David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 3 — Concerts, Compositions


• Garth Brooks goes to great lengths to keep his concerts exciting. Near the end of a long tour that tired out pretty much everyone except the fans, Mr. Brooks livened things up by offering $500 to any band member who could knock him down that night. A band member asked what that meant: “Impress you with a guitar lick or ….” Mr. Brooks replied, “No, I meant physically knock me flat on my butt.” That night, all the band members tried to knock him flat on his butt, to the delight of Mr. Brooks — and his fans, who that night happened to be Canadian. During the final song, the entire band rushed him and knocked him flat on his butt — and split the $500.

• While Johnny Cash was attending Dyess High School, Charlie and Ira Louvin — aka the Louvin Brothers — performed there. Johnny arrived two hours early, and he saw his heroes arrive. Charlie even spoke to him — to ask where was the bathroom. Johnny saw Charlie eating soda crackers — and thereafter Johnny ate soda crackers. The concert was fantastic, and when the Louvin Brothers drove away in their limousine, Charlie even waved to Johnny. It was a magical night.

• In 1980, the parents of Plácido Domingo celebrated their 40th anniversary. He invited them to attend Mass with him in a church in Mexico City, and when they arrived they found many friends and relatives there, as well as a symphony orchestra, which provided the music as their famous son sang for them.

• Vladimir de Pachmann, a classical pianist, enjoyed performing a joke on stage. He would walk on stage, sit on a stool that was too low, then call for a book to sit on. He would then sit on the book, grimace, stand up, tear out one page from the book, sit down on the book again, smile, and begin playing.

• When giving a concert, Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin used to give the audience a long numbered list of songs. He would look at the list during the concert, decide what to sing next, then announce the number of the song to his audience. (His accompanist must have carried around a huge pile of sheet music!)

• During his career, African-American actor/singer Paul Robeson frequently entertained audiences by singing spirituals such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Early in his career, he sang a concert of 16 spirituals in Greenwich Village — then he sang 16 more spirituals as encores.


• Singer-songwriter Baby Dee wrote and recorded a song titled “The Dance of Diminishing Possibilities,” which is described by celebrity interviewer Len Righi as “a Bowiesque cabaret number [that] uses a smashed piano as a metaphor for love let loose and the possibility of rebirth.” In the song, a couple of friends smash a keyboard with an axe on a sidewalk. Bobby Slot and Freddy Weiss, the friends in the song, are real; they were neighbors of Baby Dee when she was young and living in Cleveland, and they really did use an ax to smash a keyboard on a sidewalk. Baby Dee says, “They were bums, guys in their 30s, dumb and harmless,” she says. “They really wanted not to have a piano. That was their dream. So the whole neighborhood got together to make their dream come true.”

• Avant garde composer John Cage once created a music piece titled 4’33” in which the pianist sat at a piano for exactly four minutes and 33 seconds without playing a note. The music consisted of the sounds that the audience heard while the pianist was not playing.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Music, Volume 3 — Buy:

The Paperback




Smashwords: Many Formats, Including PDF

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