“I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner,” Mickey Dolenz, the last member of the Monkees said of Mike Nesmith who died Friday. “I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best — singing, laughing, and doing shtick. I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick. Rest in peace, Nez. … All my love, Micky.”
Dolenz and Nesmith just completed the Monkees’ Farewell Tour with a final stop at L.A.’s Greek Theater on Nov. 14.
“I’m sorry to hear about Mike Nesmith. The Monkees had some great songs, those were fun days,” Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson tweeted. “Love & Mercy to Mike’s family and friends.”
“My first big artistic hero, Mike Nesmith,” magician Penn Jillette also tweeted. “He’s a big part of who I am. It’s love you bring, no that I can’t deny. With your wings, you helped me learn to fly. Sweet Young Mike Nesmith.”
Paul Stanley of Kiss responded to Nesmith’s death. “WOW! Sometimes it’s hard to know why someone’s passing hits you a certain way but this is another one that hit me,” he tweeted. “I watch my world change as people that I thought to be timeless pass on, and that is sobering. Lives end and life goes on. RIP Mike Nesmith.”
As a tribute to Mike Nesmith here is a video of the Monkees best Christmas song:
By now most fans know that Nesmith was raised by his mother in Dallas, Texas after her divorce with his father, Wesley upon his return from overseas in the military.
Later, Nesmith attended San Antonio College in the Alamo City where he met his first wife. Soon they moved to Los Angeles so he could pursue his passion of blues and country music.
It didn’t take long for Nesmith to be cast in The Monkees, as one of the made-for-TV band members inspired by the Beatles.
🔹Davy Jones was a British song-and-dance man with a Tony nomination.
🔹Peter Tork was a Greenwich Village folks singer.
🔹Micky Dolenz had played the orphaned Corky in the 1950s TV show “Circus Boy.”
“Who would play what and who would sing and who would write and who would produce the records was of keen interest to me,” Nesmith wrote in his 2017 memoir, “Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff.” “So I was unprepared for the idea that the four of us would have nothing to do with any of that.”
Rest In Peace and thanks for the memories, Michael Nesmith (1942-2021).
Sweden’s legendary superstar group, ABBA, has released their first studio album in nearly 40 years. In seven days, it has blasted off to reach the top of the UK charts, becoming the fastest seller of the year so far, the Official Charts Company said on Friday.
“Voyage” by the Swedish quartet of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid racked up 204,000 chart sales in the seven days since it was launched last Friday.
Sales gave the supergroup the biggest opening week on the UK album chart in four years since Ed Sheeran’s “Divide”, and fastest-selling album by a group in eight years.
ABBA, propelled to global fame by their 1974 Eurovision Song Contest win with “Waterloo,” split in 1982, a year after their last album, “The Visitors.”
“Voyage” is their 10th number one album in the UK: only seven other acts — Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie — have achieved more.
The group said in a statement: “We are so happy that our fans seem to have enjoyed our new album as much as we enjoyed making it.
“We are absolutely over the moon to have an album at the top of the charts again.”
The 204,000 sales comprise 90 percent physical copies, including 29,900 on vinyl, making it the fastest-selling vinyl release of the 21st century.
The previous record holder was the Arctic Monkeys’ “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” which sold 24,500 vinyl copies in 2018.
The last fastest-seller was One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” in November 2013.
“It’s hard to say what’s been the most joyful thing for me (Benny) with this project. If it’s the involvement in creating the concert together with everyone or being back in the studio together again after 40 years. I think hearing Frida and Agnetha singing again is hard to beat. When you come to the arena you will have the four of us together with an absolutely glorious 10-piece band. And even if not in the flesh, we will be right there, thanks to the work of the creative team and ILM.”
“Those first sessions back in 2018 were such fun and when Benny called and asked if I’d (Anni-Frid) consider singing some more I jumped at it! And what songs!! My respect and love go out to these exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters! Such joy it was to work with the group again. I am so happy with what we have made, and I dearly hope our fans feel the same.”
“When we got back together in the studio I (Agnetha) had no idea what to expect…But Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!”
“They’re such amazing singers those two, I (Björn) was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs. They’re true musicians; totally unimpressed by pop star glamour but still having a great time being creative in a recording studio. The “Voyage” project has injected new life into us in more ways than one.”
“So, again, thanks for waiting! We hope to see you in the “ABBA Arena” and yes – see – because we have infused a good deal of our souls into those avatars. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back.”
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.
This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.
You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twillight Zone!
You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!
Please Support These Patriotic American Owned Businesses
Woods is reported to have scored an outstanding 1579 in SAT, getting the maximum score of 800 in reading and 779 in Math. His IQ is 160+.
Any person with an IQ higher than 160 is considered an “extraordinary genius.”Albert Einstein, one of the greatest physicists in history, had an IQ of 160.
