Saturday, June 20, 2015

Legendary Golfer & Crooner Don Cherry Talks About Dean Martin and Jerry Vale


Dan Jenkins, Golf Digest; "Contrary to popular notions, Jimmy Demaret wasn't the best golfer who could sing and Bing Crosby wasn't the best singer who could play golf. The all-time best golfer/singer, singer/golfer is Don Cherry."



Don Cherry, singer, golfer, author Cherry's Jubilee: I came to Las Vegas in 1952 with Peggy Lee the third week the Sands was open. In '52 there were only about 40,000 people, there were only two streets. There's about two and a half million now. Even back when Dean and Frank showed up it was just completely different, it was so much classier then. Now you see everybody walking around, they don't have on suits, some of them wearing shorts, they go to the shows dressed terribly.

I tell you something, for eleven years Dean was the dearest friend I ever had. He was Italian, I told him one time, if I could have just been Italian think of how much more famous I'd have been. Dean said, "Let me call Chicago and I'll call you back in thirty minutes." Like he was going to make me Italian.

We played golf every single day at the Country Club. We played golf everywhere he went, if he would go somewhere like Lake Tahoe or something, they would book me up there. I worked at the Riviera, I worked at the Sands, I worked everywhere when Dean was there. He was about a ten or twelve handicap which is not bad, he was that good a player. I played the Masters nine times, I almost won the US Open in 1960; to me singing and golf came together naturally, I never drank or smoked so I could play golf all day and sing all night. I only needed about five or six hours of sleep, it was perfect for me.

Vic Damone and I did the summer replacement show for Dean in 1967 and I did Dean's show about six or seven times myself. I can't tell you how much he meant to me, really. It was so simple, they didn't have much rehearsal but they had the cue cards so you'd know what you were doing. I enjoyed it more than anything. I guess Dean did more for my career in those days than anybody else ever did.

I'm on the show one time and Dean looks at me and says, "That's the worst hairpiece I ever saw. You go over to Max Factor and get you another hairpiece." Well, I went over there and found a good looking hairpiece and I wore it back to the show. I walked back over to Dean and I said, "Dean this is it." He said, "See the difference? What a wonderful toupee that is." and he called over there and he said, "This is a great hairpiece. I'm going to get this for Don Cherry." They said, "That used to belong to John Wayne." He was singing and had a great sense of humor but I think the thing he'd rather do was play golf.

I worked with Jerry Vale at the Amory in Cleveland, I would do my show and then Jerry would come on. Bill Randall, who was a disc jockey in those days, came to us and said, "There's a guy down in Memphis, Colonel Parker, who has a kid that he's promoting who made an album, do you mind if the kid plays in between the two of you?" So they put Elvis in between the two of us. That was the first time anyone ever heard of Elvis. One night in a nightclub in Queens Jerry Vale came over to me, he hadn't even started yet I think, and said, "Everybody says I sing like you." He never forgot that. He said that was one of the greatest compliments he ever got, that he sang like Don Cherry. He's a very nice guy, he's a wonderful singer, he likes to play golf, too. (Jerry Vale passed away in May of 2014.)

Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra; "We think that Mr. Don Cherry sings the Country Western music better than anybody in the business, but how he can do it so well and not "DRINK" is something we can't figure out. But he is Great."