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Transcript of interview with Ron Textor by Claytee White, July 24, 2007 & October 8, 2007


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Ron Textor grew up in Kirksvile, MO shortly after moved to Flint. MI; father was a doctor and mother a school teacher; started piano lessons at 5 and trombone at 8; attended classes at the Stan Kenton clinics at Michigan State University; National Stage Band Camp at Cleveland at the Western Reserve University; started own band at age 14 in Flint, MI; graduated high school in 1965; went to Central Michigan University graduated in 1969 with a bachelor's in music; 1972 released from the army and joined the Glenn Miller Orchestra under Buddy DeFranco; trumpet player Tom Snelson — Phantom of the Opera; The Airmen of Note; Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra; recording at RCA Victor in Tokyo; 50 weeks a year of one-nighters; St Regis Roof in New York City; book by George Simon on Glenn Miller; Medina Ballroom; traveling by bus; rehearsal with Frank Sinatra; master's degree from Central Michigan; taught college at Michigan, Central, and Alma College; Mott Community College; moved to Wisconsin and taught at Mount Scenario College in the late 70 s; General Motors; Genesee County Fine Arts Council; CETA; Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival; 1981 Montreux Switzerland Jazz Festival; North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague in Holland; move to Las Vegas 1981.

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Textor, Ron Interview, 2007 July 24 & 2007 October 8. OH-01810. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Ron Textor An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White July 7, 2007 & October 8, 2007 Interview All That Jazz Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©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 Transcribers: Kristin Hicks Interviewers and Project Assistants: Lisa Gioia-Acres and Claytee D. White 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 • • • 111 Table of Contents Interview with Ron Textor July 7, 2007 and October 8, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Claytee D. White Preface vi SESSION 1: Ron Textor grew up in Kirksvile, MO shortly after moved to Flint. MI; father was a doctor and mother a school teacher; started piano lessons at 5 and trombone at 8; attended classes at the Stan Kenton clinics at Michigan State University; National Stage Band Camp at Cleveland at the Western Reserve University; started own band at age 14 in Flint, MI; graduated high school in 1965; went to Central Michigan University graduated in 1969 with a bachelor's in music; 1972 released torm the army and joined the Glenn Miller Orchestra under Buddy DeFranco; trumpet player Tom Snelson — Phantom of the Opera; The Airmen of Note; Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra; recording at RCA Victor in Tokyo; 50 weeks a year of one-nighters; St Regis Roof in New York City; book by George Simon on Glenn Miller; Medina Ballroom; traveling by bus; rehearsal with Frank Sinatra; master's degree from Central Michigan; taught college at Michigan, Central, and Alma College; Mott Community College; moved to Wisconsin and taught at Mount Scenario College in the late 70 s; General Motors; Genesee County Fine Arts Council; CETA; Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival; 1981 Montreux Switzerland Jazz Festival; North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague in Holland; move to Las Vegas 1981; Tropicana; MGM; Aladdin; Hacienda 1 - 7 First job with the Norm Gellar Orchestra at the Sands; Riviera; Copa Room; Jim Huntsinger; Carl Fontana; Top secret; Hilton, Debbie Reynolds; Jimmy Mulidore; Sahara Hotel; A1 Ramsey Orchestra; Golden Nugget showroom with Frank Sinatra; A1 Ramsey Orchestra at Caesars Palace; Steve Wynn; Lou Rawls; trip to Hawaii with Frank; Capitol Records; Frank Leone; Don Rickles; Bill Home; Tina Turner; Sammy Davis Jr.; Bill Cosby; Liberace; Lee and Artie Ezenzer; about being a trombone player; Spamalot; Phantom of the Opera; Joan Rivers; Toni Tennille; George Burns; mob; Buddy Rich and Woody Herman; Caesars being the favorite casino; Johnny Mathis; teaching the history of rock & roll at the community college; race relations; Jimmy Wilkins Orchestra in Detroit; Count Baise swing; Woody Herman's swing; Duke E l l i n g t o n ; G l a d y s K n i g h t ; p i c k e t i n g i n f r o n t o f B a l l y ' s ; UAW; u n i o n 8 - 1 9 Kicks Bands; strike; Si Zentner; Jersey Boys; Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Weber; Toni Braxton; Celine Deon; Philharmonic; Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra; teaching at Clark High School; Stan Kenton and Woody Herman; Branson, Missouri; lounge shows; future of entertainment in Las Vegas; family; union structure in Las Vegas 20- 28 SESSION 2: Electora one of the greatest electric record players; discussing different instruments; father's instruments; explanation of being kicked out of high school band; read downs and rehearsal; Wayland and Madame; union hall; a book- musical arrangements; meeting Sammy Davis Jr.; mention of different stars he worked with 29 - 34 Index 35-36 All That Jazz Oral History Project Name ol Narrator: Name oi Interviewer: We, the above named, giveu/ilie (yfral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded interview(s) initiated on as an unrestricted