Some truly memorable moments in a 35 year career…
These are just a few… Thanks to all who’ve made it memorable! – Jeff Albright
Every time I picked up the phone for my boss, Lee Solters, and it was Michael Jackson on the line. “Hi, it’s Michael for Lee.” As cool as it was crazy… “If Michael calls, get me no matter where I am,” said Lee. That, truly, meant anywhere. Ironically, Lee passes away the same year as Michael. I had the opportunity to meet both Tito and Jermaine in early 2010 and express my condolences in person regarding Michael’s passing.
While working for Lee, I handle the press room at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena where Michael Jackson (during the Bad World Tour) is presented a proclamation from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declaring November (1988) as “Michael Jackson Month.” There are very few people that are larger than life. Michael was certainly one of them (RIP). Two months later, I actually get to see the show at the Sports Arena. I take a former Miss North Carolina and have excellent floor seats, only to have Magic Johnson stand directly in front of us.
The installation of the Frank Sinatra hotline at S/R/F. It was one phone that sat at reception next to the general switchboard. When the Chairman of the Board called, people moved… and they moved fast. Lee met Frank Sinatra at Caesars Palace in the mid-60’s (while handling the hotel) and represented him for more than two decades. Both were, simply put, one-of-a-kind classics.
Meeting Bruce Springsteen backstage at the Grammy Awards in 1995, while coordinating television press for the show. Ironically, several members of the media ask me to introduce them to “The Boss” as if I know him personally… Thanks to our client – longtime E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren – I’m able to take my daughter to one of the Working On a Dream shows on her 12th birthday in April, 2009.
Going to Vice President Gore’s residence (United States Naval Observatory in Washington D.C.) with client Herbie Hancock and other music notables while in town for a Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz event. While having drinks and eating appetizers, Tipper Gore leans over the balcony telling us she’ll be down soon and to enjoy ourselves in the meantime…
Escorting Barbra Streisand to the play Hurlyburly featuring Sean Penn at the Westwood Playhouse. I quickly find myself pictured with Barbra and her son, Jason, in various tabloids. The Star wrongly refers to me as a “stagehand.” I don’t get to meet Sean Penn, but I do get to meet Ron Silver, Charlie Sheen and Danny Aiello. A few weeks later, I see Danny Aiello at the 20th Century Fox Studios commissary. He introduces me to Bruce Willis who is sitting at his table.
Standing next to Stevie Wonder while Herbie Hancock received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (September 1994). I was truly surrounded by musical greatness.
Being a part of the Rock To The Rescue (and Volunteers for America) 9/11 benefit concert conceived by Tommy Shaw of Styx… at my suggestion, part of the proceeds go to my friend’s sister and her family of four boys who had lost their dad in the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. I meet one of the boys at the Continental Airlines Arena/New Jersey concert. I will never forget it.
Robby Krieger, Vince Neil and Brian Setzer perform at our wedding in October 1995. Robby performs Doors classics “Light My Fire” and “Riders on The Storm” with Setzer performing “Rock This Town” and “Brand New Cadillac.” Vince joins Brian on “Wild Thing.” Kelsey Grammer gives us a Cuisinart. A wonderful wedding.
Going to Ray Manzarek’s house on Rodeo Drive just prior to a television interview that I had set up. He played “Light My Fire” on his keyboards as the two of us talked about the history of The Doors. He was truly one of the most articulate and well-spoken musicians I have ever had the pleasure to work with… From the moment he heard Jim Morrison recite the lyrics to what would become “Moonlight Drive” on Venice Beach until his final days, he was all about The Doors. RIP Ray. We miss you.
U2 giving me not just two, but six tickets to any show I wanted to attend… all incredible shows by one incredible band. The first time I saw U2? Opening up for the J. Geils Band at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on March 27, 1982. I slept overnight at the local Sears Ticketron at Fallbrook Square in Canoga Park, CA. My tickets were dead center, first row, on the aisle… behind the stage! It was like looking at it all from the band’s perspective. Amazing. Working on the Barry Fey documentary and watching “U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky” during the campaign was great fun.
Attending Kelsey’s engagement party at his house in Agoura… NBC’s Warren Littlefield gives Kelsey a ribbon-wrapped red Dodge Viper as a gift from the network, which Kelsey eventually crashes… Thankfully, he was okay. My wife and I dance next to Kasey Kasem and his wife during Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate.” Funny stuff. Kasey RIP.
Stephen Pearcy and Warren Demartini of RATT perform at my 30th birthday party in 1992 at Andy Pearlman Studios in Marina del Rey… 100 people were invited but 250 show up… I get up and sing Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” with the house band, leaving no doubt as to why I don’t have my own band. Due to excessive noise, the police arrive and ask questions… when they find out it’s really RATT, they park the car and begin to rock with the masses.
Meeting Paul Newman at Tower Records in Woodland Hills, California while picking up gift bags for Vince Neil’s golf tournament. He was alone… no entourage. Other than the employees, we were the only two in the entire store. When I told him that I was once the assistant for his longtime publicist Warren Cowan, he welcomed me. We pondered the classical and jazz CDs for a moment and talked about car racing. Both Paul and Warren passed away in the same year and we proudly support Paul’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (www.holeinthewallgang.org).
