Nick Lucas Interview August 21, 1973

TRANSCRIPT
Transcribed by Jessica Crump for Robert Perkins
May-June-July 2004
Hours-30
CD ONE



BEGIN TRANSCRIPT:


INTERVIEWER: Maybe you can send me one. You know I would love to have one. We have that in the book.

LUCAS: We took out at a party and we were sitting like this, you know, and I had my arm around her. And you’d think we were drinking...

INTERVIEWER: Who were some of her closest friends in the business, in the industry?

2: She doesn’t see anyone anymore.

INTERVIEWER: She doesn’t keep in touch with anybody else in the business.

LUCAS: In those days she was strictly with that kid, that guy. He was rough.

2: He wouldn’t let nobody....

LUCAS: He wouldn’t let nobody. He was jealous of her.

INTERVIEWER: And what a foul mouth this man had. And that’s only about this man how he spoke.

2: You had a big band at one time didn’t you?

LUCAS: Yeah. Um.

2: Who made you start, why did you start the big band?

LUCAS: Ralph Oneich?

2: Ralph Oneton at CBS.

INTERVIEWER: Are you tape recording this?

2: Was this because Colombo had had a band and he had been pretty successful with it, in theater. Is this the same reason?

LUCAS: Russ Colombo was my manager.

INTERVIEWER: Con Conrad was his manager.

LUCAS: I know Con Conrad.

INTERVIEWER: Con was Russ Colombo’s manager at this time.

LUCAS: Was he?

2: Yeah.

LUCAS: Con, I sang one of his songs. He was a songwriter. Sure. (Singing) I don’t believe it, but say it again.. Remember that?

INTERVIEWER: Yah. That voice is great.

LUCAS: I saw him in England.

2: Yeah. Now Ralph Wonder’s made use of....

LUCAS: Ralph Wonder’s became a theater manager in the east, you know down. And my manager, and then there was a battle between Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey. And who the hell can compete against Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey. Me? So, it didn’t work out.

2: But you had it, how long did you have it for...about a year?

LUCAS: Oh, a year.

2: Strictly theaters no night clubs, with the band...

LUCAS: Oh, no, we played no theaters. Never. We played dance halls.

2: Oh, ball rooms. And all that. No kidding?

LUCAS: Ballrooms. That’s all we played. Like the Side pocket in Denver. The Park down in Oklahoma City.

2: Spring Lake. Spring Lake.

INTERVIEWER: By the way the material I have from Orchestra World says "Geigler."

And it’s Zeigler.

LUCAS: Joe Zeigler.

INTERVIEWER: Z. Z. With a Z. Z-E-I-G-L-E-R.

LUCAS: He got that name from the Zeigler twins.

INTERVIEWER: Uh huh. Uh huh.

LUCAS: Then he opened up a restaurant and he called it Zig’s.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah. But I have the Zeigler twins and the Vernon Country Club Orchestra. Then you played at the Café de Paris with Jason Webber.

LUCAS: And I played as a musician at Churchill’s and....

INTERVIEWER: Did you know Morton Downey at that time...when he was singing with the Paul Whiteman Band? Because they said he was probably the first band vocalist, Nick. He was probably the first singer whoever sang with a band.

LUCAS: Oh, I started with a band singing vocals with a band, for crying out loud, way back in New York here, in 1915.

INTERVIEWER: In 1915. What about Charlie Kaley? Do you remember Charlie Kaley, with Abe Lyman? He was an early band vocalist, and do you remember Art Jarrett?

LUCAS: Sure.

INTERVIEWER: He’s still around, isn’t he?

LUCAS: Yeah, Art Jarrett’s around.

INTERVIEWER: And he was good. He was a good talented musician.

LUCAS: You know, one of the guys who was around, who was good too. Donald Novis. He died.

INTERVIEWER: Donald Novis was a beautiful singer. Beautiful voice.

LUCAS: He died.

INTERVIEWER: But, you know your sound I think was someone like a Dick Powell probably was influenced by you. You know that style.

LUCAS: He was definitely influenced by me. He was an emcee at the Sammy Theater in Pittsburgh. I’ll tell you how he got the job. I’ll tell you how Dick Powell got famous. Through me. I’m assuming this and I think I’m right. When I made Gold Diggers of Broadway they wanted to sign me up for a seven-year contract. Now, Herb, you see, what would you do if you had an eighty week contract at three thousand dollars a week and they want you to sign a contract for seven years to start at two-fifty, then five-hundred, then seven-fifty, and you would have to be at their command all the time? What would you do? You wouldn’t do it. Forget about it.

INTERVIEWER: You wouldn’t do it.

LUCAS: We don’t know what is going to come of the pictures. So, they got a hold of Dick Powell. Because Dick Powell was in with what’s-his-name?

INTERVIEWER: He was in a band, Charlie Davis. And he was playing a fake banjo at the time. He was playing a fake banjo at that time.

LUCAS: Dick Powell was in with John Harris that formed the variety club in Pittsburgh.
So, they sent him out to California because they wanted me to sign me up for seven years. And then they signed him up and he became a very, very, very big man in show business. I lost a great opportunity because I had already reached booking at three grand a week. And Leo Fitzgerald said, "What you want to tie yourself up with this two-fifty, then five, then seven-fifty, for seven years?" So, that’s where he came. He had nothing to lose and all to gain, and I had all to lose and nothing to gain.

INTERVIEWER: Frank, I said I thought Dick Powell was influenced by Nick Lucas. That style, you know that tenor style. I was going to ask you about Harry Richman. He probably knew Harry.

2: Well, of course they were recording for the same label at the same time. I wanted to ask you when the Vaudeville thing died? You didn’t do anything on records for quite a long time, did you?

LUCAS: No, I didn’t.

2: Why, is there any reason why?

LUCAS: Well, I’ll tell you why, very simple. Because the recording business was in an awful chaotic condition. We all know that. It took a nosedive.

2: Then too, you were a tenor basically. And the baritone Crosby thing.....

INTERVIEWER: In other words it was a baritone era.

LUCAS: Then I was doing well, and the recorder clicked on and I started working nightclubs and I figured, well, then I started recording again. With shyster guys and we did all kinds of things. Never made a buck. They had no distribution, like this fellow, has no distribution. He promotes someone to pay for the date. You know what I mean, Frank.

2: Are the records good? Are these records quality?

LUCAS: The first one I made was just me and a bass player, but on Rose Colored Glasses, we cut corners. We did it with three men and I dubbed in a little banjo and then I dubbed in another guitar. I would think, I would consider that the bullet for voice quality would be great. The second one was good. That would be a selling point just selling the voice. Now the background means a lot. We couldn’t afford an orchestra, that cost twenty-five hundred bucks. And what he does is promote and makes three grand for the day and it probably takes him twelve hundred to make a recording. He promises them, the sponsor, that he’s going to get it, the distribution. He gets out so many albums for them. He sends maybe a few to disc jockeys and hopes that they sell.

INTERVIEWER: This is what I wanted to ask you, Nick. Another question that I think will be important to our work. Until Rudy Vallee became successful there wasn’t an emphasis as far as the singers were concerned. The public loved the dance bands. I guess. They loved music. But the public was not that enthused about singers. Am I right or wrong? Rudy Vallee was the first one that made the singer a national hero.

LUCAS: Right.

2: Now your agent for example, who was a good agent obviously, he kept you during that time, up to the war years, you were in nightclubs almost exclusively. At that time you had no sponsored radio shows?

LUCAS: No, I’ll tell you. I had a tough time, as I said in the beginning. Big money, see. Sometimes you can’t be that adamant. You know?

2: He wasn’t flexible when it came to the bargaining?

LUCAS: No, he was in the mixer. I was the only one with that kind of talent he was handling. He had Burgleler and Rosey, they were hot. Vivian Segal, he had Harold Murray. He had all the things in Ziegfeld’s Follies. 'Now what is he caring about a pocketer like you?'...See I didn’t have the right manager.

2: You needed a guy who could be working the radio circles and working the film.

INTERVIEWER: You needed a guy with drive.

LUCAS: This guy. I was giving him about an average of three hundred a week. He’d gamble and spend and drink. He liked good times. He’d go up and offer Keith August and go, (bangs hand) "I want so much for the day." he used to call me that day and go, (bangs hand) "Take it or leave it." The guy offered me twenty-nine hundred and fifty dollars. He’d go, "No I want three thousand." One of those kind of guys. That’s not good enough. He retarded my rule. Here I was bleeding for him.

2: You were too nice of a guy to think going solo.

LUCAS: What is fifty dollars, a hundred dollars? You do that, the first thing you know, they won’t want you.

2: They probably would have wanted you with MCA or William Morris and those agencies like that.

LUCAS: Oh yeah. You know what I lost? You brought up a point. I lost the biggest radio account on account of his mug, Campbell’s Soup. I lost that. Let me get back to the broadcasting lazy day, in Chicago. This is the beginning of broadcasting. Around 1923 to 1925. There were a couple of guys that used to come in there and beg to go on. Sam and Henry.

INTERVIEWER: Oh yeah. You know who they were, don’t you?

LUCAS: Amos and Andy. They used to beg to go on that radio. And Little Jack Little, he used to beg to go on.

INTERVIEWER: That was all out of Chicago.

LUCAS: And Singing Sam. That’s a hell of a story. I want to see, I want to hear this.

2: You must have known Herbie Mince out of Chicago.

LUCAS: We know where Herbie Mince is now. He’s down in Florida. He wrote me a big letter.

2: Now he’s pretty successful in Chicago.

LUCAS: And he says, "Nick will you come down, Fort Lauderdale? When you come down look me up." So, I’m going down in November, and Danny booked me down there. Pompano Beach. Herb, I got so much work out of this. I’m sick of it all. Herb, Frank, I wanted the easy way, understand?

INTERVIEWER: This is a strain, working in these clubs.