In an age of strange and wicked Hollywood, Woods manages to maintain his intelligence, friendly demeanor and American patriotism. From his Twitter page, here are a dozen recent photos he posted, with some of his commentary.
James Woods on Twitter, Fall 2021
“Ironically these are among the greatest books in modern literature,” Woods wrote. “Most of them have one thing in common: they warn about the dangers of tyranny or censorship.”
“I went out in 14th place out of 253 entires. Prize was $6,579. I hoped to win it, of course, but a nice cash nonetheless. #WSOP“
“Meanwhile back when life was full of innocent fun and long summer days of laughter and camaraderie.” (Second from left in front row)
“We owe so much to this giant of a man.”
“Everybody’s income tax also = $0? Party!!!!”
“In one of America’s darkest hours, this glorious banner offered hope to the hurting and honor to the brave. I will ALWAYS stand for this Flag as long as God gives me strength.”
Please Support These Patriotic American Owned Family Businesses
In previous writings and conversations over the years, when I asked if others could name Elvis Presley’s first #1 rated national record, the answers were inevitably “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” or “Hound Dog.” Ocassionally, “Love Me Tender” or “Jailhouse Rock” were mentioned.
Even most big time Elvis fans were wrong. The first #1 national hit was released on August 1, 1955. Although I wasn’t born until four months later, I remembered the date because it was my maternal grandmother, Ruby Floyd’s, 45th birthday.
A few years or so later, she’d play Elvis Presley’s greatest hits album and we would dance to each song on both sides of the disc. It’s little wonder I became a solid lifelong Elvis fan.
The first night of showing a new movie at the Trail or Mission Drive In theaters in San Antonio, my family would be there early–in time to be parked front and center and catch the cartoons and upcoming attractions previews.
Bill Black, Scotty Moore with the addition of Johnny Bernero on drums were the musicians.
Elvis’ first national hit was actually his last recording at Sun Studios and was cut on July 11, 1954 but released on August 1st over a year later.
Johnny was actually a full time plumber who worked opposite Sun Studios, but was hired by Sam Phillips to play drums from time to time.
Johnny was a bit older than the rest of the group and was more of a western swing style drummer, evidenced from the groove he plays on this track. He was offered the job as Elvis’ drummer but turned it down due to having a family.
Johnny did go on to record under his own name at Sun, however the singles weren’t released at the time and he never became successful in the music industry. You can find some of his recordings on line now though.
Scotty Moore’s guitar had a Nashville steel guitar sound, and Bill Black played a clip-clop rhythm on his large stand-up bass (now owned by Sir Paul McCartney).
Elvis sang a brooding vocal. This is the closest the trio came to a traditional country song while at Sun.
The song reached the Billboard national country music chart #1 position on February 25, 1956 on the Billboard C&W Best Sellers in Stores chart. It remained there at #1 for 2 weeks, and spent 5 weeks at #1 on the Billboard C&W Most Played in Juke Boxes chart.
The record reached #4 on the Billboard Most Played by Jockeys chart. It was the first recording to make Elvis Presley a nationally-known country music star. The song remained on the country charts for 39 weeks.
The single reached no. 2 on the Cash Box Country singles chart on the March 10, 1956 Top 15 Country Best Sellers Chart.
The flip side of this release, “Mystery Train”, peaked at the #11 position on the national Billboard Country Chart.
Believing in miracles, coincidences, and serendipity can be a stunning endeavor. Many people consider them a lucky break, a fluke, or happenstance. But it only takes a second, an eighth of an inch, or some other instance to stumble upon a blessing or make a difference in life.
At any given moment, at any location, by any given person, lives can be moved and shaped by our decisions, actions, or circumstances.
Job 9:10 “He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.”
It’s been 65 years ago this month. ABC Radio Network’s Peabody Award winner, Edward P. Morgan maintained his professional composure while broadcasting the most challenging newscast of his life. Based in New York City, Morgan reported the collision of two ocean liners in the Atlantic Ocean off the Massachusetts coast.
Later, Morgan would become known as an anchor with Howard K. Smith on ABC television covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a press panelist between the campaign debates of Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon, and a hands on reporter at presidential nominating conventions. But on the night of July 25, 1956 as he announced the details of the disaster at sea, his listeners had no knowledge that his 14-year-old daughter was on one of the vessels.
During the broadcast, Morgan was handed a list of 52 dead passengers from the crashing of the S.S. Stockholm into the luxury liner S.S. Andrea Doria.
As the ships separated and the Andrea Doria started to sink, rescue and first aid efforts began almost immediately. Passengers were escorted to lifeboats while six vessels in the area closed in.
Morgan had announced that among those survivors were Hollywood actresses Ruth Roman and Betsy Drake (wife of Cary Grant). Also on board were Philadelphia mayor Richard Dilworth and a man named Mike Stoller, who later wrote many Elvis Presley hits such as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Treat Me Nice.”
