commodore Music Store on 42nd St.  He also put on jazz concerts at the cavernous jazz hall, Central Plaza, on Friday and Saturday nights. The festivities on 7/2/52 began at 7 p.m. and ended at 3 a.m. I remember seeing some guys being dragged out by their heels ! (Billy recently recalled being invited on stage for his fifth birthday and started tap dancing. “The music went right into my soul,” said Billy. “I just fell in love with Dixieland jazz. I think it’s the happiest music in the world. Dixieland is the Kentucky Derby...and down the stretch they come.” 


I once booked the band at the Three RIvers Inn outside Syracuse as part of the Bobby Darin Show. Several of them would sit in with the house band during the show. Later, they did the same for the Julius LaRosa Show. When the charts were handed out at the rehearsal, which the singers bring with them from the previous engagement, On the inside of Will Alger's part was written by the previous trombonist: "You're about to play for the biggest S.O.B in show biz." 


In Januaruy 1965, I worked with  a British agent to arrange for the Salt City Six to tour England with Wild Bill Davison as the guest star. The British union required that a British group come to the U.S. in exchange. Because of the foot dragging by the American Federation of Musicians, the Salt City Six never did. Wild Bill did and ended up touring with a British group. The British group that was slated to come here in exchange I had never heard of : The Rolling Stones. 


On January 1959, the band was appearing at the Brass Rail in Milkwaukee. I had told the booking agency in New York that I would be there for the final nights. They told me to be sure that when we got paid  that the owner, Izzy Pogrub, included their commission. At the end of the evening, as the band was packing up, Izzy (who was a monster weighing about 300 lbs) came up to the bar with the pay but it was minus the agency's commission. He said not to worry that he would send it to them. I had no choice but to leave - at least with our money.  A year later, while at the agency, they told me that Izzy's body had been found stuffed in the trunk of his car by Lake Michigan. He had been shot nine times. Word was it that each bullet was sponsored by someone in the Chicago/Miwaukee mobs he had cheated. 


In 1953, when the band was appearing at an Air Force base in Puerto Rico, little did they know that their bass player, Frank Frawley, was petrified of bugs - and Puerto Rico was Bug Central. One night upon retiring, Frank made the mistake of mentioning his phobia to his mischievious roommate and cornetist, Jim Cunningham, who suggested to Frank that he move his bed to the middle of the room so bugs “couldn’t jump off the wall and land on your bed.” After the bed was moved, Jim warned that the bugs could come across the floor and up the legs of the bed. The ever-creative Frank proceeded to put ash trays under legs of the bed, fill them with water, and rub oil on the legs of the bed. so that, If any of the invaders made it through the water, they’d slip back down and drown.  Problem solved ! Frank slept well that night.