Mike tells a very personal story of the King that changed his life.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
It's my growth is the way I heard the only by a guest of the curious mind with a short attention span, traced, episode is called it's good to be the king, and you know what it is it honest episode, that's code for this one is different, then the typical format to which you may have become accustomed, the story he's not a mystery, but it Nevertheless worth telling, in my humble opinion- and I hope you like it there- some other elements to it that are different from what we know We do here on the podcast, because the truth is. I wrote this before this podcast began. I wrote this back in two thousand: eight as a eulogy to man who changed the trajectory of my life and in my career, if you saw Mister HOLLAND's opus, this will sound familiar
to you, but I had a music teacher name was Fred King and what you're about to here is my best attempt to articulate the IMF act that he had not just on me, but literally on on thousands of other students and thousands of others singers. All over the world. Fred king was known colloquially as the king of the barber shoppers. He was in a barber shop quartet, which is about the strangest thing in the world a sixteen year old, high school or can encounter. But the guy was remarkable in just about every way. A man can be remarkable, and when I wrote what you're about to hear it made its way through what was at the time called the society for the preservation and encouragement of barbershop quartet singing in America to neither called the barbershop harmonies
eighty and dumb. I am here with these guys right now, as I speak in LAS Vegas, their seven thousand people from around the world who sing barbershop music that come to this convention, There- probably thirty thousand in the society overall, but for the last three days, I've been in LAS Vegas, singing songs that were written a hundred years ago with people. I've never met pick up quartet's, essentially in stairwells, in various hotels up and down the strip, and just having a great time too. I'm going to receive an honorary lifetime membership in this organization. So I just wanted to tell you a couple of things. First of all, this is a story that I'm proud of, and I hope you like it. It's a little different than what you use to. Secondly, If, if music is a thing that you ve always enjoyed and capella music in particular, is something your open to you. Gotta barbershop, DOT Org find one of these chapters.
There is bound to be one near you, it might not be which are expecting and your little like a lot more than you think. And finally I leave you with this. For the last three days, I've slept about four hours. And of all the conversations have had and all the lapse of had an all the songs have sung. What struck me is that does not once has there been a discussion of politics, eggs or headline news or any the crap that is dividing the country right now in such an egregious way, just music, just laughs and a couple of beverages, all in all it pretty good, time anyway, ears the story: it's called it's good to be the king, it's about twenty minutes long, so sit back, relax, get yourself a beverage and come along.
Like When strangers. Ask me how I wound up with my name and the title of a hit, show whenever telling the whole truth that level of Disclosure would require a mention of the society, for the preservation and encouragement of barbershop quartet singing in America or sped Squad and I learned that long and unpronounceable acronyms make people anxious so for the purpose. Expediency. I usually limit my reply to a quick anecdote about J, Leno or Dick Clark, or some other Hollywood bigshot. That help me along the path of ballast celebrity. Of course, MRS never found in Hollywood. I've done well in that town and made the acquaintance of a few famous people.
I can assure you that none of them are responsible for my present good fortune, I found my success in bits and pieces along a cooking parts of an unexpected path, paved with good friends in close harmony. The road I never considered or even imagined a road to begin. Baltimore nearly thirty years ago and meandered through fifty states and six contest? it's a road. I continue to travel with great satisfaction, but were it not for Fred, king, it would have most certainly been a road. Not taken at the funeral. I sat quietly in the balcony and try to imagine a world where Fred King had never lived friends, never made and songs never sung like one of them. Townspeople in Bedford falls
I saw myself stumbling around and some dismal alternative universe, my own wonderful life, hopelessly altered by the absence of one high school music teacher, Robert Frost, road that way leads onto way, and I suppose, It's true looking down at the crowd, tat filled the church, but the hundreds of people who are traveled far in braved hurricane to pay their respects. It was clear that my old friend and mentor had been more than a director of music he'd been addressed Dr Lives, and without even trying to change the direction of mine, so even though you haven't ask the question, I'm going to pretend you did this My answer will include a couple of acronyms
and the part I usually leave out What first met in September eighteen, seventy seven. King and I were each beginning our first day at overly senior high school in Baltimore County. I was guinea freshman with a deep voice and a weird stutter, and he was Mister King, new teacher assigned to an endemic music department. It consisted of on bloated choir filled with stew. Who thought they had signed up for a free period. There is simply no way to overstate the impact of our first encounter
