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Brushes with Fame

Entertainment Posted by glen 6 months ago

A recent comment by Razorback sparked an idea for this discussion: have you had any brushes with fame? I always find it fascinating to hear anecdotes about people finding themselves interacting with famous people and realizing, at the end of the day, they're more normal than we think.

For example, one time I had the opportunity to hang out with Jack Johnson before a sold out show in Kansas City. I was friend's with the drummer's cousin, and she got us backstage to hang with the band beforehand. Anyway, Jack was (unsurprisingly) the most down to earth and friendly guy you'll ever meet. We got to hang out and chat with him for a little over an hour, get a tour of the bus, and watch them warmup. It was a formative experience for my 18-year old self.

The show was held at a venue in Kansas City that happened to be on the Missouri side. During the show Jack said something to the effect of "how's it going Kansas?" and got booed (in a friendly way). This happens all the time to musicians, as the city straddles both states.

After the show he walked offstage directly to where we were watching the show, looked at me in a dark way and said, "Hey, thanks for letting me know we're actually in Missouri, Glen". I stood there frozen, partially because he remembered my name and partially because one of my musical idols had just reprimanded me. Jack busts into laughter and slaps me on the back. "Just playin', man. Let's go hit the after party."

19 replies

  • elancaster65

    I worked room service and was a cashier at the restaurant at the Westin Hotel, Williams Center in Tulsa back in the mid-80's.

    Ran into to Rita Moreno. She called me "honey". Saw Mel Torme (The Velvet Fog) standing in his room sans pants. All the rest of the tux and his plain white boxers! Saw a childhood musical fave, Roger Miller. He was pretty cool. Sir Richard Harris, regal as ever, asked if we served steak. Watched Michael Dorn, Worf from ST:TNG, park his F-86 jet and walk to the FBO in Oakland. Mother Tereas of Calcutta walked by me not 3 feet away also at the Oakland airport. Same with Robert Redford. Dang, he's short! Shook hands with Newt Gingrich in Redding during one of his stops promoting the Contract with America. Watched Peter Ustinov read a book while waiting on a plane in New York. I'm also a Close, Personal Friend of Weird Al Yankovic. Interviewed him after a concert in Redding back in 1997/98(?). He was pretty laid back and cool about the whole thing. And yes, I have the pics to prove it.

    Reply

  • jordan

    My closest brush with fame is a distant relative who was once Speaker of the House and was the featured guest at our 1995 family reunion. He signed his book for everyone, was in lots of pictures, and reflected on the positive attributes of being part of the family. We all basked in the glory of being related (distantly) to such a person of responsibility and power.

    And then several years ago, a scandal of epic proportions of his past misdeeds came to light, and we've all been hiding pictures and removing his book from our shelves ever since. I think in the end, it's better to randomly meet celebrities than be related (distantly) to one.

    Reply

  • Razorback

    As a teenager in the early 1980s, I worked for a rock n’ roll stage design and production company that has since become the #1 name in live event equipment. In those early days, we only had a handful of employees, two of which were other teen friends of mine. Because it was still so small, we had almost unlimited access to the performers we served. The facility boasted an enormous open studio that allowed us to assemble a full production stage and lighting system. Artists and their road crews would often come stay for several days or weeks to rehearse and learn how to move about the new stage.

    I have forgotten more than I remember, but here are a few worthy of note:

    ASIA – We knew about Asia before the band even released their first album. They were a huge success and some of the nicest people I have ever met. We threw a birthday party for Steve Howe (guitar player from Yes) in the studio. I also got to play Carl Palmer’s (formerly with Emerson, Lake & Palmer) drum kit.

    Olivia Newton-John – I had a serious crush on her after the movie Grease came out. We did the design and production for her Physical tour. She took us to dinner, talked to us and sometimes hugged us as if we were her own children. She asked to come along for the first few shows of her tour to help ensure every went smoothly. I was in heaven.

    The Cars – The band came to stay with us for a week as they prepared to kick off their “Shake It Up” tour in 1982. Without going into too much detail, one night, Ben Orr, the bass player and joint vocalist, and I were sitting on a couch in the mixing booth feeling mellow and enjoying a rather large bag of Doritos. Rik Ocasek apparently got into a phone argument with his supermodel girlfriend which caused him to walk into the booth, pick up a chair and throw it across the room, then walk back out. Ben and I didn’t flinch.