This was the last night at sea of their Trans-Atlantic trip from Naples, Italy to New York.
“It was a very foggy night and the fog horns had been sounding regularly for hours,” Anna Maria Conti, who was traveling with her mother Lucia, explained. “The ship was due to dock at 9:00 a.m. the next morning… we proceeded to the ballroom and listened to the band for a while before retiring for the night.”
“About an hour later, we were startled from our sleep by people screaming and yelling outside our cabin and opened the door to see what was going on. People were scrambling around trying to find other family members in other cabins. Someone shouted that we were sinking, others thought there was a fire.”
“Many of the passengers were barefooted, in their nightclothes, and panic stricken. My mother and I decided to get dressed quickly, put on our life jackets and report to our muster station as we had practiced on our second day out to sea. Our muster station was located in the main ballroom of the cabin class section of the ship.”
“We had difficulty getting dressed as we were staggering and trying to stand upright and assumed it was the rough ocean. When we left our cabin, we noticed the floor was no longer level and we could not close the door. I know now the ship was listing. It was difficult to walk and stand upright while trying to get to our muster station. We had to hold on to the railings in the corridors to move. There was panic, confusion and chaos. There were no announcements on the intercom.”
The Contis eventually reached the main ballroom where they found many passengers assembled.
They waited for “instructions or information on the intercom but it was silent. The only sounds we heard were those of distant screams, broken glass and furniture sliding across the room as the ship continued to list. We still did not know what was happening. Tables, chairs, and musical instruments slid across the room while we waited and prayed. Two nuns that were in the room with us left. A priest came in and gave general absolution to everyone and also left. Where were they going? For sure we thought this was the end.”
“Thinking we had nothing to lose, we decided to go up the stairs and on deck. Some passengers had gone before us and others after us. To reach the upper deck on the starboard side of the ship we were forced to crawl up the stairs on our hands and knees due to the severely listing ship. It was impossible to stand up. While crawling, we had to dodge sliding furniture and broken glass which was all over the floors and stairs.”
“We finally reached the upper deck and couldn’t believe what we saw. Passengers were leaving the ship. If we had not ventured up on deck from the main ballroom, we might never have known that the ship was sinking and that passengers were being evacuated.”
Thinking death was imminent, Conti cherishes the next moments, in her eyes, a miracle. Suddenly, the dense fog lifted. In the distance they could see the bright welcoming lights of the luxury liner, Ile de France, which was traveling outbound from New York.
When the Andrea Doria sent the SOS, the captain of the Ile de France, Raul De Beauden, immediately ordered that the ship reverse her course.
Captain Beauden and his crew would soon be rescuing the Contis and 751 other passengers, “many half-naked,” from the doomed Andrea Doria. He kept the Ile de France a safe 500 feet away and lowered his desperately needed lifeboats for the sinking ship’s passengers.
“It seemed like a mirage in the middle of the ocean,” Conti said. “The lifeboats were evacuating the passengers of the Andrea Doria to the Ile de France with the assistance of other smaller boats. Crew members and some of the passengers helped women and children to climb up over the side of the ship to rope ladders and descend to waiting life boats. It was a long way down and many people fell into the ocean screaming. My mother urged me to go first and she would follow. As terrified as I was, I knew that at 19 I could physically climb down that rope ladder.”
“I had doubts that my 56 year old mother would follow or be able to climb down,” Conti remembered. “I couldn’t take the chance that she would not and the crew was rushing us to move quickly as time was running out. I refused to climb over until my mother did first and with the aid of others we helped her over the side of the ship. I remember yelling down to her to ‘hold tight’ reassuring her that I was right behind her. We made it to a waiting lifeboat safely. Praise the Lord!”
But on the list of those who did not survive were radio news broadcaster Edward P. Morgan’s daughter, Linda, along with her half-sister, 8-year-old Joan.
Linda’s mother and stepfather had bedded down in the upper deck of Cabin 54, while she and Joan slept in Cabin 52.
While others onboard heard the crash, Linda’s family directly experienced the terror when the Stockholm smashed 30 feet into their side of the ship. At 11:11 p.m. the two ships began pulling apart as scraping sparks showered the water.
Prior to the voyage, Andrea Doria Captain Piero Calamai sought a trip postponement due to steering and stability problems. Because it was the height of the summer travel season and the ship was completely booked, his request to place the vessel into drydock for repairs was denied.
While Andrea Doria started her 230-plus feet descent to the ocean bed, Stockholm somehow remained afloat. One of the crew members, thirty-six year old Bernabe Polanco Garcia, surveying the damages, heard a familiar language above him.