2: Now, I don’t understand how a guy, Danny Hope, now it’s one thing to get you the job, I don’t have any problem getting a job, but getting you the job in the right way. Whereas you don’t do any more than so many shows a night. And you don’t have to mix.

LUCAS: Then when I come there they give me odd-ball of shit. Three musicians, one guy couldn’t read Italian music. Get a load of this. Not that I give a care. These things all bring things to my memory. Soon as you open my book, I studied music. Soon as he opened my book I knew this guy couldn’t, what was I going to get like that? Oh, shit. So he got a hold of another accordion, but he came down about an hour late. We had time. He opened my book, soon as he opened the book, "No thanks." So, I had to wind up doing the show with just me and the drummer. I knew he couldn’t do me any harm, he can’t hit any bad notes.

INTERVIEWER: That’s incredible.

LUCAS: Incredible, right. I was burning up. Danny Hope threw me a curve and I bawl the shit out of him. So, we made up see. Because he’s going to do this, and this after he heard me sing, after he heard the reaction. I figure this way, I’m a trooper. I got a packed house up there. There’s nothing in my contract where I’m going to dress. They had me by the balls, so I did it. Wait till next time. See. I wouldn’t come back. I even told Don. "What the hell do I have to put in the contract, that they’re supposed to provide me with a piano player, a bass player and a drummer?" There’s no piano there. They don’t have a piano.

2: They don’t even have a piano in the club?

INTERVIEWER: How did they expect to work?

LUCAS: There was a recording player.

2: They probably never had any name entertainers in the club.

INTERVIEWER: Now wait. He said Roselli sang there. Jerry Vale sang there.

2: Well, you know damn well they must have bought a piano.

LUCAS: They gave me the finger.

2: That’s your boy’s fault.

LUCAS: And they saved themselves maybe three or four hundred dollars for musicians. To top it all, you got a guy here singing that never had that many people in the joint, a little Italian kid, sings all Italian songs. It’s all right. Ok. I followed Tony Martin. I’ll tell you about that. So, then they have a comic up there. He’s so dirty, Frank.

2: All these guys are.

LUCAS: These are all nice people coming there. And people coming, "Why do we have to put up with this shit? We came to hear you. When is he gonna get off?"

2: This is a mob place probably.

INTERVIEWER: Don’s is a mob place.

LUCAS: You see. He told me. I said, Jesus. Now Frank, I like your act, but Jesus you’re a long time. I used all my tactics. I used to come up when he was through, I would come up with my guitar and look at him and just stand around, just to let him know, I’m on break.

2: Time to get off.

LUCAS: I said, "I’m ready right now. Listen I got laryngitis waiting to go on." I start getting mad, in a nice way. But I went out there and kicked the shit out of him anyway. But why did they have to have nice people come down, seventy-five, eighty years old, never been in a night club in their life and then they come to hear this fucking crap. You think that’s right, Frank? (Phone ring)

----BREAK----

LUCAS: I’ve learned from being in the business when you go to a place they pay you big money. One time I dressed in the cellar, one time I dressed in the toilet. So, I adhere to a little prayer I have here. Otherwise I’d have went nuts. Course I’ve got Saint Jude with me all the time. But here’s the thing that I adhere to, Frank. It works. It absolutely works. See what it says, "God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change." That’s something right there. "The Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference." What am I going to do? What can I do? People up there waiting to hear me sing. Can I go up there and say, "Shit with you. I’m not going to sing," on account of the piano player wasn’t there?

2: It’s one thing if you are here in town not working and someone wants you to work then you’ve got the opportunity to go to the club, see what it’s like, see the kind of people they have, whether they’ve got the right equipment and all, if the owner knows what they are doing. You didn’t know that.

LUCAS: But I had no idea. I thought Danny Hope being the president of the Musician’s Union, I’m in the bag.

2: He’s the President of the Union, now?

LUCAS: Used to be.

2: Oh, used to be. Well, hell he ought to know.

LUCAS: And Don is an Operator. But, Frank. See, this is between the three of us. First of all I’m not going to work there anymore.

INTERVIEWER: I don’t blame you.

LUCAS: I did it. I didn’t know. I came out of it successful. I’m not going to work there anymore. He thinks he is going to get me back in five, six months. Now, coming back with the Kyle and Martin deal, at the Robert’s Tree, that’s a different thing. They’re going to charge thirty dollars a couple. They give me fifteen bills. I told them I wanted fifteen bills. I got Donald Martin to play for me. I’ll bring my banjo. I didn’t bring my banjo. I figured how could I play banjo alone. You got to have a fifteen-piece band, see. But for him to get me back in that place is out of the question. Guaranteed. The money’s good, guaranteed, I wouldn’t do it again.

INTERVIEWER: He told me he was the first bandleader here in New York? Or what? What was his story?

LUCAS: Who Danny? Danny’s been around for years.

INTERVIEWER: He said he got Phil Greedo started in the business. I mean he was a bandleader in the 20's.

LUCAS: Yeah, that’s possible. I worked with him in Toronto.

2: You must have known our buddy, Don Martone.

LUCAS: Oh, sure.

2: Because Don’s one that goes back to 1914.

LUCAS: Well, I know him. And Don Romeo and Frankie Kelly, Frank Romeo. I know them all. Jules Levy, the greatest trumpet player that ever lived. And you know who worked with me up there, in the opposite bandstand. He became a big famous piano player. Frankie Karp. He lives out on the coast now.

INTERVIEWER: You were mentioning Tony Martin. You said something about working with Tony?

LUCAS: Let me tell you about Tony Martin. I worked with Tony Martin about three weeks ago. Listen to this, this will startle you fellows. I’m not a Shriner. I do a lot of work for the Shriner’s. They are my best friends. I work for the Shrine Show Business Club. All show people. Theater managers, Jack Warner belongs to it, Tony Mod belongs to it, Red Skelton belongs to it, John Wayne. They had six hundred people on the stage at the Warner Brother’s lot. Great, big, huge thing. Everybody dressed informal. Summer, you know. So I went and they had a booked band. Terrific. Manny Harman’s Band.
He’s big out there. He works for the Shriners too. Tony Martin was on the show, fellow named Jeremy Vernon, great comic, and myself. I’m supposed to open the show, then Jeremy Vernon, and then Tony Martin. Something happened and Tony Martin had to get away, something like that, so he opened the show. Then they put the comic in. When I went out there to sing, right after my opening number George, one of the agents said, "Gee I’m sorry, Nick." I said, "What’s wrong man, shit you’re paying me. That’s the way it’s gotta be, that’s the way it’s gotta be." So, I went out there and they stood up when I got through. You think that ain’t a trip!?

INTERVIEWER: It sure is.

LUCAS: Now I want to show you guys that I’m not bullshitting you. I’m gonna show you the copy of the letter from the President of the Show Business Club. That he sent to the agent. I’ll send it to you.

INTERVIEWER: All right. Fine. Now, Nick, did you know Harry Richman?

LUCAS: Sure, very well.

INTERVIEWER: What was he like as a personality?

LUCAS: Wonderful, Always was a good guy, never had any trouble with him.

INTERVIEWER: And a great style, great singing style.

LUCAS: Great style.

INTERVIEWER: Out of Jolson. More of the Jolson.

LUCAS: He was the greatest showman that couldn’t sing a note.

INTERVIEWER: Couldn’t sing a note?

LUCAS: He didn’t sing well, no. But he was a great showman.

2: He played to his personality more.

LUCAS: He had a freak part.

INTERVIEWER: But it was a Jolson style. Wasn’t it from the Jolson school?

LUCAS: Sure, the guy was so great he could manner the tension. He was so great. Good looking guy. His motions, you know.

INTERVIEWER: Dapper. Dapper guy.

LUCAS: He had a nice voice but didn’t know how to choose.

2: Tony Martin got a lot from him I think.

INTERVIEWER: Tony studied with him.

LUCAS: Tony Martin had a beautiful voice. Tony Martin still sings as good as he ever did.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, he’s got a great voice.

LUCAS: He said, "You know Nick I gotta go." I went, "Ok, Tony-boy hit it. Say what the hell, we’re buddies." What’s the difference? He did a good show. He’s still got a lot of suave.

INTERVIEWER: He’s very suave.

LUCAS: Good looking guy. Has does his own piano playing. He says, "So, what we gonna do here? I use thirty-six men, you know."

INTERVIEWER: Did you know Bing? You must have known Bing Crosby.

LUCAS: Yeah. Well, Bing was the most elusive guy in Hollywood. Never see him anywhere, Herb.

INTERVIEWER: You never get together with him?

LUCAS: Bob Hope goes anyplace.

2: Yeah, Bob Hope does.

INTERVIEWER: But Crosby sort of keeps to himself.

2: He’s a family guy isn’t he? Sorta.

LUCAS: Let me tell you. When he didn’t go to Zukor’s, Adolph Zukor’s, hundredth birthday at the Paramount where he made all his riches. Now he didn’t go there. I think he’s a shit heel.

2: He should have. For that he should have gone. That was a special occasion. That made him.

LUCAS: He didn’t go. He didn’t go.

2: Paramount movies were the thing that made him famous.

INTERVIEWER: More than the records.

LUCAS: Bob Hope goes anyplace.

INTERVIEWER: How about Vallee? Rudy Vallee does he get around much? Do you keep in touch with him? Does he call you?

LUCAS: Yeah, I see Vallee all the time.

2: He’s such an egomaniac.

LUCAS: He goes to the same bank I do. Hollywood Bank of America. I go to take it out and he goes to put it in. Frank, would you believe it, this is the God’s honest truth, he’s still got the same overcoat he had when he went to Yale.

2: He is something else.

LUCAS: We worked a concert in Chicago, at the McCormick Center, about eights months ago. Had a big vaudeville show. I closed the first half, and he closed the show. He put that show right down in the dumps. With his dirty jokes. You know what he does? He does fourteen minutes of talk and a minute of singing.

2: Well, he can’t sing anymore.

