Today marks the day Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles.
It was a terrible tragedy and one that has historic significance for all of us.
In my particular case it was probably one of the most mind blowing events in my life.
This for both looking at the painful and unnerving scenes at the Ambassador Hotel …but also because of some amazingly important positive moments that would resonate for the rest of time for the music and entertainment business and for this writer.
Sounds convoluted…but here’s the story telling.
I had the great good fortune of having been chosen to write on the 1968 Singer Presents Elvis Presley Special. I was fresh out of CBC Canada and my then partner Canadian Allan Blye and I had made a pact that whom so ever found a major writing gig would bring the other in.
Allan had met with Steve Binder the director and Bob Finkel the producer and talked me into the gig for this I will be eternally grateful.
There’s a book and a movie in the story of the making of this time defying and still ultra modern ELVIS 68 COMEBACK SPECIAL as it is known today but this is just to report on one day in the life of it.
We had gathered in Steve’s office on Sunset Strip and we were to meet with Elvis and his crew to discuss what the format of the show was to be.
We had already established that we were not going to go for the original Singer corporate idea of “Songs of the United Nations”.
Elvis was going to be Elvis and shake his booty..we young Turks wanted that and so did E.
He loved us and we loved him..he’d been cloistered to long in format movies and here he was with the crazy young satirists and hippy Liberals..We were his ticket back to Rock ‘Roll…
So on this night as we talked and laughed and were in awe of the perfect personification of Elvis which just happened to be ELVIS himself,I had to pinch myself to let me know it was actually me being there.
And as we sat there and it was getting later our attention was drawn to the small black and white TV in a corner of Steve’s office. Some kind of weird and ominous energy was pushing itself into the room… We began to gather around the screen and suddenly we were transfixed by the dreadful images of another Kennedy brother dying from a gunshot wound right before our eyes.
Right before Elvis’ eyes…
At that moment the people in that room were bonded together in spirit and in solidarity. We were as one, as most people across the nation and around the world were when remembering where we were at those most crucial and historic moments that will for ever be tattooed on our psyches.
Elvis and the rest of us sat there all night and far into the early morning talking about our lives. We sat enthralled as E told us his life’s story…he played the guitar …he laughed , he joked and he told endless stories about growing up ..his early days etc..etc …and at about 3’O’Clock in the morning LAURA NERO showed up ..off a plane from New York..and she sang us all a song she’d written flying across the United States..
It was “Save the Country.”