Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Remembering Bobby Darin by his Guitarist TK Kellman

Bobby DarinBobby Darin made a Splish Splash on TV as Dean Martin's summer replacement in 1972, his variety series did so well NBC brought him back in January of 1973. Ratings were solid, he was attracting huge audiences in Vegas and elsewhere, Bobby Darin had engineered one of the greatest comebacks in show business history.

But it was not to be, fate stepped in, the singer died a year later.

In the late-nineties Bobby Darin's lead guitarist  T. K. Kellman  shared his memories of the TV series, Darin's electric live shows and the last days of one of the most dynamic performers of all time.

I was a regular on screen as well, but technically I was only shown when Bobby Darin played in front of the band and he occasionally introduced me.

Tommy Amato was also part of the band, but Bobby had a particular affection for Tommy (we all did) and included him as a spaced-out hippie percussionist in a recurring skit each week. Actually, we DID perform after the TV show was cancelled; at the Las Vegas Hilton. Bobby, who was unquestionably the consummate performer, would incorporate false exits and "bows" in the show so he could duck briefly backstage and suck on an oxygen mask for a few seconds before returning to the stage. This, understandably, lasted only a short time until he had to cut back his performance schedule drastically.

 I remember we were all sitting in the living room one night at Tommy Amato's house. Bobby, Tommy, myself, Bill McCubbin (bass) and interestingly enough, Telma Hopkins who was living with Tommy at the time. Bobby said "Guys, I think this is it . . It feels like I'm gonna die this year." Although we all poo-poohed him, it was painfully obvious from his weakened condition and gray color that he was seriously ill.

If today's heart bypass operation had been around then, Bobby most assuredly would be performing today. Back then, they used plastic valves which were rejected by the body eventually. That unfortunately, is exactly what happened to Bobby and resulted in his death on the operating table. 

When Bobby cut back his schedule, most of us went to work for Tony Orlando who idolized Bobby and did a tribute to him in his act. He was very excited about using members of his band and to this day we are good friends.

Regarding Bobby's reputation for being hard to work with. He was. He had good days and bad days but for the most part, he treated us (the band) like gold. We hung together like musketeers and we still talk about how great those days were. However, when it came to getting his show and the stage EXACTLY how he wanted it . . . he would be extra demanding. For the most part, it seemed to me he HAD to be that way because he had to overcome what everyone else (sound men, stage production crew, etc.) thought he SHOULD be doing as opposed to what he WANTED to do. After all, he used to say, "If people go out of here dissatisfied, they don't say 'gee the lighting was bad' or 'the sound stunk' . . they say; 'Man, Bobby Darin's show SUCKS!!'"

bobbydarinA quick personal anecdote: When my father had his first heart attack, Bobby arranged to have his doctors flown in immediately to consult with our own in Las Vegas. He personally called my mother and counseled her through the entire crisis telling her he knew what my dad was going through because he had gone through it himself.

 He became, in effect, part of the family, even sleeping over at my house with his son Dodd (nicknamed "moose" at the time). We would wake up early and go work on an old dilapidated boat he bought that was docked on Lake Mead. All the years he had that boat, he never could get it to run. But he loved working on it with the band members and Dodd. Dodd was ten at the time, so I don't know if he even remembers. Mostly, it was just an excuse to hang out. bobby darin in concert

I never saw Bobby impolite or even distant from any fan. He was always unfailingly gracious and accommodating even to people I would consider pesky and some on the edge of reality. Bobby never slighted any of them, sometimes even inviting them backstage to his dressing room and talking to them in his underwear while he was changing clothes.

 He was an exceptional man and the finest performer I've ever worked with bar none, and I've worked with many of the greats. Impeccable comedy timing, singer par excellence, and an unfailing musicality that always earned him a standing ovation. I wish you could have seen him.   -  T. K. Kellman

More Classic TV & Bobby Darin at TVparty!

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Monday, May 2, 2016

WWII Photo of William V. Roberts of Eatonton, GA

Found this snapshot of William V. Roberts of Eatonton, GA taken, I'm guessing, at ORD in Greensboro during WWII around 1944-1945. If you shared this, and others did as well, could this photo find its way to his family?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Open Letter to Governor Pat McCrory from Your Old Pal Billy Ingram

Hi Pat;

Long time no see. You may not remember me from Catawba College but I gave you a ride home a few times Sophomore year. I didn't vote for you for Class President or for Governor but I'm real happy to see you're doing so well. No surprise there.

I always tell anyone who asks, 'Pat's a really nice guy.' And pretty smart I'm guessing, surely intelligent enough to know you're surrounded by a bunch of numbskulls and crackpots who don't have the people's best interests at heart. Is that the price you pay for power, for a seat at those rarified tables, that you lose your soul in the process? Because it's difficult to imagine you can feel comfortable in your skin being the face of draconian policies that you have to realize are not going to make life better for the common folk. Of which I'm one. No surprise there either...

NC used to be number 2 in the nation for film production, employing thousands. After the cast of Hee-Haw took over the legislature they did a stellar job of chasing those jobs away and into the grateful arms of Georgia where TV and movie productions generated an economic impact of more than $6 billion dollars last year. Conservatives have been in total control now for a year and a half, legislative control for the two years before that, where are the glowing returns? Shouldn't we be seeing a revolution of economic activity now that the job creators got their massive tax cuts that we paid for by gutting public education and universities?

We were supposed to see some positive results, right? The third largest city in your state is the hungriest in the nation. Did you forget everything we learned about critical thinking, cause and effect, what works and what doesn't? Or has that been replaced with every man for himself and an eye for an eye?

As you travel our state looking to get reelected you're proposing a pay raise for North Carolina teachers. That's a great idea. Hey, I've got another crackerjack notion! Why don't you and the Republican houses in Raleigh call an emergency session and fucking do that. What's stopping you? You're the Governor, Republicans control both houses and Democrats like the idea too. Because otherwise you are saying this Bathroom Bill is more important than our hard working educators and the future of our kids.

About that Bathroom Bill hemorrhaging millions of dollars, hundreds if not thousands of jobs, along with what little respect North Carolina still possessed. Have you never met a transgender person? They aren't drag queens, they're men and women. The men have penises and the women boobs and vaginas, at least those who've completed that journey. It's a difficult concept to grasp, it was for me, that someone could be born a woman yet, for all intents and purposes, be a man. Harder to believe is that your wife wouldn't mind sharing a shower at the gym with a 200 pound hairy guy who's attracted to women because it says 'Female' on his birth certificate.

Maybe you didn't think that thing all the way through. See, those religious kooks and undereducated inbred millionaire hillbillies you associate with just made you their bitch. In the movie business we had a saying, "It's not how you fuck up it's how you fix it that counts." Someone needs to show some leadership right about now. Maybe it should be our Governor.

All the best, your pal, Billy Ingram

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Comic Book Artist Murphy Anderson

He was one of the greatest comic book artists of all time - Murphy Anderson, best known for his work on Buck Rogers, Superman, Batman, Atomic Knights, Adam Strange, Hawkman, and worlds of science fiction stories. Part of the team that saved the Batman comics from cancellation before the TV series aired. 

Read the story of this amazing gentleman, Murphy Anderson in Yes! Weekly...