gilt, to be used lor such scholarly and educational purpose^ as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gilt does not preclude the right ol the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials lor scholarly pursuits. There will be no compensation for any interviews. ltmamrc oylnlcrvicwcr Library Special Collections 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7070 (702) 895-2222 This is Clay tee White. I'm with Ron — Textor? Textor. Would you spell your last name for me? T-e-x-t-o-r. Textor, okay. And this is July 24th, 2007. About we're in his home in Summerlin. So how are you doing today? Doing fine, Claytee. Good. I just want you to tell me a little bit about your early life - where you grew up, your family. Well, I was actually born in Kirksville, Missouri, and shortly after that moved to Flint, Michigan. My tather was a doctor and my mother was a music teacher in school. I started taking piano lessons when I was five years old and stopped doing that when I was eight and starting playing trombone. Normal, typical growing up - I had an older brother, also was musically inclined. He gave it up in high school. I sort of - well, both of us got thrown out of band when I was high school. But right after that - ninth grade I attended the Stan Kenton clinics, Michigan State University. The following year, I attended the National Stage Band Camp at Cleveland at the Western Reserve University. I continued on with my own - started my own band and was working when I was 14 years old in the Flint area. Became a member of the union there. Did a lot of work in the Flint area. Went to Central Michigan University. Graduated from high school in '65. Went to Central Michigan University right away. Continued to work in Flint and Detroit area and around Michigan. Graduated from Central Michigan with a bachelor's in music education degree in 1969. And I was going to be drafted. That was during the Vietnam era. And they had told me that they would give me a deferment if I was going to teach public school. And the following fall I was set to have a graduate assistantship and teach college and get my master's and they wouldn't defer me for that. So I flew to Colorado Springs and auditioned for the NORAD Band, North American Air Defense Command band, and was accepted there. So I enlisted in the army and was stationed there for approximately three years. It was a unique band in the United States - matter of tact, in the world - because the band was army, navy, air force and Canadian. And we were basically goodwill ambassadors for North American Air Defense Command. And what we did was tour the North American continent doing concerts, radio shows, television appearances and recordings. I got out of there in 1972 and went on the road with the Glenn Miller Orchestra under Buddy DeFranco. But getting back to that now, that's a very well-kept secret. So you were able to serve your entire military commitment - Yes. Right. - playing your instrument. There s a lot of guys in town that have done the same thing. A lot of them came from - well, a very good friend of mine - that's one of the reasons I am here. And that's a trumpet player by the name of Tom Snelson, who's playing lead with Phantom of the Opera right now. I met Tom as soon as I got to NORAD. And he was the one that got a call put through to me to join the Glenn Miller band. And then after years of really coaxing me, he convinced me that it was time to move out here. And that's one of the reasons I came here. But there were a couple of other players at NORAD. I think they've left town since then. But you have a lot of musicians in this town that were with The Airmen of Note out of Washington, D.C., another military band that did the same thing. That was considered a special band; people that went into that band or the marine band in D.C. or the band at West Point. Those were considered special bands and you went in automatically with a rank of an E-5. But at NORAD, we didn't do that. We went in as just regular - you know, I started as a PFC. How did you make rank? 2 Just the same way everybody does; you just waited until there were slots opening and you were recommended and approved for the promotion and eventually as one opened up - and, unfortunately at that time period, rank was made because we had so many troops being killed in Nam. And when a rank opened up because somebody got killed, then somebody got promoted. Oh, so it didn't just have to be in your unit? No, not at all. It was affective all over. So...But it was an interesting career there. And then the time with the Glenn Miller band...And that - Tell me more about Glenn Miller. I was under Buddy DeFranco. Spent approximately two years with him. I started out as a bass trombone player and after nine months quit. And went back to Colorado Springs. Got into real estate. Did a few gigs with the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra. And didn't like the real estate business. And they had an opening in the trombone section again. So I went back on third trombone. Then I moved into second trombone. I wound up playing the lead with them. So I covered the entire book with them. And we traveled all over the world. Give me some of the places that you remember. Well, the first nine months - I had been with them about seven months - we did an eight-week tour in Japan and did a recording at RCA Victor in Tokyo. That was finally mixed down about a year later and ready for release. But Buddy DeFranco announced that he was going to leave the band and they were going to get a new leader. So they didn't release it. That sat on the shelf for 25 years and then they finally released it as a CD. So it was pretty interesting. We did 50 weeks a year of one-nighters. Very seldom did we - we had a couple of stints in Japan we were staying a week at a time in one location, especially when we were in Tokyo. We did a couple weeks at the St. Regis Roof in New York City. And that was for the anniversary of Glenn Miller's death. And it was also - let's see. I think that's when they released the book by George Simon on Glenn Miller. But that must be tough doing those one-night stands. 