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Transcript of interview with Santo Savino by Lisa Gioia-Acres, September 23, 2008







Santo was born in the Bronx, New York in 1937. Santo’s family includes his father who was a butcher, and his mother who mostly stayed at home to raise the children, as well as a brother who currently lives with Santo. Santo recalls that it was great growing up in the Bronx, and he spent most of his life there until he joined the Air Force when he was 17. Santo’s immediate family was not musically oriented, but he learned to play the drums from a cousin. Music came easy for Santo, and he started getting paid for playing when he was 12. At 17, Santo joined the Air Force with a group of friends. He auditioned for and was accepted into the Air Force band where he played drums for four years. Santo was married with a child and another child on the way when he ended his military career and moved to California. After jobs working as a security guard and on an assembly line, Santo knew he just wanted to play and came to Las Vegas in 1960 to play with a band. It took several years before Santo was able to get on with a permanent band. Once Santo broke into the scene in Las Vegas, he played for six years at the Flamingo. Following that he was on the road for a couple of years with Paul Anka. Upon returning to Las Vegas, Santo worked for 14 years at the Sahara. Santo talks about when “the boys” had the hotels before the corporations came in and how everything changed. Currently, Santo does a lot of work with trumpet player Carl Saunders, frequently traveling to Los Angeles to do recordings together.

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Transcript of interview with Santo Savino by Lisa Gioia-Acres, September 23, 2008. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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i An Interview with Santo Savino An Oral History Conducted by Lisa Gioia - Acres September 23, 2008 All That Jazz Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©All That Jazz Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2008 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Editors: Barbara Tabach, Melissa Robinson, Angela Ayers Transcribers: Kristin Hicks Interviewers and Project Assistants: Lisa Gioia-Acres and Claytee D. White iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Harold L. Boyer Charitable Foundation. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the All That Jazz Oral History Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada Las Vegas iv Table of Contents Interview with Santo Savino September 23, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Lisa Gioia - Acres Preface…………………………………………………………………………………...…….…..v Santo talks about his early life in the Bronx. Santo recalls his ability to play the drums was discovered by the time he was six years old. Santo talks about getting paid to perform beginning when he was 12. Santo talks about his early musical influences……………………………...1 – 5 Santo talks about owning his first drum set. Santo recalls playing at weddings, dances, and church functions. Santo tells of joining the Air Force with a group of friends when he was 17. Santo talks of playing drums in the Air Force band for four years. Santo talks briefly about getting married while he was in the service…………………………………………………...6 – 9 Santo recalls moving to California to be with his wife and son. Santo talks about working as a security guard and a salesman when he first settled in California. Santo remembers landing his first small jobs playing with bands in Las Vegas…………………………………….…….10 – 14 Santo discusses his wife and children. Santo recalls some of the musicians with whom he worked as well as the different casinos where he worked. Santo talks about his second marriage...14 – 20 Santo talks about his second marriage. Santo discusses the types of jobs he has had and places he has played. Santo recalls the lack of diversity in the bands back in the early 1960s....……20 – 24 Index………………………………………………………………………………………..25 – 26 v Preface Santo was born in the Bronx, New York in 1937. Santo’s family includes his father who was a butcher, and his mother who mostly stayed at home to raise the children, as well as a brother who currently lives with Santo. Santo recalls that it was great growing up in the Bronx, and he spent most of his life there until he joined the Air Force when he was 17. Santo’s immediate family was not musically oriented, but he learned to play the drums from a cousin. Music came easy for Santo, and he started getting paid for playing when he was 12. At 17, Santo joined the Air Force with a group of friends. He auditioned for and was accepted into the Air Force band where he played drums for four years. Santo was married with a child and another child on the way when he ended his military career and moved to California. After jobs working as a security guard and on an assembly line, Santo knew he just wanted to play and came to Las Vegas in 1960 to play with a band. It took several years before Santo was able to get on with a permanent band. Once Santo broke into the scene in Las Vegas, he played for six years at the Flamingo. Following that he was on the road for a couple of years with Paul Anka. Upon returning to Las Vegas, Santo worked for 14 years at the Sahara. Santo talks about when “the boys” had the hotels before the corporations came in and how everything changed. Currently, Santo does a lot of work with trumpet player Carl Saunders, frequently traveling to Los Angeles to do recordings