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Bebop Spoken There

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

More memories of Johnny Heenan by Bill Harper.

I have to admit that I only very rarely worked with The Heenan (fortunately !!!) --- I couldn't stand having to "slip-in" the odd bar of 5/4, 7/8 or 9/8 as he "crossed the beat" when he was singing. But that apart, he always displayed incredible confidence or what Bruce Adams would describe as a "non-ferrous neck" (brass)!!! I recall a gig with Art. Mowat's Big Band at the George Washington Hotel with John up front as vocalist & MC. The gig was a Golden Wedding Celebration for the parents of an ex-muso, the name of whom I can't recall. When the interval arrived, we were approached by a young "flunkey" who said that sandwiches & coffee would be provided for the Band in one of the adjoining rooms. The young man was "easy meat" for John who promptly took hold of him & in his best withering manner said to him---"Sandwiches? Sandwiches? Young man we are guests of Mr.&.Mrs. So&So ,and as such,we will have the same as that which is being provided for all of the other guests so inform your kitchen immediately-- and while you are about it would you kindly bring me a wine list!!" The chastened flunkey fled but returned after a short time with waitresses & a full 4 course meal for the 15 members of the band & John promptly ordered 3 bottles of expensive wine adding that the cost should also be added to Mr. So & So's bill. When we questioned John about the change of menu, he replied that he had no idea what the food arrangements were for the band and that he barely knew the organiser anyway but why should he accept sandwiches & coffee when there was pheasant & good wine on the menu. I must admit on this occasion that it more than made up for the loss of the odd quaver here & there. Bill Harper

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