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A Surprise Studio Day...Zambonie Story...A Well Placed Ax

Oct 15 | Posted by: Bill Whyte |

So beautiful in Tennessee right now.  Leaves are turning, temps are down.  Gorgeous.



I was all set up for Wednesday thinking I was writing with Gerald Smith and Janelle Arthur. Janelle texted and had something come up, so it was going to be just Gerald and me by our lonesome. And then, working ahead on my calendar I sent a quick note to both Jimmy Fortune and Sydni Perry to remind them of our recording session that I THOUGHT was Thursday when Sydni texted back and said, “uh Bill…the session is TODAY”. Panic!  I quickly rescheduled Gerald and Janelle for this morning and went into the recording studio yesterday afternoon with Jimmy & Sydni.


And boy did Jimmy AND Sydni each sing the heck out of a song we wrote to honor my now late second Mom Dean Raymer who passed a week or so ago. I’m SO proud of this song. Jimmy wrote just the perfect melody for it and I had to not think too much about what the lyrics were saying, or I could not have gotten through the session. “How Lucky Am I? How Lucky Am I To Have Something That Makes Saying Goodbye So Hard”. 


My thanks to Joe Dan Cornett my guy at Billy Blue Publishing for loving the song too and getting us quickly into one of the studios our company owns to record this.  And thanks to Anthony for producing and mixing the song that’s now ready to pitch to other artists in hopes that this song will find a home and then touch other folks like it has me. Just a great day with great friends creating something pretty special yesterday.



I caught some of the playoff baseball action last night.  The Dodgers woke up big time against the Braves and scored 11 times in the first inning to that game was over early. And the Astros managed to not get eliminated by the Tampa Bay Rays so that series will continue too.  And in between I watched the start of a new season of “Amazing Race” one of my favorite reality-based shows. I don’t think I’ve missed any of those through the years. 


For the record the host Phil Keoghan is a really nice man. I interviewed him in studio once for my morning show in Cincinnati at WUBE when he dropped by to promote the show one season. He could not have been a nicer guy. We even got a photo that’s on my website somewhere of me and my radio partner Amanda Orlando and young producer Jason Statt standing with backpacks in front of Phil with him telling us, “unfortunately, you’re the last team to arrive and you’ve been eliminated from the Amazing Race”. 



Europe is having a second wave of the virus. So much so that Paris has installed a curfew again. 


Here in the US Los Angeles cancelled all trick or treating for Halloween to be safe. And Dr. Fauci is suggesting with a second wave this Fall that we should only sit at a Thanksgiving table this year with folks in our own homes and not take outside guests or company in.  Well, that should increase my chances of winning the wishbone.


There are a few countries Americans can fly into without testing.  Mexico is one of them along with Brazil, Turkey and a few others. With that in mind my friend Brent Burns and I are kicking around a Mexico trip Parrot Head comedy trip next year at a resort. We’ll be inviting Parrot Heads and friends to come with us and enjoy some funny songs from Brent and me and our equally funny friend Matt Hoggatt from Mississippi.  Stay tuned for details.



Not something you see every day. A Zamboni machine…those machines that smooth the ice at hockey arenas?  One caught fire on the rink in Rochester, Minnesota up where my sister Rita lives. She’s got some grandkids that play hockey up there.  Wonder if that’s their rink?  They’re gonna need to do a fundraiser for a new Zamboni machine.



I do have a great personal story about Zamboni believe it or not.  I was doing the morning radio show in Milwaukee when I got a call one day from the PR person for the Milwaukee Admirals.  The Admirals are now the minor league hockey team that feeds players to our NHL team here in Nashville the Predators.


The Admirals played their games at the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee. That arena was basically given to the city by the richest folks in town Lloyd Pettit and his wife. Lloyd used to broadcast Chicago Blackhawk games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.