Someone was calling in Spanish among the mangled steel of the Stockholm’s bow. He walked up and toward the call to hear the words “Madre! Madre! Dónde esta Mama” (“Mother! Mother! Where is my mother?”). On his hands and knees he crawled forward and found a young teenage girl in yellow pajamas. She looked up from the mattress she was still on. It was Linda Morgan.
Miraculously, as Stockholm’s bow crushed through the Andrea Doria, it lodged just under Linda’s bed in such a way that it hurled her at least 80 feet onto its own front deck. She landed just behind a 30-inch sea breaker that spanned the full width of the ship. Below her were crew quarters in the forward section where five crew members were killed and others injured.
Captain John Shea, commander of the USNS Pvt. William H. Thomas, directed rescue operations for almost six hours. He classified the cause of so many people being saved was due to “a miracle.” With over 30 years of experience Shea said he had never seen a rescue operation proceed so smoothly.
“It is certainly unusual to get so many survivors off a sinking ship safely,” he observed. “If this happened four months from now it would be a different story. In cold weather there would be lives lost. You could bet on it.”
“A thing like that would happen once in a lifetime,” he continued. “If the fog hadn’t lifted when it did it would have been bad, very bad.”
Naturally, Linda’s name was not on the register of persons rescued from Andrea Doria lifeboats. She was assumed dead or missing at sea. Upon the Stockholm’s arrival at New York, she was taken to St. Vincent Hospital with a broken arm, kneecaps, and minor injuries. Around the world, the press reported her as the “Miracle Girl.”
During his broadcast the following day, Morgan, whose credo was “to be as fair as possible but as critical as possible,” revealed he had just returned from meeting his daughter at the dock. She had survived the collision, and was indeed the “Miracle Girl.” This emotional announcement became one of the most memorable in radio news history.
“To all those, of whatever nationality, who participated in the rescue operations following the tragic collision between the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm I extend personal congratulations and admiration,” President Dwight D. Eisenhower extended his “personal congratulations and admiration” to those involved in rescue operations.
When her Spanish-speaking rescuer, Polanco, went to the hospital the next weekend to pay her a visit, administrator Sister Loretta Bernard presented him with a Miraculous Medal Of Our Lady.
Mr. Morgan, who had worked in Mexico City where Linda was born, greeted him with an enthusiastic squeeze. “Hombre, hombre,” Mr. Morgan reacted. “Man, man how can I ever thank you?”
Linda grew up graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, moved to Washington D.C and met a coworker named Phillip at the Office of Economic Opportunity. Phillip had been a captain piloting B-47 bombers in the United States Air Force and later became the executive secretary of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration. When he met Linda, Phillip was a special assistant to the director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Her mother, Jane Cianfarra painfully survived on the Andrea Doria, but on each anniversary of the July 25th disaster she would sink into depression thinking of her daughter Joan and the remembrance of seeing her husband take his last breath.. It was on a July 25th in 1967 that she died. The following year Linda and Phillip were married and moved to San Antonio in 1970, where she became active in civic affairs.
“At 14, you think you live forever,” she said in 1997. “I learned otherwise earlier than most. The accident made me more cautious in the physical things, but less afraid of growing old and more adventurous in the mental things. I was pleased when we moved from Washington, where people live such public lives, to Texas, where people accept you for what you are and do.”
“I never understood the attention I got because I didn’t do anything, I just survived,” she continued. “I was once given a life-saving award, but I didn’t save any lives. I just survived. I couldn’t take credit for anything.”
“My husband’s a pilot,” Linda was quoted in the book “Saved!” by William Hoffer. “We fly all over. We hike and canoe and climb. I feel life is to be lived to the fullest. Life is precious. There’s a very thin line between when you’re living and when you’re not.”
Linda earned a master’s degree in Library Science from Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, and master’s degree in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin. She worked for seven years at the San Antonio Art Museum and later became the chief curator of the highly respected Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum.
She was the founding curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts and has authored books on the history of stage design in Europe, Russia and the United States. She’s been a member of the Historic Review Board and the San Antonio Conservation Society. Recently a permanent endowment fund in her name was formally announced to provide support to grow community gardens, harvest stations, water catchment systems and training opportunities throughout the city.
As for husband Phillip, he became Chief Justice of the 4th Court of Appeals and a future respected mayor of San Antonio–the Honorable Phil Hardberger.
In 1977, he piloted a single-engine plane to re-create Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic on the event’s 50th anniversary. In 2007, Hardberger was honored by the Federal Aviation Administration with the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award for 50 years of piloting planes safely.
The most popular mayor in San Antonio history (approval rating of 86%), he expanded the River Walk, brought integrity back to city leadership and led the acquisitions of more parks.
A signature Voelcker dairy farm and homestead was acquired in 2007 and turned into a park. In recognition, the City Council in late 2009 named it Phil Hardberger Park.
Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the first true rock ‘n’ rollers. He catapulted to fame with his 1957 hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and proved to the world that a piano man could play front and center on the world’s biggest stages.
He has stirred up some trouble in his days, once lighting a piano on fire on stage with a Coca-Cola bottle of gasoline to close out the show. Other rock legends have said that they never wanted to follow Jerry Lee Lewis’ performance.
Dodie and I drove by his home, the Lewis Ranch in Nesbit, Mississippi not too long ago, but on that particular day, “The Killer” was not home. He was out rockin’–but not in a rocking chair. It was where he needed to be, on a piano bench.
Lewis was born on September 29th, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana. He began playing the piano at age 9, copying the styles of preachers and black musicians that traveled through the area.
He signed with Sun Records in 1956 and quickly became a star. He was the first person inducted into the first class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
With his innovative and flamboyant piano playing style, Jerry Lee Lewis emerged as one of rock music’s early showmen in the 1950s. His musical talents became apparent early on in life. He taught himself to play piano and sang in church growing up. Lewis listened to such radio shows as the Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride. Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and Al Jolson were some of his early influences.
When he was 10, Lewis’ father mortgaged the family farm to buy Jerry Lee his first piano. He gave his first public performance at the age of 14, wowing the crowd gathered for the opening of a local car dealership with his piano prowess. With little formal education, he basically gave up on school around this time to focus on his music.
Rise To The Top
Lewis eventually ended up in Memphis, Tennessee, where he found work as a studio musician for Sun Studios. In 1956, he recorded his first single, a cover of Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms,” which did well locally. Lewis also worked on some recording sessions with Carl Perkins. While working at Sun, he and Perkins jammed with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. This session by the “Million Dollar Quartet” was recorded at the time, but it was not released until much later.
In 1957, Lewis became a star with his unique piano-driven sound. “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” became a hit on the pop, country and R&B charts. By this time, Lewis had also developed some of his famous stage antics, such as playing standing up and even lighting the occasional piano on fire. He had such energy and enthusiasm in his performances that he earned the nickname “The Killer” for the way he knocked out his audiences.
Lewis was on a roll with his next single, “Great Balls of Fire,” proving to be another big hit in December 1957. The following March, Lewis struck again with “Breathless,” which made it into the Top 10 of the pop charts.
In the 1960s, Lewis returned to the music of his youth. He found a new career as a country artist, scoring a hit with 1968’s “Another Place, Another Time.” Lewis recorded several country albums over the next few years, including 1970’s Olde Tyme Country Music and 1975’s Boogie Woogie Country Man.
Lewis never left the rock world completely. In 1973, he did well on the album charts with “The Session”. He revisited some of his older songs as well as the works of Chuck Berry and John Fogerty on this popular recording.
When he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first class in 1986, there was a strong resurgence in his rock & roll career and music. A new generation of listeners got introduced to Lewis through the 1989 biopic “Great Balls of Fire”, when Lewis was played by actor Dennis Quaid.
This nearly lifelong musician and singer continues to record new music and perform around the world. For 2006’s “Last Man Standing”, Lewis sang a number of rock, blues and country classics with some help from such famous admirers as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Buddy Guy. Collaborator Kristofferson described Lewis as “one of the few who can do rock ‘n’ roll, country or soul, and every song is authentic.” He told USA Today that Lewis is “one of the best American voices ever.”
Lewis and Kristofferson worked together again on Lewis’s next effort, 2010’s “Mean Old Man”. The all-star guests on this release included Eric Clapton, Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and John Fogerty among others.
In April of 2013 Lewis opened Jerry Lee Lewis’ Café & Honky Tonk on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. It is filled with one of the Killer’s pianos, a motorcycle, photos, and memorabilia, along with great food and live music.
2014 kicked off Jerry Lee’s “80th Birthday Tour” with shows across the country, from California to Tennessee to New York. The Killer is also traveling to Europe.
In October of 2014 The Killer released his first ever biography with Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg. “Jerry Lee Lewis – His Own Story” came out to critical acclaim. His new CD “Rock & Roll Time” also came out in October. He told Rolling Stone magazine “This is a rock & roll record…That’s just the way it came out”. As he looks back on six decades of music and what the future holds, Lewis says he’s grateful. “I just think it’s a blessing from God that I’m still living… and I’m still rocking.”
Lewis spends most of his time-off at The Lewis Ranch in Nesbit, Mississippi, where he is happily married to his wife Judith, since March 9th, 2012.
Judith, a fan favorite, keeps the faithful up to date on social media. Here are some recent photos.
Fifty years ago today—on July 12, 1971—the first authorized U.S. performance of Jesus Christ Superstar was held at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. It was a concert tour leading up to the show’s October launch on Broadway.
Two days later, the show came to Asbury Park, New Jersey. A review of that show called it “a fascinating and beautiful piece of music and ideas.”
