David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2 — Big Breaks, Children

Big Breaks

• Bill Wyman, bass player for the Rolling Stones, grew up poor. His family owned only one toothbrush, which they shared, and food was often lacking. Later, when the Rolling Stones were just getting started, he was able to join the band despite a lack of enthusiasm from the other members because he enjoyed a little material prosperity. He explains, “They didn’t like me, but I had a good amplifier, and they were badly in need of amplifiers at that time. So they kept me on.”


• Bobbie Lee Nelson is Willie Nelson’s sister — he calls her “Sister Bobbie.” For decades, she has toured with her famous younger brother. At age 77, she recorded her first solo album, although she didn’t know that she was doing that. Willie asked her one day, “Well, Sister Bobbie, why don’t you just go over there and warm up that piano?” And when she wasn’t looking, he turned on the tape machine. Their entire family was musical. She remembers their grandparents studying music theory from books they had gotten by mail order. At age six, she got her first piano. Before age six, she made a play piano out of cardboard and pretended to play it. Bobbie Lee says, “We played like we were having a piano there and I would play and we’d sing. We had a great childhood.” One of the things that made their childhood great was their sibling love for each other — they even ate dirt together. “We had this little toy stove and we made mud pies in the sun,” Bobbie Lee says. “When they would get baked, he would say, ‘Sister Bobbie, it’s so good. Just take a bite.’ And he had me eating dirt with him. That’s how much I love Willie. I do anything he tells me to do.”

• Singer Avril Lavigne was born and raised in Canada, and like most or all Canadians, she likes hockey. As a 10- and 11-year-old, she was the only girl on her hockey team, and she could take care of herself in a hockey fight. In fact, on occasion, she started fights. In one case, she started a fight with an opposing player who had insulted one of her teammates. In another fight, the goalie was someone who had picked on her at school, so she took the opportunity of the hockey game to fight him. Her father recorded this fight — in the background fans can be heard cheering her on in the fight: “Avril! Avril!” When Avril turned 18, her record company, Arista, gave her an ice hockey birthday party at an indoor skating rink. She played with enough passion that she knocked down an Arista executive.

• When Beverly Sells was a little girl, her mother recognized that she had talent because of the way young Beverly sang the arias that she heard on records. Therefore, she took Beverly to audition for the great singing teacher Estelle Liebling. At first, Ms. Liebling did not want to hear Beverly sing, saying, “I don’t teach little girls. I don’t even know any little girls.” However, she did listen to Beverly sing an aria, and she laughed because she recognized that Beverly was imitating an Amelita Galli-Curci record that she had heard played at home. Ms. Liebling had been the voice teacher who had taught Ms. Galli-Curci to sing the aria. Of course, Ms. Liebling recognized young Beverly’s talent and became her voice teacher.

• Country music singer Faith Hill got her start the way many singers do. When Faith was a child, her mother paid her a quarter to sing in front of guests. Sometimes, Faith would get fifty cents for singing a song such as “Jesus Loves Me” at a family reunion. Later, after Faith had decided to become a professional singer, her musical experiences were not so typical. For example, as a teenager she once sang on a stage in Raleigh, Mississippi, following a tobacco-spitting contest. The contestants took turns spitting tobacco juice the greatest distance they could. Before Faith could sing, the stage had to be wiped with towels.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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