David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Food, Friends


• In August of 1975, five-year-old Debbie Gibson, future pop singer and writer of “Lost in Your Eyes,” celebrated her birthday at her favorite restaurant — one that her family ate at twice a year: Christmas and Debbie’s birthday. The restaurant allowed kids under age 12 to eat free, and Debbie ordered a very big, very expensive lobster, which she ate all by herself. She says that she looked a lot fatter walking out of the restaurant than she did walking in. She remembers, “Next time we went back, they had a special kids’ menu. They wouldn’t let little kids order from the big menu anymore — and that was because of me!”

• Run-DMC performed all over the world, including Amsterdam, which has much more lenient drug laws than the United States. In an Amsterdam smoke shop, Jam Master Jay sampled the chocolate chip cookies, which were delicious, so he kept eating more and more of them, since he was not aware that they had a very special ingredient. When DMC noticed what Jay was eating, he told him, “Do you know what those are? Those are space cookies. Magic cookies. You’re gonna be stoned for two days!”

• Johannes Brahms enjoyed good food. One day, his doctor ordered him to stop eating rich food. The very next day, the doctor saw Mr. Brahms in a Viennese restaurant eating a feast of very rich food. After listening to his doctor’s criticisms, Mr. Brahms replied, “Do you suppose I’m going to starve to death just to be able to live a few more years?”

• As a young woman traveling from town to town to make money by singing, Emma Abbott was often forced to eat less than she should. Once, she was so hungry that she sold her long hair in order to get money to buy food. Fortunately, she was discovered by opera singer Clara Louise Kellogg, who helped make her rich and famous.


• Friends can be a big help when help is needed. While Jimi Hendrix was in the United States Army and stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, some of his fellow soldiers did not like him and even beat him up once. One of Jimi’s friends from Seattle, Washington, where he had been born, was also stationed there: Raymond Ross, the heavyweight boxing champion for the 101st Airborne. Raymond hit a few heads, and Jimi’s fellow soldiers decided not to beat Jimi up anymore. As a young musician in Nashville, Tennessee, Jimi sometimes could not afford to replace his guitar’s strings when they broke. As Jimi was trying to play his guitar without an E string, Larry Lee, a Nashville bass guitarist, gave him an E string. They became friends. When Jimi decided to go to New York City, he lacked a coat; Larry gave him one. By the way, much later Jimi asked Larry to play rhythm guitar for him at Woodstock. Also by the way, an element of luck is involved in becoming a member of a famous rock group such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Noel Redding, a white man, became bass guitarist for the group in part because he was a guitarist who had never played bass guitar before and so would not be limited by preconceived ideas about how to play bass guitar — more importantly, Jimi chose him because he liked Noel’s Afro hairdo. Mitch Mitchell and another man were competing for the drummer position — Mitch got it because he won a coin toss.

• When he was a young man, Leonard Bernstein met a man named Adolph Green, who later became big on Broadway and in Hollywood. When they met, each quizzed the other on his knowledge of music. They quickly discovered that neither was a fake and both would admit when they did not know something. Lenny played a few bars of music, said that they were by Dmitry Shostakovich, and asked Adolph to name the piece. Adolph said that he could not name the piece. Actually, the piece was by Lenny himself. Adolph then requested Lenny to play the piece titled Puckby Debussy. Lenny replied that he did not know that piece. Actually, no such piece existed. After the musical quizzing was over, the two became close friends. Betty Comden, who collaborated with Adolph for six decades, was impressed by Lenny when she first met him. She went home and woke up her mother and told her, “Mom, I’ve met my first genius.” Her mother replied, “That’s nice, dear,” and then she went back to sleep.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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