together. vi 1 This is Lisa Gioia-Acres. Today is September 23, 2008. I'm conducting an oral history interview for the university's All That Jazz oral history project. I'm here today with Santo Savino in his home. Thanks, Santo, for having me here. My pleasure. This project is going to talk about your experience as a musician here in Las Vegas, but before we get to that, I'd like to talk about your real early life. Tell me, first of all, what your full name is. Santo Savino. How do you spell Savino? S-A-V-I-N-O. Who were your parents? Ruth and Peter Savino. Where were your brought up? Bronx, New York. Why don't you tell me about your early life, your childhood, what it was like, what mom and dad did? My dad was a butcher. My mother was a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes she worked in my high school and was on the lunch line. She was a cashier. She did little things like that, but mainly a stay-at-home mom. My dad was a butcher as I said. Growing up in the Bronx was great. It was one of the greatest things that I can remember. I mean we played in the street, you know. What year were you born? Thirty-seven, 1937. I was born in one section of the Bronx. Then we moved around a little bit and finally wound up in one part of the Bronx. I spent most of my life there until I joined the Air Force when I was 17. Do you have brothers and sisters? I do have a brother who lives with me now. What's his name? Peter. Mom and dad -- she was a stay-at-home mom; he was a butcher. How did they come to be in the Bronx? Where did they come from? 2 They were from the Bronx also. My father was born in the Bronx and my mother was born in the Bronx. You know, my father dated my mother and then they got married. What high school did you go to? Christopher Columbus. What was it like in childhood? It doesn't sound like you had a musical background. Well, no. Actually, my grandfather, who was from Sicily, played clarinet when he was in Sicily, but he was a tailor. When he came to the United States, he had a tailor shop. So there were actually no musical people in my family except everybody could dance. Everybody loved music. Everybody knew all the current songs on the Hit Parade and all that stuff. My mother tells me that we were in Buffalo, New York, visiting some relatives, and there was a parade going on a couple of blocks away. She said I picked up these two clothespins and started keeping time with the band. That was the first inkling that I had any kind of musical talent. Of course, they didn't take it serious because I was only two. I had a cousin who was in the -- it wasn't the Boy Scouts, but they called it the Sea Cadets. He was in the band, and he played drums, and he taught me all these drumbeats. So, as a musician, your specialty was drums? Yes. Always was. Always was. I never actually had interest in anything else. Tell us more about the cousin. Oh, he taught me how to play these drumbeats when I was in kindergarten. You know how they sometimes pass around these little hand instruments for kids to play. Somebody got a tambourine. Well, they had one drum. Everybody, each day by alphabetical order, would get the drum and get to play the drum. So my name beginning with an S, it took a couple of weeks before it got to me. But when it got to me, I strapped it on and I started to play this drum like, you know, they never saw anything because I was playing all these drumbeats that my cousin taught me. And they called in the principal. They called in teachers from other classes to see me play these drums. Then my mother realized that's what I wanted to do. And I started to take lessons when I was like six. I wasn't interested in coming home and practicing and doing that. I wanted to go out and play ball with my friends and have fun, you know. So I quit taking lessons and I started up again when I was 12. But in the interim I still played. I still was playing around with drums. I got my first job when I was 12 3 playing a wedding. Then I used to work every weekend from when I was 12 on. How did you get that first job? My teacher. I had a teacher here, a drum teacher, and somebody called him to work this job. It was in New Jersey, and it was going away for the weekend. I had never worked a job before. My teacher called me up and said, listen, I got a job if you want to do it. He says I can do it. Would you like to do it? I said, jeez, do you think I could do it? And he says, yes, you won't have any problems. It's just a little job in the Jewish section of New Jersey called Lakewood where they had these hotels. It had a big Jewish population there, you know. So anyway, I said okay. My father drove me down to like 47th Street and dropped me off on the corner. I had all my drums and I'm waiting for these guys to pick me up. About half an hour later they come by. They drive up. I didn't know who they were. This guy said are you Santo? I said yes. He said come on. And they put me in the car and off we went, you know. Your father had a lot of trust. Well, my father -- I used to go on the subways and stuff. When I first started to play, my dad would drive me to the jobs. But he had to get up early in the morning to go to work. So he says you're going to have to find another way to get to the job. I'd have a job in Manhattan, and I'd get on the subway. I had it down to where I'd carry all my traps in a plumber's satchel and just my bass drum. I had everything in the plumber's satchel. So I only had two things to carry. And I'd go on the subway and go downtown and play the job. Was the money good enough for you at that age? Twelve dollars. Well, it was great for me. I thought it was good. Enough for you to go through all this effort to get -- Yes. