David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 3 — Alcohol, Animals, April Fool, Audiences

From Bruce Anecdotes

Alcohol

• Young rappers tend to be pretty crazy. Older rappers can settle down. Beastie Boy Adam Yauch went to a health-food store to buy a present for his parents one holiday season, and he said that he wanted a carrot juicer. The health-store employee recognized him and said, “So I guess you guys don’t drink forties anymore?”

• John King owned the music studio where Run-DMC and many other hip-hop groups did their recording: Chunking Studios. So many hip hoppers worked there in the 1980s and 1990s that Mr. King took the soft drinks out of the soda machine and replaced them with the hip hoppers’ beverage of choice: Olde English 800.

Animals

• People in opera sometimes gamble. At the Chicago Opera, Geraldine Farrar sang in Königskinder, in which a bunch of trained geese play a role. At the farewell performance, a poker game as usual was going on backstage, and thinking that the trained geese would no longer be needed, the players quickly used them as stakes in the game. Of course, the geese were taken home that night and eaten by the winners. However, Ms. Farrar’s popularity was so great that another performance of Königskinder was given by popular demand, and this time Ms. Farrar had to sing not with trained geese, but with untrained geese which honked at all the wrong times and which flew around the stage.

• Noël Coward once wrote a song titled “Chase Me, Charley” for two cats. When the song was sung on television, the BBC insisted that the lyric “Bound to give in” be replaced with “Waiting for you.” Mr. Coward commented, “I think it is very silly. Apparently the BBC thinks that the idea of a cat giving in is more likely to create immoral thoughts in listeners’ minds than the idea of a cat waiting to achieve its objective.”

April Fool

• On April 1, 1998, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma made a startling announcement on National Public Radio. He stated that he would never again play the cello. Of course, when shocked listeners called NPR, they were told, “April Fool.”

Audiences

• An opera-knowledgeable audience can be h*ll on an opera singer. The night before she was scheduled to sing in Parma, soprano Frances Alda and her singing teacher attended a performance there at which Alice Zepelli sang the role of Anna in Verdi’s Lorelei. Ms. Zepelli was a fine singer, but unfortunately she broke on a high note. The audience immediately began to hiss. Ms. Alda writes in her autobiography, “And then, as the poor woman stood there, defenseless, the audience began to sing that aria through, as with one voice, and perfectly!” Ms. Alda, her face white, immediately turned to her singing teacher and said, “I can’t sing here tomorrow night. I simply can’t face an audience like that.” However, Ms. Alda did sing the following night — and fortunately, she did not break on a high note.

• When Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was performed in Vienna, it was a huge and immediate success. The members of the audience applauded wildly, but Beethoven, who was deaf by that time, could not hear them and was unaware that they were applauding. Finally, a soloist turned him so he faced the crowd. The members of the audience then added a visual element to the expression of their appreciation by throwing their hats into the air and by waving their handkerchiefs.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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