There Were Big Stars At This LA Party, But I Didn’t Shine So Brightly
I saw Steve's face. Everything became distorted and wavy. I remember leaping off the stand. Fritz had landed in some kind of pineapple concoction. My visual concept of his head was very Teutonic. He was wearing some kind of hat or something with a spear/spike sticking up out of it! I ran through the dancing people, to one of the outdoor bars and helped myself to a fifth of Smirnoff, ran down to the water's edge and drankand drank, and drank some more. I sat there for I don't know how long, and all of a sudden I hear something that made some kind of sense to me: It was the Johnny Rivers band starting up. The Fender bass was booming as Rivers sang "in-for-ma-tion, op-per-a-tor, give me Memphis, Tennessee." Yes! This made sense to me. I can do this, with all my sax licks and rock and R&B experience. Why, I can be a hero and reverse the shambles of the evening past! I somehow get to the other bandstand, grab my tenor saxand, remembering the clarinet debacle, I made sure that the reed was OK and the mouthpiece was on straight. I then headed for the rock bandstand, where Johnny and the guys were ripping it up on "Bony Maronie." I knew it! So, I jumped up on to the stand while they were playing. I was ripped/stoned, and happy! The looks I got from Johnny and his guys, however, were not. Fuck 'em! I grab a mic, bring it down to the bell of my sax and start to play.
First, a little music lesson, if you will: Guitars and rock singers quite often play and sing in musical keys that have many sharps, which is good for thembut brutally hard for a tenor sax, trumpet and/or any b/flat instrument. All my sax licks were in the keys of C b/flat, g & f. One sharp these cats where blowing in the key of E or D, a harmonic landscape that I had never traversed on any thing but clarinet. Within five notes, I knew that something was terribly wrong: Every note I hit was wrong. I make try after try, but every trick I knew made it worse. I remember people had stopped dancing. Johnny and his band were all decked out in tight red pants, fancy shirts with sequins and neckerchiefs. Picture me up there, with my gig suit. The guys had stopped playing, and I was told in no uncertain terms to vacate the bandstand or be thrown off.
I stepped down, then went and got my horn cases. I didn't see or hear anyone; I had tunnel vision. Everything and everybody just sorta started fading away. The mental house lights on the drama that unfolded that evening were dimming. I could hear the traffic on Pacific Coast Highway. Fritz had given me $65. I, at first, wouldn't take it but he insisted. Now that I reflect back to that evening 47 years ago, I realize ol' Fritz had a long day's night at that Malibu Beach Colony, also.
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