Celebrity Story John Raitt

Here’s a

celebrity story

about John Raitt excerpted from Three Stages. The summer of 1964 I was doing the L A Civic Light Opera production of Kiss Me Kate in San Francisco.

Author Ben Bryant & Elizabeth Allen

Author Ben Bryant & Elizabeth Allen in “Kiss me Kate”

“Ned Romero’s wife, Jolene … was doing Pajama Game with John Raitt in Berkeley. Their night off was not the same as ours so that Sunday … I rode the Vespa across the Bay Bridge to see the show with Ned. In his after show performance, as he did each night, John sang Soliloquy from Carousel. However this particular night, knowing we were there, he went for the high b-flat at the end. Alas, he was not really in good shape and he splattered the note. Ned and I were mortified and didn’t know what we should say when we, unavoidably, went backstage. Ever the old Pro, John greeted us with laughter and said, ‘See what happens when you try to show off for your friends?’

“That wasn’t my only trip across that bridge on the scooter. There was one more.

“One night Ned invited me to drive him home for a late supper after the show. … [Ned] liked to drink and I don’t mean sarsaparilla. He’d had a few during the second act and when we mounted the Vespa after the show I knew I was in trouble. He was, as they say, feeling no pain. It was a windy night and by the time we got to the part of the Bay Bridge that had a steel grid (through which you could see the roiling waters of San Francisco bay) he was singing and swaying on the back seat. Ned was around two hundred and twenty pounds of drunken Indian and it was all I could do to keep us upright. But we made it and Jolene made the best BLT’s (on sourdough bread) I’ve ever eaten. Maybe they weren’t that good but I was just so glad to be alive they tasted like manna from heaven.”

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