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End of an Era


Steve Nathan

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Libeace made more money is his day than any other star. I remember one night he was on the Johnny Carson Show....Johnny loved him and had in on often. Lee sat down at a full concert grand Steinway that was covered with with cut crystal, diamonds, and other precious stones. It was beautiful. After Lee played Johnny moved him over to the Ed McMahon chair and Johnny said "Gosh Lee, that's some kind of piano.". Lee said "Oh, you like it Johnny? It is very rare and expensive...it cost over $500,000 to make. (And that was back in '70s dollars) And Johnny, there are only two of them in the entire world" (Audience gasps)...and Liberace says in a factual way.. "And I own them both". Johnny just cracked up, in fact the whole audience went crazy. They loved their Liberace. Lee was a showman but he was also a player. Check out some of his YouTube stuff.
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The funny thing about Liberace is that this thread is kind of an metaphor for the man himself: After Steve posted it it kind of sunk down a ways and remained unexplored and posted in for awhile.

 

As a young player I didn't know who the hell Liberace really was. I was never exposed to his playing nor what he was all about. I learned classical piano, then got into blues, church music, then jazz, then everything else. Never at any point did Liberace greet me along that path. I was too young to know who he was from really seeing him on TV myself (I was 6 when he died), and when I went back to study the greats, it went from European Classical masters to all the stride and blues and jazz and eventually country and many other places. So he was a homosexual showman of a piano player who must have influenced Elton John with his crazy style. Anything else to know about him?

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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I saw him back in 1978 and loved the show. From what people have said that have met him (like Moe) he was a generous and kind guy. Sure, he was camp during an era where that was part of the entertainment world. Now everything is post-ironic hipness.

 

Actually when he had his 50s TV show, its approach was sincere but later considered camp (as true camp as defined by Susan Sontag is not self-aware). The self-aware (artificial) camp came later in his career in the 60s and 70s. That's how well he understood showmanship.

 

But he had a sizeable technique and was an amazing professional entertainer. An icon of the period, actually.

 

But most of all, he was just FUN to watch.

"The devil take the poets who dare to sing the pleasures of an artist's life." - Gottschalk

 

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Aethellis

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I remember him from the TV shows - at that point in time, with most non-metro areas only having ABC, CBS, NBC network stations to watch - there were not very many pianists featured often.

 

So he stood out, not just because of the flashy outfits (in the earlier B&W TV days, they didn't show up so much - although the trademark candelabra always stood out - but as a musician who could be playing very serious classical one moment, only to go to a show tune or pop tune a moment later - all delivered with many flourishes.

 

It was a later time period that I was old enough to hear the rumors about his personal life style - although at that point in the more reliable media, nothing except innuendo was published.

 

Regardless, it is regrettable (but not unexpected with US "culture" at its present ebb) that not enough people visited the musuem. I've never been to Vegas, so I'm one of them, and I live far enough away that Vegas has not really been an option. Hopefully, some vestige of the collected material will remain - maybe even being donated at some future point to the Smithsonian or other place where it can be displayed.

 

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Thing is, they did a HORRIBLE job advertising the Liberace Museum. I've been to Vegas 3 or 4 times, and NEVER KNEW ABOUT IT. I would have gone as I am old enough to remember him from Carson and other appearances, and I've seen snippets of his show. I'd actually stayed in the Riviera, and never knew that was his 'residency'.

 

Ah well......

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I remember seeing him on TV as a kid, and maybe my family watching him, I'm not sure. I could see if there are clips of him around on the internet, but I'm afraid I might like them.

 

I always do remember Bugs Bunny saying "I wish my brother George was here" but it was only years later that I got that joke.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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So he was a homosexual showman of a piano player who must have influenced Elton John with his crazy style. Anything else to know about him?

 

I saw him during my youth, before I started playing, and also years later when I was playing . . . and the chief difference was that watching him play once I knew what it entailed both inspired me and made me want to cut my fingers off. Talk about conflicted LOL! Simply unbelievable chops.

 

But this post also put me in mind of another flashy, gay piano-playing consummate showman (no doubt inspired by Lee and Elton in turn) who was amazing to watch and was gone far too soon . . . Peter Allen.

