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To those people who don't know me (and let's be honest, there are millions of you), I have been a professional singer since 1975: January 2nd of that year, to be exact.
My debut was at a small, intimate club in Amsterdam called Jerusalem of Gold. That was very appropriate as two years previously I had the great fortune to meet Jim Croce in Amsterdam. He was gracious enough to listen as I played the first two songs in this book for him. He said, "They're good; get out there and sing 'em!"
A couple of months later, the world lost a great talent and a lovely person.
Jerusalem of Gold was owned by Motke Ben Hanukkah. I remember him still, because he was one of the first club owners to believe that I had some kind of talent. I heard that he has since died, so I ask the angels to tell him I still say "Thank you."
Motke was 'Zorba' personified: a great character. He WAS Jerusalem of Gold. He would walk in and say, "Shechet Momzerin." (quiet, you bastards!); that was his catch phrase.
I sang three sets a night of about four songs per set, which was good because I only knew ten songs back then. The crowd would change, so each set was fresh each time. From this humble beginning, I managed to secure some gigs in Paris and Brussels, taking trains back and forth. I tried London after that and did a few gigs here and there, but nothing special really happened because of them.
I did, however, have a chance meetings with a singer/songwriter I admired. I stayed home for a time in the Executive Hotel in Chelsea. I arrived back at the hotel around 11:30 pm and there was a person lying on the floor of the elevator with the door opening and closing on his head! I went to the front desk to report this and the guy there said, "I guess that's Mr. Hardin."
Between the two of us, we got this guy to his room; he was completely wasted. I saw him at a (late) breakfast and asked how he was feeling. He said, "Kinda o.k." He introduced himself: Tim Hardin, a great if under-appreciated song writer. He had just had a hit with Bobby Darin singing If I Were a Carpenter.
Tim hated what Bobby did to his song. He thought of Darin as a lounge lizard and vowed to have more control over his songs in the future. It didn't happen.
Tim invited me to a performance of his at Biba Department Store. They had a show room on the top floor. It looked like a scene from an Agatha Christie novel: potted palms, a dance floor and stained glass skylights. It was a great place.
Tim's performance still stays with me. I think I absorbed some of Tim's intensity of performance which is evident in my work to this day. He told me NEVER sing a song I didn't believe in. In his memory and honor, I live up to that maxim at every performance. Thanks you Tim; you gave me the right message at the right time.