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JP1000
06 September 2007 @ 06:14 am

At about 3:00 this morning the phone rang. Even though I knew the call would be coming soon, it didn't make it any easier. And like a cascading waterfall of images, the many years Luciano and I spent together went rushing through my mind.


                          

Many times I had been asked over the years, "Are you two ever going to play together again?" The possibility had always been there. As of 2:43 AM this morning, (8:43 AM Rome time), that possibility forever ended.

It's funny how at a time like this the first thoughts I had were not what I imagined they'd be. Not the grueling schedule of one-nighters, or the endless parade of loose women, or searching for an all night Cheese eatery that carried perfectly aged Robiola (and no one knew exactly how old the Robiola had to be except Luciano), or laughing & drinking until sun up wishing the nights would never end. No, the first thing that crossed my mind was our vicious, venomous breakup and how I swore like hell I would never perform with Pavarotti again!

Luciano not only had a serious drinking problem, as many of you know, but he also had the foulest, most toxic, uncontrollable temper I had ever come across. Personally, I built up quite a tolerance to it, but seeing the way he treated women ("2-legged toilets", he always called them. "Receptacles for my debris"), was something I never got used to! 

Even his mother.


In December 1985, just before Christmas, his mother traveled all the way from Modena in north-central Italy to see a performance we were giving in Youngstown, Ohio. One of the nastiest, God-forsaken hell holes on earth. Luciano had promised to take care of accommodations for her when she arrived. The day of the show, as her flight was coming in at about 6 PM, Luciano had STILL made no preparations for her! While we had booked a flight after the show to Toronto (having no intention of staying one extra minute in Youngstown), Luciano decided, at the last minute, to get out the Yellow pages to see what was available for her in the area. He found a place called Hanks Hotel off of Route 46. He called to see if they had any vacancies. The man who answered the phone (probably Hank) asked Luciano how many hours he'd need the room for. When Luciano heard this he laughed so hard I thought he would burst a blood vessel! He told the man 6 hours and said, "That will be plenty for mama!" And then proceeded to laugh hysterically again for several minutes.


From what I understand, at 4 AM the next morning, they knocked on her door and told her to leave saying, "Your 6 hours are up!" For years after, Luciano would often say to himself, out loud, "Your 6 hours are up!", and then howl in fits of uncontrollable laughter recalling what he had put his mother through.
 


                      


Another time, when we were playing a one-nighter in Sacramento, Pavarotti was feeling restless. He would often roam the streets before a performance and find the seediest dives to spend a few hours drinking in. On this one particular occasion, he had gotten himself broiled to the gills and was in no condition to perform. I told him that we would have to cancel the performance, but the 'Great Maestro' would have none of it. "These people are swine", he said. "If all I did was piss on the stage they would cheer!" So, we went ahead with the show.


We were about 10 minutes into the first set, when Luciano looked over at me and said, "Oh, God no!" I could see something was terribly wrong. Then his eyes rolled back in his head, he started frothing at the mouth, and fell backwards off the platform. After he had an unexpected bowel movement while lying on the floor, I asked him if he wanted me to get a doctor. After spitting out what looked like a chunk of lard, but was most likely part of his stomach lining, he said, "No, no, no.. I'll be fine. Help me up". It took about 7 men to get him up off the ground and back on the stage. The smell that was emanating from his body was the foulest, most pungent, overpowering odor it was ever my misfortune to inhale.

While we would continue playing together for about another year longer, I knew that it was only a matter of time before we would have to go our seperate ways.

They say it is not nice to speak ill of the dead, and that our thoughts of them should be positive ones. While Pavarotti clearly had more faults than he had virtues, and recalling his life as anything other than a tragically grotesque spectacle would be a lie, he did leave me with one thought which I will always treasure. He once told me, "It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others."

Goodbye, Luciano Pavarotti. It was fun while it lasted.