Online Chat with Steve Blauner

Bobby and Steve in 1962.

Bobby's view on the computer industry in 1962.

"Com'on, baby ... remember those IBM machines.
Let's get at it before-a people go out of style!"

Technology has given us some interesting times in Darin fandom,
doing things we never thought possible! On Friday, June 11, 1999;
Bobby's "manager / visionary career architect and dear friend " Steve Blauner joined
some of us in the chat room for an inspiring and fun question and answer session.
A great time was had by all!!

Below is the chat log.

(*** Dodd Darin's accurate description of this exceptional man!)

    Vinnie: Steve, do you have a complete inventory from all the record labels regarding BD's unreleased records?

    Steve: Yes.

    Vinnie: Will they eventually all be released over the years?

    Steve: I hope so.

    Patricia: Can you tell us how Bobby felt about the NBC shows?

    Steve: He hated them. He didn't think they were very creative. In fact, after the first 4 shows taped in December of 1972 he asked to get him out of it.

    Lorraine: Are any of the Direction LPs going to be officially released on CD?

    Steve: Yes, in time. The Varese album due out in September will have a few of the songs. By the way, Collectors Choice has the CD in their new catalog. (and also online).

    Tom: Any chance of ever seeing his TV show get released on video? At least a compiliation?

    Steve: I hope so.

    Lorraine: Is it a rights issue?

    Steve: The cost of clearing the music is very costly.

    Donna: The unreleased documentary from the Cocoanut Grove 1966 ... will it be released?

    Steve: I hope so.

    Vinnie: Do you feel there's a renewed interest in BD?

    Steve: I think that this website has helped put Bobby back in the minds of the people.
    Also the release of all the CDs has helped, as well as the PBS Special.

    Pat: Any funny stories about Bobby you can share?

    Steve: When we were on the road we would get into all sorts of playful fun to keep us
    from being bored. Like in Syracuse we used to have food fights in the local diner.
    Childish, but fun.

    Andy: What Darin releases may we expect to see over the coming months and years?

    Steve: There is the CD from Varese that covers the folk and singles coming out.
    Also out this week from Capitol, is a compilation.

    Lorraine: In Dodd's book, you mentioned a strange experience with your daughter at the
    Copa after BD passed on, where you were sure your sunglasses disappeared because Bobby
    was letting you know he was there. Had that ever happened before or since?

    Steve: Never. It was really quite a moment. All my daughter wanted was to go to the toy store.

    Vinnie: Anyone cast yet to play BD in the movie?

    Steve: Not officially but Kevin Spacey is hot to play Bobby.

    Tom: What in your opinion was Bobby best in? Standards, protest, country?

    Steve: The thing about Bobby was that anything he sang he was good at. There is no singer
    in the history of performers who ever covered all the bases that he did and
    did them well.

    Christine: What actor would you like to see portray Bobby?

    Steve: Johnny Depp.

    Vinnie: Steve, don't know if you know this but, Nancy Sinatra wrote me and told me
    that her father had great respect for BD.

    Steve: Sinatra thought he was the best of the next generation.

    Tony: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Who would decide which NBC shows would be release ... you with Dodd, or Dodd alone, or other people?

    Steve: Me.

    Tina: Who did Bobby like to perform with?

    Steve: Any good looking lady and the older giants such as Burns, Durante, etc.

    Cathy: What's your favorite song of Bobby's?

    Steve: When he performed "Higher and Higher."

    Tony: How did Bobby discover Wayne Newton?

    Steve: Wayne was performing in the Copa lounge and Bobby called me to meet him at the Copa and that night I took him aside and signed him to Bobby as his producer. In fact his first record that Bobby produced "Danke Schoen" was given to Bobby to sing himself ... but he gave it to Wayne.

    Andy: There is the story of the fire in Atlantic's warehouse that allegedly destroyed all of Darin's unreleased tracks. Yet on a recent Diablo CD, we were treated to "My Baby Needs Me." Do other previously released Atlantic tracks still exist? Also, what about the other "live" album in Capitol's vaults?

    Steve: The fire was tragic. Most everything on ATCO was burned up.

    Donna: In Dodd's book, Bobby called you a genius. Did he ever tell you he felt that?

