It was a vintage New York kind of night. We had tickets to see the fabulous Miss Peggy Lee who was still singing and swinging at the age of 72 albeit from the confines of a wheelchair. Our ex-pat Aussie contingent included Peggy’s greatest fan Stephen MacLean, who wrote the film ‘Starstruck’ and the original book ‘The Boy From Oz’; and his fellow ‘GTK’ reporter Lyndall Hobbs who was dating Al Pacino at the time.
The lights went down and a pin spot snapped on to reveal a giant glinting ring on a finger clicking in perfect time to the intro of one of the most recognisable songs in showbiz. The spotlight widened to reveal the owner of the hand and Peggy slipped into what would’ve been the gazillionth rendition of her signature tune ‘Fever’. But for us it felt like a world premiere.
She wheeled around the stage in a most surreal manner and the hits kept coming. Our booth at the Hilton Hotel was bathed in a wonderful aura of joy. Those lush lyrics delivered up with Ms Lee’s legendary phrasing was like drinking a magical elixir.
After the show we went backstage to express our appreciation and the fabulous Fran Moore snapped this classic pic. The deed accomplished and the moment recorded we floated out into the street where Al hailed a cab. Being the New York legend that he is, he had the taxi driver eating out of his hand all the way home.
Sadly two of that party are no longer with us – Stephen died in 2006, four years after Peggy. But at least we have their songs, films and writing to comfort, regale and move us in equal measures.