member Georgie, Scots opening speech and patent well. Patent was a sissy. Mister king walked into the crowd classroom and greeted us with two words shut up his voice stunningly loud in this I once he passed out a piece of sheet music, far beyond any ones ability to cite read. It was a six part aka Pella arrangement and it appeared to be in latin block. Quickly to the piano Mister King gave us the pitch and started to conduct. I dont What he was expecting When no sound emerged from our baffled wind pipes, he looked curiously, around the room and then added, hands as if the problem might have originated their frowning. He gave us the pitch a second time and began to conduct again silence, this is the overly senior high school concert choir. Is it not one now
replied. Mister king closed, his eyes and took several deep breaths Though we were trying to calm himself, then he came unheard. Changed slapping his hand on the piano with a mighty wallop mister king launched into a tirade that featured expressions most often heard in pool halls and saloons he foam he raved. He swore veins appeal weird in his neck and forehead. He tore this sheet music into shreds and threw them directly into our stunned faces. He cursed our incompetence and wondered allowed what cruel twist of fate had brought him in contact with such a pathetic group. Of course, clueless mutes. Then he kicked stand across the classroom and discussed and pointed to the open door. If you're not ready to sing he bellowed get the hell out. It was a phenomenal exodus
half the class gathered their books and never look back. Some actually ran when they were gone. Mister, king slammed the door behind them. Stomped back to the piano and glare that those who dared remain for at least ten seconds he just stood there breathing deeply and trying to get himself under control. Then his face cracked in half nearly one might describe the phenomenon as a smile, but if the intended concert whence was mirth will to settle on another term, the cruel gash that slowly Ben between his nose and Chin revealed stunning, rigorous of rotten, enamel baby teeth were crowded against giant incisors Mould sprouted from the spot, normally reserved for canines, and the two front teeth, though properly placed with the size of small thumbs and jutted, desperately path does ever widening lips ass. If trying to
skip the diseased gums from which they hung Beth Miller, gasped he showed screamed and the rest of his lurched backwards. As the magnitude of this dental disaster was slowly revealed when he had our attention completely and totally he spoke ladies and gentlemen, the cowards have departed. Let's have some fun for the next three, That's exactly what we did. We talked we laughed. We learned we be held a treasure trove of fake teeth and, of course, we sang with no regard for standard curriculums, I'm not one shred of political correctness, Mister King one about the business of challenging us, like no other teacher, would ever dare musically There were pieces, like VON Williams, haughty,
box mass and be minor, ambitious work so far beyond our ability, But we didn't know any better and learn can perform them anyway, but the personal challenges were even greater. When Mister King found out, I had never seen before he assigned me a solo and our first concert. Several out of my range when he said The fear on my face. He kept me after class for pride, voice lessons. When he learned that I studied he suggested an audition for the school play, by suggesting I mean demanded after stammering my way through a monologue. He stopped me Mikey. He said this character, doesn't stutter understand, get it. Character. You can start on your own time without questioning the glibly. So this direction, I simply followed it and read the passage again flawlessly alight Bob flashed new possibilities open before me
Fred. King was a teacher that made things happen just a month into that first year. Outraged by lack of school spirit around the big homecoming game. Mister king, appropriate did a snare drum from the orchestra department and began Mapping out a cadence that might inspire a soldier to charge into Faddle might walk with everybody else, all in leaving from our chairs and followed. Mr came out of the music room down the solemn, always overly shattering quiet and bursting into seven theory of classes. Uninvited unannounced study, later fellow battle is at hand rise up and follow me. Teachers were dumped and students. Were unable to resist like a pine pipe Mr Kane March. This up and down the hallways out the back doors and onto the football field where the overly falcons were preparing to get their bucks kick find much better team there on the farm,
the gridiron. He taught us the school song. The June Yours and seniors were particularly amazed having alike The school song even existed restless as a general demand our loyalty, chow. Jeanne Spirit calling players on our teams, heroes and praising their courage for carrying our collective honor was a one man. Pep rally entire school palm of his hand, that day, singing seen clue to a lot of kids would never given it a second thought. Even the jobs wanted to be a MR king's class. He made Fourth overnight the concert wire swelled from twenty five to seventy, a boys chorus was born. Then a mixed chorus, a madrigal group, a concert corral. I join them all wait in my junior year, I came across an old record, album and friends office.
Cross an old record, Album and Freds Office by this point, welcome in his office and allowed to call him Fred was a funny look. Album with for black and orange birds on the cover the bird had been drawn to resemble stick figures and they appear to be singing. One was holding a top hat. Another haddock I could imagine the sound made by Forbes singing birds, so I put the album on the stereo and turned up. The volume Maybe the opening cords apply neighbour crashing through the speakers, my jaw, how, for many make that much sound the second version, Danny Boy old folks transfixed during the time.
