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Available at Joey's website:

For those of you who don’t know who Joey Dee is, you may recall a terrific song in the film American Graffiti called Peppermint Twist. Well, that was written by Joey Dee and performed by Joey Dee and the Starliters and was No.1 in the USA in 1961. Joey has had an extraordinary life and still performs to this day. In the past he has had Jimi Hendrix and Joe Pesci in his band, has had The Beatles supporting him and rubbed shoulders – sometimes danced with – some of the most famous people from the 60s. Now all written down for your enjoyment and astonishment in his autobiography, Peppermint Twist Chronicles, here he gives us a taste of the book and having read it, I can assure you that what we talk about here is only 5% of it. Without further ado then...


Q: Joey Dee…well I must say this is an honour I never thought I would have. Thanks very much for the interview.


JD: This is my pleasure. I’m so thrilled; my grandchildren are so excited! When I told them ‘Japan’ they couldn’t believe it.


1950s New Jersey and New York

Q: A lot of my generation, particularly from the UK, know nothing about the NY scene in the 50s and 60s and your book goes a long way to addressing that and I thank you for it.


JD: You’re welcome.


Q: There are certain areas of the world that seem to produce an astonishing array of talent and New Jersey is one of them. Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Bon Jovi, Frankie Valli, Dionne Warwick, Debbie Harry, Janis Ian, yourself of course…what is it about NJ that created all that talent?


JD: I think it’s the proximity to New York City. I come from Passaic, New Jersey which is also where The Shirelles come from. We were at the same High School together and they got me my first record deal which was with Scepter Records - the same label as them – and we were eight miles from the Lincoln Tunnel. So back then when The Shirelles were coming up and I was coming up, all you had to do was drive the eight miles and there must have been several hundred independent record companies back then. You know it was The Brill Building and 1650 Broadway so we would just knock on a door and see how serendipitous we would get and I got very serendipitous (big smile).


Q: Was that tunnel in any way a barrier though? Was it an aim to get through it?

JD: No in fact all of these independent record companies would have a piano player right there because most of the groups that came in were Doo-Wop groups -they would find a key on the piano and say sing a song for us.  George Goldner was the best all that.  I don’t know if you know who George Goldner is but he is one of my favourite people in the recording business.  He would have you come in and say ‘Ok, what’s the song?’, they would sing it and the keyboardist was so astute at what they were doing they could play anything and then they he would say yay or nay – it was that quick and if he gave you a yay, that night we were in the studio.  It happened that fast.


Q: The business has certainly changed hasn’t it?


JD: it was a wonderful time to be in the music business, can now is a very tough time to be in the music business.


Q: Joey Dee and The Starliters played back-up for Bobby Rydell, Connie Francis, Fabian…


JD: Well here is how that came about.  I started out by picking the best musicians and singers he New Jersey and I ended up having the No.1 band in the State. Now I know we had the No.1 band because every year there would be a contest and we would win. A brief aside to that is that Joe Pesci was in a competing band and he could never beat us, always coming in second or third and he got so upset about it that he quit his band and joined Joey Dee and the Starliters. All the big names at the time, Bobby Rydell, Connie Francis, Frankie Avalon, when they were coming to town, they would call me up because we were the best back-up band. We were backing up all these great people and in the back of my mind I’m thinking ‘One of these days I’m going to be one of them. Peers, on the same stage together’. I didn’t have all the talent in the world but I had initiative and drive and I was determined to make it. That’s what really brought me over the top besides being in the right place at the right time: The Peppermint Lounge.


Q: With those bands that come through though, how did you learn the set?


JD: Very simple. We bought the 45 and rehearsed it.


Q: They would do more than one song though.


JD: Yeah but they did standards and we played all the standards. I’ll revert back to the fact I had the best musicians. They could read, play, improvise…I had the whole ball of wax and some of the people that were with me in the beginning of the group went on to be The Young Rascals who are in the Hall of Fame and I had a guitar player called Vinnie Corrao who went on to become Ella Fitzgerald’s musical conductor. I’m telling you, when I say I had the crem de la crem.


The Peppermint Lounge

Q: Located at 128 west 45th street in New York City, I was surprised to discover recently that the capacity was only 178 people.


JD: Yeah and here’s how that all occurred. I was working at a club call Olivieri’s in Lodi, New Jersey and…do you mind details Glenn?

