the BOOK- ©Tommy Mandel, 1999

chapters 35-37.    in which I further embarass myself. 


        Paul Schaffer is known to America as David Letterman's now domed,
Jiminy Cricket lookalike band leader. He used to Musically Direct National
Lampoon Revues like Lemmings, and he attended one show ("That's Not Funny,
That's Sick"), in the Village when I was playing it in 1977 (my first "tour", a
three month jaunt through the States and Canada.) Actually, I first met
Paul when he came to accompany Victor Garber, the actor ( he's played
many many roles: ship's architect in Titanic, Syd's dad on "Alias", and Jesus
in the movie of Godspell) on piano. Victor was auditioning for ME, of all
things, at the Promenade Theater when Joe's Opera was being produced
for a St. Clements (off0ff Broadway) production. To this day, when I run
into Paul, he sings me my song, Panther of the Playground, that he had
coached Victor in before his (successful) audition for my show. He's
such a musicologist, Paul, even MY material fits into his grand vision of
Rock. I love him for that. And also for letting me worm my way onto
David Letterman's show when Bryan would come to NY to do it. It was
kind of a political thing, and I could feel Paul's eyes narrow when I
called to ask his permission. He put me through the proper channels, and
made me feel welcome, and we had great times. "You're the Maestro!"
he would tell me; so I'd show him the B-3 part I played on Run to You,
and he'd do it, leaving synths and a (new) piano part to me. Then he gave
me the organ, and counted off Cuts Like a Knife  at a breakneck Vegas
tempo, and We Were Off! (to the commercials, not the races.) As we
finished it, and the show resumed, Letterman told the TV crowd in his
insouciant manner,"You know, folks, sometimes the best part of the
show happens during the commercials!"
                 Once I got called by Nile Rogers to play on a B-52's session. (for
Cosmic Thing.) It was alot of fun to play synth bass on Nile's Ensoniq SQ-80, a
budget model while his expensive Synclavier just sat on the other side of the
control room; Steve Ferrone, the session drummer who often plays with
Eric Clapton recently, sat on the studio floor, playing the FLOOR with
drumsticks, trying to duplicate their homespun demo. Half way through the session,
Paul called in, and I learned that I had been Nile's SECOND choice for the gig.
Luckily for me Paul had been booked earlier, so I got invited in.
               But I didn't get the call to be in Mick Jagger's solo band, and that
was that. When Adams And Us opened a series of shows on the Voodoo
Lounge tour, Charlie Watts came to visit us regularly. Real friendly.
Mick came to our dressing area before the final show, and didn't recall
having met me, OR Mickey, who had actually recorded with him! But he
was quite civilized, and in all fairness, he's no doubt met Everybody In
The World... I think he came into the Empire Diner one night when I was playing,
accompanied by a ravishing brunette. I played all my favorite obscure Stones
songs, Back Street Girl, Lady Jane, etc, and when he left, he thanked me warmly.
Well, someone that looked an awful lot like Mick Jagger thanked me warmly. Was
it really him? Who knows?


