David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Death, Eccentrics


• Movie critic Roger Ebert’s life may have been saved because he liked a long song by Leonard Cohen. He underwent surgery for cancer, the operation was a success, and he was scheduled to leave the hospital. Lots of hospital staff were present to wish him well, and for them he played on his iPod the song “I’m Your Man” by Leonard Cohen. While the song was playing, Roger’s carotid artery ruptured. Of course, if your carotid artery must rupture, the very best place for it to rupture is in a hospital room where people who have the skills to save your life are surrounding you. Roger says, “If I’d forgotten the Leonard Cohen song, Chaz [Mrs. Ebert] sometimes reflects, we would have already been on Lake Shore Drive, and I would surely have bled to death.”

• Death is not optional: 1) Frederic Chopin was born at Zelazowa, Poland, on 22 February 1810, and he died in Paris, France, on 17 October 1849. At his funeral, earth from Poland was sprinkled over his grave. He had brought that earth with him from Poland 19 years previously. 2) Robert Schumann once visited the graves of Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Peter Schubert, which are side by side in Vienna, Austria. He found a rusty steel pen on the top of Beethoven’s grave and decided that Schubert must have dropped it there — Schubert died one year after Beethoven. Schumann used that pen to write his B Flat Symphony.

• Organizers for the London 2012 Olympics contacted Bill Curbishley, manager of the Who, hoping to get Keith Moon and other members of the Who back together to perform at the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, Mr. Moon had died in 1978 from a drug overdose. Mr. Curbishley said, “I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to the Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old.’ If they have a round table, some glasses and candles, we might contact him.” In a blog post, Guardianjournalist Brian Braiker joked, “For its part, the staff of the Guardianis just really looking forward to seeing Jesse Owens compete.”


• Hasil “Haze” Adkins was a wild man of rockabilly and friends with Billy Miller and Miriam Linna of Norton Records. One thing they noted about him was he was a meat eater. Miriam says, “Hasil Adkins eats more meat than any other human being we’ve ever met; he carries Vienna sausages in his pocket.” She once asked him, “What would you like for lunch?” He replied, “Meat.” “Any special kind?” “Meat.” One of Miriam’s celebrity encounters was with artist Andy Warhol. She ordered him, “Stay right there!” Then she bought a can of Campbell’s soup and made him autograph it. It was a prize possession for years, but she had to leave the house one day when Hasil was staying at her house, and she told him, “Haze, I’m going out for a while; there’s plenty of food in the fridge.” When she got back, he told her that he had eaten a can of soup. Billy says, “You guessed it —.” Billy remembers that once a noisy ceiling fan bothered Haze in a club while he was playing, so he pulled out a gun and shot the ceiling fan so it did not interfere with his songs. By the way, in addition to marketing records by Haze, Norton Records also marketed records by Jack Starr, who did such things as making monster movies at home in addition to recording music. He also made his own Jack Starr Cologne — he once sent Norton Records a demo tape doused with the cologne, and Billy said, “I had to put it out on the window sill for about four days.” As you expect, Miriam and Billy collect records. Miriam once was talking about her record collection with her eye doctor, whom she had known for 10 years. He told her, “I used to play in a band on Long Island called the Bell Notes; we recorded this 45 called ‘I’ve Had It!’” Miriam says, “They were a band we had been looking for high and low[…] I was astounded. So now, whenever I see people who are like 40-plus, I feel like asking, ‘Hey, did you ever make a record?’”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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