    Steve: Bobby gave me his life when I had only been in the business a year and a half. Our deal was he would sing but I would do everything else. We never had a contract, just a handshake and he always lived by it.

    Mitch: What do you think Bobby's best professional moment was?

    Steve: His Academy Award nomination.

    Lorraine: If rights could be secured, do you think there would be interest to license the NBC shows to some channel like TVLAND? It's a pleasure to see BD on Flip Wilson.

    Cathy: Or Nick at Night?

    Steve: I'm not sure we have all the rights. If you can sell it, I'll deliver.

    Cathy: We'll sure do our best!

    Steve: Great.

    Cathy: Would a one-man show on Broadway be good for Kevin Spacey to perform as Bobby?

    Steve: Not if he wants to sing.

    Billy: Steve, one of the greatest moments of my life is when my good friend Jimmy introduced me to your good friend Harriet. I had the pleasure of having dinner with her twice. What a remarkable lady!

    Steve: Harriet introduced me to Bobby. If it wasn't for her I would never have met him,
    as he was a rock singer then and I wasn't a fan of rock. Long live Hesh!

    Donna: Will Bobby's albums be re-released in orginal form on CD or will there simply be various complilations?

    Steve: I hope both.

    Tony: Steve, do the sales of the Legends of Entertainment video of the last TV concert give you optimism for good sales for future releases?

    Steve: I hope so. Here's a story about that show. It was an accident the final show, with Bobby and Peggy Lee, but they (the producers) forgot to give him time to rehearse so he went out cold and one hour and and ten minutes later he came off stage. He was very sick at the time. You'll notice a couple of times he shakes his arm trying to get the circulation
    into his fingers.

Bobby on the last show.

    Donna: Steve, I read about that last show ... it broke my heart!

    Steve: Right on. Mine too.

    Cathy: Any more live concert videos to be released?

    Steve: I dont know about TV, but maybe audio.

    Vinnie: How did BD choose a style to approach a song?

    Steve: In the gut.

    Cathy: Are you going to write a book someday, Steve?

    Steve: I don't think so.

    Lorraine: Would you ever consider showcasing the NBC shows at the Museum of TV in
    either LA or NY or both, the way the Sinatra programs have been presented?

    Steve: I am in the process right now of doing that.

    Vinnie: How can we help you and Dodd promote BD?

    Steve: By being the fans you are and spreading the word. This website is the greatest
    thing that has ever happened to him since his death 25 yrs ago.

    Patricia: With Bobby's recent induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, do you think
    he's got a good chance of getting the Lifetime Grammy next?

    Karen: Steve, in Dream Lovers you had an experience with the radio on the empty stage
    ... if yes has it ever happened again?

    Steve: Not that I know of. By the way, the song that was playing that day was "Christmas Auld Lang Syne" and we now own it.

    Patrica: Steve, did you attend the Cocoanut Grove concert?

    Steve: No, I did not.

    Tony: Is it true that the duet section with Peggy Lee on the last show was taped not long after he came off the stage feeling sick?

    Steve: Yes, and she was mad as hell because she had been standing the whole time waiting to go on.

    Cathy: Bobby had such amazing energy. If you didn't know he was sick on that show,
    you'd never know it.

    Steve: He was 70 percent, but only I knew it.

    Andy: Who are your favorite Darin arrangers? I love the Billy May sessions!

    Steve: Billy May was the greatest but, Richard Wess was his Nelson Riddle.

    Vinnie: We heard Jack Nicholson thank you in his acceptance speech for As Good As It Gets.

    Steve: I had a movie company called BBS that gave Jack the part in 5 Easy Pieces and Easy Rider.

    Vinnie: We're bowing down again, Steve!

    Steve: Stop bowing. I'm the one who should be doing the bowing to you great fans!

    Mitch: Was Nicholson a friend of Bobby's? I guess he (Jack) wasn't famous enough early on.

    Steve: Jack loved Bobby.

    Tony: Did some of the mistakes make the final TWO OF A KIND album, as you had requested?

    Steve: Yes, you can hear Bobby and Johnny Mercer breaking each other up.

    Cathy: How did you hear Bobby died?

    Steve: I got a call late at night. I went to the radio at once and was pissed that they weren't playing Bobby yet.