Egg of somewhere. I very nearly crapped, my pants might was not to steal the outcome, but that is firstly, what I did I took it home without permission and listen to over and over and over again I learned the baseball to every song as well as the lead The tenor was easy enough to hear that. Hi to sing, along with the maritime mystery. The arm for my best friend a guy named Chuck Klaus, my who also saying the boys course period, did the same way except during that of somewhere he really did crap is some We were fascinated. They were a barber shop quartet and they call themselves the oral for according
the back the album they had won some sort of gold medal Mozart about where they Olympians and why would they wearing tuxedos? We all think my Sunday Chuck and I had memorized most of the songs- were singing duets from the Arab League, Base respectable. I thought the sound pretty good together and started wondering how we might sound with tumor parts that Monday at school. I went looking for answers Fred. What is spectacle Fred. Why can't I hear the baritone part Fred skinny. You are in this picture. Fred. Can you make me? Am I dont Stratton Fred looked at me for a moment with no expression MIKE, don't ever take anything from my office again. Yes, I held his gaze for about ten seconds. Then he wrote something on a piece of paper,
this address tomorrow, at eight p m, Yasser bring Chuck to bless her ass. I walked out. He handed me the album and said here: keep it learn it and don't lose it. Thank you. I said I won't and one more thing. Yes, nobody sounds like on Stratton two nights later at approximately seven forty five p m chuck and I pulled through the aids of City Hospital unease Baltimore. We followed the direction to the former nurses, dormitory and climbed up the stairs toward a large banner that red chorus of the Chesapeake. International champions. Nineteen. Seventy one sped squat done Doc Maryland with no clear I the idea of what awaited us on the other side, chalk and I walk through the last stores and into a time warp one hundred and fifty miles
were spread throughout a large room, most of who appeared to have come directly from work. There were cops postmen and firemen all in uniform. There was a milk man and a clown tapping a keg of beer in the corner. I saw train conductor and a priest a cowboy. In India. I saw baseball players wearing old time, uniforms Several men were dressed like professional card dealers with shame. Vest and armed bands, and some appeared to me. Hoboes, tattered and unshaven, with soot on their faces It was a bizarre see made stranger by the fact that Did these men were clustered in groups of four singing face to face knows too knows The cacophony was all around us: dozens be hives, each buzzing, indifferent tune, oblivious to the other, it's called would shedding boys and it's not always pretty. Fretted come up out of them. Wrong with another guy that looked vaguely familiar. This bob,
and back. He said a friend from the neighbourhood. I didn't recognize Bob. From the album jacket because he changed his beard, but I did recognise Jim Grant and Dance Stratton who had come up to me. Other direction and taken a position next to chop before I could digest what was happening. Fred put it shiny disk to his lips and blue pitch but Late- the around me exploded We oh, oh, the album hi. Just memorized had come alive and the sound was almost too much to process. It seem too
I'm from above and filled the entire room with overtones that crackled and hummed Chuck and I stood there. Grinning like idiots the other forces immediately disbanded and ran over to listen, When the Orioles say everybody, listen, I won't say that I well, but when they hit the tags, sound oyster out of my eyes when the applause finally ended, Fred told the crowd to grab a beer and take a seat the course of the Chesapeake. Sponsoring a quartet send off and dozens of court
It's from around the region were apparently headed off to compete with other quartet's from around the country. The whole idea, was overwhelming some help. I'd form the impression in that the oral for was the only source of barbershop harmony in existence. But now I was that there was an entire society with thousands of members and hundreds of chapters and many registered quartet's. Some of them were right in front of me Was the rainbows end? The friend of yesterday preservation, quartet and fascinating rhythm. The piano the action was there, along with the captain's quarters and half a dozen others, I sat there, an extra Fred sipping, a beer. I was too young to drink and listening a grown man sing about mothers, sweethearts and old friends that would never forsake these men. Some veteran the Second World WAR sang with an apology
get a joy sentimentality. They sang about patriotism and Old fashioned girls, home, sweet home, They sang songs had never her somehow recognised. The applause and support for each quartet was long and loud, and when the last one finished Fred told the course of the Chesapeake to take their positions on the risers having no position of our own Fred instructed Chuck made a stand directly behind him, he then the various quartet to join the chorus and once again pulled out shiny, disc and blue another pitch.
Song. Is that what I call it pound it? If I fail to accurately capture the effective for men, singing is one I'll have no hole bribing, the sensation of one hundred and fifty The sound was huge beyond comprehension, a wall of purpose splatoon testosterone controlled entirely by Fred's fingers and targeted to that small spot directly between my eyes. I can do nothing but stand gate and stupefied one as tears ran down my cheeks and chuck once again quietly crapped. His pants Hearst for at least an hour.
