Thursday, April 30, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

From Milly's Orchid Show 1990. The Elvis Show. I'm playing with Peter Allen who at the time was going by the name Peter Mitchell because he didn't want to be confused with the flamboyantly gay singer/songwriter of the same name. During my tenure with the Orchid Show we must have played this song dozens of times. I always thought Peter's arrangement of it was really fun and inventive.

Peter was my next door neighbor at this time. He and his twin brother Paul were two strikingly handsome guys.   Peter was a fantastic musician and I should credit him with teaching me to sing on the beat. Before him I just sort of wandered around the notes (and issue I guess I still deal with.) 

 These clips make me cringe a little; doing this fake nightclub act, acting like I'm some smooth son-of-a-bitch, when I couldn't have been more naive and un-smooth.   However, it was a fun time back then; if only because we didn't know what we were doing and all that counted was we were getting reactions from the audience.  

This was soon after I was in Interview Magazine.  Cartoonist Linda Barry was a fan of mine from seeing me at these shows and talked about me when she was being interviewed. Before I knew it I was in a national magazine when I had maybe sung before people a half a dozen times. I thought I was pretty hot shit because everyone was asking Peter and I to play at parties, and opening for bands.   At the height of this whirlwind I was asked to open for Dread Zeppelin, a Led Zeppelin cover band where the lead singer was an Elvis Impersonator sang songs with a  reggie beat.  So, who better to open for them but me and faux lounge Sinatra singer.   Opening up for them was a pretty big deal at the time (Robert Plant was touting them as his favorite cover band);  it was going to be the place to be on St. Patrick's Day.  

So Peter and I were all set to do the show and then Peter called me up because he wanted billing in the advertisements. He wanted it to say John Sinatra Connors & Peter Mitchell. I had no idea how I was going to do that considering it wasn't my show and I wasn't in charge of the advertising. But Peter said either I did something about it or he wasn't going to play.  I remember telling him that in future shows we could do it, but not this one.    It was a strange power play and I was stuck.  

Blurb in the Suntimes about the show

I paniked because I thought I was going to have cancel this gig and asked another guitar player I was working with at the time if he wanted to do the show.  Peter was hurt and that was the end of our musical relationship together.  In retrospect I should have more sensitive to Peter and tried to make him change his mind,  but I was being pigheaded too thinking the act was really about me.  Me. Me. Me...  I was 24 you know... As it turned out my performance was a complete failure. The show was sold out. Alice Cooper was even there.  I was completely out of my element trying to do these rock songs like slow ballads and I was booed off the stage while people threw beer bottles at me.   I think I lasted ten minutes.      

I wish Peter and I could worked longer... we were starting to come up with our own style just as it fell apart.    We made up later on and played some shows together again.   The last being about four years ago doing this song.  But you can't go home again.   

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