Q: Not at all! Talk away!


JD: Ok I’ll give them to you. We were there on a regular night, the band was great, I went out and the genius thing I did (if I ever did a genius thing) was to go out and get the two best lead singers from two Doo-Wop groups because they couldn’t get any gigs! They didn’t have a band and couldn’t play in a bar and I had the No.1 band and all I was playing was instrumentals - Bill Doggett’s Honky Tonk and stuff like that – so I said to myself I needed to get some singers. I had a little bit of professional ability, a self-taught part business man coming from a blue-collar family and I went and got Rogers Freeman who was with a group called The Vibratones and David Brigati who became a member of The Young Rascals but then was in a group called the HI-Fives. I got these guys and again we were at Olivieri’s one night and the parking lot was packed, the place was packed and an agent was coming back from Pennsylvania to Queens (so he had to go through New Jersey), saw the big crowd, came inside and listened to a set. After the set, he called me over to his table and said ‘Do you have crowds like this all the time?’ So I said ‘Pretty much – yeah. People like us and we do get a big audience’ after which he said ‘How would you like to play in New York City?’ Well how much do kids like ice cream…what an offer this is! I asked him if he was serious and he said yes and that there was a group playing as the house band in a club called The Peppermint Lounge in Manhattan. They wanted to take off some time off and he said we would go in there on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and this was September 1960. I said we’d be delighted and he said we’d have to go over there and audition and we’d do the three days and if he likes you maybe he’ll give you some other days further down the road. We went there and played those three nights, nobody knew who we were, we didn’t have big crowds but the waitresses, bartenders, bouncers loved us so the owners knew there was something to it. Anyway, we did the three days, I figured it was all over so we went back to New Jersey and on the Monday, I get a phone call from my manager Tom Davis – he discovered us in New Jersey – that they wanted us to come back and play six nights a week. I welled up with tears that they wanted us back because we didn’t draw any people but we went back, the house band which was Jimmy Vee and The Scamps got fired and I felt sorry about that but we were on a mission to make it big.


Q: You said you were playing sets; how long were the sets?


JD: I’m glad you asked that. They were forty minutes on and twenty off. 10pm to 4am. We were in our early twenties and this was better than going to Julliard as a music school – it couldn’t have been better. We learned our craft at the Peppermint Lounge and got to be the quarter-back, the pitcher, whatever sports analogy you want to use, learned which song to call next. We had no songs of our own other than one called Lorraine and another called The Girl I Walk To School and they were good songs but they never made it. The average song back then was about two minutes and we were doing about 140 songs every night but this taught me my craft and we were doing Fats Domino, Little Richard, The Everly Brothers…David Brigati was such a great singer that he could do Johnny Mathis, Little Willie John. Rogers Freeman could do all the ballads and I did all the Rock ‘n’ Rollers so we had it covered and when we went on stage, there was no smoking, no drinking and we all wore suits. I always said to the band that ‘the people always see you before they hear you so I want you to look good’. In doing that by the way, in 1962, I became one of the 10 best dressed in the United States. I was there with John Kennedy and Dick Clark; I’m proud of that as well.


Q: As you should be! I mentioned earlier, the capacity was only 178. Somebody like the Kennedy’s walk in there or Marilyn Monroe, they got noticed!


JD: It was in the heart of the theatre district and it was surrounded by all the big plays that were on at the time. So people coming out of the theatres around 10:30pm when the show was over, they would walk down 45th Street by the Peppermint Lounge to get to their vehicles because the parking garages were in that area. This one particular night – we couldn’t have been more lucky – it was pouring rain and who walks in as I’m playing and the kids are dancing on the dance floor, Merle Oberon, the great actress, Cholly Knickerbocker who was a New York newspaper writer. They came in to get out of the weather, have a shot and wait for the rain to die down a little bit and then go to their cars. What song am I playing? Hank Ballard’s version of The Twist and Merle says to Cholly ‘You know it would probably be a hoot for me to get on and dance with these kids’ and Cholly says ‘No don’t do that’. I can hear this because the place is that small but she said no and she was going to get up and dance. Now the drinking age in New York City at the time was 18 years old. In all the surrounding states it was 21 so a lot of these kids drive in and come to see us because they liked our music. So Merle got up and was dancing with these kids and Cholly wrote about it the next day, the place got ten million dollars’ worth of publicity without spending a dime and the place became in undated with the biggest names in show business, athletics, movies, you name it. I’ll give you just a few names: Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland was there every night. Judy Garland! The Wizard of Oz! I danced with her! Shirley McClain, Jackie Kennedy, The Duke and Duchess of Bedford, they all came in. I shook hands with John Wayne and sat at his table; Lenny Bruce and I double-dated. Johnny Mathis came in and listened because Dave Brigati sang Chances Are and a couple of his other hits and he thought he was great! Johnny saw every performance he could of West Side Story which was playing near us and he then ended up doing an album but if you were anybody in the early 1960s you had to go to the Peppermint Lounge.