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a musician. I really did. Did it come easy for you because you said between the ages of six and 12 you didn't have training? Did hearing the music and the tunes or the rhythms -- Yes. I have one of those kinds of memory. Once I hear a song I never forget it. I may not hear it again for ten years and I'll be able to sing it back to you. If you just said, you know, this tune and you start to sing it, yes, I know that and I'll sing the rest of the song for you. Just I got that kind of retaining mind for music. 4 I forgot. What did you ask me? That it was easy for you. You could pick up the tunes because you didn't have -- Yes. From the time I was six until I was 12 when I started to take lessons again, I was just doing mainly regular kid's stuff. But I always loved the drums and I had a drum. I used to play it. And then when I was in grammar school, I was in a band. They had a band and I was in the band. I always played. But I wasn't taking any lessons. When I finally -- my mother -- actually, we couldn't afford it because it was three bucks a lesson. So when my mother started to work again, she said why don't you take lessons again? So we found a teacher and I started. Was Peter interested in music at all? He's a drummer. He started out on the trombone and played trombone all through high school and stuff. Then he decided to be a drummer and he's a drummer. Did you know how to read music at this time? No. I learned how to read when I was 12. When I started to take lessons again, that's when I learned how to read. And reading drum music out of a book is not the same as reading a chart in a band. You're not going to see the same kinds of things on a chart that you see in a drum book. You know what I'm trying to say? See, a drum book is mainly rudiments and stuff like that. There's some drum books that give you, like, an example of how a song is going to look with the drum part and stuff like that. But it's never the same as when you actually get down there and do it. So I tried to play -- any time I could I'd go to somebody's house. I'd get on the bus and go to their house. If it was just a piano player, he and I would get together and just play songs, play anything, anything we could think of. And that's how I actually started playing. That first job that you had when those guys picked you up, they didn't know how you played. No. How well did you fit in at that job? No problem at all. If you really want me to tell you the story about it -- I do. The music part was nothing. All it was was just four-four tempo stuff, ballads. There was no rock and roll then. There was no backbeat then like they have now. Like most of the songs you hear today, pop songs, 5 always have a backbeat. They didn't have any of that then. You played like any kind of Latin rumbas, cha-chas, stuff like that. Those are the things a drummer would have to know, those beats. Anyway, these two guys that picked me up, one guy was a guy about 300 pounds and about six-four, big, huge guy. The other guy was a little guy about five-six, little, thin guy. And he was telling the big guy everything. He was telling him -- all the trip out there it was him talking to the big guy. The big guy was going (making sounds), you know. So now we get to the job. So the first night he says go down to the dining room and have something to eat before we play. So I went down there. And I'm sitting at a table by myself. Several people, customers are sitting around. And all the sudden I hear this big commotion and here comes the saxophone player, who was the little guy, running through the dining room and the big guy, who was the piano player, behind him with a meat cleaver chasing him through the dining room. Why? I don't know why. Then they ended up playing? Then they ran out of the place. There was a big commotion. I'm just sitting there. The next thing I know the saxophone player comes up and says, come on, we're going to play. I said is everything okay? He said, yes, everything's fine. And then we played the job. It was a three-day job. Where did you stay? Right there at the hotel. It was called Blumenthal's. So in your early years was there anybody that was a major influence on your music career besides your cousin? Well, I always liked big bands when I was young. My dad bought me the whole Ted Heath collection, which there were about maybe five or six sets with four or five different records in each set. And I had all the Stan Kenton things. I had Les Brown. I had all the big bands. I used to play with them on my mother's couch because I didn't -- my teacher wouldn't let me buy any drums. So for two years I studied without any drums. He says you can't have any drums until you learn how to play because once you start playing on the drums, you ain't going to be interested in practicing anymore. So I know they do it differently now. They start you right on a set of drums now, which I think that's the way to go. I think that's the way to do it. But the way my teacher did it, it was fine. It worked out 6 fine for me. Anyway, I got my first set of drums. They were 25 bucks. Was that a lot of money then? Yes. And it was a set that had two tom-toms and they had what they call -- the top head was a regular calf head. They used calf heads in those days. They used plastic in those days. And the bottom head was like a piece of linoleum -- not linoleum, but cheesecloth. You know what cheesecloth is? Yes. It