    We worked on such a wide range or performers from Barry Manilow to Diana Ross to Kenny Rogers and more. I remember Ozzy Osbourne being very friendly and funny. And not very sober at the time.

    There are many more from then and over the years that I have forgotten. The most recent was a few years ago. I was sitting in the terminal of the Orange County (CA) airport early one morning waiting for the first flight out. I looked up from my phone at a gentleman who was walking by. I gave him a glance but quickly realized he looked familiar. I looked up again and he smiled right at me, knowing that I had just realized who he was. It was Cuba Gooding Jr.

    Reply

    • elancaster65

      Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

      I meet a gal at the hotel I worked at who was a Ric Ocasek groupie. In her hotel room she had probably a dozen pictures of Ric with Paulina conveniently removed (pre Photoshop so a pair of scissors). She ordered one bottle of champagne, two glasses, one rose and met me at the door in the flimsiest nightie. (Eyes forward soldier!) She proceeded to explain how she and Ric were an item and was waiting for him.

      The Cars were playing in another state...

      I have plenty of oddball stories from my room service days at the Westin Hotel, Williams Center, Tulsa, OK.

      Reply

  • dewtattoo

    I have had a few "brushes" with fame (meaning they were within spitting distance of me). In 2017 alone I have run into Vince Vaughn, Drew Carry, and Chum Lee from Pawn Stars. All three were at Disneyland. All three on different days (I'm a Season Pass Holder). Vince Vaughn heard me say his name and saw my wife pointing at him. He gave her a wink and kept on walking. He was with his family and had his daughter up on his shoulders. Vince and his family are also Season Pass Holders, so they are there frequently.

    However, I have only had one experience where the celebrity actually shook my hand and spoke to me.

    The year was 1974. I was one month away from turning 6-years-old. My mom took me to Lake Tahoe so that I could see Elvis Presley in concert. He was performing at the Sahara. My mom got tickets months in advance.

    I should mention here that I was a huge Elvis fan. I still love his older stuff, before he basically became a mockery of himself.

    Anyway.... We saw the concert, and I was absolutely thrilled. I had a few Elvis 8-track tapes at home, so I knew all of the songs he sang and I sang right along with him.

    The following day my mom learned what floor he was staying on and decided to try to sneak me up there to meet him. I know it sounds like a crazy idea, but we managed to get on his floor via the stairwell. I still remember that we knew what room he was in because there were a couple of plain clothes security guys standing outside his room. My mom explained that we saw the concert the night before. We brought a couple of programs from the show with us, and asked the guards if we could get Mr. Presley's autograph.

    One guard took the two show programs and entered the room. He was in there for a while, but eventually the door opened and standing there larger than life was Elvis. He asked me my name and shook my hand. He was very friendly to my mom and I as she was telling him what a huge fan of his I was. He signed my show program right there on one of the security guys back. He signed it "To Steven, Love Elvis". He also signed one for my infant sister who was too little to come to the show. We both still have them.

    Two years later Elvis died. I can tell you exactly where I was when I heard the news, and the absolutely tremendous feeling of despair that ran threw me. I bawled. I remember thinking about Lisa Marie. She was only a few years older than me.

    So that's my story of my moment with fame. Even though the Elvis that I got to meet was the overweight and almost sickly looking version of The King. I still worshipped him and have that memory burned into my brain.

    Reply

    • Razorback

      That is freakin' awesome! I am a huge Elvis fan as well. I still remember the day he died and how our entire family cried as a unit. I salute your brush with The King!

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    • glen

      Wow, what an experience! And kudos to your mom for going full 007 and making it happen. That's very cool.

      Reply

  • My wife worked in a candy/ice cream shop in a major airport. She crossed paths with many "famous" people. Her two favorite brushes with fame were meeting Johnny Cash and Jack Lemon. She said both were extremely nice. And yes. Johnny was pretty much dressed in all black. On the other hand... many professional athletes were obnoxious jerks.

    Reply