The Peppermint Twist

Q: Let’s talk about the song.


JD: The Peppermint Lounge was buzzing and The Twist was everywhere and I knew time was of the essence because everybody in the world was going to make a Twist record. I got people from three record companies to come and take a look; Atlantic, Capitol and Roulette Records and they all wanted to talk to me. I asked Ahemt Ertegun at Atlantic how long it would take to record it and he said ‘About four months Joey’ and that was way too long. Next was Nick Venet from Capitol and they said ‘I can probably do it in three’, Morris Levy said ‘I’ll have the record out in two weeks.’ My ears pricked up as that’s what I wanted to hear, not knowing that Morris connected with the Genovese family.


Q: You recorded it at Bell Sound I believe.


JD: Yes. That was the only song that wasn’t recorded live at the Peppermint Lounge. The album we did was recorded Live at the Peppermint Lounge and we recorded for ten days or two weeks and Henry Glover, who was a genius who did James Brown and Hank Ballard and The Midnighters and lots of others, he got the best musicians to supplement the group.


Q: Stereo?


JD: No! Bell Sound was mono back then and later when Tom Dowd came along (he became a real good friend of mine) it went to stereo.


Q: At that time, deals were not good for the artists. How was yours with Roulette?

JD: I got a horrible deal out of Roulette! As I told you, Morris was connected to the Genovese family – crime pays only for them, not for everybody else. I was on the same label when Tommy James came along, Lou Christie came along and none of those got paid. In 1962, had the No.1 record in the country, the No. 2 album which was only No.2 to Elvis’ Blue Hawaii, should that have made a couple of bucks?

Q: It should have done…


JD: Well I get my first statement and it said I owed Roulette $13,000! I’m expecting cheques for six or seven figures but never received them. I had a little agent by the name of Jolly Joyce and I said to him this was impossible and I knew who Morris was connected to by then so I didn’t want to make any waves but Jolly said ‘We’re going to get some money from this guy!’ So we go to Morris’ apartment and Jolly says ‘You’re going to give us some money or I’m going to the District Attorney’s office’. Now, Morris has all these big guys in there and all their heads spin around ready to grab this guy by the back of his neck and maybe break it – maybe mine too as I went in there with him – and he says ‘Kid, here’s how it is. I’m going to give you a cheque’. I think because my name ended in a vowel and I was Italian and I had an uncle who was connected with the Mob, he gave me a little bit more respect. If you are from Jersey and Italian, you know somebody but he had Genovese on his side and they were one of the top five crime families so you were not messing with these people but they showed me a little respect. Her gave me two cheques, one for eight thousand and one for five thousand and then later when Jolly asked for more, he called me into the office and Morris said to me ‘This is how it is. I get the record money; you get the gig money.’ I’ll tell you something, Morris had a great ear for music but he was Jewish and Jewish people were not in the Mob as you had to be Italian but he was an earner and the people that earned money for them, they were well protected. 


