I love Barry Manilow…always have, always will. The story I am about to tell about last night is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
But first, some history about Barry and me. We go back a LONG way…all the way back to his first appearance on Midnight Special in 1975. I was working at NBC in Compliance and Practices and I was assigned to the show this taping. There was this young man, introduced by Clive Davis and the host was Mac Davis ~ ok, be honest, who remembers him? He sat at the piano and played “Mandy.” That’s all it took for me. I was hooked.
In 1977 he came to the Universal Ampitheater…it was a large, outdoor venue at the time. We had lousy seats but I didn’t remember much about the concert. That morning I’d received the call from my Father that changed my life. My wonderful mother, Emmy, had cancer and didn’t have long to live. Through it all, Barry and I remained close. I had this cute apartment in Toluca Lake. I would blast Barry’s albums….yes, they were albums in “those” days…smoke a joint and clean! Yes, you heard me….me, Barry and pot. It was during one of those cleaning adventures, shortly after my Mom’s death, that I hit my head and wound up in the emergency room. Note to self: do not move furniture while cleaning stoned and then forget you moved the chair. But, I digress.
Fast forward twenty five years…2002. I am Executive Director at The Wellness Community in Santa Monica. A wonderful nonprofit that provides free support to people with cancer and their families. It is part of a national network, Cancer Support Community, merging with Gilda’s club and I was at the founding chapter. For some reason, I chose to share my love of all things Barry with my young staff. One of them, dear Chrystal, brought me a Barry CD. Every so often it would “appear” at the office…we would dance…it was fun. That CD is still one of the “favored six” in my car.
Present Day: A few months ago I hear Barry will be at The Greek Theater. For those of you who live in LA, bear with me as I describe The Greek. It is a wonderful outdoor venue up in the hills near the Griffith Park Observatory. It seats almost 5,000 people. My husband, Jay, worked at KEARTH radio ~ the oldies station in LA ~ for twenty years. We went to many concerts there and always had the very best seats. I can actually remember complaining we were “too close” at Chicago and my ears hurt from the sound system. What a whiny butt!
We talked about buying tickets to see Barry but I never did. Then about a month ago, a woman I’d met briefly offered tickets she’d won at a silent auction for a pet charity. I said I’d love them and they arrived in the mail. She said the tickets weren’t very good but we’d be able to see the big screen! I was excited! I checked the tickets against the seating chart and discovered they were actually pretty great…Section B…Row A…seats 2 and 4. Excellent!!
The big night arrived…we had our parking pass, bought on-line, and got there in plenty of time. We go to the seats and sit down. At that point, Jay says “I don’t think these are our seats.” I show the ticket to the attendant and she says he’s right…I did not notice one important word on the ticket…that word was BENCH.
Now those of you who know The Greek know what that means….the four rows of benches at the very, very, very tippy top of the theater. OMG.
We began the climb. And it was a climb. It is actually very pretty at the tippy top of The Greek Theater. You see OVER the top of the stage … beautiful green hills. What you don’t see very well is…well, the stage. Even the jumbo screens seem small. But, we were stuck. We were in stacked parking, which means you don’t leave until it’s over. And remember, there’s no back on a bench. Yet, we were proud we’d actually been able to climb to the tippy top of The Greek. I felt horrible. Poor Jay does not love Barry as I do and these were easily the worst seats we’d ever had anywhere…anytime. Yet, we figured even if we really couldn’t see Barry as more than a speck on the stage we’d definitely hear him well. We settled in…Bench Row B Seats 2 and 4. I had misread the tickets…badly. In a word, OY!
At 8:00PM the place was just about filled and the opening act was introduced. He was a comedian and started slow but quickly had us entertained talking about every day things like waiting in line. We were laughing out loud. Now picture this…here we are …right under the sound booth..way up in the back there..I’m sitting right the aisle.
Suddenly, there is a young man in a suit standing next to me. Where he came I will never know.
Him: “Do you like Barry?”
Me: “I love Barry.”
Him: “Would you like to sit a little closer?”
Ok, at this point, I’m thinking “insane scalper?”
Me: “Yes..do you work here?”
Him: “I work for Mr. Manilow.”
Now, I’ve been around enough to recognize the back stage pass affixed to the bottom of his suit jacket …and believe me, it quickly made perfect sense that he did work for Mr. M. Enough said?
Me: “Wow (or something equally articulate)…”
Him: “Follow me”
Jay is now looking at me like “what is this woman up to?” as I signal him to get up and follow me and Mr. Manilow’s Man.
Him: “I have to be careful no one see this.”
Now I’m sure something horrible is about to happen, but he pulls out two tickets and hands them to me.
“Just show them to the attendant and they’ll show you where to go.”
Me: “Wow (or something equally articulate)…”
Him: “If you don’t like the seats you can always come back up here.”
We start walking down….way, way down. Of course, neither Jay nor I have on the right glasses and can’t see what the tickets say.
The first attendant we hand the tickets: “These are way down there,” pointing to Section A.
We walk down some more to the back of Section A.
That attendant says: “You’re up front…Row E”.
By now we’ve looked at the tickets….
Face Value: $249.99 EACH
They were two of Barry Manilow’s house seats.
The concert was amazing.
And they played the clip from that 1975 Midnight Special show and he sang “Mandy” along with it.
Really…what are the odds?
I surely hope I said “thank you.”