LUCAS: Then he does fourteen more minutes of talk and another minute of singing. Then he does fourteen more minutes of talk and another minute of singing.

2: Well, he’s got to pull the show right down to the ground.

LUCAS: And it’s awful. The show is so believably ahead of him.

2: They don’t book him anyway. He doesn’t get any work.

LUCAS: Had the Four Stepbrothers on, Gene Sheldon. Good act. Stock act, you know. That’s what I’ve been doing. Playing these shows like I played Fort Wayne. I play big conventions when I go to New Orleans, I get fifteen bills and I pay my fare. I come out with about a thousand dollars.

INTERVIEWER: You don’t do any of the new things. You do all the songs you’re associated with.

LUCAS: But basically I sing cabaret.

INTERVIEWER: But basically you go back to Tip-toe Through the Tulips, Painting the Clouds with Sunshine, Rose Colored Glasses.....

LUCAS: Then I sing, Those Were The Days, and I sing a medley, then I do a little talk.

INTERVIEWER: What is your medley like? What do you do?

LUCAS: I do Margie, then I do about sixteen bars of Mexicali Rose, then I go Somebody Stole My Gal. I got a good routine. Then I do a little talking. Then I play the banjo.

INTERVIEWER: You’ve got your act everything is set. What are some of the things you say on your talk? When you do a little talk what do you talk about? Do you talk about the nostalgia thing?

LUCAS: When I finish with the banjo, I can’t follow it myself. Cause I got a beautiful banjo and I play it well. I play chords. Women like it. And it’s a smash. But I didn’t bring it here, who’s gonna listen..?

INTERVIEWER: When you come in what are some of the things you say?

LUCAS: When I come in I have a little talk. My first half I come out, I capitalize on Tiny Tim, because right after my first exit I say, "You know ladies and gentlemen, no matter where I go people will always stop me and ask me how well I know Tiny Tim. Well, I know Tiny Tim and I found him to be a wonderful person. In fact, I had the pleasure of doing a couple of shows with him when he was engaged to his lovely bride and when he was married." And I say, "I am very grateful for Tiny Tim coming along, because every time he sings Tip-Toe Through the Tulips I tiptoe to the bank." Then I say, "You know, Tiny Tim lately has had his up and downs and I read in the paper, about a month ago or so, he was broke and getting fired and he said he was glad he made it regardless of his being broke, because he got to the top. He’s now trying to recoup his losses, but I say the most fascinating thing that has happened to him lately, his wife is giving him a divorce because she found out he was tiny."

INTERVIEWER: That’s not dirty. It’s cute. That really is cute. I like that.

LUCAS: You know who gave me that? Pat Buttrum. I worked with him two weeks ago. It’s cute, you know, it’s not dirty. Then I say, "I want to play a tribute to Tiny Tim in front of all you nice people. By saying, God bless you Tiny Tim, whatever you are."

INTERVIEWER: That’s a beautiful line.

LUCAS: Then I go in, "And now I’d like to sing a request from my friend Herb, a little number that he liked so well, Rose Colored Glasses, the I do A Shanty in Old Shanty Town, then I do, That Old Gang of Mine, then I go back to Shanty Old, then I have them all sing. They all sing. And I walk out with the mike and I let some guy sing and, "Ohh, look at the Frank is singing!" They're all laughing. "How about that!" They all applaud. They say he’s a hero, see. Then when I get through, "How about we give this wonderful guy here a nice round of applause for helping me out tonight. Elvis Presley, take a bow." And, boy, do they laugh. Then I go, (singing) Let Me Call You Sweetheart, they all sing. Then I go Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now, then if there’s some Irish I’ll sing a couple Irish songs. If there’s some Italians I sing some Italian songs.

INTERVIEWER: So it’s a flexible show?

LUCAS: Oh, like it’s a party! Then I wind up with Blue Heaven, I have a special chorus on Blue Heaven. I make some fun of the writer. They all know the writer of the second chorus of Blue Heaven. I say, "You know ladies and gentlemen, Don is not only a wonderful fool, but he has a hobby of writing special lyrics to popular songs. He wrote the second chorus of my next number, that I’m about to do for you. When Don and I first met at Novobrook in 1867" Well, Novobrook is the crazy house. In Chicago it might be another giant. Boston might be another one. All the people get at kick out of it. I’m having fun with them. I’m not ridiculing him. Then after I come back with Blue Heaven then I come back, "Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, how about a round of applause for the boys." I sing about one of the boys, like Frank, "He’s smiling tonight," I say. "He gave me a bit of good news. He told me that he signed a contract with General Motor’s operation for twenty years. He bought a Cadillac.

2: (laughter) Right.

LUCAS: "I’ve got nothing but luck since I’ve been in town. Except my manager, Danny Hope, told me before the show I got a brand new show starting next week in New York. It’s called Lonely Housewives. It’s not on radio; it’s not on TV. I just go from house to house." There’s old, but there not dirty. And I have quite a few others.

INTERVIEWER: How long is the act?

LUCAS: Oh I do about thirty minutes. Then I tell them a little joke that Pat Buttrum gave me. This is a cute one. They never heard it around here. Pat Buttrum said it and Bob Hope said it up at Seattle. Another guy, what’s his name that does it drunk now......Brooks?

INTERVIEWER: Oh yeah, I know who he is.

LUCAS: He said he went to the ballgame with Gene Autry to see the Angels play and when he got to the ballgame, three nuns sitting in front of him, with those great big white butterfly hats. And they couldn’t see a thing. So, Gene Autry said, "I’ll see if I can do something." Because you know you have to be very careful; you can’t hurt their feelings. So he got up, right over their heads, and pointed to the infield and said, "You know, I think I’m gonna go to Alaska, because it is only five percent Catholics there. So, Buttram got up and says, "I think I’m gonna go to Pasadena, they only have two percent Catholics there." In the meantime these nuns are starting to get irritated. So, one of the nuns turned around and said, "Why don’t you go to Hell, there’s no Catholics there."

INTERVIEWER: (laughter) That’s a funny one.

LUCAS: I got quite a few good ones that Bob gave me about forty years ago. But this comedian was on there so long and so dirty........

INTERVIEWER: Who was he?

LUCAS: Frankie. Frank Mayo. One of the women said, "Gee, we like you better. You can command comedy better than him." I said, "Well, I only do it to kill a little time." I don’t try to be dirty. I got quite a few others. I don’t want to bore you with them, but they’re ridiculing me or somebody maybe the boss or something, I never ridicule them, but I never say, ‘hell’ and I never say anything dirty. Never had to resort to that. He was filthy. And he would say some dirty things in a take that really were embarrassing. Like, ‘shumck’ and things like that. Holy Christ.

INTERVIEWER: When you have no talent you resort to this.

LUCAS: Don should have protected them. Here’s a guy who’s got class, looks good, why surround them with a.....I’m bringing people, seventy-five, eighty years old, never been to a nightclub in their life and probably didn’t even get the sense of humor.

2: How long did you stay in Australia when you went?

LUCAS: I was there six months. Three in Sydney, three months in Melbourne.

2: Working clubs?

LUCAS: No, theater. Regular theater. I was twelve weeks in Sydney, and twelve weeks at Melbourne. I went two weeks to Brisbane.

2: And you made records when you were there? This is about 1934 - ‘35?

LUCAS: I made records there. ‘37. I got trapped there. When the war broke out I got trapped there. Two weeks after the war broke out Australia went in with England.

2: ‘39

LUCAS: My salary went down, if not I couldn’t take any money out. I had to pay my insurance policies and things like that; they had to send me a bill and everything. Only so much money could go out. I couldn’t take any of my royalties out, they’re still there.

2: How was the salary for that time? Was is good? Not good, huh?

LUCAS: I went by boat.

2: At that time sure. Plane thing wasn’t figured.

LUCAS: I got trapped there. Boy I’m telling you it was awful. I couldn’t take the money out. They wouldn’t let any money out.

2: So, actually you should still have money there?

LUCAS: I got money there.

2: You could take a vacation over there.

LUCAS: Well, they want me to go to work there, Frank. But I don’t like that set-up. They got five, six thousand people. They spruce it up. They got slot machines. Who wants that? And they got them in Tasmania now.

INTERVIEWER: New Zealand too. Yeah. They got some big hotels there.

LUCAS: They want me. Back when I was in Australia it’s so hard to get a room with heat in it. I had a suite and I had a guy working with me and we had a couple of broads upstairs alone. Broads galore. All you wanted.

2: Oh, I can imagine.

LUCAS: And we always said, "Send me up a couple of club sandwiches." They said they’d be little bitty things. I said, "For crying out loud I want a sandwich." So, he brings a sandwich - that big....

INTERVIEWER: And a girl steps out of it!

LUCAS: Aw, the broads were great. And I had Buck and Bubbles.

2: Buck and Bubbles, yeah. Were they with you, too?

LUCAS: You should have seen the broads they had. One time I went to visit one of the acts. I went into the apartment where they were living. I knocked on the wrong door it was Buck. "Come on Nick." He had four broads.

INTERVIEWER: Buck was bucking away!

2: Buck was a fantastic piano player.

LUCAS: We had an apartment there on Cherry and Cross. With my boy and he was a jazz child. And he suffered for it. My brother-in-law said, "I can’t get it through. With that diabetes and all." I said, "You’re going too far. You get to the bottom and then push."

INTERVIEWER: Not all the time. One or the other.

LUCAS: We’d always have connecting rooms, a broad and we had big trouble there. Booze, big booze. All the booze you could want..and I did my broad or if I had one I’d have a little stump that I won. At eleven-thirty I’d say, "Hey, Tony, I’ll see you in the morning. Take the broads home, take a shower and go to bed." And he would never pass ‘em up. Cause one time he fucked a broad with a wooden leg.

INTERVIEWER: Nothing phased him. Right?

LUCAS: I said, "They come here to get fucked, they’re gonna get fucked."

INTERVIEWER: That’s beautiful, Nick, that’s wild.

