Dear Friends ... As it is Christmas Eve, I felt you might, once again, enjoy this music I sang for Merv Griffin's Christmas show. My participation was unexpected, exciting and fun. It happened like this ...
I had just arrived in Los Angeles, having sung the last performance of Tosca, with the New York City Opera, the night before. Our company had arrived in L. A. for our annual month-long visit and for some reason-I disremember why-I was driving up Vine St. in Hollywood and passed the Merv Griffin Theater. On an impulse, I pulled into a gas station and called him.
The operator answered and I said, "This is Dick Fredricks. May I speak to Merv, please." "One moment, please.", the line was silent for about ten seconds and she came back on with, "Did you say Richard Fredricks?" I replied in the affirmative and she said, "Don't hang up, don't hang up!" Ten seconds later, "Dick ... where are you!" "Two blocks away, in a gas station." "Get over here!"
I drove into the parking lot and Merv's lovely assistant was there with two big body guards, waving me into a parking space. I was hastily ushered upstairs to Make-up, where they were putting the finishing touches on Merv.
"Where have you been ... I've been trying to get in touch with you for three days!" I told him, "I was either in my apartment or on stage at City Opera. What's goin' on?"
"Last Summer, I took my cast and crew to Jerusalem for the filming and we have just finished cutting the show ... and found we're 10 minutes short. I thought maybe you could sing a few Christmas Carols, to fill it in!"
" You mean like ... " and I sang a few bars of JIngle Bells ...
"No no no ... think about it and call me in an hour."
I dutifully called and said, "Why waste it on Carols? Why don't I sing ' 'O Holy Night' and 'The Lord's Prayer?'"
"Great!" he said. "Here's Mort Lindsay!" He handed me off to his music director and Mort asked me the keys for the songs and I told him "Both in C and the first two verses of O Holy, with the final ending!" Mort said he'd have to write an arrangement for O Holy Night.
Then back to Merv, "Can you toe the mark at 4:00 tomorrow?" "You bet!"
The next day, as I toed my Mark-with Merv pacing forth and back in front of me, I asked, "Hey, how do we make me legal?" "You ever been to Israel?" "Yessir, I sang four concerts with Johnny Green-five Academy Awards and fourteen nominations-with the Israeli Symphony, two in Haifa and two in Jerusalem."
Merv said, "Yer legal ... Look behind you!" ... and I was standing on the wall, overlooking Jerusalem and the Mosque!" For the O Holy Night there was a transparency of the late evening over Jerusalem.
"Do you want to rehearse?" asked Mort. "No, why not just try for a take!" We got them both, on one take each! Ain't Showbiz neat?
Merrry, Merry Chrismas, With Love! ;-) Richard
O HOLY NIGHT
THE LORD'S PRAYER
CLICK LINKS BELOW TO VIEW PREVIOUS TIPS... FEBRUARY 2018
A MASTER CLASS LETTER