It’s a good thing — once you’re of a certain age — to be able to look over your life up to this point and be able to recall many memorable things you’ve been told and remember conversations you were privy to.
After several decades of entertainment writing, I have plenty of both. Hence, this week’s story. Some of the anecdotes you may have heard before but not recently, and besides, they are still interesting.
ERMA FRANKLIN, who was one of my all-time favorite people, once told me that she and her sister, Aretha, had some sort of disagreement that was blown way out of proportion, as those kinds of things often do. They didn’t speak for a year!
But when they patched it up, because theirs was a loving relationship, the Queen of Soul bought Erma a Cadillac! A light green one, as I recall.
An appreciative Erma, whose neighbors ooh’d and aah’d, laughed when recalling just how long the car sat in her driveway un-driven because such a high-end vehicle was not her style.
THE OUTRAGEOUS, funny and honest Millie Jackson acknowledged that she had reached middle age and therefore, physically speaking, “things ain’t what they used to be.” She continued, “They may look just as good, or maybe even better, in clothes, but when you come out them clothes, you be goin’ uhhhhhh.”
Laughing hysterically she added, “In fact, I done got to the point where I make sure the lights are out when I have sex!”
VICKIE WINANS said she wanted to believe that her teenaged son listened to gospel music exclusively. Then she admitted, “But when they have those headphones on you don’t know what they’re listening to!”
WHICH BRINGS to mind Marlena Shaw. Growing up, her father was hard-core, over-the-top religious. Rock ’n’ roll and rhythm ’n’ blues were strictly forbidden in their household. But you know how kids are.
One day her father caught her listening to R&B on her transistor radio. He said, “I told you I don’t want that kind of music in this house!” Then he threw her radio out the window!
MARTHA REEVES said she and the Vandellas were doing a benefit-type show in an inner-city park. There were a lot of kids there and everyone was enjoying the Motown show.
But one evil little boy shot her in the arm with a slingshot! “That hurt,” said Reeves, who stopped the show and reprimanded the boy.
AT ONE TIME Jennifer Holliday lived in Detroit because she had married a man from here (the first of two). Knowing about her impending move to the Motor City, some people said to Holliday, “I know you don’t want to actually live in the city.”
Holliday responded, “Yes, I do. I am not scared of my own people!”
PATTI LABELLE was staying at the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel when she was starring in “Your Arms Too Short to Box With God.” We were to do an interview on a weekday morning, but first Patti had to stock up on cookies, candy, etc. in the hotel variety store to take up to her room.
The night before, after the show, she was craving something sweet but everything was closed. Patti wasn’t going to be in that position again. She said, “Last night I would have killed for some sugar!”