The reviewer added, “It will be interesting to see what the Broadway version is like. Doesn’t seem as if it could beat this one.”
On October 27, 1970, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, who would go on to become the most successful composer-lyricist team in modern theater history, released a double-LP “concept” album called Jesus Christ Superstar, which only later would become the smash-hit Broadway musical of the same name.
The album spawned a Top 40 single in versions of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” by both Yvonne Elliman and Helen Reddy, and it shot all the way to the top of the Billboard album charts in early 1971.
The original Broadway show debuted on October 12, 1971, and had 711 performances before closing in July 1973.
Since then, the franchise has included a 1973 movie along with other Broadway productions.
CleverJourneys is Proud to be Sponsored by GREEN PASTURE PRODUCTS.
Knowing I’m an advid autograph collector, my mother, Geraldine Dennis was always on the lookout and obtained several signatures for me.
In April 1969, she took me to a Tom Jones concert with my cousins Carolyn Sanders Gerland and James Johnson at the Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio, Texas. Gladys Knight and the Pips and comedian Norm Crosby also appeared.
They performed on a center stage the of the arena, with an amazing orchestra on one side. I was only 13 and the entire show was incredible. Tom Jones sang such hits as “It’s Not Unusual,” “Delilah,” and “Help Yourself.”
I was mesmerized by the strength in his voice and boldness of his showmanship. (It would three years later, in April 1972, when I would see Elvis Presley for the first time at that same arena…and up until that concert, never did I believe Tom Jones could be beat. LOL.)
For years Mom would laugh and say, “When I die I want to come back reincarnated as a gospel backup singer so I can stand behind Tom Jones and watch him work on stage.”
She meant it.
On her 50th birthday we took her to the Magic Time Machine restaurant. It first opened in 1973, the year I graduated from high school, and continues to be a fun favorite in San Antonio.
The Time Machine is like no other restaurant I’ve ever seen, with no two seating areas alike. In San Antonio, you can sit at the Sweethearts Table, in The Attic, a Thatched Hut or even an old Refrigerator. Mom loved the salad bar, a shiny red 1952 MG-TD Roadster modified to serve as a soup and salad vegetables.
“The thing that sets The Magic Time Machine apart is our zany cast of characters who transport our guests into another point in time,” their website bills themselves. “Our servers dress in costumes representing popular pop culture icons from the past, present, and future. The entertainment comes from the humorous interaction with your server in a family friendly environment. Pirate or Princess? Hero or Villain? We have characters for every occasion and group. At The Magic Time Machine, ‘Laughing Aloud is Allowed’!”
It was a fun night that January 17, 1988. Elvis was in the house and Mom told her friends Wayne and Betty Lewis, “I wished Tom Jones would make an appearance too” and explained her reincarnation wish.
We had great laughs but it was especially joyful to see her open my present to her—an 8×10″ glossy personally autographed picture of Tom Jones. The smile and happy tears on her face endure in my thoughts even today.
I took mom to see Tom Jones two more times (she had even seen him in Las Vegas) both in San Antonio’s Majestic Theater and the Laurie Auditorium. Each time she repeated her reincarnation wish–“gospel singer behind Tom Jones.”
When Mom died in September 2006, the funeral at First Baptist Church in Boerne, Texas was full. My sister Bobbi Shipman and I both addressed our dear family and friends, some we hadn’t seen in decades. Of course, there was great emotion and sadness.
To end it all, a gospel group from a Black San Antonio church led by Janet Givens (she has sang to royalty and backed up Michael Bolton) practically blew the stained glass windows out of the church with their songs. They concluded with “Oh Happy Day!”
Mom’s funeral was appropriately uplifting…just like her.
I imagine that as Sir Tom Jones celebrates his 81st birthday here on Earth June 7th, Mom will be wishing him good will and happiness from Heaven–and looking at his behind.
From Elvis Presley to B.B. King to Buzz Aldrin to Clint Eastwood and so many more, I had the pleasure and opportunity visit with some of the most influential people of our times. I always asked questions about happiness.
by Jack Dennis
Rudolph Giuliani is best known for being mayor of New York during the September 11, 2001 attack. In 2008, I had the opportunity to meet Giuliani in San Antonio. The American leader expressed his thoughts on his personal change, compassion, hope and faith during the disaster.
“Most people are surprised to know that I changed more from having prostate cancer than from September 11,” Giuliani stated, backstage at the Alamodome, where he was to give a speech later. “Dealing with the cancer forced me to gain the wisdom about the importance of life and the lack of control we have over death.”
“I needed the confidence and character I gained from coping with the cancer to prepare me to deal with, and even survive, the trials of September 11,” the former mayor said.
Giuliani found himself surrounded by firefighters, police officers and emergency workers on that fateful day in 2001. The worst attack on American soil became the most successful rescue operation in our country’s history under his leadership.
