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."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

To My Friends Thinking about Suicide

When I was 20 years old my best friend killed herself and it sent me into a spiral of depression that left me awash in suicidal thoughts. After the pointless therapy and the useless drugs I realized this wasn't something that could be talked out or drugged away. The only reason I didn't do it - I knew it would kill my mother and by extension my family. I just couldn't be that much of an asshole. Instead I ended my life by moving to California, tossed everything off to let fate have its way with me. I was rewarded with the kind of life I'd always dreamed of and I had big 'D' dreams. I did it again when I moved back to NC and later when I chucked everything moving to London - events that led to the best years of my life.

There's little solace in knowing when your life is swirling down the toilet that you were the one who pulled the handle but it sure beats having the handle pulled for you. Still, it all leads to the same place - where you needed to be all along. You young folks contemplating ending your lives, you don't have to kill yourself . End your life in a positive way then reap the rewards that await you. I know it's a whole lot tougher for you than it ever was for me, when a job that paid little more than minimum wage was enough to live on and have your own place in LA. When two days looking for a job offered intriguing choices and not last resorts. But that fire inside of you that has you confused, lonely and mentally messed up is what will carry you to your destination and trust me, you do not want to miss out on what's ahead. 

Had I killed myself at 20 I never would have hung out in the punk clubs when the seminal bands you only wish you could have seen (Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Minutemen, Social D) were just bubbling up, never thrived as an artist (with no training) in the motion picture industry, watched the sun go down over the hills above Sunset Boulevard from my deck with the Hollywood sign to my right and downtown LA on the other side, never been the first to create the experience that we all take for granted on the internet (I'll likely not get credit for that!), never written to great acclaim with reviews one can only dream about, learn it's true life begins at 50, never had the most awesome sex and discovered I was the hottest guy in the room, never gone out on a book tour that landed me TV shows on VH1 & Bravo, never discovered what real love is all about (that only recently and I'm single), never been taught, the hard way naturally, to be strong enough to let go of what I can't have.

If you're suicidal there's little anyone you likely know can say or do to help you, certainly not your parents. Those that tell you they've been in your shoes are well-meaning but they have not...  in the same shoe STORE maybe but your situation is unique to you. Just realize if you have three close and dear friends you've beaten the odds already. Lean on them for a while if you are so lucky. If you have to close the blinds and take what time you need before opening them again, fine, wallow if you have to - but you'll be better off in the sunlight. Follow your heart goddamn it, take risks, if you want to kill yourself anyway what do you have to lose? Pretend you did commit suicide then treat the rest of your life as borrowed time, stick your finger in the icing for your sad little cake that you would have missed out on. 

You need a pep talk come to me, stop me and let's go for a walk, I promise I have nothing better to do. I don't come across as the warmest person on the outside, plagued as I am with insecurities and doubts, but if you're reading this I honestly love you and would do anything for you. I mean that. I wish I had the ways and means to give you what little you need, an opportunity to be the person you desire to be and express what you have inside that's pushing to get out. So that you can be the light in other people's lives.

Today is not, as they used to say, the first day of the rest of your life but tomorrow is. Relax behind today. It's not a race, thank God. So many times what looks like a hopeless situation reverses course with just one phone call. Be there for that call, that chance meeting, that unknown opportunity waiting right around the bend. What you need you have been given, you just don't know it yet.

Dark thoughts and unfulfilled longings? The only people that don't experience those are sociopaths and I'll bet we both know a lot of those. So many they skew the view and make the world look like a happier place than it is. Take your lumps, work it out over time, forgive yourself, forgive others on a minute-by-minute basis, be more authentic not less which is the tendency when you're ill.  I know you won't believe it when I tell you to smile more, you'll actually be happier. When a friend told me that I set out to prove him wrong, going around with a smile on my face for a week. Prove me wrong. More people than you know want you to be healthy and happy. Or at least as happy as anyone can be in this fucked up stew we're in...