-Mike
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So he was a homosexual showman of a piano player who must have influenced Elton John with his crazy style. Anything else to know about him?

_________________________________________________________________

Liberace was the biggest act in the business in Vegas for years...he was on every major tv show in the country that featured music...his tours always sold out...he opened the door for the Eltons and Madonnas and GaGa's making it cool to be outrageous. He was the epitome of 50s/60s/70s show biz success...the really big time...and the really big money. And he was a kind and gentle soul always helping others.

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Didn't mean to come off harsh in my original post. It's utterly fascinating how Liberace has faded in popular knowledge and has really very little direct influence on the younger generation. His enduring legacy apparently wasn't in piano playing, but in showmanship and flashiness, and in that regard his influence is very apparent today.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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Wow, been watching Liberace videos on Youtube for an half hour. Dude was a talented performer. Really interesting videos of him playing in Vegas. I was wondering how a solo piano interactive show would go with the audience not getting bored stiff, but people were digging it!

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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We have to keep refreshing Las Vegas, he said. Thousands of people turn 21 every day. Who knows, maybe well have a Lady Gaga museum in 10 years.

 

Shoot me now. :freak::sick::facepalm:

 

Indeed.... Include me as well. We. Are. Sinking. Fast. :rolleyes:

 

No comparison between the two - considering Liberace's beyond formidable chops, decades long popularity, and ability to pull off camp - not rehashed faux camp.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

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We have to keep refreshing Las Vegas, he said. Thousands of people turn 21 every day. Who knows, maybe well have a Lady Gaga museum in 10 years.

 

Shoot me now. :freak::sick::facepalm:

 

Indeed.... Include me as well. We. Are. Sinking. Fast. :rolleyes:

 

No comparison between the two - considering Liberace's beyond formidable chops, decades long popularity, and ability to pull off camp - not rehashed faux camp.

 

+1000

"The devil take the poets who dare to sing the pleasures of an artist's life." - Gottschalk

 

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Aethellis

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I think something the younger crowd here is missing, is that there was a tradition of "showmen" (and women) who grew out of the pre-television, pre-MTV era of Vaudeville and other live shows.

Many of the early variety shows on TV were hosted by folks who were great musicians in their own right - Steve Allen, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Merv Griffin... Most of these guys and girls came out of the Vaudeville tradition of Song-And-Dance Men.

Liberace was a mega-star who traded in over-the-top color explosions of ostentatiousness in a time when the rest of the stars were wearing conservative suits and appearing in grainy black-and-white.

On top of this he was an AMAZING technician on the piano, and could play anything with an entertaining flair which brought many "regular folks" into the fold of enjoying classical music. His piano treatments of pop tunes weren't bad, either, but they'd be considered schmaltz by today's standards.

 

Another quote, along the lines of B3Bluesman's anecdote, was from when he would play something on the piano, hands adorned with HUGE rings made of diamonds and other precious stones, glittering and gaudy.

He'd hold them up to the camera and say: "As long as you enjoy seeing them, believe me, I enjoy wearing them," "Well, what do you think? Too much?," and "Do you want to see the rings? Why not, right? After all, you paid for them."

http://snarkerati.com/movie-news/files/2008/09/2_liberace6.jpg

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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We have to keep refreshing Las Vegas, he said. Thousands of people turn 21 every day. Who knows, maybe well have a Lady Gaga museum in 10 years.

 

Shoot me now. :freak::sick::facepalm:

 

Indeed.... Include me as well. We. Are. Sinking. Fast. :rolleyes:

 

No comparison between the two - considering Liberace's beyond formidable chops, decades long popularity, and ability to pull off camp - not rehashed faux camp.

+1.

 

Andre Rieu is a surprisingly good fiddle player. A friend of mine who is a world-class classical dude did a duet with "Zamfir, master of the Pan Flute". :laugh: He raved about him, and this guy is super hard to impress. Even Kenny G has chops.

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I wonder if the fading of Liberace is one of those things. There were movie actors for instance that were HUGE in their day, and now, if you were to ask someone about famous old actors, these people would not be named. Maybe it's the same kind of thing, where some people develop a huge legacy and are remembered, and for some reason, others don't despite their popularity at the time.

 

Another thought is that it may be because he didn't have any hits in the top 40 (I don't think, anyway).

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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