    Mitch: Will you tell us a "Bobby Secret?" I don't even know what it could be -- but there must be one that only you know about that we might enjoy and respect at the same time.

    Steve: There were no secrets with Bobby, he was the most honest person I've ever known.

    Karen: On Darin at the Copa, Bobby sounds incredibly self-assured for such a young guy ...
    was he really like that or did he hide his nervousness?

    Steve: Bobby was like all of us, scared in the beginning. Whenever he'd release a single
    he'd break out with a rash on his hands for fear of a bomb. Also, let me tell you about him,
    if you came to him with a story about someone else he would say if it's not good he didn't want to hear it.

    Mitch: Did Bobby feel closer to any genre of his music than the others ... or were they all (Rock, Pop, Vegas, Country, Folk, etc.) equally close to his heart?

    Steve: I know that he loved all music and even though I would fight with him to stay in one bag, he wouldn't.

    Vinnie: Besides Sinatra and Charles, who did BD listen to?

    Steve: Jolson.

    Tony: Steve, were you at any of the last shows in Vegas in July and August, 1973? Sad memories?

    Steve: All of them.

    Cathy: How do you think Bobby would have liked being a Grandpa?

    Steve: Exceptional. I know how he was with my first child.

    Patricia: What do you think was Bobby's best quality?

    Steve: Honesty.

    Vinnie: Steve, any secret celebrity Darin fans?

    Steve: Sammy Davis, Andy Williams, Julius Larosa, Elizabeth Taylor,
    Bobby Kennedy, Bob Dylan ...

    Patricia: This may be a loaded question Steve, but what was it about Bobby that made
    it easy (or difficult) to manage him?

    Steve: He was as smart as anyone I've ever met in the business.

    Lorraine: Did he ever talk about what happened that night at Bobby Kennedy's grave?

    Steve: Yes. He wouldn't leave the grave site until they covered it, so he slept at the grave
    site. He had a vision of a flaming ball that left his body and took away all his anxieties.

    Vinnie: Other than the songs cited in his monologue (on the last show and The Darin
    ) what hit records did BD turn down? I heard that Neil Diamond wrote
    "Solitary Man" for BD.

    Steve: I'm not sure but in the business I'm sure there were many. He took me to see
    Diamond at a club in LA when he was an unknown and told me he would be a star.
    Bobby had the greatest eye and ear for talent of anyone I have known.

    Vinnie: Were there any songs that BD recorded that he didn't like?

    Steve: A lot. Most of the ones on the Motown album and many on the Capitol Unreleased.
    I think Motown over produced.

    Mitch: Steve, is there any young performer today who's trying to do what Bobby did with
    pop-swing who has approached you for guidance ... or do you think that kind of
    music will die?

    Steve: No, most people if they were interested can't find me.

    Tony: Steve, on some of Bobby's last recordings (i.e. "I Won't Last a Day Without You")
    I think I hear a maturity in his voice. Do you think he became wiser as he aged?

    Steve: As he got older he got better.

    Tony: Do you know of any jams with other singers?

    Steve: I have pictures of Bobby in the Copa lounge singing and playing with Sammy Davis,
    wish I'd been there.

    Lorraine: Does the Estate have any say regarding the packaging or the sound quality of
    Bobby's CDs? A lovely person sent me Bobby Darin Born Walden Robert Cassotto yesterday
    and it sounds like a direct transfer from a scratchy record to CD and the cover is
    honestly made with cardboard from another album!

    Steve: There are a lot of bootlegs that I'm trying to stop. It's not easy.

    Vinnie: I think BD is on his way back. Steve, are you picking up on the many TV shows that have mentioned BD? Frasier, Seinfeld, Chicago Hope, etc?

    Steve: Yes, and I love it.

    Tony: His popularity is definitely on the upswing and it's a great time for the movie.

    Vinnie: Ok gang, get ready to bow!

    Steve: Stop bowing, too many asses!

    Lorraine: Steve, you are fantastic and I know Bobby's smiling right now.

    Steve: And I'm crying. I just want you all to know that I've been in TV and made some
    movies but the greatest part of my work life was the time I spent with Bobby.

    John: Any chance of a COMPLETE box set of Bobby's work ... the sound track to
    The Lively Set ... B sides ... EVERYTHING?

    Steve: I hope we'll have a box set someday of Bobby live.