So…the phone call.  Every night at the Admiral games the big screen scoreboard above the arena would play the “Zamboni” song. Catchy…and everyone sings along.  Well Lloyd Pettit decided he wanted to do a video of the song starring himself singing that song. So, the PR person asked if I would take a look at the lyrics and fix or help make it better any way I could.  So here I am scratching and deleting lyrics of the most powerful man in Milwaukee. I send it back and then get ANOTHER call requesting I come to one of the games with my guitar and go up in the owner’s box to sing my version of Lloyd’s song to him and his wife Jane and two other very rich friends of theirs.  Gulp.  I was so nervous. So, I go.  I take my Ovation guitar and there in the luxury seat I sing it for them.  Lloyd loved it.  Thank God.  I’m outta there…and done, I think. Nope…there’s more to the story.


I get yet one more call telling me they are filming Mr. Pettit singing the song and that he can’t really sing. And they request my help again.  I go to this studio where Mr. Pettit is sitting in front of a microphone trying to sing this song.  His problem was not only was he not a great singer, he had no rhythm and the words he sang didn’t sync with the music. The solution?  I pulled up a stool next to him in the studio and told him that every time it was time for him to sing, I would poke his arm (out of camera shot) and would poke it again when he needed to stop. Can you imagine that? Piece by piece it came together, and we got the job done. And he was grateful and had the best time.


One last phone call came from the Admirals to complete this Zamboni story. They told me Lloyd was thrilled with the way it turned out and they were going to use the video they produced every night at the games. They even included Bob Uecker in the dang thing. They asked me “what do you want” for my time and effort…name my price. I wasn’t expecting that actually.  But I told them I didn’t want any money. My only request was that they put my name in the video…” written by and partially produced by Bill Whyte heard weekday mornings on FM*106.  And so they did.  And every night for several years folks at the game would see that. Great publicity for my show…and the memory is even greater. In my living room is a framed picture of me and Lloyd sitting on stools in that recording studio. 



Every now and then I like to share a song I’ve found that lights me up. The country group Shenandoah featuring lead singer Marty Raybon got together after all these years to record a new album. Each track features a guest…and it’s a great guest list of folks who also were fans of the group and Marty’s iconic voice.  Here’s the song the group recorded with another great group Lady A. Check out "Every Time I Look At You".



On Veterans Day this year the Army will open a National Museum in Fort Belvoir,Virginia. I had just figured the Army had a National Museum…but no…not until this November. Something to put on my list to see as I love those kinds of museums. The World War II Museum in New Orleans is high on my wanna see list too.




Is new again when it comes to TV shows.  NBC has taken the old movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” and is turning it into a TV series that will star Reba!  And she’ll be an executive producer too. Talk about someone who’s reinvented themselves successfully a few times.  That would be the red headed Reba.



Wonder if they have a college for those who want to become tattoo artists?  If not, they should. Just so someone could say “I graduated Tattoo U”. 


With that in mind check out this tattoo an artist did on the back of some dude’s head that looks like a HOLE. Remarkable work…and I’m not a tattoo fan. This one is not only cool, but it will the wearer to nod when someone says, “you must have a hole in your head”.


And if you’re wondering.  The musical star who has the most tattoos?  That would be Eminem. 28 of those bad boys if your counting.


I’ll never get one…not my thing.  But if I was FORCED to?  I get the artist to stencil in tiny letters a tattoo that says, “If you can read this you’re too close…back off”.



Steve Martin has always been one of my favorite comedians-actors…and he’s a heck of a legit banjo player too. Steve may have the timeliest Halloween costume this year.  Check out the Steve Martin-fly on Mike Pence head costume for this year. Scary.



Some magazine threw out the question for their readers, “what’s the weirdest thing by your bedside”?  The winner?  Some guy claims he keeps a throwing ax by his bed. Okay then. And now I can’t get that picture of the late actor Ed Ames tossing his ax on the Carson show one night that landed in a place that broke up the studio and Ed himself. What's great about this old clip for me is watching how Johnny was patient and milked the laugh for all it was worth without saying a word. And when he finally did...his line is classic. Just the best late night show host ever.



So, today I will indeed write with Janelle Arthur and Gerald Smith to make up for the cancellation yesterday. Gerald just recorded a song about an old-fashioned church that we wrote together. Those small churches that had no air conditioners that I remember sweating in when I was young.  The song is titled “Prayer Conditioned”.  Should be a fun day.


Have a great Wednesday!








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