My first entertainment industry experiences at Rogers & Cowan in 1983. At 21, it was all exciting. Every day was a new experience. Celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Priscilla Presley, Jaclyn Smith, Sherman Hemsley, Julio Iglesias, Barbara Carrera and others would just be wandering the hallways on any given day. One moment, I’d be picking up Danny Kaye or Joan Van Ark and the next I’d be delivering packages to Sean Connery, Rod Stewart and Gene Kelly. At night, I’d be at functions with George Burns on one side of me and the Beach Boys on the other side. It was all a bit surreal at the time. Special thanks to Bonnie Fleming, Alan Nierob, Sandy Friedman, Michael Binkow, Sarah McMullen, Nancy Sullivan, Ramon Hervey II, Paul Bloch and, of course Warren (RIP), who were all supportive from the very beginning.
Pitching Steven Spielberg with an idea in the mid-90’s and getting an immediate call back from his office… “Steven Spielberg’s office on line one.” For someone not directly affiliated with the movie industry, this was pretty cool. A few years later, my friend meets him in line while waiting to see a movie at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.
Being a part of Rogers & Cowan’s signing of Duran Duran shortly after I became an intern in 1983. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when one of the major account executives (who had just received a call) asks, “Does anyone know anything about Duran Duran?” They had a bit of a buzz in the States and I inform all as to that fact, along with touting the band’s immense popularity. R&C gets the account and works on the re-released Rio album and that year’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Almost 30 years later, they perform at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
Going to Fort Benning, Georgia with Queensryche… They perform in front of the troops during their American Soldier Tour in May 2009. We get to take a ride in an M1A1 Abrams tank and an M2 Bradley tank and have an opportunity to meet the troops. An unforgettable experience. A special thanks to all who have served and currently serve…
Meeting David Bowie… I came into work early one morning and while working at my desk/cubicle, my associate said, “Jeff, I’d like you to meet someone.” I didn’t look up right away so she asked again… I look up and there’s David Bowie leaning over my cubicle. Star Man, RIP.
Breakfast with Peter Frampton at the Sunset Marquis… I hear “Show Me The Way” on KLOS-FM a few minutes after our breakfast while driving on Sunset Boulevard. Felt like the summer of ’76!
Lunch with clients Eric Burdon, Ric Ocasek, Paul Kantner and Brad Delp on separate occasions. Paul and Brad, RIP.
Dinners with clients Rob Halford, The Fixx and Lynyrd Skynyrd (Johnny Van Zant, Leon Wilkeson and Rickey Medlocke). While having dinner at Musso and Frank in Hollywood with the guys from Skynyrd, the waiter asks Rickey to put on a long-sleeved shirt before dining… true story.
The elevator ride with Diamond Dave… The plane ride with Weird Al… The car ride with Mick Fleetwood… The van ride with Felix Cavaliere.
Hanging out with The Who’s John Entwistle upstairs at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset.
Dress rehearsals, sound checks and intimate performances… from Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Pat Benatar to The Kinks, The Ventures, The Guess Who and The Doors of the 21st Century… On stage, side stage, or just a few feet away, all were truly spectacular.
Saying hi to Madonna, Michael Hutchence of INXS and Chris Farley all in the same night at a Grammy party at Chasen’s in Beverly Hills. We attend the Grammys and after party with Herbie Hancock.
Saying hi to Johnny Cash at the Country Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre while representing Dwight Yoakam. Garth Brooks comes up and introduces himself shortly thereafter, as does Vince Gill.
Meeting George Clooney, Anthony Edwards and Cameron Diaz all on the same day at the Long Beach Grand Prix. My wife – who never asks for a photo — takes a picture with George. I get home only to find out that the roll of film in the camera had already been shot. My wife forgives but doesn’t forget… Years later, I see George at the Studio City Golf Course driving range and tell him of the incident… he offers to retake the photo.
Hanging with Mike Tyson for the day while at the Las Vegas Hilton for the Julio Cesar Chavez / Jose Luis Ramirez fight (1988). Mike – growing a bit tiresome of the photo opportunities – says, “What are you, the publicist?” He laughs while I momentarily fear for my life. I fly over to the event with Chevy Chase, Dennis Hopper, Josh Brolin and Paul Rodiguez among others. I meet the legendary Muhammad Ali on the same day.
Escorting Cynthia Plaster Caster and “Miss Pamela” Des Barres to the premiere screening of The Banger Sisters at The Grove in Los Angeles. I meet Goldie Hawn after the movie, then end up meeting Kate Hudson, Chris Robinson and Geoffrey Rush at the after party.
John Ritter, myself, and a handful of others look hysterically for a restroom at the “Greenacres” / Harold Lloyd Estate in Beverly Hills that supposedly has 26 bathrooms during a Michael Dukakis presidential fundraiser. Lee Solters and I were there with Barbra Streisand.
