Back in 1975, a couple of brothers making fourteen dollars a night setting up chairs at a Birmingham supper club would never have dreamed they'd end up working with music legends like the Temptations, even if such a thing had crossed their minds, which it didn't. Until it happened.
Years later, when it was right before my eyes, I still found it hard to believe. There I was, standing in the wings, grooving to the Temptations songs, and wasn't that my old friend Tommy Finley playing trumpet in the horn section, and earlier in the evening, didn't I hear Little Richard's manager asking Tommy's brother Donny for permission to take his famous client backstage?
|Donny Finley with the Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards|
manager Dennis Edwards needed. If you're wondering how Donny's work history with the phone company translated to job experience for a tour manager, the fact is it didn't. No, the Finleys' story is one of following your bliss, and Tommy and Donny's bliss was music.
|Tommy Finley with the Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards|
Tommy says, "I figured if I was going to be there every night anyway, I might as well make some money."
|The Bachelors featuring Vicki Hallman c.1972 (l-r) Bobby Daye, Al Rocco, Ray Rachels, Vicki, Vince Ceravolo|
Like when the Finley twins invited me to Memphis for An Evening of Soul, Celebrating Peabo Bryson's 60th Birthday, presented by David Gest. Not familiar with David Gest? Well neither was I, but let me tell you, the man knew how to throw a party, which isn't surprising since he produced Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration: The Solo Years, said to be the highest-rated
|Victoria Hallman and Percy Sledge at rehearsal for An Evening of Soul|
Needless to say I felt plenty comfortable, not only because I was with homefolks, but because I was warmly welcomed by everyone, including the host, David Gest, to whom Tommy Finley introduced me, adding, "Victoria used to be on Hee Haw."
"Hee Haw?" Mr. Gest exclaimed, "I love Hee Haw! I even have Hee Haw overalls."
Now if that didn't make me feel right at home, I don't know what would, because Hee Haw overalls were made by Liberty Trouser Company in Birmingham, and I'm betting that's an Alabama-Nashville connection you never made, even though it was right there on your TV screen every week for twenty-five years.
RIP David Gest, May 11, 1953-April 12, 2016.
|David Gest at An Evening of Soul|