David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 3 — Fans, Fathers, Food

From Bruce Anecdotes


• In the early days of punk rock in England, fans indulged in gobbing — spitting on the band. Believe it or not, this was regarded as a compliment, even though many band members hated it, Johnny Ramone among them. Debbie Harry of Blondie also did not care for being spit on, complaining, “It doesn’t match my dress.” One band member who did like it — and even encouraged it — was Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators. He used to drink a quart of milk before going onstage so he could spit back at his fans.

• At a concert of works by George Gershwin, both Mr. Gershwin himself and Oscar Levant performed. After the concert, many fans surrounded Mr. Gershwin, while Mr. Levant stood alone. Finally, Mr. Levant said, “You could at least send one of them over to me.”

• David Byrne of the Talking Heads knew that some of his fans were rather odd, so he frequently had his telephone number changed.


• For many years, the castrati ruled opera. In Paris, a woman named Teresa Lanti went under the name of Bellino and pretended to be a castrato so she could get jobs singing opera. Ms. Lanti did not fool Casanova; she was one of his lovers. A person who narrowly averted becoming a castrato was the famous composer Joseph Haydn. As a boy, Haydn had a lovely singing voice; however, when his choirmaster suggested that Haydn become a castrato to preserve his voice, Haydn’s father quickly put an end to the idea.

• As a young man, Italian baritone Tito Gobbi really got into his roles. After playing Scarpia for the first time in Tosca, Mr. Gobbi took his parents out to eat. At the restaurant, Mr. Gobbi behaved exactly like Scarpia, snapping his fingers to get attention from the waiters and in general making a nuisance of himself. His father leaned across the table and said softly to him, “Come back, Tito — the opera is over.”

• As a rebellious teenager, Paul McCartney wore his hair much longer than his father, Jim, liked. Paul would occasionally go to the barber to get a trim, but his father felt that the trims made little difference in the length of Paul’s hair. Every time Paul returned from the barbershop, his father would say sarcastically, “Was it closed then?”


• Mick Collins, leader of the Detroit band the Dirtbombs, remembers meeting Julian Schnabel, director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, who used the Dirtbombs’ version of the song “Chains of Love” on the movie’s soundtrack. The Dirtbombs played at Mr. Schnabel’s premiere party at Cannes — for about 10 minutes, with the volume turned up to 10 — then they met Mr. Schnabel backstage. Carrying a tray of pastries, Mr. Schnabel said, “Let’s do some pastries.” Mr. Collins marvels, “Of all the things I’ve been asked to do backstage after a show, pastries has never been on the list. So we did a tray of pastries. He was a really cool guy.”

• In the early 1980s, while the star rap group Disco 3 was in Switzerland, their manager, Charles Settler, looked at their hotel bill and was impressed by a charge in addition to lodging — the food bill of the three-member group was $350. Mr. Settler renamed the group The Fat Boys. The group had first achieved success when it came in second in a 1983 rap contest held by Coca-Cola. They were very happy with their prize of a $5,000 stereo system — and even happier, as well as surprised, to learn that second prize also included a record contract with Sutra Records.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Music, Volume 3 — Buy:

The Paperback




Smashwords: Many Formats, Including PDF

Music Recommendation: B.B. King — “The Trill is Gone”


Music: “The Thrill is Gone” from the album THE BLUES KING’S BEST

Artist: B.B. King (1925-2015)

Artist Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Info: “The greatest blues man of all time is celebrated here with an extensive 12 track compilation of recordings presented on limited edition 12” vinyl! Appropriately titled the King of the Blues, this fine collection includes the all-time favorites ‘The Thrill Is Gone,’ ‘Everyday I Have The Blues,’ ‘Payin’ The Cost To Be The Boss,’ ‘You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now,’ and many more!”

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $7 (USD) for 12-track album

Genre: Blues


B.B. King on Bandcamp