was stretched on the bottom and taped all around the bottom with thumbtacks. And that was the bottom head. You couldn't tighten it and you couldn't do anything. So there was really not much of a sound you could get out of them. But that's the only thing that we could afford. So we bought that. The bass drum had a big picture of a hula girl on the front. It was like a real old, dated set. I used that set for like two years before I was able to buy a regular set of drums. In your household -- I know what it's like to have that noise going -- was that annoying to your mom and dad listening to you playing the drums all the time? Well, I ruined my mother's couch. She had a couch like this. The back rest would be the symbol and this would be -- and I'd be playing along with the band. Did she ever say, Santo, stop? Yes, of course. You're ruining my couch, you know. And I did. I made dents in it and holes in it. Did they ever go listen to you play at -- Oh, yes. Yes, because I played with some big bands then. They had a couple of big bands that were like neighborhood-type things. We played weddings and dances and church dances and stuff. Wherever there was a church dance, my parents would come and see me. How neat. One time I was playing this church dance and my father brought his friend, this guy Charlie Chakeno, who was an ex-trumpet player. I see them walking in. We're playing in a gymnasium, and I see the two of them walk in. This guy Charlie's got a trumpet case with him that’s old. Like the new modern cases are like soft cases. This is like one of those old hard cases. So the guy that was playing lead trumpet on the band, he says, hey, he must be somebody. Look at that, he's got that old case. So they invite him up to play. Well, this guy went (making a sound). He could hardly play. When he tried to blow out the horn, hardly any sound came out. So it was kind of funny. 7 So you get to high school. Yes. I went to high school. I was in the band. Did you know you were going to be a musician for your career? It's just I knew that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to play. At that age that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to play music. I had a teacher in grammar school who took an interest in me. She wrote letters to a couple of high schools to get me in and stuff. Finally, I wound up going to a school that was only about two blocks away from my house. Because it had a good band program? It had a very good band program. I wanted to go to Music and Art. I didn't even know about Performing Arts in those days. I didn't know about that school. But I wanted to go to Music and Art. I would have to have traveled on the train and stuff. My folks weren't crazy about the idea. Since they had a good music program at Columbus High School, that's where I went. And it was great. It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot in high school. I played percussion and did all that. Did you go on to college? I went to Manhattan School of Music. I started at Manhattan. I went for about six months. And then I was hanging out with a bunch of guys, who none of them were musicians. And we were in this one section of the Bronx one day and there was a recruiting booth there. For the military? For the military. So I see this friend of mine go in the booth. So we all go and see what's going on. And he's talking to this guy. Next thing you know he says I'm going to sign up. And what year was this? 1954. So our war has already been over, but the Korean War -- Was over. Fifty-two it was over. There was nothing going on. So we all went in and we all signed these papers. I was only 17. So I went home and told my folks. My father said no way. Are you crazy, he said? You're not going nowhere. My mother was wigging out, you know. We used to have relatives in New Jersey that we used to go almost every weekend and visit. They had a house sort of in the country, a beautiful place. So my uncle John, who my father and him were real tight, he said to my father let him go. Why do you want to keep him from going? Let him go. I mean he's 8 at the age where he's driving you out of your mind now. He's 17 and getting into all kinds of stuff. Let him go. If he wants to go, let him go. He'll get in the band. So my father signed the papers and I went in October. And what arm of the service did you go? The Air Force. And I went in. But the reason why I joined was all my friends wanted to be airplane mechanics. So that's what I put down, airplane mechanic. Like a jerk I put down airplane mechanic. So as soon as I got down there and got into the basic training thing -- first I tried to get out and say I had all these things wrong with me. As soon as I realized what I did -- it took one day to realize I had made a mistake. It turned out not to be a mistake. But at that time, you know. As soon as I realized that I tried to get out. I tried to say, well, I've got this and I've got that. They were used to that. So anyway, when I got settled, the first chance I got I went over to the band barracks and I auditioned. And I passed. And whenever they gave out assignment at the end of my basic training -- everybody was getting assigned -- my whole barracks got shipped home. They went home for Christmas vacation. But I was going into a band. There was no opening in the whole United States for a drummer in any of the bands yet. So when everybody left I was the only one left there in the whole barracks. So I was like what they call a transient. Every day I would go over to see if orders came in for me. I was there about the whole