Bobby was bringing
songs to Atlantic, that's how we met. We became real good friends.
He was the first to look out for my royalties. He was trying to
get his too. It took me 8 years to get it straightened out.
He went down to the
Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., and he was scared about it.
It was primarily a black theatre. At the time, Bobby was making
up his mind about what he wanted to do. I went down with him and
introduced him to everybody. At the time, next door to the theatre
was a place called Cecilia's Stage Door. That's where everybody
hung out, all the performers. I stayed with him a few days and everybody
loved him. We used to watch the movies between shows. Even then
he wanted to do acting. His favorite actor, he just died, was Jack
Elam. Bobby LOVED him as an actor.
Did I perform with
him? Well, when we were at the Howard Theatre, we used to clown
around. The midnight show, he introduced me from the seats. I was
offstage and he hollered.
He was nervous about
going. The Howard Theatre was a landmark for black performers. We
used to do 2 shows a day, 7 days a week. At the Apollo it was 4
times a day. You'd meet yourself coming off the stage. People really
loved Bobby. A lot of people who heard his voice didn't realize
he was white, you know what I'm saying? He was a cross between Ray
Charles & Jackie Wilson.
The last time I talked
to him he was playing the Copa with a comic named Irving C. Watson.
He invited me to a show, but I was struggling back then. I didn't
own a car. He called a couple of times to invite me. I was working
at a 9-5 job, and he didn't have any idea. I was struggling to get
my kid in school, but he called me and invited me to come.
What a talent he was.
Bobby had so much talent, and he worked with a lot of talent. Otis
Blackwell and Tony Orlando were also there. Bobby was a dynamic
person, and we got along real fine. I asked him to write something
for me. We sat down at the piano and he gave me the idea on how
to go. He put "This Little Girl's Gone Rockin' " on --
in those days you'd put a song on a demo -- and I learned from that.
That whole thing was his idea.
He introduced me to
Richard Wess. He got Richard to record me, and we did "Late
Date." "Late Date" was the first album I did for
Atlantic. We had "Porgy," -- Bobby helped pick out some
of those songs. He thought I was a great singer.
The place the music
is now, there's just no melody. I don't know where the legends are
going to come from.
I just saw Bobby on
something with Sidney. Yes, "Pressure Point." He had an
ambition to become a great actor, and he did.
He had a great love
affair with Sandra Dee. He was just crazy about her.
Where was I when I
heard Bobby had died? Long Island. I heard it on the radio from
New York City. I hollered. "OH NO! OH NO! OH NO!" I had
heard rumors he was ill, but he was living in a different kind of
thing, living up in California.
I still can't get over
that he's gone.