3 Oh, it was. But at that age it was okay. I mean it was something that I had dreamt when I went to college about playing with a named band. So I accomplished that and recording. And then after I did the work with them - and like I said we were all over the country. As a matter of fact, I just got back from a trip to Minneapolis-St. Paul where my nephew got married. And I was talking to a bartender back there and told him that I had been with the Miller band playing. And he said, "Oh, you were at the Medina Ballroom. And I said, "Yeah." And he said, "Well, it's still there and they still bring in the big bands that are around." And they've added on. They've got a bowling alley to it and a game room and everything. I didn't get a chance to get out and see it. But, yeah, we did the old big ballrooms and that type of thing where all the big bands were playing. How did you travel? By bus. Everything was by bus. If the next engagement was further away than I think 5 or 600 miles and we had to play that night, then they had to fly us. But otherwise...A lot of times we did what they would call hit-and-runs. We'd play a job. And from the hotel we'd go to the job that was in that location and we'd play it. And we'd get on the bus and take off and drive all night. And then check into another hotel at about ten o'clock in the morning when we got there and then play that night. Hopefully spend that night there. If not, we'd do another hit-and-run and take off and go again. So you did a lot of sleeping on the bus? Oh, yeah. A lot of partying on the bus, too. Tell me about the partying on the bus. Oh, I mean it was just get on the bus and guys would immediately - and we had coolers. We had booze. We had beer. It was just - musicians - even working on the Strip, between shows it's partying and after the shows. Sammy threw about two or three parties a week for the orchestra and the stagehands. So it was just a - it's a dream life. You're doing what you want to do to make a living and it's just a party constantly. How do you play when you've had a lot to drink? 4 You don t drink that much. You make sure that you're not drinking too much that you can't play your horn. So you police yourself? That s it. If you don't, somebody else is going to do it for you and then you're out of a job. So it's that simple. Everybody sort of expects that it's going to happen. But you just watch what you're doing. With some of the shows that are going on now like Phantom of the Opera and the difficulty of those shows, there would be no way that I'd be drinking before either one of those shows because they demand too much. Explain to me what you mean by demanding too much. The music is far more difficult than what we've seen as far as doing a star policy or something like that. I mean the only person that I worked in Vegas that we ever did two days of rehearsals for was Frank. And with Frank, we would rehearse the day before and the day of. But everybody else was usually - you'd go in the showroom in the afternoon, read the music down in a two-hour rehearsal, and do the show that night. Your friend who convinced you to come to Las Vegas, what did he say to you? Oh, he just kept saying - well, at that time after I left the Miller band, I went back to Central Michigan and got my master's degree in music, in performance, and a minor in theory on that. And then I taught college at Michigan at Central and I taught at Alma College. I did a short stint at Mott Community College and then went to Wisconsin and taught at Mount Scenario College in Wisconsin. And that was in the late 70s. And that was when I quit teaching. I taught there one year. And when I started I was making $10,500 a year. And the following year they were negotiating my contract. And I told them, I said, "I need 12,000 to live off of. I'm not going out and buy a new car." And they said, "Would you accept eleven-five?" And I told them where they could put their job and left. I went back to Flint. And a friend of mine helped me. I went into the automobile factories and in six months working on an assembly line made $18,000. The following summer I was set to go on supervision training for General Motors. And the day I was supposed to start that I got laid off. 5 And I was still playing in Michigan whenever I got a chance and doing whatever I could. And got together with a couple of real close friends that were musicians - a drummer, Joe Fryre. And I sat down with the Genesee County Fine Arts Council and I authored a federal grant under the CETA program. The CETA program was the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act for laid-off workers due to the Japanese imports and everything. And the grant was accepted and it funded a 13-piece jazz group that was paid for by