month of December and January. Finally, one day I went over and orders came in for me. Then I went home for my Christmas vacation for a month. And then I was shipped to Denver. Because there was an opening in a band there? There was an opening there. I went to Denver for two years. And then I got shipped to Alaska for two years, which was one of the best experiences of my life. It's a great place. Tell me some of the stories of what it was like to play in a military band. You played music all day. You get up in the morning -- if you want to have breakfast, whatever you want to do. The only thing that they schedule is rehearsal at nine o'clock, lunch at 12 o'clock. Then it's usually individual practice, which means you just take off, do whatever you want to do. And that's was mainly our day. Sometimes they'd have two o'clock nightline, which meant that the band would have to go out to the flight line where they would land planes and some dignitary would be coming in, a congressman or a general or something, and you played some kind of music for them as they get off the plane. That's mainly what it was every day. 9 How many years were you in the service? Four. You didn't want to sign up anymore? No. No. Not at all. I wanted to go out and play. Even though I was playing in the band then, I knew that there was something that was better, better music that I could be able to play with better musicians because the service, mostly your real good musicians, they get out. Every friend of mine that was in the service they got out, that could play. They didn't want to stay in the service because it's too restricting. But the service is a great place. Don't get me wrong. It's a good place for a guy. If I was a young guy, this is what I'd try to do. I'd try to get into like the Airmen of Note or one of those kinds of band. I mean you make 40 or 50 thousand a year and you got 30 days paid vacation every year. It's very easy duty. Service duty is really easy. As a musician. As a musician. You know, you're not fighting any wars. So what were your plans after the military? I came out. I went back to Manhattan School of Music. I was married. I got married while I was in the service. I had a child and one on the way. My wife and I split up. She went out to California and I'm still in New York. And I was going to Manhattan. And then we decided to get back together and I quit school. I quit going to school and went out to California. I took a bus out. What took you to California, because your wife was there? My wife was there. We were living in a place called Rosamond, which about 150 people live there. And if you rode through it, if you blinked, you'd be through the town before you finished blinking. It was the town right before a town called Lancaster, which most people know where Lancaster is. But it's about I would say 80 miles away from L.A., a good 80 miles. So I was working as a security guard because when I first came I didn't know anybody. I didn't even have my drums with me. And my wife was living in a trailer with my son. I had to get a job. So I saw this thing in the paper for a security guard. So I went down. There was a bunch of guys in there trying to get it. There was one job for 20 guys. And they made everybody talk and tell them why they wanted the job. And I explained to them that I'm a musician and I decided that I'm not making enough money and I need to support my family, blah, blah, blah. And the guy liked what I said and he hired me. 10 What I was guarding for was the Aetna security company. Aetna it was called. We were working for the Douglas Aircraft, who were the first ones who owned and built the X-15. This is what I was guarding out on Edwards Air Force Base. I was working at night like from 12 midnight to 12 noon, 12-hour shifts. I didn't know what was happening. One night it was about two in the morning and I'm walking around and looking around. And I said I'm going to go look in the hangar. And I opened the door and there's this big black thing. It looked like a rocket ship, which was the X-15. I mean can you believe that? Were you not supposed to see it? No. They didn't say don't go in there. They just never mentioned it. I mean I'm the security guard. I'm like guarding all this stuff. The Russians could have come and I wouldn't have known the difference. You know what I'm saying? They've got me guarding something like this. And when I tell the story to people, they hardly believe me. I say, well, you don't have to believe me, but it's true. I worked there for a while. I wasn't making any money, about 90 bucks every two weeks. So then my wife and I got in my car one day on my day off and we drove to L.A. I had my son with me. We're looking in the paper for a job. I found this place that was hiring salesmen. I worked in a music store one time selling records and stuff. So I said I'm a salesman. It was for the Graybar Electric Company, which supplied all of the West Coast with telephone poles, anything to do with phones. They supplied the whole West Coast. It was a huge company. So I went there and told the guy -- I took the test. He said the person we're looking to hire is a big equipment salesman. I mean these are people that people know you on road. When you go make an appointment to talk to a person in the company, they already know who you are. You don't have that kind of experience. But I like the way your test came out. I'd like to hire you. I said, okay, doing what? So he said I'll put you on the assembly line. I said okay. Instead of paying 90 every two weeks, it paid 90 every week. So that was