    John: When do we get If a Man Answers and That Funny Feeling on video?

    Steve: Thats up to Universal, they own those films.

    Vinnie: What's your middle initial J stand for?

    Steve: My first name is Jules but I've always been called Stephen. If you want to know more about me theres a book out called Easy Riders and Raging Bulls.

    Patricia: Any thoughts on the Lifetime Achievement Grammy for Bobby? I think he's long overdue!

    Steve: Let them know.

    Karen: Did Bobby ever meet any of the Beatles?

    Steve: Yes, and they said they were fans.

    John: Obviously you're not making a living promoting Bobby now ... what are you up to?

    Steve: I'm retired.

    Linda: Steve, I hope you are having fun chatting with us.

    Steve: I haven't had such a good time since Mack was released.

    Vinnie: Were there any plans for BD to do Broadway?

    Steve: He was to play Laguardia on Broadway but the time couldn't be worked out.

    Cara: Tell us about when Mack was released ... what was that like?

    Steve: A comet ride. I asked them to release it as a single in April (1959) but Bobby
    and ATCO thought I was crazy.

    Karen: You would obviously be the best, but since you're retired ... who in the business
    today do you think would be the best person to promote tributes to Bobby? We could try
    to contact this person ... start a little campaign.

    Steve: I'm retired except when it comes to Bobby. He was my brother ... it all starts with this website.

    John: Steve, are you New York or Los Angeles?

    Steve: I was born in New York and have been in LA since 1958.

    Tony: Steve, whose idea was it to do the PBS Special? (Bobby Darin: Beyond the Song) It's introduced Bobby to so many new fans and reminded others of his great talent.

    Steve: The two young producers, Jason Cilo and Henry Astor.

    John: Bobby had a home in Palm Springs didn't he?

    Steve: Yes.

    Vinnie: If we gave you enough time, would you consider a visit to a BD convention?

    Steve: Yes.

    Karen: On the PBS Special ... which show was it in the clip where Bobby is singing "Mack the Knife" (1970)? He looked really healthy in that clip.

    Steve: I think Andy Williams or Flip Wilson.

    Vinnie: It was Andy Williams.

    Steve: Thatta boy, Vinnie!

    Karen: Has Dodd been able to retreive any of the lost items from Hard Rock? I hope so.

    Steve: Not yet.

    Christine: How does Dodd feel about this renewed interest in his father?

    Steve: He loves it.

    Tony: Steve, were you aware of Bobby ever meeting Sinatra?

    Steve: Yes. When all the made up bad press was out there I arranged for them to meet and put it (the bad press) to bed.

    Vinnie: I would have loved BD on the Sinatra duets album.

    Steve: Me too. I went to Frank and told him the next duet album he should do would be with dead people. Needless to say they thought I'd gone off the deep end.

    Cara: Steve, I asked Harriet this question ... would be interested in your answer ... what was Bobby's favorite movie he was in, and why?

    Steve: Pressure Point.

    Karen: Steve, was Bobby at peace toward the end? It may sound maudlin but it is something we really hope for ... he seemed anxiety ridden in earlier years.

    Steve: Are you ever at peace when your dying?

    Cara: Will there would be two bioflicks ... Dick Clark and Levinson?

    Steve: I doubt it.

    Karen: Bobby seemed quite the comic ... do you have a funny story to share? Hesh said
    he'd go in Italian restaurants and order Chinese!

    Steve: One day he came to my house in his bathrobe, walked to the pool found it was empty,
    got back in his car and left never having uttered a sound. He was naked under the bathrobe.

    Vinnie: How close was Bobby with Nancy Sinatra?

    Steve: Very. When she was married to Tommy Sands, we would hang out.

    Karen: Steve, we had an idea. What if you were to write a book with our Max Collins as ghost writer. Sound interesting?

    Steve: I'd love it if he could get it in print.

    Vinnie: Who was BD's closest celebrity friend?

    Steve: Wayne Newton and Dick Clark.

    Tony: Where did your meeting with Bobby and Sinatra take place?

    Steve: At Sinatra's office in LA.

    Vinnie: Did Newton exaggerate his role in BD's Vegas comeback?

    Steve: No. Without telling anyone he went to Bill Harrah and the Howard Hughes people
    and asked them as a favor to him to book him and they did. I found this out years
    later from someone in the Hughes camp.