the federal government. And we promoted jazz as an art form for the entire area. We were invited to open the first Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival. We did that. And that was in the fall of 1980. And the people from Montreux, Switzerland were there and they heard us. And we were invited to come out the following summer, the summer of 1981, to play a Montreux, Switzerland Jazz Festival. And we also were invited to open the North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague in Holland. And about a month before this went down, President Reagan was in office and he terminated the CETA program. So we were all out of work. And I loved Reagan. You know, he did what was right. But the businesses that we had gone out - we played lunch hours for General Motors in the factories. We played park concerts. It was all free, open to the public. And the businesses that were in town felt strongly enough about it that they funded our entire trip to Europe to pay for our hotels and everything while we were there. And during this time Tom was in touch with me. You know, you need to move to Vegas. There's work out here. You know you can work. Before we made that trip, as soon as we were terminated under the CETA program, I went to the unemployment office in Michigan. And it was pretty funny. I had never heard of it happening before. They sat down with me and they said, "Well, Mr. Textor, you're a teacher and nobody's hiring teachers in Michigan now," because of the effects of the automobile industry and people leaving the state. They said, "You're also an automobile worker, but you've been laid off and you're not going to get recalled on that." And they said, "And you're a musician and there's really no work for that. We strongly suggest you leave the state." So I mean the writing was on the wall. And so I got back from Montreux, Switzerland, I think on 6 a 1 hursdav. 1 had dinner with my tolks on a Friday. Loaded a U-Haul van on Saturday and left for Vegas on Sunday. I got into Vegas - I think it was July 25th or the 27th of 1981. You know, sometimes you sort ol look at it and think maybe there's just a little destiny involved out there, too, because 1 remember coming into town at night and seeing all the lights and 1 thought, I'm finally home. Oh, that's great. Yeah. Now, tell me - do you remember what the Strip looked like in 1981? Yeah. And 1 mean it's just hard to describe. I mean you didn't have the south end of the Strip. You had the I ropicana and that was about it. You didn't have anything. And at that point in time Bally's was the MGM. And you had the Aladdin and the Trop. The old Aladdin. And then further out - the furthest one south was the Hacienda. And, of course, the Hacienda's gone. And all the other hotels have built up. I started out - my first job was with the Norm Geller Orchestra at the Sands hotel. And I started out doing relief night, just one night a week. Now, was Tom working with the Sands, also? No. Tom at that point had already gone to the Riviera. He opened the Aladdin hotel. He came in the mid 70s. He left the Miller band and went on the road as a trumpet player with Frank Sinatra, Jr. Then he got to Vegas after a couple of years of that - I think it was a couple of years. He decided to stay in Vegas and he wound up opening the Aladdin hotel. Then he went to the Tropicana show. Then he went to the Riviera. So tell mc about the Sands at that time because we're talking about the Copa Room. At that point in time when I first got hired there, as 1 said it was relief night only and it was to replace the lead trombone player, Jim Huntsinger, who has since passed away. He's a great trombonist, absolutely 7 fantastic. And so I was just doing one night a week. But then Carl Fontana, a great jazz trombonist, was in the band regularly, but he was constantly going out on tours doing concerts and things. So I started being a regular in the section replacing him. And at that point in time, we were doing -1 think the name of the show was called Top Secret. And it was a topless show. It was a production show. And that only lasted for a few months and they went to star room policy. And so we started working stars. Come in and work one week at a time. And what was it called, star one? No. It's going from a production show to what they call the star room. So your stars would come into the room. So we were doing basically different stars each week. And, eventually, they dropped the policy and closed the room. And so the whole band was laid off. And then I got hired at the Hilton to sub for a trombone player there. Before you went to the Hilton, tell me some of the stars that you played with at the Sands. That's a tough one to remember because it was a short-lived policy. I think we did Debbie Reynolds there. I'm trying to think of the guy that - he did puppets and one of the characters was this old lady. I can't remember who it was. Oh. Madam and - Yeah. And there was also a female impersonator that was working the room who was very well-known at that point in time. And I can't remember his name, either. But then you went to the Hilton. I went to the Hilton and they were doing a production show. And I was subbing for a trombone player that was out for six weeks with Diana Ross. And we got to the end of four weeks. Jimmy Mulidore was conducting. And Jimmy called me and he wanted to make sure I was happy with things. He said, "You never smile when you're playing." I said, "Jimmy, a trombone - you can't smile when you play." He said, "Well, I just wanted to make sure you're happy." And it was on a Wednesday night. 