LUCAS: Come on let’s have a drink before you go, are you ready to go?

BREAK----


INTERVIEWER: And when did Vallee, Vallee was about twenty-nine, when he hit in Vegas?

LUCAS: Twenty-nine.

2: Austin wasn’t a good looking guy. Little on the heavy side.

INTERVIEWER: He’s kind of pudgy looking.

LUCAS: He died, you know, about a year ago.

INTERVIEWER: Cancer.

LUCAS: Yeah, lungs. And I went to see him, that was before Burns.

2: Where was he living then, Vegas?

LUCAS: He lived in Vegas but he died in Los Angeles.

2: He had kind of a checkered career too, after awhile? He had a nightclub for awhile.

LUCAS: He used to work a nightclub, he had his own nightclub, and it went bust. Millions of dollars. He was broke when he died.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember a Johnny Marvin, who found him? He was a big name in Victor Records. He followed Gene Austin as the number one single with Victor. And there was Smith Ballew? Smith Ballew, Seger Ellis.

LUCAS: Seger Ellis is down south, and Smith Ballew, I met him quite a few years ago. I met him up in Montana. Great Falls, Montana.

INTERVIEWER: He ended up as a great actor. Who else can you remember from the early thirties period?

2: Dick Robinson. Nick, come here.

CD TWO


2: I had that happen once, in somebody’s home. The plug wasn’t working.

INTERVIEWER: Ok now yours is turning. Ok, good. Now mine is working also. Now you were talking about the Kentucky Five. No singing at that time Nick, right?

LUCAS: No, I wasn’t singing at that time. I was strictly a musician.

2: Were you playing guitar and banjo together at this time, or strictly guitar?

LUCAS: When I went with the Kentucky Five. I organized the Kentucky Five. I was banjo. Guitar was still incidental. I had it on the side there. How the guitar became into being is due to the fact that we used to play in those days had many requests to play the waltz. Which is kind of obsolete now. And we had to play a waltz in pretty much every set. To play a rhythm on the banjo, in waltz tempo, is very, very hard. I brought the guitar down and the musicians said, "We want to hear the guitar." So, I used it strictly in the waltz and eventually, later on as I go into the interview I’ll show you just how the guitar became a popular instrument. It replaced the banjo. But then I toured with the Kentucky Five with Ziegler twins in Vaudeville. And I can’t forget the sound we were getting and I was really mad for a short while, about six months, and I had to leave and go on the road because I couldn’t afford to take my wife on the road with me and we were getting three hundred dollars for the five men, sixty dollars a piece and we thought that was a lot of money. It was for that time. And we traveled the Keith Norton Circuit. And we had to cut corners on order to save two dollars.

INTERVIEWER: Who were the big singers of that period? This was about 1917?

LUCAS: There was only the two immortals Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson.

INTERVIEWER: What about Sophie Tucker?

LUCAS: Pardon me, Sophie Tucker.....

2. Belle Baker.....

LUCAS: Belle Baker.....

INTERVIEWER: Marion Harris....

LUCAS: Harry Richman....

2: Blossom Seeley.....

LUCAS: Blossom Seeley. They were big Vaudeville stars.

INTERVIEWER: Were they nationally known? Were they nationally popular? Or just known in certain cities? Were they known throughout the country?

LUCAS: They were known throughout the country through the medium of Vaudeville or musical shows.

INTERVIEWER: And this was before radio? This was before the beginning of radio?

LUCAS: Way before radio. Radio didn’t come into being..... When I went through St. Louis, to work out there with a friend of mine, a violin player I went to school with here in New York. He migrated to St. Louis and when he got out there he got himself out there he got himself pretty well established in the nightclubs there. And he sent for me and Ted FioRito and we both went out there. We drove out there. I took my family with me. My daughter was born then and she was about six months old. And we went out there and it was Ted FioRito and Lou Salem, S-A-L-E-M, and, now this will hit you between the eyes, Frank Trumbauer. Great saxophone player. And another guy by the name of Frankie Cortel on trumpet. Terrific.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, I know him.

LUCAS: And myself.

2: This was a little group?

LUCAS: It was a little combo we had out there. And we were at the top of St. Louis. We made nothing but money. The salary wasn’t big, but the tips. Out of this world.

2: Where were you playing?

LUCAS: We was playing at Sicarti’s and the Caprin Inn. C-A-P-R-I-N. Joe Gonnelln. G-O-N-N-E-Double L-N. And we were working there. So I stay there about a year, or two years. Then I came back East, and Ted FioRito stayed there. Then he formed the Memorial Terrace Orchestra.

2: Memorial Terrace was in St. Louis not in Detroit, I thought it was in Detroit.

LUCAS: St. Louis. Then I come back East and I got the work with Sam Lanin. Up at Roe-Lanin Ballroom. Big sum of ninety dollars a week.

2: That’s still pretty good money for that time.

INTERVIEWER: What year was this?

2: Twenty-one.

LUCAS: No this was around twenty-one.

INTERVIEWER: You still weren’t singing at all?

LUCAS: Nope. No singing. Then I did a lot of recording for them.

2: Yeah, you were probably playing on a lot of those records.

LUCAS: I played banjo. So, here is where the twist comes in with the guitar. Always had trouble with the banjo because the banjo would, you know we had the old wax, and the least sensitive note would make that needle jump and we would have to start all over again. You had to go right from the beginning. And I was the goat there because I couldn’t help it. I was sitting on a high stool in the back of the room. So, I thought of the idea of bringing the guitar. Once Sam Lanin almost wanted to throw me out. He said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "Here’s what we do, we’ll try it, if it don’t work nothing lost." So, I got the banjo here. They couldn’t hear, so I said, "Well, Sam put me closer to the horn." We had horns then, not microphones.

INTERVIEWER: The acoustical horns.

LUCAS: So I said, "Put me right under the horn. I’ll play the rhythm." And you know it worked out to the point where we had no trouble with the wax. Time saver, it was there. The rhythm was there. It wasn’t overshadowing the other instruments. From then on he said, "Bring the guitar, forget the banjo." So, that was the beginning of the guitar.

2: Now you were playing guitar mainly on the records? You weren’t playing guitar in ballroom? You played banjo in the ballroom?

LUCAS: Even when I was with Sam Lanin, when I played the waltzes, I picked up the guitar. Now, in the interim I played with the Vernon Country Club Orchestra. At the Boardwalk right opposite the Palais Royale where Paul Whiteman was working.

INTERVIEWER: Where was this now?

LUCAS: This was in New York. The Boardwalk was upstairs; where Benny Fields got his big reputation, remember?

INTERVIEWER: I remember Benny Fields.

LUCAS: That’s where he got his big reputation.

INTERVIEWER: And this was called The Boardwalk, this place?

LUCAS: The Boardwalk, yeah.

INTERVIEWER: Palais Royale was on 47th street?

LUCAS: Right across the street.

INTERVIEWER: Where the lounge used to be.

LUCAS: Down stairs was the Moulin Rouge. I played the banjo with this orchestra.

INTERVIEWER: What was the name of this band again?

LUCAS: The Vernon Country Club Orchestra. They were from California. They were imported to New York by Paul Whiteman. Now these fellows were rhythm fanatics. They had violin, piano, drums, and banjo: and Don Park was playing saxophone. It was very famous. Now they added a bass player. Pop Bring, was his name. His son was a big orchestra person, Lou.

2: Lou Bring.

LUCAS: Pop Bring was my pal. And he played beautiful bass. So this is another place that I used the guitar. Here’s where I started to get up to sing.

INTERVIEWER: This was the beginning of your singing career?

LUCAS: (singing) I say who’s sorry now... So they liked it and they wanted the boss, I can’t remember his name now; he put on the show there. He used to have shows too. Well, he put on the Blackbirds.

INTERVIEWER: Lou Leslie.

LUCAS: Lou Leslie. So, the boss said, "Jeez that’s good. Glad you’re singing." I said to Jimmy Guest was the leader. I said, "Oh, Jimmy. I did that for a lark. I got to get more money."

INTERVIEWER: Was there any influence there at the time? Were you thinking about singers you had heard? Just on your own?

LUCAS: Spontaneously I got up with the guitar and I thought, "Oh, well, I’ll try it." And it worked out beautifully. People were coming around.

INTERVIEWER: What were some of the songs from that period?

LUCAS: Who’s Sorry Now, and Yes, We Have No Bananas.

INTERVIEWER: That’s about 1920?

LUCAS: What’s that other number? Benny Davis’ number?

INTERVIEWER: Baby Face?

LUCAS: Yeah, Baby Face and all those songs. And so they gave me twenty-five dollars a week. I was getting a hundred and thirteen apiece so I felt like a million dollars. This is the time, I used to go to the bathroom once an hour, between sets, and I saw a little poster on the bathroom wall, "Employees must register for social security." to get your number. We had to start paying income tax. Remember? 1930? No, the time for income tax was 1921 or ‘22. That’s when I started to pay income tax. That’s what I’m talking about, "All employees must register for....."

INTERVIEWER: "The federal Income Tax."

LUCAS: I’ll forget that. So it wasn’t much, but still we did. And after I played with the Vernon Country Club, I was with them for two years. Then we went to Rising Rivers. (Rye’s and Webber’s)

INTERVIEWER: I remember that name.

LUCAS: Rising Rivers had three rooms. They had a room upstairs where Sophie Tucker was working. And we were working in the Society room. And the other room was the Dixieland.

2: That’s right, Dixieland Jazz Band.