cool for me. So I took the job. And I went back to Rosamond and packed everything up, and we went to L.A. The car broke down and I didn't have the money to fix it. Did you finally get to L.A. at least? Finally got to L.A. Didn't have any money for a house. I hate to tell people this here. But I went from house to house to get a place to stay for the night for my wife and my son. People say, oh, no, no, no, no. Finally I came to a house and I told them -- I know this is kind of a ridiculous thing to ask -- I got my wife 11 and my son in the car. I said I've got a job starting Monday. I said I'll be able to get an advance and pay you. Could you please let us stay for the night? So the woman says okay. She took us in. We went up to a beautiful room upstairs, just beautiful. Anyway, we stayed there. The next day we went out. It was a Sunday. The next day I went to the job, got an advance, came back, paid the woman for the room and went and got an apartment. And we moved into this apartment. All this in one day. And I started there. But I wanted to play. This is what I wanted to do. And this is in the era when we had the coffeehouses. They had a place called Frog's Neck or something like that. I said I'm going to go down there. I heard there was jazz there. So I went down there one night. Bobby Hutcherson was playing. I mean it was like four guys that I knew from records. I said, wow, what a treat. So one night I got the nerve to ask Bobby to let me sit in. He let me sit in. They liked the way I played and took my name down and was going to start calling me. He said I'm going to call you for sure. About two days later I get a call from a saxophone player that I knew in Alaska. And he was living in Los Angeles and he said you want to go to Vegas for a hundred-fifty a week? He says the rehearsal starts tomorrow morning. I said, yes, okay. I didn't even think twice. And you just started this job. I took it. I called up the place and I told them I'm not coming in any more. He said, oh, we're sorry to lose you. They were such a big company I didn't care. So that's what happened. I came to Vegas and I never looked back. So your wife during this time, it must have been -- I had a different wife than the one I wound up with. My children are from my first wife, June. But that's the one you went to Rosamond, California. Yes. And the one that went to Los Angeles with you. Yes. But it must have been a very stressful time for her. Very. Because she was pregnant too. Pregnant. Right. My son was born -- we were staying in a place across from the Sands called the Sans 12 Souci. So she came with you to Vegas? First she stayed there. I came out by myself. We worked at the Golden Nugget, six shows a night, 50 minutes on, ten minutes off starting at midnight at the Golden Nugget. And she stayed home for that one. And that was a month I did that. Then I went back to L.A. for a month. And then I got a job for three months to come back here at the Last Frontier. It wasn't the Frontier. It was like a building. It was like one of the original buildings in Vegas. It looked like an old cowboy joint, like a bar. Any minute you expect a big brawl to break out, you know. And I worked there for three months and just stayed in Vegas. I brought my wife up. How did the guy from Alaska know you were in L.A.? He looked me up. Saw my name in the phone book. Wow. Fate, huh? Yes. So some of these people, the Bobby Hutcherson and all that -- did you establish a reputation for yourself? No, not then because I left. They never saw me again. They probably forgot about me I'm sure. But I came to Vegas and just stayed here. And what year was that? 1960. And where was the first place you came to live? I lived at the Sans Souci. They had these little cabins. S-A-N-S, S-O-U-C-I, Sans Souci. It became the Castaways afterwards. Then they tore it down. But it was originally called the Sans Souci. I stayed there. They had these cabins on stilts. They were off the ground. In fact, that's where my second son was born. And we didn't have a crib or anything. He stayed in a drawer, a dresser drawer. But that was my start in Vegas. It took me awhile to get connected here. I was going out and trying to play, trying to play free, whatever I could do to get people to get to know you. Because what happened with the musicians union? I was in the union. 13 How did you get into the union so quickly? I was in the union from New York. But, you see, they had a rule in the old days that when you switched unions and you transferred you couldn't take a steady job for three months. So that's what was happening. I could take a week job, one more two weeks, one for a night. But I couldn't take a job that was going to last more than that. So that made it tough. But anyway, before I got a job in a show band, in a house band, it was three years I was playing around and doing different things. I finally got a job in a show band at the Flamingo. What was the need for drummers in Vegas in those early days? Well, when I first came here the musicianship was very mediocre, everything, everything. I mean they had a lot of bands, but like the trumpet sections and the drummers and the bass players were very -- to me were very mediocre. And these guys held onto these jobs for years and years. It was hard to break in because these guys had these jobs. And you can't blame them. They don't want to give it up. So anyway, it took awhile before I got started. And a friend of mine got me in the Flamingo band. What happened was this friend of mine, Eddie Pucci, who's a drummer, was the drummer at the Flaming