8 And Friday I went in to go to work because Thursday we were off. And I had gotten a call just before I went to work trom the Sahara hotel to move over there on a permanent basis. So I went in and told Jimmy that I was leaving and he got very upset with me. He said, "You just got through telling me you were happy here." And I said, "Yeah, but it's only two more weeks. This is a full-time gig." So we didn't part on the best company, anyway. But then I was at the Sahara tor - I think it was about a year and a half. And I got called to work with the A1 Ramsey Orchestra. And, basically, we opened the Golden Nugget showroom with Frank Sinatra. And it wasn t even a month after that that A1 called me and I went on full time with the A1 Ramsey Orchestra at Caesars Palace. So tell me about the difference in working on the Strip and downtown at that time. Well, downtown - the Nugget had been open and the Four Queens was going on. And they had Monday jazz. There were a lot ot things going down there. There just weren't that many places, two or three places and that was it. Steve Wynn had taken over the Golden Nugget and completely remodeled the whole thing. And I had been working down there in - they had basically a lounge area. And did Lou Rawls and a bunch of people that came into that area. And then they finally got the showroom done. And they brought Frank in to open that up. And so I moved up and we did the showroom. And every time Frank came in down there, we played - they sort of worked it out. I don't know how they ever did it. But the entire orchestra from Caesars Palace would be off from Caesars and we'd go down to the Golden Nugget. And then we did the trip to Hawaii with Frank. We were there for about a week. And he took the band from Caesars Palace. You know, we heard it through the grapevine and we heard him say it that he could've taken the band out of L.A. from the recording studios and he said, "Absolutely not. This is the best orchestra I've ever worked with. So we're going with you guys." How did that feel to be part of what Frank thought was the best orchestra? Oh, it was phenomenal. It's absolutely - matter of fact, some things have come out since then. A lot of 9 your stars, when you're working them, they'll do cassette tapes through the mixing board so they can listen to the shows and figure it they want to make changes - change tunes or change the order of the tunes or whatever. So every time we did Frank they were recording it, but it was for Frank's use. Well, a year ago last February I went to the musicians union to pay my dues. And they said, Well, you owe us some work dues." And I said, "For what?" And I said, "How much is it?" I thought maybe it was overtime from a New Year's Eve gig or something. And it was a sizable amount of change. And I said, Well, I can't understand it. "Well, you've got a check here." And I said, "A check?" And they said, "It hasn't been mailed out yet; we'll get it for you." And that was from Capitol Records. And it was for the recording that was released, "Frank Sinatra Live in Las Vegas." And that was done at the Golden Nugget. So I was very pleased with that. And then six months later I got a royalties check from that recording. And we didn't know any of this was going on. I've got to get with Frank Leone at the union because I just got a newspaper clipping a couple of months ago from New York. And it's a picture of Frank. And the whole article is about the new DVD that's coming out, "Frank Sinatra Live in Vegas," and it's a video from Caesars and from the Golden Nugget and everything else. They're going to have to pay musicians for that again, too. So it's pretty exciting. So now, how does the union continually keep on top of all of these releases? Basically, if they hear of something happening, they find out about it and they research it. You know, Capitol released that CD and nobody had been paid for it. So they had to trace it down and find out who was working the show. And then we all got a check in the mail from Capitol Records. So the union does a pretty good job of that. I'm going to decline other comments about what the union does or does not do. So after the Golden Nugget - the Hilton was before the Golden Nugget? Yes. 10 How long were you at the Hilton? Just for the six weeks doing that production show. And then at Sahara - that was all star room. That's where I started doing -1 did Debbie Reynolds there. I did Don Rickles there constantly. I have stories about - Don was a great guy to work for. Tell me about him. He s just one of the nicest guys in the world. And people see him on the stage - they'd never believe it. Right. But he is just absolutely fantastic. There was always a gift from Don at the end of a week. He'd sort of pimp the band and we got to the point where we'd pimp him back. And it was - Explain the word "pimp." Well, it's just sort of practical jokes on each other. The one night it was his birthday and Ann Jillian was opening tor him. And between shows she let it be known that there was a party upstairs backstage for the band for Don's birthday. Well, Don came out - ended her bit, and Don came out and did his opening routine and then he made a bit about his birthday. And then turned around and looked at the band and gave us an "okay" sign. He said, "Yeah, I want to thank you