Peppermint Twist Chronicles

Q: Your book is just out…


JD: Yeah it’s called Peppermint Twist Chronicles. It took me eleven years to write it   and it took me two hours to write the song Peppermint Twist with Henry Glover! The book, I’m 90% proud of myself and 10% I’m not so proud of, some of the choices I made about not being good to my wife and my family. I had a wife and two boys at the time and guess what? With all the girls there, I forgot my way home. I didn’t know where I lived anymore, I stayed in the city some days five out of seven…I wasn’t a good person and I admit that. When I was writing it, I said to my wife ‘Look, a lot of this book is not going to be something… (at this point Joey pauses, takes a deep breath and struggles to find words at the memory of this moment) …something you’ll be proud of or I’ll be proud of and maybe you don’t want me to do it and that’s ok to’. She said ‘If you are going to write a book, make it real’. She’s a Jersey girl and I’m a Jersey boy so we did it. I put in all the warts, all the sores, all the blemishes and the book is extra special, not because I wrote it but because it’s real but it’s not just a musical book Glenn, it’s also history book. It’s what was going on in New York City at the time, Vietnam, birth control – what a boom that was for us! (laughs) I’d go down to the Village and see Bob Dylan at the Café Wha? I’d go see all of the great groups at the Apollo and then I got sing at the Apollo! Very few white boys got to sing at the Apollo and that was a greatest achievement was having the first integrated group that had a No. hit on Billboard magazine.


Q: I wanted to ask you about this because all the stuff going on at the moment, George Floyd, Black Lives Matter…

JD: Yeah I’m going back sixty years…sixty years and it hasn’t got it better. What is going on? I’m a first generation American, both of my parents were born in Italy and they taught me one thing and it has become my mantra and it paraphrases what Martin Luther King said which was ‘Judge people by the content of their character’. I judge people by their talent and their musicality and that’s how I picked the band and believe me, I was not welcome at all the places I went. It’s all in the book. Some of the stories in there of the guys in my band, they went through hell but I always stuck up for them and by the way, I’ve just come from the studio as I’m doing an audio version of the book because lots of people don’t read when they are driving or whatever. There are stories in there of Joe Pesci, Jimi Hendrix…Hendrix was discovered in my club, Joey Dee’s Starliter on West 46th Street by Chas Chandler. We had great times together and for me, by far, Rock ‘n’ Roll’s greatest guitar player. He came to my home in Lodi where I auditioned him. 1965 I was looking for a guitar player and I go to my drummer Jimmi Mayes who backed up The Shirelles, Martha and The Vandellas and others and I had him and my nephew go and pick up Jimi or Maurice James as I knew him at the time and bring him to my house to audition him. My nephew brings him over and he had a Jazzmaster guitar with no case. He comes in and says ‘What would you like me to play Mr Dee?’ and I said ‘First of all it’s Joey and I want you to play what you like’. He starts playing Curtis Mayfield and I’m an R&B guy and after he played it I said ‘You got the gig’. There are more stories in the book so I won’t give them all away here but you can imagine being on the road, what happened. Sex and Rock and Roll but no drugs. I never did drugs in my life which is probably why I am still here


Joey Dee

Q: Which leads me to today and I have to say, for your age you look remarkably good.

JD: Well you’re very kind and I think you need glasses. (laughs) You know what Glenn? I really feel that being in the music business and doing something I’ve loved all my life…how old do you think I am?


Q: Eighty-one, right?


JD: Wrong - I’m eighty-four. I was born in 1937. The reason is being in the music business and enjoying something I love all my life. I never went to work! I have seven children, thirteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and do you know what I tell them all? Find something that you really enjoy doing that people will pay you to do.


Q: That’s a big family Joey.

JD: I’ve been married three times to two women.


Q: What?


JD: After seven years, my first wife Joan had had enough of my philandering which as I say I’m not proud of and she got a divorce. She re-married and I married the lead singer from the Peppermint Lounge, Lois Lee so together we had seven children. Lois passed away in 2003 and Joan got divorced in 2001. One of my sons was having a birthday party and I thought I’d go to his party but he said that if I went, he didn’t think Mom would come because of the… I don’t want to call it hatred but it’s the step next to it ok? She said ‘Oh what the hell…’ and, she showed up and I showed up. This was in 2005 and we were laughing and joking and having a good time although I could tell she still hated me and I said ‘How about you and I going out for dinner?’ and she said ‘Are you nuts?’ Like I told you, she’s a Jersey girl and she used the real word (laughs) which took me aback a little bit I persevered and said ‘We’ll go out for dinner, no big deal; I’m moving to Florida’. So we went out and had a date. Then we had another date and another date and then I said ‘How would you like to move back in together?’ She gave me the same answer. The only caveat I had was that I wasn’t going to live in Jersey no more. I loved Florida so she would have to come down – she had never left New Jersey. We had been getting along very well at that time so she said she’d come down on a trial basis. She came to Florida, loved it and we remarried in Vegas in 2007 so married three time to two women. We all get along great and our families don’t call themselves step-brothers and step-sisters, they are brothers and sisters and some of them went their own way but the majority are in the music business and I tell you, they can play everything! You know I have a good ear and eye for music and the standard I have had in the past, these guys are my band now when I do perform. That’s how good they are. They are not in the band because they are my family. If they couldn’t cut it, no no no no no: they have to be good.


