David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2 — Contracts, Crime, Critics


• When Enrico Caruso was under contract to the Metropolitan Opera, he was forbidden to sing elsewhere unless he had the permission of the Met. Only once did he break his contract. At a benefit for World War I soldiers, he was recognized in the audience and asked to sing “Over There,” which he did without hesitation. He then went to the Metropolitan Opera to tell its General Manager, Giulio Gatti-Casazza, that he had broken his contract. Fortunately, when he left Mr. Gatti-Casazza’s office, he was beaming. Why? As Mr. Caruso told his wife, “He excuse me.”


• As a young man in Paris, singer Cavaliere di Candia Mario was impoverished and stayed in a cheap lodging house filled with many other people. One night, he woke up to find a man standing over him. Discovering that the man was a robber who wanted the little money he had, Mario told him, “Take all you can find, my friend, but please let me continue my dreams and my sleep.”

• Giuseppi Verdi’s publisher tried to cheat him in a small matter. This aroused Verdi’s suspicions, so he checked his accounts with the publisher for the past 20 years. The publisher was forced to give Verdi 50,000 lira in back commissions.


• Tommy Ramone worked long and hard to make the Ramones a success. He continually called music critics Danny Fields and Lisa Robinson to get them to come to the Ramones concerts. Because Tommy was so persistent, Danny and Lisa decided that one of them should attend a Ramones concert. Danny was covering another concert, so Lisa went. After the concert, she told Danny, “You have got to see this band. Every song is fabulous, and nothing is longer than 14 seconds. You will love them.” Danny went, he liked what he heard, and he offered to be the band’s manager. Johnny Ramone replied, “Well, that’s very nice. But we really need a new set of drums. Can you buy us a new set of drums?” Danny visited his mother, and due to her generosity, the Ramones got both a new set of drums and a manager.

• Clint Black has been a popular country music for years, and he keeps working to find ways to make good music. In 2007, he was working on an album to be released in early 2008. The album would include a 2007 single titled “The Strong One” and a duet titled “You Still Get to Me” with his wife, Lisa Hartman-Black. Of course, he works hard on his music, and he has a few ways to tell whether an album will be any good. Mr. Black says, “I have to keep inventing ways to make myself make a different, albeit better or worse, record. This one happens to be very, very good, according to me. And the guys who played on it, and the record company who sells it, and … my dad.”

• Joan Hammond once starred in a BBC radio performance of an opera at which she was not present. The opera was Turandot, and she was scheduled to sing two performances. The first performance went well, but the second performance a few days later found Ms. Hammond ill and in bed. Fortunately, the BBC was able to use the recording of Ms. Hammond’s part that they had made in recording the first performance and integrate it with the live singers in the radio studio. Ms. Hammond states, “Some kind people even thought that I had sung better on the second night!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2: Buy the Paperback

The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2: Kindle

The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2: Kobo

The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2: Apple

The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2: Buy in Other Formats, Including PDF