I can tell you what else they sang, because I've gone temporarily deaf when Fred dismiss them. Another keg was tapped and the men have done dark got down to business jack and I were Separated Shanghai by various forums and introduced the mysteries of wood shedding and I sold fell, when a bob see why later learned was the founder of course, taught me a few tags and said son. You got the pipes out the parking lot, long F, midnight the oil for sang half a dozen songs straight into my face. It was a private concert. There will never be trumped, then, in a gesture whose significance I could not. Yet Fred asked on Stratton to step aside and let me seeing the base part to old folks I can't say I remembered every word or nail: every note, but I got my share. More importantly, I got to say that
my first complete song ever sung in a barber shop quartet was in the company of the Oreo for that night Fred change the trajectory of my life. I join the course of the Chesapeake the following week and with reds help for my own quartet, Chuck sang lead and eventually got. Can all of his lower gee. I tracked we call ourselves semi formal, because we were dressed in tuxedos those intended shoes Naturally, we misspelled formal on purpose, because there were four of us and we were terribly clever, redcoats this after school and in no time we were singing for anyone who care to listen and a few that probably didn't from store. Corners to nursing homes, the Carnegie Hall I gotta hooked on an audience I never got over. I learned enough about me
direct effect, my way into the Baltimore opera. Somehow led to a gig at the key visa shopping channel, where I saw Gary ok machines in the middle of the night, barbershop harmony got me through. The stage door of the entertainment industry, and eventually I wound up in York and Hollywood hosting. Shows and talk shows and travel shows. Today. I've got a job that I love friends that I cherish opportunities that all began with an unforgettable music teacher, a barber shop quartet and a pile of old songs that continue to play in my memory. The last time I saw Fred was a day or two after Christmas,
I was on my way to Alaska for work and decided to stop by Baltimore for quick visit with my friends and family. I'm glad I did turns out the course of the Chesapeake and organised a holiday beer blast the boys Dunder still prefer to name their gatherings in a way that captures the events true purpose and draws the biggest possible crowd. I arrive late to a banquet hall jammed with several hundred singers, but found Fred right away comfortably situated in a corner holding corps. From his wheelchair. He was surrounded by a few dozen people and teaching a tag to four kids in their early twenties. I watched him conduct with his pitched pipe in aging king holding is set Like his old pal, Jim Grant, Fred was one leg and fighting the diabetes every day, the most recent stroke and taken a terrible tom, and I was struck by how frailty looked pale but as I watch,
from the edge of the crowd. I saw that he still commanded the same attention. The same magnetism people still needed to be nearing and clung to every word. When I caught his eye, he smiled big greeted me with predictable salutation losses. He exclaimed in a surprisingly hardy baritone, losses, isn't really a word, but if it were, the correct spelling would be F Y, see ass. It is a truly inappropriate remember to tasteless dispel out here, he's been greeting me. Way since high school. I walked over knelt down kissed him on the forehead, that's a hell of a way to lose weight. I said looking at the space where his leg used to be don't worry Hollywood, my other one still fit up your, but we laughed and talked caught up fast me kneeling on the floor, Fred, leaning
forward in his chair. It had been nearly a year since I saw him last night, a thousand questions, but so did Fred, and when Fred has questions, he goes first how many of those dirty jobs have you done now about two hundred? Damn how many states have you been to all of them holy crap Mikey, that's great! You still love it! Well, I said it's it's a lot like what you having fun to do but hard to watch. You laugh and asked about my latest adventure. You wanted to hear about my life and my career. You told me that he was so proud. And I told him again that I was so grateful as we continue to catch up Others came by to say hello and pay their respects. These days When people see me they figure it might be for the last time he said so they saying goodbye makes an awkward my keep showing up at some point
the random would shedding evolved into the inevitable pickup quartet competition. I can't say that beer enhanced the singing, but it certainly improve the Listening after a particularly brutal rendition of light arose. Fred turned to me and said MIKE. I think we can take this really. I replied the gold this or any other color. He said go: grab acid tenor in a bare tone. Ten minutes later, I was wheeling Fred to the front of the room with me. We're Rick Daily Director of the course and Bob see a tenor with a metal and the grandson of the guy. That taught me my first stag when in doubt stacked DEC as we sang. I couldn't help it think back to those early years at overly and that it to me that Fred. Is the same age. Then, as I today. I don't know why that struck me as relevant, but it did. I thought about the many students he had touch
over the years and reviewers that watch my show every week and I wondered if I might be lucky enough: the change the course of a single life You changed mine. When the song ended the crew rose and clapped for what seemed like fifteen minutes. Again say I remembered every word nailed every note, but I got my share. It mattered with bread, singing lead. We were much issuing enough when the final scores were tabulated. We one first prize that night. And though the metal was really gold, my kept it anyway. In fact I still haven't.
I suspect I always will.
Transcript generated on 2019-12-31.