LUCAS: Right on Columbus Circle. You know. But my memory serves me right. So after that, Ted FioRito was becoming very popular in the Middle West. In Chicago. And he finally got the job at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. And this was the beginning of radio. That is 1923-24-25. I went out there for two weeks, my wife and I and my daughter got in the car. It took us four days to get there. And Ted says, "Nick, look around see if you can pick me up a good song." He says, "There’s a guy over there, called Paul Biese. Saxophone player. He’s a sensation. We’ve got a tough thing to follow." "In what respect?" "He’s got a song called My Googley Eyes." I said, "Jeez, Ted. I’ve got a song that will top that. Yes, We Have No Bananas." So, I come out with the Yes, I have No Bananas, I was kind of a producer too. Not that I was the executive producer, but I was kind of helping. They would ask me for suggestions. So, I said, "Ok, well get this number. We put the band in the dressing room and I tell them just how to do it, if they were not used to Yes! (singing) Pastrami.......Right down the line. And we were sensational. Out of the two-week year we stayed two years.

INTERVIEWER: Were you singing regularly at that time?

LUCAS: Then I started to sing regularly.

INTERVIEWER: With this band in Chicago.

LUCAS: Yeah.

2: This band recorded quite a bit too.

LUCAS: Yeah. That’s when I started to record. For Brunswick Phonograph Company.

2: It was under Russo’s name though.

LUCAS: It was Ted FioRito and Danny Russo.

2: Russo and FioRito were in the orchestra.

LUCAS: And I used to sing the vocals.

INTERVIEWER: Vocal chorus.

LUCAS: No horns. Steel horns. But in the interim I was broadcasting at this station called W-E-B-H. It was adjacent to the bandstand. And they had the windows that you could see the broadcast. So every now and then I’d go in there and a guy would call me when they didn’t have talent. "Come on in, Nick. Sing a few songs. Fill in some time." So, I did. And unbeknownst to me, I was getting postal cards from all over the country. This wasn’t a hook-up; this was a what they call an earphone deal.

2: Crystal Sets.

LUCAS: Crystal Sets. That’s it. And I was getting response because I was on there as a filler-in-er, but the same token I was doing myself a lot of good. And this Bob Boneil he said, "Nick, you gotta get back further from the market, you’re too close. And sneak up to it and croon a little bit." So I did and it worked out beautiful. Now, after about two years-three and a half years with the band, Brunswick decided to record me as a single. I’m still with the band and we did. All by myself. Just me and the guitar. And I made this record of My Best Girl.

INTERVIEWER: This was 1924, I think?

LUCAS: Yeah. December 1924. Almost ‘25. And a number Dreamer of Dreams. That was written by Ted FioRito and My Best Girl was written by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson. Well, that just put me over the top.

INTERVIEWER: It took off.

LUCAS: Just took off. To the extent that I had to leave the band. And I went on my own.

INTERVIEWER: I’ll bet Ted FioRito wasn’t happy about that.

LUCAS: I’ll tell you how that came about. I’m glad you mentioned it. He wanted to cut in. I said, "What for? What am I going to cut you in? I’ve been singing all your songs. (Singing) No, No, No, Charley My Boy. When Lights are Low , did you ever cut me in? Did I help at Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye? Who introduced all those songs?....Me. I never asked you for any reimbursement." We had a little argument so I said, "Goodbye, see you later." So I had my first big job. Where do you think it was? Chicago Theater. Course I was the talk of Chicago.

INTERVIEWER: And this was 1925?

LUCAS: 1925. I’ll give the exact date that I played Chicago. December the 8th 1924. Which is practically 1925. From then on I played like Sioux City and went to Omaha, Davenport. You couldn’t get in the theater.

INTERVIEWER: And you were billed as The Crooning Troubadour.

LUCAS: The Crooning Troubadour.

2: Were you a royalty artist on the record at that time?

LUCAS: Yeah.

2: Even that far back?

LUCAS: When I started, it was strictly royalties. No guarantee. I got the big sum of a penny a record. Eighty-five thousand, a hundred and fifty thousand amounts up to pretty good. So, after the first year they gave me a better offer. They gave me a three thousand guarantee against my royalties. Then worked it up to five thousand.

INTERVIEWER: Who else was on Brunswick at that time?

LUCAS: At that time it was Marion Harris. She was the big.....

INTERVIEWER: Number one girl singer.

LUCAS: She was the number one girl singer. Al Jolson. He was a competitor of mine. And there was some other, Whispering Jack Smith.

2: Was he on Brunswick?

LUCAS: I don’t know if he was on Brunswick but he was very competitive.

INTERVIEWER: I think he was on Victor.

LUCAS: And then my biggest competitor, and a friendly guy, God Bless his soul, was Gene Austin.

INTERVIEWER: Gene Austin, of course, but you were the first to be billed as a crooner?

2: He didn’t start recording until a year or two after you did.

LUCAS: Gene Austin recorded after me, and then came a guy by the name of Rudy Vallee.

INTERVIEWER: What about Cliff Edwards?

LUCAS: Cliff Edwards was big at that time. He was right with me. I would say he was the biggest competitor I had.

2: At that time.

INTERVIEWER: And then Gene Austin came along.

LUCAS: And Gene Austin and I were big competitors. In fact we worked the Interstate Circuit and we tried to top each other in business. And he was a big draw.

INTERVIEWER: But your voice was a full voiced. It really wasn’t a crooning voice.

LUCAS: No.

INTERVIEWER: Nick Lucas, you sang out. While I think Austin had a very softer type voice quality.

LUCAS: Well, he was a freak singer. He’d croon to you when he used to sing. And I was more of a strait lyric singer. With him you would have to croon in order to get, but with me my voice was in good shape. I studied voice when I was with Ted FioRito in Chicago. With Bob O’Brick, one or the greatest Canadian vocalties. I knew how to project.

2: Any reason for that?

LUCAS: Well, I played around with what might have happened. I wanted to get more knowledge and more experience on how to sing with ease. Which I do yet. And it’s through the two years. I studied voice I took a lesson a week. Two dollars a lesson.

INTERVIEWER: Cliff Edwards was a novelty singer, wasn’t he? He didn’t croon at all, he wasn’t a crooner?

LUCAS: He sang and he did... (makes noises) Beep Beep Beep.

INTERVIEWER: He did those great noises.

2: And he played ukulele.

INTERVIEWER: But I mean, his style wasn’t crooning. He wasn’t a crooner. You would say Whispering Jack Smith was a crooner?

LUCAS: Yeah.

2: Was he recording at the same time as you? I thought he came a little latter?

INTERVIEWER: Just a year or two later.

LUCAS: Not much later.

INTERVIEWER: It was Vaughn De Leath too.

LUCAS: Vaughn De Leath. She was big. Now in the meantime, Ruth Etting she was on Columbia, if I remember correctly. She was a big competitor of Marion Harris. We were the top recording stars. And then Gene Austin, of course. And Little Jack Little came along later on. And Al Jolson was a big seller and Eddie Cantor.

2: Harry Richman was starting about that time.

LUCAS: Harry Richman was a big seller.

2: He started on Vocalion in ‘25. Which was a subsidiary of Brunswick.

INTERVIEWER: I guess you were using a megaphone at one point in singing, weren’t you?

LUCAS: I never used a megaphone.

2: Your records are strictly you. It’s always you and your guitar; you didn’t have any other accompaniments at the time.

LUCAS: No, I started and then they gave me a piano player. They didn’t know it would make a difference; this is when I was with Brunswick. One record we used Dave Rubinoff. (David Rubinoff)

2: Violin players..

LUCAS: He played violin. The tune was Marcheta and I’m Waiting for Ships That Never Come In.

INTERVIEWER: That’s a beautiful song.

2: You don’t hear that one often.

LUCAS: And then I was working at the Chicago Theater, Ziegfeld’s show was in town and Burt Wheeler was with the show. And Burt Wheeler heard me sing up at the Edgewater Beach Hotel and he called up Leo Fitzgerald, his manager, and he said, "Come on out here. There’s a guy that sings out here, you better latch on to him right away. Because this guy is going to get places."

So Leo Fitzgerald called me in St. Louis, where I was working for the Skouras Brothers. Just breaking into business. Grand Central Theater. Just breaking in. Three brothers. He came out there and we made a verbal agreement. Never had a contract for him. And he was my manager till he died. Then he got me into The Palace Theater where I worked. And I was next to closing. The strongest bill you can think of, and you know the song that put me over, I do remember this. The papers were full of it. I’ll Be Loving You Always. When Irving Berlin was there to fight Clarence McKay.......

2: To find out if he could marry his daughter.

LUCAS: The telegraph thing guy. I was a big hit and from then on. I went to play Cleveland and I was a big hit there.

INTERVIEWER: I know from 1925 on.......

LUCAS: Then they gave me all the Orpheum Circuit and the second year, or the third year, when I went out to California. It was one Sunday night in 1929, all the movie stars used to come down on Sunday night. This was two shows a day, all seats reserved. And one of Darryl Zanuck’s scouts was in there. They were making this picture Gold Diggers of Broadway. And this guy heard me sing, came back stage. He asked me if I would be interested in doing a picture. This was the beginning of talkies. Al Jolson had just made The Singing Fool, or The Jazz Singer or one of those names. Just going into talkies, Technicolor too. So I said, "Sure, but you’ll have to contact my manager, Leo Fitzgerald." Well to make a long story short they made a deal, in the interim I had to go up and audition. I said, "Sure." And I go. I went up, I sang. "Oh Great! Great! Great! Great! Let’s take a test" I photographed good. "Now, get together and write some songs with this guy." The picture was half sone. They were stymied. They said, "We need something, there’s something missing here," So, at that time I was the Elvis Presley of the era. I was hot. And so we went up there and got a hold of these two writers, who I knew. Al Dubin and Joe Burke. So we got together. Al with his cigar all the time. I said, "Don’t you ever inhale!" So, we got together. I gave them a little idea of this Tiptoe Through the Tulips. "Oh gee that sounds great!" So when Zanuck heard it he said, "Gee let’s write a big number about tulips." With 36 chorus girls, you know. And they had these tulips. That was the picture.

INTERVIEWER: You mean that song made the picture.

