David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Autographs, Automobiles, Bathrooms


• When Irene Daye, the singer for Gene Krupa’s band, retired, Anita O’Day took over for her. One day, someone asked her for her autograph, which she was happy to give. Unfortunately, after the person had gotten her autograph and the two had parted, Ms. O’Day heard the autograph-seeker mutter, “Aw, she ain’t Irene!” Ms. O’Day then looked back, and she saw the autograph-seeker tear out a page from the autograph book and throw it away.

• Band leader Doc Severinsen, most famous as the band leader on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and his wife, Emily, were fighting and screaming in a hotel room when he noticed a paper being slipped under the door. The paper was a note from some people requesting an autograph. Doc and Emily opened the door and signed some autographs, and then they closed the door and started fighting and screaming again.


• Following the wartime austerity of World War II and the rise of making much money playing rock and roll, some British performers began — of course — spending money on cars. British jazz musician George Melly and early British rocker Tommy Steele met backstage once, and Mr. Steele learned that Mr. Melly did not have a car. Mr. Melly remembers, “He looked at me with the sort of pity usually reserved for the badly deformed.”

• Wynonie Harris was a rhythm and blues star of the 1940s and 1950s who made a lot of money and spent a lot of money. He bought two Cadillacs and hired two chauffeurs, and people used to go out on the sidewalk at 4 a.m. when he left the Baby Grand in Harlem after a performance just to see which Cadillac he would choose to ride home in.


• Lucas Silveira was born female, but later he became the transgender guitarist and singer of the music group the Cliks. Even when he was a little girl, he knew that he wanted to be a boy. He wanted his mother to cut his hair short, and whenever he had to wear a dress, he screamed. However, one very happy experience occurred when he was seven or eight years old and living in a Portuguese village. He says, “My parents took me to this festival. I was playing with a bunch of kids, and these two little girls I was playing with thought I was a boy — so I just went along with it. They were like, ‘We need to go to the bathroom,’ and I was like, ‘Well, I need to go to the bathroom, too.’ And they went, ‘Well, you’re a boy, you can pee over there’ — up against the wall. And I literally pretended to pee up against the wall because, hey, that’s what boys do. But I went with it. And I remember how happy I was in that moment.”

• Tribe 8 is an all-lesbian punk bank from San Francisco. One problem that they run into while on tour is getting bathroom privileges — sometimes when they go into the women’s bathroom women will tell them that they are in the wrong bathroom. Their appearance really does sometimes confuse people about their gender. Vocalist Lynn Breedlove says, “Little old ladies will come in the women’s room behind us, and then they’ll pop out and look at the sign on the door.” Once, an old man followed them into the men’s room because he thought that they were men. Ms. Breedlove says, “He jumpedout.” Rhythm guitarist Lynn Feather has actually lifted her shirt to show that she has breasts and to prove that she is in the correct bathroom. The band wrote a song about this problem; of course, the song is titled “Wrong Bathroom.”

• Roy Henderson once started practicing some vocal exercises in an empty cloakroom, thinking that no one could hear him. However, he was startled to hear a toilet flushing, followed shortly by a man coming out of a door at one end of the cloakroom. “I’m extremely sorry,” Mr. Henderson said. “I hope I didn’t disturb you.” The man replied, “On the contrary, I found it quite helpful.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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