Q: You have certainly had an extraordinary life.


JD: It’s been marvelous.


Q: As has this chat Joey. Thank you so much for your time.


JD: Any time you like Glenn. Cheerio.


ジョーイ・ディー インタビュー

















JD:そうではなくて、独立系のレコード会社にはピアノ奏者がいたんだ。そこにやって来るのはほとんどがドゥーワップのグループで、彼らはピアノでキーを確認して歌を歌ってくれたからね。 ジョージ・ゴールドナーはその中では最高だった。ジョージ・ゴールドナーを知っているかどうかは分からないけど、彼はレコード業界で僕が最も好きな人物の一人なんだ。彼は、君が入って来ると、「よし、何の曲だ?」と言うなり、それを歌い、キーボードプレイヤーは何でも演奏できるほどの腕前を持っていて、それから彼はいいのか悪いのかを言うんだ。そのくらいの速さだったね。もし彼からOKを出されたら、その夜はずっとスタジオに居られた。そんな風に物事は速く進んでいったんだよ。












JD:ああ、でも彼らはスタンダードをやっていたし、僕らもすべてのスタンダードを演奏したよ。もう一度、最高のミュージシャンがいたという事実に立ち返ってみると、メンバーは皆譜面は読めるし、演奏もできるし、即興もできる......僕にはすべての要素が揃っていたし、グループの初期に僕と一緒にいた人の中には、ロックの殿堂入りしているヤング・ラスカルズに在籍した人もいるし、ヴィニー・コラオというギタリストがいて、彼は後にエラ・フィッツジェラルドの音楽指揮者になったんだ。僕が言うのもなんだけど、僕には "最高のものをたくり寄せる力 "があったんだよ。








JD:オーケー、じゃあ話そう。僕らは平日の夜にそこにいて、バンドは素晴らしかったんだが、僕が行なった天才的なこと(天才的なことをしたとしたら)は、2つのドゥーワップグループから2人の最高のリードシンガーを連れてくることだった。二人はまだステージに立ったこともなかったんだ!彼らはバンドを持っておらず、バーで演奏することもできず、僕はといえば、No.1のバンドを持っていたけど、演奏していたのはビル・ドゲットの「Honky Tonk」などのインストゥルメンタルばかりだった。だから僕にはシンガーが必要だと思っていたんだ。僕にはちょっとしたプロ根性があってね、ブルーカラーの家庭に生まれ、独学でビジネスを学んだ僕は、ビブラトーンズというグループで活躍していたロジャース・フリーマンと、ヤング・ラスカルズのメンバーで、その当時はハイ・ファイブというグループで活躍していたデビッド・ブリガティを雇った。そしてある晩オリビエリに出演したら、その時は駐車場も会場も満パイで、ペンシルバニアからクイーンズに戻って来るエージェントが(ニュージャージーを通らなければならなかったので)、大勢の観客を見て、中に入ってセットを聴いていたんだ。セットが終わった後、彼は僕を自分のテーブルに呼んで、「いつもこんな風に人が集まっているのかい?」と言ったので、僕は「ほとんどそうだね」。と答えた。そうしたら、彼は「ニューヨークで演奏してみないか?」と言ったんだ。子供にアイスクリームを見せるようなもんんだよね。....なんて素晴らしいオファーなんだって。本気かどうか聞いてみたところ、彼は「イエス」と答えた。マンハッタンのペパーミント・ラウンジというクラブでハウスバンドとして演奏しているグループがあるという。彼らはしばらく休暇を取りたいと言っていて、水曜日、金曜日、土曜日にそこに出演しないかと言ってきたんだ。1960年9月のことさ。僕は「喜んで」と言ったのですが、彼は「向こうに行って、3日間のオーディションを受けなければならない。オーナーが気に入れば、何日間か出演依頼が出るだろう。」と言うので、僕らそこに行き、3日間演奏した。誰も僕らのことを知らなかったし、観客も多くはなかったけど、ウェイトレスやバーテンダー、用心棒たちが僕らのことを気に入ってくれたので、オーナーは僕らの可能性を何かしら感じてくれたみたいだった。とにかく3日間やって、やるだけのことはやったと思ってニュージャージーに戻ったんだけど、月曜日にマネージャーのトム・デイビス(ニュージャージーで僕らを発掘してくれた人)から電話がかかってきて、また戻ってきて週に6晩演奏してほしいと言われたんだ。客ウケはよくなかったけど戻ってきてほしいと言われたことには涙が出たけど、戻ってみると、ハウスバンドのジミー・ヴィー&ザ・スキャンプスがクビになっていた。申し訳ないなと思ったけど、僕らには大成功を収めるという使命が課せられたんだ。