for the gift, guys." There was no gift. He was really laying it on us and showing the audience - apparently trying to belittle the band. So between shows we went upstairs to party. And they had all this booze. Everything was like half-gallon jugs. But they only could get pint bottles of Chivas Regal. And Don was a Chivas Regal drinker. So about three of us did a pint of Chivas down to the point where it may have had half an inch left in the bottom of it. And the lead alto player, Bill Home, got a piece of toilet paper and tied a toilet-papered bow around it. And we went in for the second show and Don opened - same routine. I mean I could do Don Rickles' show right now and it would be the same show. It doesn't change that much. So Don did exactly the same. He turned around and said, "Thanks for the gift, guys." And Bill stood up and he said, "Don, on behalf of the band, we'd like to present you with this gift." And he saw it had about half an inch and saw the toilet-papered bow on it. He went right to the floor laughing. He was cracking up at what we did 1 1 to him. So that kind ot stuff went on with Rickles all the time. I did Debbie Reynolds there. I think I said that. I can't think - I mean I did Tina Turner there. Oh, tell me what that was like. Oh, she is absolutely dynamite, absolutely fantastic. I have seen her once. I cannot believe where the energy comes from. She comes out on the stage and the whole show is a mile a minute, just constant movement. In heels that high. Yep, wearing the spiked heels. And just absolutely phenomenal to work with. There aren't too many that were bad to work with, but there are a few. Who are some of your favorites? Frank. Don. I think probably one of the best showmen was Sammy. And tell me more about Sammy because I always fill that he's a little overshadowed by Frank. Oh. Matter of fact, I was talking to somebody - the latest book that's out on Frank basically said that Frank idolized Sammy. And whatever Sammy did that's the direction of the Rat Pack. But, no, he - absolutely is a phenomenal gentleman to work with. That's still going to break me up. But the picture you saw of me and Sammy, that was the first night I had worked him. I walked over to Sammy because he was waiting to go back on. He opened the show. Bill Cosby came out. Sammy was sitting on a stool and we were waiting to go back on. And I said, "Mr. Davis." And he said, "No, Sammy." And I said, "My name's Ron Textor." And I said, "I wanted to thank you for coming and doing this show." And he said, "What are you talking about?" And I said, "When I was in college I dreamt of someday doing the Rat Pack." And I said, "You're the only one I haven't done yet." 12 So it was pretty moving. And it brought him to tears. So that's where I got the picture. We became pretty good friends that week. That was the first week. And then he came back constantly. And another great guy to work for was Liberace. And Mr. Showmanship. Yeah, he was. So tell me about him because we've seen the pianos and we've seen the capes and all of that, but we have no idea what it could have been like working with someone that flamboyant. Oh, he was just fantastic. At that time I was married to my second wife. Got her comped into the show. We came through the backstage. And she was standing back there looking at the rack of all the furs and everything. I think she was about at that time probably about a hundred pounds on a good day. And she was about five-feet tall on a good day. And she was admiring this fur coat. And all of a sudden she heard the voice. And it was Lee standing behind her. And he said, "Would you like to try one on?" And she picked one out and he helped her on with it. And I think the coat weighed 140 pounds. And he was just that kind of a guy. He was great. During one of the engagements in fall of '86,1 got word my father passed way. And I did both shows that night and flew out at midnight to go back to Michigan. And when I came back a couple weeks later, they were doing a different show. And I had a sub covering for me. I got back in town to do the second show. Just walked on. No rehearsal. Come in and just read the music down. And the bandleader, A1 Ramsey, said, "Ron, have you been up to the band room yet?" And I said, "Nah, I just had a chance to unpack my horn." And he said, "Well, you need to get up there; there's something there for you." And I got up and there was a sympathy card and two bottles of wine from Lee and Artie Azenzer, his musical director. But he was a fantastic guy to work for. During the last week - the last show that we were doing with Lee before he passed away, he was really scuffling, playing. Between shows he was back there very, very frustrated. And Artie said, "What's the matter, Lee?" And he said, "It just doesn't make any difference what I do; I keep playing in the cracks." And Artie looked at him and said, "Well, did you 13 think about moving the piano a half-inch to your right?" And it broke Lee up and it boosted his spirits. Musicians are like that, constantly coming up with a way to pitch - and sort of make light of it. That's great. When I listen to you talk about this and your work and your life, it makes me think of the word "family." Oh, yeah. Yep. Going back to any band you're playing, that's what it is. If it's not, the person really isn't that much of a family member to the group isn't going to be there that long. It's got to be the camaraderie. You know, you can have di