At a private celebrity golf tournament at Lake Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California (that we did PR for…), I say hi to Bill Murray, Joe Pesci, Andy Garcia, Stephen Stills and Wayne Gretzky (who’s as nice and casual as one would imagine). I see Jack Nicholson but don’t bother him. Someone asks Bill Murray for an autograph… He says, “Aren’t you even going to say hi first?” and walks away. It was classic.
Meeting Ozzy Osbourne… He was coming into the office for a day of interviews in conjunction with the No More Tears project. There I was, standing at the urinal of the office bathroom when the door opens and Ozzy walks up beside me and says hello.
Hanging out with client Sam Kinison… he once made me laugh so hard at the Comedy Store on Sunset that I thought I tore stomach muscles… Other times he made me laugh so hard that I just couldn’t breathe. There was no one like Sam. RIP.
Seeing Roger Waters of Pink Floyd perform solo at Irvine Meadows / Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in 2000… I had sixteen $20 bills in my hand for my friend and our wives only to be told by management at the box office that “Roger has taken care of your tickets and you’re up front (fourth row on the aisle).” During the tour, he signs a guitar for me, which now graces the entry of our house. It’s the only signed guitar that I own.
Being within arm’s length of Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Mark Wahlberg at the premiere of the movie, Rock Star. The movie theater in Westwood gets overloaded and the Fire Marshall keeps many of us from entering. Gene Simmons literally tries to pull Robby Krieger (the only member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in attendance) into the lobby past the Marshall but we’re told to go to the overflow theatre down the street. We do so, but the lower brass at Warner Bros. still can’t find a seat for Robby (and won’t allow me to ask anyone to give up their seat), so he and his wife, Lynn, end up going home. In a gesture of pure class, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit — who tells my wife she has “the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen” — offers us his four seats after hearing of the incident. Unfortunately, Robby and Lynn had already left.
Running into Quentin Tarantino at the Laurel Canyon newsstand shortly after Pulp Fiction is released. Robby Krieger and I eventually go to a midnight showing in New York City. Still one of my favorite movies of all-time… Can’t believe 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of its release. In January of 2012, I was invited to go to the set of “Django Unchained” at the Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita, California (near my old ‘hood) but couldn’t extend my NAMM/California trip for two days. Don’t ask me why… I don’t know.
Unexpectedly meeting Joe Strummer of The Clash… I was at Universal Studios Hollywood covering a radio station interview with then clients Joe Walsh and Brian Setzer. While walking down the CityWalk corridor, I look behind me and see Joe Strummer with his family. “Aren’t you Joe Strummer?” “I am, indeed,” he said. He wasn’t there for anything else, other than taking his family out. He was good friends with Brian and was ecstatic to hear he was there…
Watching my nine-year-old son being led to center stage by Mark Volman (The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie) for the encore performance at a Happy Together 2012 show. If you can’t have fun with Mark, Howard Kaylan, Micky Dolenz and the others on this tour, then you don’t know how to have fun. Great show. Great guys.
Any concert with my wife and kids!
Just being in the presence of music royalty…
I should’ve said hi to Ringo when I had the chance… and I should’ve gone to see the Led Zeppelin performance at the O2 Arena in London in December, 2007! I had tickets. Thankfully, a good friend enjoyed my ticket and had a great time.
The above, of course, only represents the memories that are “fit to print.”
In retrospect, I wish I could’ve lived more in the moment and taken it all in.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
REMEMBERING PHYLLIS DILLER, ANDY WILLIAMS AND DICK CLARK (2012)
At the age of 18, just prior to my first year in college, I got a job working at a new restaurant in Westlake Village, California owned by Phyllis Diller called Philli Dilli Chili. I was the cook along with Phyllis’ son-in-law, Marv. Her daughter, Stephanie, managed the restaurant. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer, more genuine, person than Phyllis. She was as kind as she was funny. We kept in touch a few times since, and I’m glad that our paths crossed. She was a legend and a pioneer in comedy. She will be missed.
I was also saddened to hear about the passing of Andy Williams. While working at Rogers & Cowan in late 1983, I was sent to Andy’s studio to have him record a promotional spot for the 1984 Olympic Gold Coins. I was there less than an hour. Months later, in the summer of ’84, I see him driving his black Rolls-Royce convertible in Malibu making a left turn in front of me at an intersection. I shout out, “Hey Andy!” expecting maybe a brief courtesy wave. Instead, he sees me and shouts back, “Hey Jeff!” I was stunned… The girl I was with said, “Wasn’t that Andy Williams?” Why, yes, it was… My mom and dad were big fans and I was honored to meet Andy. I remember sitting in front of the TV as a young kid and watching his variety show. I enjoy hearing his songs around Christmas and will always remember that day at the beach. He was cool.
In the early 90’s, I received an invitation from Dick Clark to join him for hors d’oeuvres at Le Dome restaurant on Sunset. It was a small gathering of about a dozen prominent music publicists in an intimate setting. Dick wanted to meet all of us and talk about the current state of the music business and where we thought it was heading. There was a reason he was legendary and this is proof… What a class act.
Rest in Peace.