 When I was working at SIR as an equipment humper and truck driver,
I had the opportunity to take Stevie Wonder up. In the freight elevator.
He had three BEAUTIFUL girls buzzing around his dreadlocked head like
bees in his bonnet. They were fussing around him and cooing the
sweetest things. I don't know if Stevie ever took LSD, but I sent him
tripping. Out of my elevator that is. I was too nervous to line the floors up
exactly. I'm sorry Stevie.
 Then he was rehearsing Wonderlove, his band. I snuck in, which I
wasn't really supposed to do, but I couldn't pass up this bask in musical
greatness. I recall he was rehearsing a song with the band, perhaps one
that was to be on Songs In the Key of Life, his magnum opus (hot-stuff
incredible melody-bathed, star drenched, rhythm-laced true-to-itself
creative masterpiece) (I guess you could say I like it;)
anyway, in the middle of rehearsing a tune, he seemed to stumble
across something on his keyboard, a Rhodes, probably. So he goes, "hey,
wait a minute!", and goes over to the drummer and says, "Play this,"
and sits down at the drums and shows him this cool beat.
Then he walks over to the bass player and takes his bass, and says,
"Play this, ok?" and shows him a new bass part. Like that all around the
band, and then back to his keyboard; and lo and behold, Wonderlove was
playing a brand new Stevie Wonder song! And it was good. Talk about
creativity: it was dripping off that man that day.
          I still play alot of Stevie Wonder songs at the Empire Diner on my
Friday night gigs. They're keyboard based, have melody, interesting
chords, and are as funky as I can make 'em. There's this kid from
Michigan, a bass player named Dave Carlock, who's started coming in
and he sings em great. His voice kinda slinks around the winding
melodies, and he's never missed a note. His rhythm gives me chills, and
between him and Eric Armstrong, a cross between a Ken Doll (but
beefier) and Johnny Mathis (but white), who waits tables there, we can
put quite a cabaret together there on a cold winter night. Once David
Lasley dropped in and sang "Since I Fell for You" with that soulful rasp
that graces James Taylor's records and shows;  David L's from Detroit,
another Michiganite. And while we're on jams, Richie Havens was eating
at Home, on 91st and 2nd in the seventies, (four dimensional space-
time coordinates seem appropriate here...) and when I started playing
and singing (Sam Cooke's)You Send Me, he groaned, "Aw, my favorite song!",
so I got to accompany him on that then too. (I did one gig for Richie years later,
filling in for Murray Weinstock, who had been offered a jingle he
couldn't refuse.)
      Richie had this "whatever happens is supposed to happen" zen that
made it impossible for me to make a mistake. Warm. And that VOICE!
We grew up on it, introduced by Roscoe or Scott Muni on WNEW-FM; I had
this Fisher mono receiver and enormous speaker cabinet that I had
scored at Audio Exchange, and those voices had more highs and lows in
my room through that system than I can relate to you here. (or have heard since.)
           Another Jingle That Could Not Be Refused led to my meeting with
Clarence Clemmons, known as The Big Man in Springsteen's band.
Lloyd Landesman, his regular guy had to do this jingle, so I went up to
Buffalo with Clarence and his band including David Landau on guitar,
whom I had seen with Warren Zevon prior to that. David was a smart,
mystical, dare I say Kabalistic dude, and I think his bro is Bruce's
manager.  I didn't get to know Clarence closely, but we were both staying
at the Sunset Marquis years later, and he said "hi" to me through the intercom
system from his cabana there. The Big Man musta been busy. Ever feel small?
            The ever morphing Joe Jackson was spending time in NYC and I kept
running into him. Almost went on the road with him; he taught me this
really cool salsa piano part and offered me a very long tour, but I was
in a materialistic phase (that I have yet to recover from,) and had to
tell him no. Much later, we found ourselves at this ancient hotel in the old city
of Lyons, supposedly the culinary capital of La France. Larry Saltzman
and I had gotten him his keyboardist for that tour: Joy Askew, a British
songwriter/keyboardist who went on to play for Peter Gabriel, but has
a great solo act as well. And she's nice. A Nice Woman in Rock. Heavens!
Larry Saltzman, a talmudic guitarist, was playing with the Blue Nile
last time I looked. I say that because he plays with everyone these
days. Him and Ira Seigal: NYC guitar stalwarts. Ira once told us we were
his 21st record date of the week.  And it was only THURSDAY! Others?
Jeff Mironov, David Spinozza (he was the best dancer at  my Junior High School
before he played for McCartney or  produced James Taylor's Walking Man), (I
finally fulfilled a personal dream and played on a record with him in '98-Joe
Pesci's "My Cousin Vinnie Sings"....Steve Love (my acid rock buddy from the sixties),
I'm such a guitar-hag. Just love em. Jeff Southworth who played the solo on Kiss on My List
for Hall and Oates, and wrote The Heartbeat of America (Today's Cheverolet)
with Robin Batteau, is another guitar magician. Quick. Deadly. Unfortunately
Jeff learned to program drums and sequence his own synthesizers (quite well...) so I
don't get to work for him any more. Amherst man.

         I had this art teacher in junior high school, Mrs. Steinmetz. She was a
gym teacher in grade school and then they put her in art. Me, I was a
total waste of time in art. Couldn't draw a straight line, couldn't draw
a realistic face, or sketch. But somehow I could draw a candle. You
know, the kind with the flame burning, wax dripping down its side, in a
candle holder that resembled a slipper with a little handle above where
the heel would be. Call it Christian-envy, I was good at that kind of
picture. One day, I did a candle in Mrs. Steinmetz' class. She took one
look at it, sitting in front of me on the desk and said, "All right, who
did this?"
 I said, "Me, I did."
 She said, "Come on, who did this?!"
 I said, "Me, I really did it."
 She walked away convinced I was lying. She just wasn't prepared to
accept that a loser could do something good.


Japanese fan-girls are really funny. There's this one, Emiko, who is
very shy, tall and thin, from Niigata, in the very north of Japan. She
gets tongue-tied when she tries to talk to me, but writes eloquent
notes. Humble like you dream a western woman would be. (I'm ducking
as I say this.) I heard from a friend of hers that she was very very ill,
but she never spoke a word of it. I wrote her a haiku:
               Pure as virgin snow
                Softly the mountain rises
               She melts for one man
Then there's Mami. Well actually there are two Mami's but the one I'm
talkin about would just come and sit in my room at the fancy Tokyo
Hotel, which was fine by me, since it gets lonely. I'd be composing a
piece of music on my In-Room-Synth, (an Ensoniq SD-1, ASR-10, or TS-
10, depending on which tour leg), or drawing a GWOA (great work of
art- pastel crayon rubbings, water colors, irridescent markers,
rapidographs, in a Yellow Submarine Collage of my current
psychological inkblots, taken up when my knees started to go from
carrying so much synth equipment down long hotel corridors!) and there
she'd be on the floor over in the corner, reading. It was a bit tricky when
Chris Chappel or Paco, our accountant came to the door, because I
knew they'd misunderstand her presence. So I hid her. I always got the
impression from Mami that she was barely tolerating my low
intelligence, but that I amused her. Kinda like I was a dog. Mmmmmmmm.
Now Mami's a Canadian, married to Allan, with a son named after another quite
excellent guitarman, Keith Scott!
   I met another very talented Nipponese (Neal Stephenson's preferred terminology,
see Cryptonomicon, his newest book...), a lady, named Rie Osakawa last year. She paints,
makes QuickTime movies, and does websites. She's a big Richie Sambora fan too. 

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