LUCAS: The song made the movie. Painting The Clouds With Sunshine was the only song they had written. They always said, "Write!" so, they write about six more. And every time you turned around I was singing. But Tiptoe stood out over Painting The Clouds. That made the picture. And it became synonymous with my name. And as you know. No matter where I go now. And of course, after I got out of there, Leo put me in the Ziegfeld Follies called Show Girl. Where Ruby Keeler was in it.

INTERVIEWER: You made another movie though, didn’t you?

LUCAS: Yeah, that will come later. I went to the act with the Ziegfeld showgirls. Ira and George Gershwin wrote the music. And we had Frank McCue, Ruby Keeler, Clayton Jackson, Jimmy Durante, Duke Ellington. Pretty fast company, eh?

2: I wish I could have seen that show.

LUCAS: And we tried out in Boston. We couldn’t get the show right. And there was a song (singing) Liza, Liza, Liza. We used to sing that for the broads. Beautiful girls. 5' 8" to 5' 10."

INTERVIEWER: Statuesque.

LUCAS: They were getting in my hair. Al Jolson was in love with Ruby Keeler. And he used to come down in order to fill up the show, he used to run down and sing that song. So, they finally made him sing it, which was ok with me. But the show only lasted three months. After that the picture was such a big hit....

INTERVIEWER: Gold Diggers?

LUCAS: Gold Diggers. Then they had me come out again, met my price, I don’t know what it was, but it was big money. By railroad. Big private state road with my daughter. There was this big suite of hotels. Impressive hotels. And that was where I made Show of Shows. Where they had Myrna Loy, they had John Barrymore, Frank Fay....

INTERVIEWER: One of the biggest reviews they had at that point. Every star on the lot.

LUCAS: They had Loretta Young, Georgie Raft, who incidentally Georgie Raft was in Gold Diggers. He did a Chauncer number in the finale.

INTERVIEWER: By the way did you know Russ Colombo at that period?

LUCAS: I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but he was the top of the industry.

INTERVIEWER: About 1929 he was in Gus Arnheim’s band.

LUCAS: He was the top of the industry and then he got killed. Then Bing Crosby came along. There had been an awful battle between him and Bing Crosby. And Kate Smith.

INTERVIEWER: There were all these rivalries going on. There was Vallee and Osborne, Will Osborne. You knew Osborne didn’t you?

LUCAS: Will Osborne, I knew very well. He was the entertainment director up in Lake Tahoe.

INTERVIEWER: And then Ozzie Nelson was also popular then. He was a Vallee type singer?

LUCAS: Ozzie Nelson, Will Osborne had him beat. And then Ozzie went out and, of course, he did very well. Will Osborne is ok. And from then on I went to Europe. Went to London. I played the Café de Paris and played at the London Palladium and I played for the Prince of Wales, he became very attached to my singing. He liked it. Then I sang for the Queen of Spain.

2: Did you do any recording while you were over there?

LUCAS: No I didn’t do any recording there. I did do a recording when I went to Australia. I was there six months. I was a very, very big hit there.

2: Now when was this?

LUCAS: This was 1935 or ‘36.

INTERVIEWER: I saw you on stage at the Lowe Estate. My sister won a movie contest. She was out in California and you were headlining the show at the Lowe Estate. The movie was British Agent and you sang Little White Gardenias and Two Cigarettes in the Dark, and Sweetie Pie. You remember that?

LUCAS: Yeah. What a memory. I played all the theaters in New York. I played Capitol. I played for eight weeks at one stretch at Roxy’s, with the picture of Jesse James. Six shows a day. Six!

INTERVIEWER: Getting back to your singing style, you never were influenced by any other singer at that time, when you started singing? There was no influence? Other singers used your style. Who followed you?

LUCAS: I influenced a lot of artists and musicians. Some of the greatest guitar players that are around, like Vernon Castle.



—BREAK----

LUCAS: Willie Hearn. Gladys A. Hearn.

2: I’ve been out there twice, reason I asked is that I have been trying to get a story on her, because she was a big star in the 20's. I called her twice and the implication was that she had some kind of illness that wouldn’t allow her to sit still. I don’t know, maybe she was just telling me a story.

LUCAS: I see her at these comedy clubs. I see her there and I don’t know about that. She might be right. She looks beautiful. She has a beautiful daughter. Eileen Stanley.

2: She probably lives with her daughter I guess.

LUCAS: She’s well off, she’s got money.

INTERVIEWER: This is in Hollywood?

LUCAS: Hollywood Comedy Club. You come out there, I’ll give you my card, you call me up. You want to see some real old times you come to the Hollywood Comedy Club. We have a meeting once a month. You’ll see her there. Assume she’s there. And I belong to the Friar’s also. And I belong to the Mascas, we have shows there once a week. But we have shows, and you see stars there that you’ll absolutely flip! You know who’s around there? He still writes a hell of a column for you paper. Ed Lowery. Ed Lowery used to be the emcee at the Ambassador in St. Louis.

2: I know who you mean.

LUCAS: Very witty guy. He writes our newsletter. And, boy, the cracks he writes in there are way out. If you ever come out, call me, you’ll get a thrill from meeting these performers. Willie Hearn is still very active there.

2: Is Loyce Whiteman a member of your club, she was married to Harry Barris? Because I met her.

LUCAS: Yeah. We got a woman’s auxiliary. You’d be surprised at the people. So anyway I walk up and down the Hollywood Boulevard there and run into a lot of old times. I just, about three weeks ago, went to, there was a big charity affair given by the Film Welfare League, which consisted of all the mothers of the big Hollywood stars, like Doris Day, right down the line. You know who looks beautiful? Caesar Romero.

INTERVIEWER: We want to get to Caesar Romero.

2: I was at a party about two years ago and I met a little chorus guy, who was in the chorus of one of those shows in years gone by and he said Caesar Romero was kept by Marion Harris. When he was trying to get his start in show business.

LUCAS: I don’t know. I don’t know about that.

2: We heard him on a show once mention here and...

INTERVIEWER: He didn’t refer to her by name he just revealed the fact that she was a big singer and she died in a fire.

LUCAS: As I understand he lives with his sister. I think he’s got a clothing store.

INTERVIEWER: Petricelli Clothes.

LUCAS: No, No. Not Petricelli.

INTERVIEWER: He’s got a restaurant. You know him?

LUCAS: He’s got an ad in the paper every day. No it’s not Petricelli. He was involved with Petricelli but now he’s got his own store with medium priced clothes. Sixty-nine dollars. There’s a place down there called C&R. They are all over the dial. No suit higher that sixty-eight dollars. So, this guy, they put Caesar in there. And now there the biggest one of our biggest commentators, I don’t know if he is syndicated, George Putnam. My pal.

2: Very well known name.

LUCAS: He got four hundred thousand a year. My pal.

INTERVIEWER: You probably remember Little Jackie Heller, who’s out there?

LUCAS: Oh sure. He’s not out there.

INTERVIEWER: No he was out in Vegas.

LUCAS: They’re all friends of mine. Monty Hall, Jay Stewart. I belong to what they call the Pioneers Blood Cancer Association. Now that’s the place to go if you want to get a thrill. Every month they have a luncheon and they give someone what they call the Carbon Mic Award.

INTERVIEWER: It’s like the special award.

LUCAS: You should have been there when they gave it to Milton Berle. And Jimmy Durante. Laughs and laughs.

INTERVIEWER: And of course they give them the zingers like the roasts of the Friar’s club.

LUCAS: They gave it to what’s-his-name, that has the big band he’s still active, he goes all around the country. He worked with me at the Roxy Theater. He’s and old timer.

INTERVIEWER: Freddie Martin.

LUCAS: No not Freddie Martin. Fred Waring. He is still taking them around. And that’s where you’ll see some old timers.

INTERVIEWER: Did you know Benny Fields?

LUCAS: Yes, sure.

INTERVIEWER: There were some statements about Benny being the first crooner, going back to the 20's. He used to sing with a megaphone before Rudy Vallee.

LUCAS: Could be.

INTERVIEWER: And Tommy Lyman. He goes back before the twenties.

LUCAS: Tommy Lyman didn’t sing. He sang in saloons he used to sing in your ear. Table singer.

2: In other words, he could not have gotten up on a stage you wouldn’t have been able to hear him?

LUCAS: He’d come right to the ear and sing to you.

INTERVIEWER: But he was good. He was a good talented man.

LUCAS: Then Abe Lyman, I knew him very well.

INTERVIEWER: How would you describe the style of Marion Harris? A blues singer? A ballad singer? I mean what was her style?

LUCAS: I always consider her a blue-ballad singer.

INTERVIEWER: Blues and Ballad singer. And probably the influence of Ruth Etting.

LUCAS: Ruth Etting still is a beautiful woman. And I see her. She knows my daughter. My daughter lives in Colorado Springs, and my grandsons. My final resting place is going to be there. My wife is buried there in a mausoleum. And I see Ruth every time I go there. We have dinner together. I always invite her. When we got together you can’t get a word in with her.

INTERVIEWER: She’s that interested in talking?

LUCAS: She’s still interested. And she can pick up incidents that make my hair stand up.

2: Boy, I’d love to be out there with you.

LUCAS: These incidents would just stand my hair up. She just loves to talk. I think she loves it.

INTERVIEWER: The show business background.

LUCAS: She’s got it in her blood. And she said, "When we were around, these guys couldn’t shine our shoes. We had to do this, we had to do that."

INTERVIEWER: She dominated the scene in that day.

LUCAS: "I come from a small town in Nebraska. I come to Chicago,".....you know, she speaks about her husband.

INTERVIEWER: Gimp. What about the Gimp?

2: He’s still living too.

INTERVIEWER: Who?

2: The Gimp.

INTERVIEWER: The Gimp is still alive?

2: He’s got a job working the city of Chicago.

LUCAS: I never went deep into that, you know, the guy that got shot, was a piano player.

2: Yeah, he’s dead now. Boozing?

LUCAS: But Ruth Etting is a beautiful person.

2: Did you tell him about Annette?