That evening, as Giuliani prepared for bed, he found solace in the words of Winston Churchill and “realized that courage doesn’t simply materialize out of thin air.”
Giuliani attended hundreds of funerals and visited Ground Zero daily.
“I grew physically and emotionally exhausted,” he recalled. “When I saw the families of the victims, I was revived knowing if they can do this, I can do it.”
“Courage begins years before, sometimes in our early childhood, as we develop our character,” he spoke. “Every choice we make in life can strengthen or weaken our character.”
Here are highlights of Mr. Giuliani’s views.
“When I was in my teens, I seriously planned to become either a priest or a doctor as I have always been faithful and enthusiastic about my faith in God and helping others. Religion was a favorite topic I enjoyed talking with my teachers about. Prayer and faith in God provided me with the strength I could not acquire from any other source. When things are tough, it’s always a good idea to pray for the guidance and strength necessary to get us through.”
“Most of my time as mayor was spent under the maxim that it’s better to be respected than to be loved. September 11 unlocked compassion in me that I typically reserved for my family and very close friends. I discovered that revealing your love and compassion does not weaken leadership. It makes it stronger.”
“Allowing doubt, fear and worry to overtake us is an inevitable path to failure. I could not afford failure after September 11. It was very necessary to reach inside and push the doubts away, and even out, of my thinking.”
“I’ve spent much of my reading on learning about how great leaders that I admired grew up and forged the character each had to deal with different substantial challenges. Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt came to mind. ‘Then only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”
“Love can spark deep moments of profound goodness. When I saw the love of our heroes in New York who looked beyond their own safety or what was best for themselves and focus on the lives and safety of others, I learned that love can help us push aside differences to share our humanity and those things that we have in common.”
“I prayed with these brave men and women. I became very close and was able to learn from these firefighters, police officers and emergency responders, not to mention ordinary every day civilians. At the root of all of this, it was love, and not so much the sense of duty, that caused those firefighters to run into the flaming towers to save those he or she had never met. Love can so powerful it can help us be kind to even those who are cruel to us.”
Jerry Lewis, “one of the 5 most recognizable people in the world,” according to Newsweek magazine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his efforts and results with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The “King of Comedy” died August 20, 2017 at age 91. Millions know him for helping the Muscular Dystrophy Association in 1950 and helped raise more than $2 billion for almost 60 years.
He teamed up with Dean Martin at age 19 to launch their careers to the top of the movie charts and worldwide stardom.
In 2008, I had the opportunity to meet Lewis in San Antonio. The American comedian, actor, and director expressed his thoughts on happy and the key to success in life before he went on stage to address a crowd of 18,000 people in the Alamodome.
“No one gets through life unscathed,” Lewis told the audience. “Pain, rejection and sorrow have been obstacles in life, but they have also been a source of inspiration.”
“My parents were performers on the road and were never home, so relatives raised me. I missed them so much,” he recalled. “Comedy, and being the center of attention and making people laugh, began as a means to fill the emptiness. It became my life.”
“At first I didn’t know what I was doing,” Lewis laughed. “I kept going on and I found the key and that was to squelch the fear!”
“Don’t let fear rob you of opportunities,” he pointed up. “Take risks. There is no limit to what you can do, but you have to take that first step past fear. You can make it work for you.”
Here are highlights of Lewis’s views, both backstage and onstage:
I had met Jerry Lewis briefly behind the Majestic Theater in San Antonio in January 1995 where he was performing the play ‘Damn Yankees.’ It was after a matinee show, his throat was hurting and his voice was hoarse to the point he had to be relieved of showing up for the evening performance.
He was staying at the La Mansion hotel on the River Walk just across the street from the theater but was unable to meet. It was a pleasure to get to go backstage at the Alamodome years later and talk with this great American entertainer.
Lewis had been watching the monitors backstage to see those going on before him onstage. Dressed in a back suit, with a red shirt and handkerchief in his front pocket, Lewis smiled from his electric mobility scooter as I approached. (Note: I had just won a dance contest by process of elimination from the audience crowd roar among 21 contestants. The prize? A free trip to Walt Disney World for my family.)
“Mr. Energy, come shake my hand,” he offered his hand to me. I was exhausted and happy to win, but especially excited to meet him. He laughed when I asked what was his key to happiness in life.
Looking at me square in the eyes, Jerry Lewis grabbed my arm with his right hand and pointed to me with his left. He was serious. Then smiled again.
“The key to happiness and maintaining joy in your life is easy,” he grinned. “Do you remember when you were nine-years-old?”
“If you can remember that time and always be the person you were when you were nine, you will have a happy life.”
