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Liberace, Ronnie and Me

The first thing Liberace said to me was not “hello”, or “nice job”, “nice show”  …

Ronnie David was managed by Seymour Heller, whose business was funded by the amazing phenom, Liberace.

We, Ronnie and I, traveled to Phoenix from Las Vegas after spending a few weeks living in a friend’s double-wide, writing the show that would replace Phoenix icon Vic Caesar, at Ralph Gaines’ Colony Showroom.

Both opening night shows were sold out. It would be that way as word got out. Ronnie was an incredibly handsome, sublimely talented, Singer and Musician.

We surprised the audience by having Ronnie introduced from the from wings, do 20-25 minutes up front—then, go to the piano and do another 15 minutes of ‘over the top’, finger-breaking, musical show stoppers !

The first show ended with audience still applauding as Liberace, Lee, motioned for me to join his table.

I was not sure how comfortable I would be conversing with this level of celebrity.

Musicians were pretty low on the ‘food chain’ viewed from Lee’s lofty perch. An after-thought; we were easily replaced and forgotten—a totally disposable group.

There were even those at Caesar’s Palace who thought of Frank Sinatra only as a shill !  His bookings were known to inspire the interest and support of high-rollers around the globe. This translated to uncountable millions. Yes, some of it was literally uncountable. The Chicago skim-guy would definitely be in charge in the counting room !

As I approached the table, Lee was on his feet. His arms reached out to pull me in. I was surprised by his strength. He was saying,

“John John; you did an amazing job staging him in this way—having him start, standing and singing. They never expected him to ambush them with his incredible musicianship.”

Ronnie had begun to call me John John, sometime after he formally introduced me as his Musical Director. It was picked up by the Wait staff and stuck for a long time.

I did not have to worry about conversation. Lee carried on without a break. When the subject of Ronnie’s talent came up on display, Lee pulled me gently by the neck, in a little closer.

“He gives me goose bumps on my balls!”

It was said matter-of-factly to me as though we were friends for years. He was so totally comfortable with who he was.

As for a reply from me … you can imagine; nothing came to me, and nothing was expected.

I just hoped my face would not betray the way the synapses were scrambling to make some kind of necessary connections. In a few seconds, I knew this was new ground in the field of the Neurosciences.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2014 in Memoir

 

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