INTERVIEWER: No. Well, I did mention Annette Hanshaw.

LUCAS: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: My best friend. And she and Ruth were rivals, sort of, in that period, the late twenties.

LUCAS: Ruth is very content and very happy.

2: She have family at all?

INTERVIEWER: People say, you know, that she had died because they don’t hear about her.

LUCAS: She told me she’s been through all kinds of operations. She said, "I should have been dead twenty years ago." It looks like she’s going to be around for a long, long time. She’s got the right psychology. Because she’s up there. She’s got a nice little apartment.

INTERVIEWER: You mean her life is peaceful, there’s no strain?

LUCAS: Peaceful. And I got news for you. This is my last year. I can’t take it anymore.

INTERVIEWER: You mean you’re getting out of the business?

LUCAS: Well, as I told you, I don’t want no steady gig.

2: Well, you can pick your shows.

INTERVIEWER: You don’t have to.

LUCAS: I don’t want it. I did these three days because it was only one show a night. And then he put another one. Of course he paid me well. But what I went through here, these three days......

INTERVIEWER: I mean it was a strain. It was a strain.

LUCAS: It ain’t the show first of all.

2: It’s not the show you can do the show.

LUCAS: First of all, I was supposed to have these three musicians. When I went there, he didn’t have it. He didn’t have the piano player. The accordion player couldn’t read a note. I had to wind up opening night just playing me and the drummer. And just because I made good, it took a lot out of me. Then as soon as you get off.......

2: Then you got to socialize.

LUCAS: Socialize! And how!

INTERVIEWER: Nick, no matter how long you have been in the business you are always under strain in the opening nights, you know, working these gigs?

LUCAS: You see, when you work in the theater you go out there and give all you got. Then you go into the dressing room and lie down in an hour you are back to normal. They don’t give you any time to recuperate. They grab you by the ear, by the collar. And if you don’t you’re a heel.

INTERVIEWER: I’d love to see that review. Was it reviewed in today’s paper?

LUCAS: I don’t know. But I had a couple of interviews already. But I took Tom by storm. I’m not saying this in the spirit of conceit: this has been a surprise to me. Now they want me to go to Meadowbrooke. And they’re talking about the St. Regis in New York.

2: St. Regis. St. Regis wouldn’t be bad for you.

INTERVIEWER: You wouldn’t consider cutting an album now?

LUCAS: He wants to book me there. I said, "Listen, Don, it’s too much of a strain and I don’t want it."

INTERVIEWER: Nick, would you be interested in cutting an album right now?

LUCAS: I got two albums. I got three albums.

INTERVIEWER: When did you cut them?

LUCAS: Years ago.

INTERVIEWER: I’m talking about like within the next year. I’ll come up with the material for you.

LUCAS: Listen, come up with it and we will all make money.

INTERVIEWER: I’d love to. I’d love to do it.

LUCAS: I’ll tell you what we need. I want a small shyster company.

INTERVIEWER: You don’t have an extra copy of the last one?

LUCAS: You give me your address and I’ll send you two.

INTERVIEWER: One for Frank and one for me.

LUCAS: Ok, I’ll send you one apiece. One I made just the guitar and I, and one I made where I dubbed in. If I had five thousand albums I could have sold them there.

2: I believe that.

LUCAS: I don’t want to go to that set-up.

2: You don’t need it.

INTERVIEWER: I’d love you to cut an album now.

LUCAS: Well, when I come back in December, maybe. And you can figure out the tunes.

INTERVIEWER: I’d like to do that with you.

LUCAS: You’ve got to get the distribution, if you don’t have the distribution, forget about it.

INTERVIEWER: Frank was connected with Columbia Records. He produced records.

2: Maybe I could get Columbia involved.

LUCAS: I’d almost say very hot, but nostalgia’s hot too. And my voice is in great condition.

INTERVIEWER: Listen, I know that.

2: Especially the way recording is today, it’s so easy.

LUCAS: All we need is distribution.

INTERVIEWER: Get the right kind of backing, the musicians, and the songs and we’re set.

2: Get Frankie Sigorelli to play with you.

LUCAS: He is around.

2: Sure, he’s still around. And our friend Harold Solomon played with Ruth Etting.

LUCAS: Frank Signorelli he worked with me at Johnson’s Café.

INTERVIEWER: You probably know Joe Candullo. He’s a beautiful guy.

LUCAS: Joe, oh sure. Frank Signorelli, I want you to definitely insert this, played piano with me at Johnson’s Café. And I used to go to his house and eat macaroni and he lived down around Mulberry Street. There’s another guy up there, I wonder if you remember this guy. He was one of the hottest violin players around. He died. Joey Chance. Violin player. He was hot.

INTERVIEWER: No.

2: Al Duffy’s still around.

LUCAS: Oh, I know Al. Is he still around?

2: Oh, sure. He was a great violin player.

LUCAS: If I ever play a job in New York these guys would come out and see me.

INTERVIEWER: Do you know about Kavelin’s band? Al Kavelin. My cousin worked with him. Harry Clark. A violinist. A jazz violinist.

2: Al Kavelin’s in California.

INTERVIEWER: And Carmen Caballero started with Kavelin.

LUCAS: Oh, sure I see him on the coast. Well, you remembered a guy like Al Duffy.

2: Great violin player. He never made the reputation Joe Venuti made but he was up there. In that league with all those guys. You went to England after you made the second movie, right?

LUCAS: No, Frank. I should have checked that. I went to England before I made any movie. I went to England after I was big... I went to England as a recording star.

INTERVIEWER: This is in the 20's.

2: About twenty-six. Yes

LUCAS: You know who was in England at that period, Ben Blue. Ben Blue was a big hit over there. And Danny Dare, who later became a producer. And I was competing there with all the great big....Will Fife and all the great big musicals. Jack Hylton was big there. And I went there. And I cleaned up. Clean up. I just cleaned up there. I was making all kinds of money. I played for Art O’Con. I played for five hundred dollars a crack. In those days that was like five thousand. Then I came back, but I haven’t been back since I made the movie. Isn’t that a coincidence?

2: That’s what I’m trying to figure.

INTERVIEWER: In other words after 1929 you never went back to England.

LUCAS: No.

2: No reason?

LUCAS: I never went back there since.

2: Leo Fitzgerald ever try to get you back?

LUCAS: He tried to get me back, because in those days, Frank, they were paying epis there. It didn’t mean a thing. Today it’s a big deal.

2: My understanding was that they did do it over there.

LUCAS: Not in ‘25, there was no money. I only had a hundred and fifty pounds a week.

2: In 1925? But you augmented by the private parties? I didn’t realize that. I thought they paid pretty good dough over there.

LUCAS: Well, that’s where I made my money. I didn’t get much money there. I’ll tell you how they work. You’ve got a point there. They would sell me out for fifty pounds, and probably get a hundred pounds.

2: I see, and you had no choice to play those joints?

LUCAS: I was playing four or five joints around Piccadilly Hotel and Kit-Cat Club.

2: That’s like what they do in Australia.

LUCAS: I was there six months. I came back and it took me six weeks to get rid of my laryngitis.

2: The climate over there is horrible too.

LUCAS: Awful.

INTERVIEWER: When did Fitzgerald become your manager?

LUCAS: He became my manager when I was in Chicago.

INTERVIEWER: At the Chicago Theater?

LUCAS: No. I was at the Oriole Terrace. I was at the Chicago Theater and then Bert Wheeler heard me and he called up Leo Fitzgerald.

INTERVIEWER: And that’s right when you started your career he was your manager?

LUCAS: And then I made my record. And my record was hard. I went to St. Louis to work with the Skouras Brothers and he came out to St. Louis and that’s where we made the deal. Handshake deal.

2: So now after ‘29, after you made that second movie, are you still on the theaters?

LUCAS: Vaudeville had died.

2: You were not in the nightclubs yet at that point?

LUCAS: No, clubs. Not yet.

2: No nightclubs, strictly Vaudeville?

LUCAS: I’ll tell you when I went into nightclubs. When the theater, Vaudeville went down the drain. 1932.

2: In ‘32.

LUCAS: Then I had to go to nightclubs, which I dreaded very much, because I didn’t like to play nightclubs.

INTERVIEWER: You had a different approach to things.

LUCAS: I played nightclubs. The microphone systems were bad. Sometimes you are dressing in the manager’s office, like I did here. No mirror. Nothing. Right here. They don’t care. You’d think a guy like Don would say, "Well, jeez, this guy is a little weak, maybe we can make a place where he can sit. To relax a little. A couch so he can lie down."

INTERVIEWER: And of course the nightclub work involved other things. The guys, you know, the boys were always involved in that, right?

2: I don’t think so. Not in that time. Not in the thirties. Not until after the war.

LUCAS: I was fortunate. At that time it didn’t mean a thing. You know who was down to see me Sunday night. One of the greatest rumrunners of this state. He used to run liquor from Kingsbury. George Catina. My buddy.

INTERVIEWER: But at that time they didn’t bust them....it wasn’t until the forties.

LUCAS: At that time they didn’t bust Celin. I knew Al Capone. I knew Ralph Capone. I knew Dego Lawrence in Chicago. All those guys. They never bothered anyone. It was peanuts.

2: Capone. Now they had clubs.

INTERVIEWER: And yet you hear about Joey Lewis getting his throat cut. It was a personal thing.

2: That was during the Depression.

LUCAS: They didn’t muscle in. They didn’t bother me.

INTERVIEWER: As long as you weren’t a big star.

LUCAS: Nobody ever muscled in on me. And I know all the boys. They always treated me beautifully. Just like these guys. A lot of these guys I went to school with. I went to school with a lot of these fellows. As I said before, I went my way and but down there they’re all big shots.

INTERVIEWER: No involvement in anyway. They run the nightclub.

LUCAS: And a lot of my Jewish boy friends are in Cleveland, Rory Climan. Ron Belieze and all those guys.

