David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Friends, Games, Gifts


• Kinky Friedman once was walking when a Cadillac pulled up beside him and fellow country musician Waylon Jennings told him, “Get in, Kink. Walkin’ ’s bad for your image.” By the way, Mr. Friedman once asked Willie Nelson, “Who were the most unlikely, spiritually weird golf partners you’ve ever had?” Mr. Nelson told him about going to the Bahamas to get away from the world for a while. He went to a golf course and saw John Lennon and John Belushi and played golf with them. The meeting was entirely accidental. All three of them were there to get away from the world, and none of them knew that the others would be there.

• Like many musicians, George Duke stood outside of clubs that he was too young to enter just so that he could listen to the music. Later he became friends with Stanley Clarke, and the two appeared on each other’s jazz albums so often that eventually they stopped charging each other. Instead, Mr. Duke would say to Mr. Clarke, “Look, you play two songs on my record and I’ll play two on yours.”


• Opera singer Nellie Melba occasionally gambled at Monte Carlo. She once lost the money she had with her and asked a friend named Baron Hirsch for a loan of 1,000 francs, which he reluctantly gave her. The next day, she sent him a check to repay the loan. Two days later, she received a gift from him: a diamond brooch. With it came this note: “Dear Madame Melba, You are the first woman who has ever paid me back money which she had borrowed. I am so touched that I have taken the liberty of buying you the enclosed little brooch, which I hope you will accept as a token of my admiration.” Ms. Melba once saw an old woman who kept betting on the number five. She ran out of money and asked someone for a loan to put on the number five, but before she received the money the wheel began to spin. What was the number the ball landed on? Five. And Ms. Melba once saw someone put some money on red and some money on black and said that for sure she would win. The ball landed on zero.

• Four members of the Cab Calloway band — Milt Hinton, Paul Webster, Hilton Jefferson, and Tyree Glenn — used to play pinochle together. At those games they would use vulgar language. But when they started playing bridge, their language became more refined. Mr. Hinton still remembers Mr. Glenn asking, “Sugarloafs, why did you trump my ace?”


• Early in their career, the Spice Girls demanded — and got — attention. Sometimes, they roller-bladed — without an invitation — into the offices of music executives. They also crashed music-industry parties. Ashley Newton, an executive for Virgin Records, remembers, “I’ll never forget the day they burst in here. They caused such a commotion, doing a mad routine in the office, all talking at once and being funny.” The Spice Girls signed with Virgin Records and soon sold millions of records. After they signed with Virgin Records, the Spice Girls threw a party for all of their parents as a way of thanking them for being supportive in the days before they learned their art. And when the Spice Girls met to record “Love Thing,” Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell, gave all of her fellow Spice Girls gold rings inscribed with the word “Spice.”

• Comedian Russell Brand became engaged to singer Katy Perry in January of 2010. How did this come about? Partly through an exchange of gifts. During an awards show, they met backstage and liked each other. Mr. Brand later gifted her with a love poem, and she gifted him with a photograph of her breasts.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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