“Applying that same sense of humor, the childlike humor of a nine-year-old, as I see it, is the secret to getting through life and getting the most out of it,” Lewis explained. “Laughter is healing. Many doctors now know that it is the truth that laughter is a terrific safety valve.”
“When I see how serious people are, it becomes automatic for me that I must stop this seriousness,” Lewis spoke. “Immediately, I become mischievous and do whatever I can and whatever it takes to lighten the mood.”
“The smiles and laughter that follow make me happy and make me know and remember I’m doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do.”
Jerry Lewis’s legacy includes more than 60 films (including 18 he wrote, directed and starred in), concerts, radio, television, and standup performances since age 5.
Over the years I made it a habit to always ask the question, “What makes you happy?”
If they answered and had the time, I would ask for elaboration. I didn’t always get it and some where reluctant to pursue that line of questioning. The biggest surprise was from Merle Haggard (I will write about later). But here are some notable personalities who were enthusiastic about the subject of happiness.
The age they were when I asked them.
“…remember when you were nine-years-old? Always be the person you were when you were nine.”
“Knowing and appreciating what God has blessed me with.”
“Always reach for the stars.”
“John said it best: IMAGINE.”
“Working hard, and long enough, to pay my dues and earn the right to do what I want to do.”
“Well, Son, it music of course. Singing and playing.”
“Continuing to learn and continuing to have opportunities to apply what you learn.”
I watched a video of two fourteen year old boys recently trying to use a 1970s vintage rotary dial phone without any instructions. It was hilarious. Hadn’t they ever seen an old movie video of anyone using a dial phone? Or watch an old episode of the Dynamic Duo on the Batphone?
“What is this coiled cord for?”
“These holes? With numbers?”
It took them 21 minutes, together, to do it. The dial tone was hard to figure out, but putting their fingers in a dial (especially “9”) and seeing their reaction as the dialer spun around was amusing.
This made us wonder what other things younger generations may not know about.
When my daughter, Jennifer, was a teenager, a large closet was open upstairs in my home office.
“What are those, Dad?”
She pointed to hundreds of LP record albums in my collection.
“You don’t know what record albums are?”
I reached for one and unsleeved it to show her how to handle them. Fortunately I still had a workable record player at the time. She was amazed how the needle made the music.
Since then, we’ve gone through 8-track and cassette tapes, DVDs and a few other advancements along the way. Dodie and I Bluetoothed it along the way in our recent road trips and we are still not certain how they work.
As long as they can play Elvis, Beatles, Eagles, Roy Orbison, The Cars, Rod Stewart, Blondie, Dire Straits, Merle Haggard, George Jones, George Strait, Stevie Ray Vaughan and some good Mississippi Delta Blues, the technology doesn’t matter to us.
We started thinking about simple things younger generations may not know about. Some of these might be nice tips, hints for better living, or just interesting history. Here’s a few. We will add more now and then.
Loop In Back Of Shirt
First of all, this doesn’t apply to garden-variety t-shirts. Surely, you own at least one nice, collared shirt that has this mysterious loop in the top middle of your back. We actually have the Navy to thank for the loops on our shirts.
Believe it or not, there isn’t a lot of closet space while you’re out at sea, so sailors would have loops on their shirts so they could just hang them on hooks. College kids in the 1960s and 70s also utilized the loops, as we could hang up our shirts and keep them neat and wrinkle-free while at the gym.
Today, manufacturers put them on shirts as a sign of class and quality. Also, you may have noticed that young ladies sometimes pull the loops of boys they like, so there is still a practical reason to have these on our shirts.
Randomly Placed Buttons On Jeans
Avid jeans wearers are no doubt aware of all the extra buttons scattered about their pants, usually around their pockets.
Yes, it seems a little odd, but you’ve probably just accepted that’s how jeans are made. But those buttons actually have an important purpose.
First, they’re technically called rivets, even if they resemble buttons. More importantly, they are strategically placed on the jeans to prevent them from getting worn out at the seams and ripping. Imagine that happening at an inopportune time and you’ll be glad your jeans are properly riveted.
It’s actually interesting to note that jean tycoon Levi Strauss owns the patent on these rivets. The idea came about in 1829 after miners complained about how quickly their jeans were wearing out. Young Mr. Strauss came up with a solution to the problem, and now it seems like jeans can practically last forever.
Ridges On Coins
We’re not sure if everyone has noticed this, but both quarters and dimes have rough edges while pennies and nickels don’t.
Go ahead, check all of your coins to confirm that I’m not lying to you. See, it’s true. Well, the reason for this goes back to the days when coins were stamped in different weights to reflect the true value of the coin.
To stop people from shaving the edges of the coins and melting them into new coins, minters put ridges on coins made of precious metals so that it would be easy to tell if the edges had been shaved off. It’s not really an issue today, but we still have edges on our coins.
Volume 2 Coming Soon: Same Bat Channel, Same Bat Time.