INTERVIEWER: Since the 40's all the top singers were backed. We’re not going to use this.

LUCAS: You know darn well that Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Jerry Vale and all those. He said, "Listen I can go to bed here tonight, anybody ever comes to me I will cut him so hard." I’d have to say no. They never bothered me. Why? I don’t know.

INTERVIEWER: It was a different era.

LUCAS: I knew Longas Willman, and Jimmy Rutker. And I knew all these guys. We lived in the same apartment. Say, "Why are you worrying about Nick for? He makes a good living, let him alone."

2: He grew up in the business, with those guys. If you had been born ten years later then you would have paid those dues.

INTERVIEWER: In other words if you were starting in the later thirties or early forties...

2: Forget it. If you were Italian you would have to be in.

LUCAS: I don’t think I would want to. If someone came to me and said, "Well listen I can get you so-and-so at the Regis, get you seventy-five hundred." But you know you got to pay the mob a hundred thousand. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. It’s my money. I’m not rich but I don’t have to worry about it.

INTERVIEWER: But once you are involved they own you. They call the shots. You have to do what they want.

LUCAS: Now this guy that I spoke to, Richard Viarte, in Vegas. He said, "You got to say, ‘Well, I want to say hello’ if you don’t then they go through the docker. That’s how they operate. They got a call in to his lieutenant, Andy Girard, I just spoke to him. I said, "Well, jeez, I got to go face this, I’m staying home purposely trying to arrange it for tomorrow. So, you know what, I’ll do it when I come back." but then tomorrow night, the party they’re giving me, boy, are they rough on breaks. But they love me. All I have to say is so and so and they go, "Where is he?" And I got all these pictures that are autographed of these guys.

INTERVIEWER: They wanted one picture to autograph.

LUCAS: I got all these pictures. This Carlton McIntire, my buddy. See, Mike, Viad, got them autographed. Here’s a hell of an old racketeer. Representing North Ward Italian Association. You think I’m kidding you?

INTERVIEWER: Oh, no, no, I know. You don’t have a picture for us?

LUCAS: Yeah, I’ll get you one.

2: Now the Vaudeville thing went dead. Now at that time were you doing any steady radio work at that time?

LUCAS: Oh, yeah. In the interim there, in between, I was on NBC. I had my own show.

2: Fifteen minute show?

LUCAS: Yes, fifteen minutes. Three times a week.

2: Sponsored?

LUCAS: Sustaining and it was sponsored. Then I had the same thing on Columbia. And a fellow by the name, Ralph Wandis. Fellow by the name of Jerry Cologne was playing trombone, Freddie Rich was the leader. Remember?

2: Sure.

LUCAS: We played golf together. I beat him for five bucks. Let’s double up. He’d double up until he won. Sure, I had my own radio show. But you see, the thing that I, as you said before, Frank, I was a little premature. If in those days they had television I’d have made my millions and been out of it already. But today it is the greatest thing for me to crash into television. Why? I don’t know. I did great on the Johnny Carson Show.

2: But they don’t ask you back.

LUCAS: No. I don’t know why. The only thing is there are two ways to creep up on them. Through record....

INTERVIEWER: Records. Or an LP or something that takes off.

2: You get a record; they’ve got to have you.

LUCAS: That’s how you can creep up on them and another thing that’s he’s working on, commercials. I’d rather have commercials. Frank, am I right?

INTERVIEWER: Tell me is Danny Hope managing you now?

LUCAS: No, he’s just... Danny Hope I’ve known all my life. He negotiated this deal, now he’s inspired. He’s got a few things. Now this other guy came to me the other day about Meadowbrook. I said, "Fine, Fine."

INTERVIEWER: If you can get the St. Regis, that would be beautiful.

LUCAS: Follow me and I’ll take you all the way and show you I’m right. Now if I get an album, I get a hit album, and I get a little more exposure here, then when I go to the St. Regis...

2: You can name your shot.

LUCAS: Not only that, I know I’ll have a little more confidence about drawing people. I know I can make good, but I work best like that. All over the country.

INTERVIEWER: I’d like to work on that album idea, you know, get the material together.

LUCAS: The album idea is the greatest thing you have come up with.

INTERVIEWER: Really, I’d like to do that.

LUCAS: Because, I’ll tell you why....

INTERVIEWER: I’d love to do that. We were thinking about something like that.

LUCAS: That’s the thing you need, and with a couple of shows, the Joe Franklin shows.

2: Well, someone better than him.

INTERVIEWER: Someone bigger than him. This is only a local show.

LUCAS: But coast to coast I have so many fans.

2: How about, this week for example, on the Tonight Show Joey Bishop’s the host. Do you know Bishop at all?

LUCAS: Oh, very well.

2: So, why won’t Bishop have you? Bishop would be more likely to have you on than Carson probably would.

LUCAS: Well I don’t know.

2: When he’s the host, you see, when those substitute guys are the hosts I think they have some say as to who is going to be on the show.

INTERVIEWER: That’s right, he should put him on.

LUCAS: I’m not sure about that. I know Joey Bishop very well. He belongs to the Eages like I do. He was up last year in Atlanta when I was there. He was on the same bill as me. But Frank, I don’t know why they avoid me.

2: I don’t think it’s a question of enemies.

INTERVIEWER: He sort of took over that whole thing with Tiny Tim. He took over your song.

LUCAS: It’s not Tiny Tim’s fault.

INTERVIEWER: Tiny Tim’s out, I know.

2: It’s the youth thing. That’s what’s screwing the whole thing up.

INTERVIEWER: I’ll tell you something. There’s a wave of nostalgia. And this is the time we capitalize. This is the time we hit.

LUCAS: You know what it is? I’ll tell you what it is. He’s right. See, they got a lot of these young punks in there, understand? But soon as you come up they say, as soon as they see and hear me, they change their tune.

2: Oh yeah. It’s breaking that ice initially.

LUCAS: The fellows who saw me they couldn’t get over how I handled myself.

INTERVIEWER: You look great. The voice is there. The experience is there. I mean the show business knowledge is there.

LUCAS: He couldn’t get over it. The voice is there. I know how to do thirty minutes without any ease. But these fellows, in a way they are right too, "What does he do, this guy, Nick Lucas. What does he do?" It could be through publicity. Now everybody wants to deal with little shitty things like this.

2: For Christ’s sake, why didn’t Decca ever reissue all your records? When Tiny Tim was hot, Decca should have put out all your records. Tiptoe and all those records should have been reissued.

LUCAS: I should commercialize on it.

2: Yeah it will commercialize it.

INTERVIEWER: But he’s finished. Tiny, he’s finished.

2: He was a freak to begin with.

LUCAS: Now, you see, I can creep up. This has been a great incentive for me. Because it’s not, I didn’t make good because they felt sorry for me.

INTERVIEWER: You made good cause of talent.

LUCAS: My doctor said, "What do you do, how do you get that vitality?" Well, you don’t get that just participating.

INTERVIEWER: You took care of yourself all of your life. Are you taping this?

LUCAS: I think, Frank. Oh your name is Herb. I think you need....this has been a good thing we got together.

INTERVIEWER: I’m glad.

LUCAS: I need guys like you to go out and do a little pushing.

INTERVIEWER: I’d love to.

LUCAS: You know what I mean, like Don’s always pushing.

INTERVIEWER: I’d love to.

LUCAS: We get in the back door. We say the back door through the medium of an album. We go sneaking up on them. These young punks they'll come to you.......

INTERVIEWER: And you won't think of retiring next year? You won’t retire from the business?

LUCAS: No, but I don’t want to work as hard as that.

INTERVIEWER: You don’t need these joints.

LUCAS: I did this as a favor.

INTERVIEWER: Listen, Nick. Let me ask you something. You get to Sinatra. Do you know Frank well? Can you get to him?

LUCAS: I don’t know. I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want to go through those angles.

INTERVIEWER: With a man like Sinatra if he really likes you....

LUCAS: Now wait a minute now. Now Sinatra if he came to me.....

INTERVIEWER: He heard that you did a great thing....

LUCAS: You can smoke, go ahead.

INTERVIEWER: Oh no I don’t smoke anymore, I just hold on to this. I gave it up.

LUCAS: That’s what my wife died of, emphysema. But, Herb and Frank, I don’t want to go through those angles. I like to make it on my own.

2: I don’t blame you. I understand your point of view. And I’m not greedy. I don’t want it all. I’d rather spread it out.

INTERVIEWER: I’m just saying a man like Sinatra.

LUCAS: Instead of Uncle Sam getting it I would rather spread it out. I’d rather have you fellows get so much. I wouldn’t want to give it to a racketeer dealer.

2: Which is what you would have to do if you were working through him.

LUCAS: I haven’t done it so far.

2: You don’t have to do it.

LUCAS: And that’s why I wouldn’t. I know Sinatra. I was with him last year when I was in Palm Springs. I know his pal, Robert Kareem and all those guys. But I would never go to Sinatra and say, "Frank can you do something for me?"

INTERVIEWER: Now that’s a bad move. Unless Frank came to you. If he called you and said, "I heard you did a great show, I’d love you to do something for me."

LUCAS: This guy, Andy or Richie, said, "Why don’t you do a little something for Nick?" And if he did come to me I’d say, "Fine." but then I still would be reluctant.

INTERVIEWER: I know that.

LUCAS: I really would Herb.

2: You’d want him to come to you like an artist.

LUCAS: I really would. I mean all these years I got by on my own merits. I don’t have to worry about sharing a thing. I don’t mind giving a guy what’s due to him. But when they come over with a hammer over your head. I think that medium would be considered but we couldn’t get it through.....

INTERVIEWER: Legitimate sources.

LUCAS: It’s being done. Herb, it’s being done.

INTERVIEWER: I believe it.

----BREAK----

----END TRANSCRIPT----




Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Site Map | Musician's Guild | FAQs | Sources | Scrapbook

Copyright 2004 - 2013 Melody Man Records. All Rights Reserved.