Recalling Sammy Kaye Still Brings Pleasure
Years ago a snowstorm raged as I waited at LaGuardia Airport to fly to Cleveland. I said to the man behind me that I was going to phone my secretary and find out Cleveland's weather conditions. He asked if I minded if he went with me as he was going to Cleveland. He introduced me to an attractive young brunette named Maria and said his name was Sammy Kaye. Maria was his business manager and friend.
We trudged to the Admiral's Club, learned that flights were delayed into Cleveland, and eased our wait with a bottle of whiskey.
After a while, Sammy decided to go to Ft. Lauderdale and play golf instead of going to Cleveland. He gave Maria his topcoat and galoshes and asked me to phone his sister in Cleveland and tell her he couldn't get there. I helped him onto a flight to Ft. Lauderdale.
Weeks later, Sammy invited me to lunch at the Rainbow Room, which began a friendship that continued until I left New York. I told him about my playing saxophone with bands in the Charlotte area. He invited me to sit in with his band and even take the baton, but I didn't want to push our friendship too far.
A gentleman, down-to-earth, light-hearted and unaffected by prominence, Sammy had 103 top-40 hits like "Love Walked In," "Daddy," "The White Cliffs of Dover," "My Buddy," "There Goes That Song Again" and "Baby It's Cold Outside."
A major figure in the big band era, he played for the Nixon and Reagan inaugurations. He died in l987. When I hear his songs, I remember our chance meeting on a snowy winter day and our friendship. Sammy Kaye was a special guy.
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