Me, Miss M, and a Memorable Birthday
In 1973, I had dinner with Bette Midler and her then boyfriend/manager in Cleveland. It was to promote her first album on Atlantic Records in 1973, which contained the single “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." It was Bette’s homage to the Andrew Sisters, whom she idolized. I sat next to Bette, and we had a nice conversation about a lot of nothing. When she got back to New York, she sent me a poster with the inscription “To Chuck, Remembering that night in June, Bette Midler,” which was a reference to our dinner. I framed the poster and kept it for many years, until I met the McCoys of Arkansas. Tom McCoy was a friend of Jim vonGremp’s and an investor, along with Jim, in our Joplin Missouri radio properties. His wife was nuts for Bette Midler, so I gave the framed, autographed poster of Bette Midler to her. I hope she took better care of it than I did. In 1974, Bette was showcasing for industry heavies at a club in San Francisco at the same time as my birthday. Jerry Greenberg invited me to come to San Francisco and be his guest at the show and celebrate my birthday. I walked into the bar area of the club, and what a huge surprise awaited me. My son, who worked for Atlantic Records at the time, was sitting at the bar. I walked in and was happily shocked to see my boy sitting there. We went to the performance room in the back and enjoyed the show while I drank too much and got sick. I am not a drinker, so it took very little to get me sick on alcohol. In the middle of Bette’s set, I rushed out the side door where I puked for several minutes in the alley. Don Graham, a major record promoter, was behind me saying, “I hope you die.” I guess I wasn’t playing his songs. I threw up in the limo all the way back to the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel. That called for a massive tip. The next day, I owed a lot of apologies to Bette Midler, Jerry Greenberg, and most of all, to my wonderful son.