    Vinnie: Were there singers that BD did not care for?

    Steve: I'm sure there was but he never said anything bad about anyone.

    Lorraine: How close were Bobby and Flip Wilson? I see them together on the reruns of
    Flip's show and they seem to be having a great time together. And Flip always makes
    special mention of Bobby in introducing him. Did you know Flip?

    Steve: No I didn't, but Flip was taken by Bobby as his opening act in Vegas and he never
    forgot it. When Bobby needed it Flip had him on his show more than any other guest.

    Flip and Bobby in 1973.

    Tony: Steve, I get the feeling you felt Bobby would be more marketable if he had stayed in one or two musical styles instead of trying everything. True?

    Steve: Yes, I always fought him on this, but I'm glad he didn't listen to me.

    Vinnie: I heard that BD and Steve McQueen didn't get along. True?

    Steve: Nobody got along with Steve.

    Vinnie: Did Dodd ever get back the rights to BD's music?

    Steve: No, he never did.

    Vinnie: Was Allan Klein involved with BD?

    Steve: Once he did an audit for us but I never trusted him.

    John: So Steve ... when you're not listening to Bobby sing ... who do you listen to?

    Steve: I have three thousand CDs. I like vocalists. Dick Haymes, Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis, Dinah Washington, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Julius LaRosa.

    Lorraine: Do you remember Bobby's first night ever at the Copa? I'm listening to that
    album right now.

    Steve: I could never forget it. It was fantastic and if you look at the liner notes
    on the Copa CD you will see the great reviews.

    Lorraine: I'm glad you didn't just stay in one area! Very distinguished body of work!

    Steve: Thank you, I had great partners.

    Tom: When the TV show was cancelled, was it really because of the ratings or Bobby's
    health or something else?

    Steve: Ratings.

    Tom: I believe Dodd's book said the ratings were good.

    Steve: Not really. Also as you know there are no real varity shows on anymore.

    Karen: You were quite a young pup when you started with Bobby ... but thank
    God you did ... you were so dedicated. Did you ever think "What the hell am I doing?"

    Steve: I used to yell a lot out of fear until one day, I told the head of Paramount pictures
    that he was going to end up in the shoe business and when he looked down at his shoes,
    I realized we were all scared. Bobby did two pictures at Paramount, Too Late Blues and
    Hell Is For Heroes. I yelled at the head of the studio because I was trying to get Bobby in a Sinatra picture, the one he did with Tony Bill. (Come Blow Your Horn) Paramount had
    bought it for Bobby and then Frank got involved and wanted Tommy Sands to play the part.

    Lorraine: They bought it for Bobby? I'm in agony, here!!!

    Steve: Yes, and Norman Lear was to write and Bud Yorkin to direct. They had done Bobby's
    TV special.

    Patricia: His scene in Captain Newman, M.D. is a heart-wrencher, though.

    Steve: The scene your talking about he did in one take and the crew applauded at the end.

Bobby and Tony Curtis between scenes
of Captain Newman, M.D.
Photo source: Screen Stories Magazine, March 1964.

    Lorraine: Were you surprised by the intensity of Bobby's scene in Captain Newman, M.D?
    The first time I saw it, I was shocked at how realistic it was for it's time.

    Steve: It blew me away. Let me tell you about Bobby. I wanted him to play the Tony Curtis role. But when he didn't get it I made a special deal for him to play the part he did. I sent him the script in Vegas and he called me and said, "Why am I playing this role?" (Because he counted the pages he was on.) I said he would get an Academy Award nomination and two years later when I went to his house to congratulate him he whispered in my ear, "You were right."

    Lorraine: You had the vision! :)

    Steve: But he had the talent.

    Karen: You are delicious, Steve.

    Steve: Our deal was he performed. I did everything else ... and he lived by it.

    Christine: Didn't he win a Golden Globe?

    Steve: Yes, for Best New Actor.

    Jimmy: What a great team!

    Steve: If he couldn't deliver, there wouldn't have been a team.

And on that warm note, Steve had to leave.
He wants to thank all of you for being there. He had a great time.
He loved every minute of our time together and he said to, "Keep the faith."
Thank you Steve, for taking the time to chat with us.

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