I didn’t really have an act per se – a theatrical performance, as opposed to just: here I am, folks, and you’re all supposed to be dead quiet while I sing eight or nine songs, then get off the stage.
As a singer, the biggest joy I have are the arrangements.
Because obviously the whole purpose of putting records out is purely and simply to make money.
My initial career, really, as a baby, was as a singer.
I was a singer professionally when I was four years old, and I did not really begin to play any instrument – the first one, of course, was drums – till I was about nine years old.
As Buddy Rich, for instance, broke into the business at the age of three, I think it was, on drums, so indeed did I break into the business at the age of four as a singer.
To me, nostalgia is nothing more than a mindless plundering of the past for the commonplace.
I hadn’t been a recording artist all that long when albums came on the scene, and I was one of the first singers to point the way to how varied an album’s contents could be.
I want to sing for the broadest possible audience.
Buddy Rich is one of a kind; he’s a genius, and that’s all there is to it.
Right now, my career is in three directions: as a performer, as an arranger, as an author – and I don’t give any one of them true precedent, or true top marks, as opposed to the other two.
See, I never wrote arrangements for the band for Judy Garland; I did strictly special material, special lyrics, put together all of her medleys.
Talking money is crass; so I’m not going to tell you what I made last year.
Whenever I did a good performance, my Dad and my uncles, who were rabid movie fans, took me to the movies. There began my underlying love affair with film.
Since the advent of Benny Goodman, there have been too few clarinetists to fill the void that Goodman left. Ken Peplowski is most certainly one of those few. The man is magic.
How many radio shows I did is lost to memory now; it’s in the hundreds – maybe even close to being in the thousands – for the span of years from the time I was eight till I was about fifteen.
As regards my feelings about drummers – there’s Buddy Rich, and then there’s everybody else.
I got into radio when I was eight, and I was one of the busiest child dramatic actors in America.
Because Chicago was to radio what Hollywood was to films and Broadway was to the theatre: it was the hub of radio.
It may sound a bit like an army barracks, but the truth of the matter is: there must be some time laid aside for arranging, time for working on either a book or an article – I’ve written two articles in the last four months for the New York Times book review section.
But, in fairness to them, too, the popular song per se is really a pretty shallow medium to perform in.
I would be a liar if I said it wouldn’t be lovely and soothing – that’s the word – to have a hit single or a hit album.
I’m going to continue to talk to the people, because I do believe that if they get to know you and what you are as a human being, they can more appreciate what you are as a performer.