Red Around Town: December 13

It was a pleasure to appear on the radiothon for the CKNW Orphan’s Fund broadcast live from the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel. Bill Good was the host when I appeared with CTV’s Tamara Taggart. A most worthwhile cause that saw over $1,200,000 raised. Parts of the Pledge Day were shown on Shaw Cable… I had a wonderful time riding with Elvis tribute artist Jeff Bodner in the 5th annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade. Over 300,000 people showed up on what turned out to be a sunny afternoon. We drove in Carole’s Chrysler Sebring convertible and we were delighted with the reception we received all along the route. The parade will be shown on Global TV on Sunday December 21st at noon and again on December 25th at 1pm. Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, owners of the River Rock and Red Robinson Show Theatres, sponsored our entry… this is the 20th anniversary of the release of the Beatles White Album, which came out  around the time the Fab Four were breaking up.  This landmark double album was interesting in that it was the first time George Harrison really got his due with songs like While My Guitar Gently Weeps… on the heels of  this special album it is sad to report that music industry icon Capitol/EMI has closed all its offices in Canada  and may soon do so worldwide. They were counting on a deal with  iTunes that fell apart. If they had been able to secure an  arrangement they could have saved their empire… an  interesting note from the U.K. where 45 RPM records are selling all over again with almost 15% of music sales on this old format… At year’s end I always reflect on the year past. Two highlights for me this past year were Carol Burnett and Patti Page. Both performers are getting on in years but still capable of being fully  entertaining.

Patti charted more hits than any other female artist in the 1950-1960 period. Tennessee Waltz and Doggie In The Window are recognized worldwide. She still has her voice but her body is frail. She had great difficulty walking across the stage but loves performing so much she found an inner strength to overcome it. When I look back over my career to the pre-rock and roll era it has been a pleasure to meet and greet and interview most of the biggest recording stars of that era: Frankie Laine, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Kay Starr, Johnny Ray and now Patti Page. It was a special time in music and these were truly talented individuals.

Meeting Carol Burnett was a special experience for me. I met Harvey Korman in Vancouver years ago and we both shared our admiration for his tremendous comedic talent.  Carol recently put on a wonderful show at the Orpheum Theatre. Her presentation included many highlights from her long-running award-winning television series The Carol Burnett Show. It is sad to say we will never again see this type of variety show at the top of  the ratings, something that Carol touihed on while she was on stage. “That was then and this is now… the world has changed and you cannot go back.” This in response to a question from the audience. I agree with her, but reluctantly.  Let us see if Rosie O’Donnell is successful with her variety show. Personally I can’t stand too much of her at any one sitting. Patti and Carole added something special to my year and I felt I should share these experiences with you… Each Wednesday morning for the past three years I have been interviewing various celebrities. They vary from country  artists to pop stars to icons.

I had the pleasure recently to talk with James Blunt who packed them in during his Vancouver visit at GM  Place. James is a graduate of Sandhurst Military College in the U.K. He was with the first NATO forces to enter Kosovo during that  conflict. He also had the honour of standing guard beside the Queen Mother’s casket. James left the military after his four year stint and turned to his first love, music. He has been successful with original material he has composed and will no doubt be around for years to come. He was an engaging personality and has a discipline that was obviously earned while in the army.