Do you have a bucket list?
I do, and pretty much always have beginning back to my teenage days.
In 2008 Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson appeared in the movie "The Bucket List" and thus helped popularize this idea. The idea being that before one dies they have a list of things they want to do. Freeman and Nicholson were two people who had a terminal illness and before their demise had things they wanted to see and do.
I guess I have always had a bucket list in one way or another. Beginning in my teenage years there has always been performers and certain sports figures I wanted to see, and in some cases meet. Being a product of the late 50s' most of those performers were from that time. Yes, many of them were famous, others not so well known. Over the years, yes, I saw Elvis. Oh my, and Sinatra many times. I was even at his 80th birthday performance in New Jersey. Little Richard, Jerry Lee (Lewis) Fats (Domino), Chuck (Berry) all of these numerous times. Saw Rick Nelson, Carl Perkins and the legendary Buddy Holly once at an outdoor venue in northern Indiana.
One of my favorite performers was Johnny Tillotson, a young man from a small town in Florida. I remember the first time I heard a song he released in 1959 called "Dreamy Eyes." I was a senior in high school in 1960 and I was driving down Wabash Avenue on a warm Indiana summer night in a 1955 Thunderbird with the top down when the song came on the radio. The local station, WBOW, and our local DJ who went by the initials JA (Jim Austin) played the song. Later I saw Johnny Tillotson in one of Dick Clark's road shows. I became a fan of Johnny Tillotson after hearing that very first song. Tillotson went on to have a very successful career in the pop/country and adult contemporary field of music. In 1960, my senior year in high school, he had a number one hit with a song "Poetry In Motion." In 1962 he had a hit with a song he wrote and was later recorded by Presley, "It Keeps Right on A Hurtin'."
Well, my bucket list wish was even more than I might have imagined. I had always wanted to meet Tillotson. For countless hours I have listened to him (and 50s' others) and played his records often while driving my old corvette. Even all these years later he still adds so much to a summer night, top down and just cruising down the road with Johnny Tillotson singing, "Pledging my Love," "Earth Angel" and many other such songs.
During this cruise my wife and I had the good fortune to meet Johnny and his wife, Nancy. I am always somewhat hesitant to take too much of a well known person's time. I don't want to be one of those people (fans) who is not respectful of another person's time and space. Johnny and his wife were so kind and generous with their time as each evening at dinner we sat at neighboring tables. They openly shared conversation with my wife and I and the other couple that was with us. Much of that conversation being about his career and questions I had often wondered about. I thought I would never have the opportunity to be with him in person.
After the cruise and some time spent in Florida, my wife and I were driving back to our home in Tennessee. We were driving on the interstate and my cell phone rang. My wife answered my phone, spoke for a moment with the caller and then handed the phone to me; she said,"The call is for you." You could have knocked me over with a feather. It was Johnny Tillotson on my phone calling to speak with me.
The old baseball player/manager, Leo Durechor may have said nice guys finish last. Not always so Leo... there are nice guys who also finish first. Earlier in the week my wife said of Tillotson, "He should have the label Gentleman Johnny."
Now how about that for a bucket list finish? A week with a bucket list wish and then "He" calls.
February 24, 2015