Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
I was saddened by the news that we have lost Eydie Gorme. Eydie was one of the last female singers that came from the Big Band singing tradition. If memory serves me correctly, she sang with the Charlie Spivak Orchestra. Then her big break came when she was chosen with Steve Lawrence and Andy Williams to be the singers on the Steve Allen Tonight Show. (Yes, that is where she met Lawrence, who became her husband.)
Eydie had three or four charted songs before she recorded “Blame it on the Bossa Nova.” But the song I remember best was a track from her album, “Introducing Eydie Gorme,” and that was, “I’ll Take Romance.” She ends the song hitting high C over C and when hearing it for the first time, it just about knocked my socks off. I was instantly an Eydie Gorme fan and have remained one.
I was working in Nashville, Tenn., on WAMB Radio when I was told Steve and Eydie would be in concert. On WAMB, I was allowed to be creative, so I put together a program tracing both of their hit songs from their beginning to that day. I called their record label, who called their manager, who arranged for me to call them at their home and interview them over the telephone.
Eydie, by far, had the best voice of the duo, but Steve had the most hit records. I was interested in the very first album I had of Eydie where I heard “I’ll Take Romance.” Eydie said that Don Costa, who directed the orchestra on the recording session and did the arranging, told her to hit that note as if someone had set her “sans clothing” on a hot radiator and make that high C stand out. Boy, did she hit it!
The gossip around the disc jockey circuit was that Eydie was sort of a, well, it rhymes with witch. The gossip was as wrong as wrong can be. The night of their performance, my daughter Laura and I were invited backstage to meet the two and Al Caiola, who was directing the orchestra. (He had the big instrumental hit, “Theme,” from “The Magnificent Seven.”)
Eydie was kind and sweet, and it was a night I will always remember.
With Eydie’s passing, the singers who can stand in front of sheet music, read the notes and the lyrics and sing the song are getting fewer and fewer.
My little touch of time and place with Steve and Eydie will be remembered as well as the program I put on the air mixing an interview with music from the two of them. That kind of radio show seems to have faded into history. I miss that, and I certainly will miss the voice of Eydie Gorme.
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.