Saturday, January 09, 2010


"What, no actual Bobby?"

The Illfolks tribute/remembrance to Bobby Cole last December 19th featured one of Bobby's songs covered by Nancy Sinatra. Which led a few fans to ask if there wasn't something of Bobby's to post...something not on the Columbia or Concentric albums? Maybe a rare single?

How about a rare demo? Here's Bobby and his trio's up-tempo take on "The Big Hurt." It's a good example of Bobby in lounge mode, fitting comfortably into the Tony Bennett, Vic Damone and Bobby Darin scene, working Vegas, wearing a tux.

This is, in fact, the Bobby who impressed Frank Sinatra, the Bobby that Judy Garland fell in love with, and the one who you may have seen on Judy's TV show when he was also her music arranger.

In his later years, sitting at the piano at Judy's (a terrible nightclub named after Garland and run by an asshole) or Campagnola or Ali Baba, Bobby's take on "The Big Hurt" was slower, more pained...not the chirp of the original Toni Fischer, or the rockin' angst of the Del Shannon cover...something far more unique. Well, this version is pretty unique, too. Here, early in his career, Bobby gives it the heroic swagger also found in Darin rejoicing at the the murders committed by Mack the Knife, or Bennett, swingin' his way through "I Wanna Be Around," acting way too strong to keep on hurting. Cole's version of "The Big Hurt" does suggest that one day the big hurt will end...and that it will be a happy ending.


Addendum: It's really time to debunk the mythology of Bobby's death. As in this load of bilge: "It was outside Campagnola that Bobby Cole died in a tragic way. After his performance on December 19, 1996, he apparently fell, cracking his head on the curb, where he lay motionless for some time until someone finally called 911." No. Whatever moronic outsider babbled this got it completely wrong, which is not surprising considering that some of Bobby's "friends" hadn't actually seen him in years, and others were not particularly well liked by Bobby (a good reason why he didn't want to keep in touch with them). A few, older than Bobby, simply used up the expiration date on their brains and had become redundant nostalgic putzes forever going on and on about Sinatra and Jilly's and the hep world they used to know. So it's no surprise that one inept moron spread a half-truth that is now taken as fact.

The truth is that Bobby had not performed at Campagnola in some time, which was not unusual. He sometimes disappeared for a few days, or a week, or longer. He did not perform there on December 19th. Anyone who knows Campgnola knows that at any hour, even 2am, there's street traffic in front of the joint, a lot of action, and nobody's going to let a person lie unconscious. There was no snow or wet rain on the sidewalk that night. The truth is that Bobby was seen one block up from Campagnola, in obvious distress. A bartender, ironically enough, saw it all through his plate glass window. He saw Bobby hold a lamp post, and slowly sink. A stroke? A heart attack? Bobby was not in good shape at the time so either is possible. He didn't slip, fall and hit his head. He collapsed slowly, and an ambulance arrived very quickly. His girlfriend would later identify the body; not Jack Lonshein, not a goofy ex-drummer in Bobby's trio, not Salvatore of Campagnola, not whoever made up the Christmas fairy tale of Bobby, a survivor of car crashes and a lot worse, slipping on a pavement.

1 comment:

the jazzman said...

Imagine my surprise when I wandered into your blog doing a search on "The Windmills Of Your Mind". You apparently met and knew Bobby Cole. Do we know each other? Who are you? I see where you used my picture of Bobby on the insert of the Freddie Cole album. I spent years taking pictures of Bobby. Do you know Jack Lonshein? I've checked the follow up so if you respond I will know it.