Mel Tormé’s first gig


In a 1996 interview, Mel Tormé described his formative years.

“When I was a baby in Chicago my favorite toy was the radio, and I listened faithfully to the Coon-Sanders Orchestra.”

“My parents finally took me to see them at the Blackhawk Restaurant when I was four years old, and Carleton Coon and Joe Sanders saw me sitting there tapping my feet and singing along.”

“Finally Joe came over and asked ‘Who’s the little dwarf?’ My mother said ‘He listens to your program and knows everything you do’ so they took me onstage and had me sing a tune called You’re drivin’ me crazy. People seemed to like it, so for the next seven months they had me sit in every Monday night and sing that song.”

“I loved being onstage, and when that experience was over I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”

Quoted in Mel Tormé, an interview included in Kristine McKenna’s Book of changes: A collection of interviews (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2001, pp. 217–224).

Today would have been Tormé’s 90th birthday! Above, the singer early in his career; below, the seasoned pro in a memorable performance.

BONUS:  Tormé was also an accomplished drummer.

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