JD:その質問は嬉しいね。彼らは40分のステージ、20分の休憩だった。午後10時から午前4時まで。僕らは20代前半だったけど、これは音楽学校のジュリアードに通うよりも良かったと思うね。僕らはペパーミント・ラウンジで技術を学び、スポーツに例えれば何でもいいのだけれど、優秀なクォーターバックやピッチャーになるべく学んだんだ。次にどの曲をもってくればいいのか、とかね。僕らは、「Lorraine」と「The Girl I Walk To School」という曲以外に自分たちの曲を持ってなかったんだけど、それらは良い曲にもかかわらずウケなかった。当時の平均的な曲は2分くらいで、毎晩140曲くらいやっていたんだが、これが僕の技術を向上させた。ファッツ・ドミノ、リトル・リチャード、エバリー・ブラザーズ......デビッド・ブリガティは素晴らしい歌手で、ジョニー・マティスやリトル・ウィリー・ジョンを歌うことができた。ロジャース・フリーマンはすべてのバラードを歌い、僕はあらゆるロックンロールを歌ったから、すべてをカバーできていた。僕はいつもバンドに「お客さんは聴く前に必ず君たちを見るから、格好良くして欲しい」と言っていた。ところで、そうしているうちに、1962年、僕はアメリカのベストドレッサー10人に選ばれたんだ。そこにはジョン・ケネディやディック・クラークもいたんだ。これも僕の誇りだね。



JD:あそこは劇場街の中心部にあり、当時上演されていたすべての作品に囲まれていた。劇場から出てきた人たちは、ショーが終わった22:30頃になると、ペパーミント・ラウンジのある45番街を歩いてきて車に乗り込んだ。駐車場がそのエリアにあったからね。ある夜のことだけど、-もうラッキーとしか言いようがないけどね-雨が降っていて、僕が演奏していて、若者がダンスフロアで踊っているときに入ってきたのは、大女優のマール・オベロンと、ニューヨークの新聞記者だったチョリー・ニッカーボッカーだった。彼らは雨宿りがてらやって来て、一杯やって、雨が少しやむのを待って、車に戻るつもりだった。何の曲を演奏していたか?ハンク・バラードの「ツイスト」だ。マールがチョリーに「この子たちと一緒に踊ったら、きっと面白いことになるでしょうね。」と言うと、チョリーは「いや、それはやめてくれ。」と言う。狭い会場だから聞こえるんだけど、彼女は「いえ、やるわ。」と言って、立ち上がって踊ろうとしたんだ。さて、当時のニューヨークの飲酒年齢は18歳だった。周辺の州では21歳だったから、多くの子供たちが車でやって来て、僕らの音楽が好きだからという理由で僕らを観に来たんだ。マールが立ち上がって、若者たちと踊った。翌日、チョリーがそのことを記事にしたんだ。お金をかけずに1,000万ドルの宣伝効果があり、ショービジネス、スポーツ、映画など、あらゆる分野の大物たちが訪れる場所になったんだよ。何人かの名前を挙げてみよう。マリリン・モンロー、エヴァ・ガードナー、グレタ・ガルボ、ジュディ・ガーランドが毎晩来ていたよ。ジュディ・ガーランド!"オズの魔法使い "だ!彼女と踊ったんだ!シャーリー・マクレーン、ジャッキー・ケネディ、ベッドフォード公爵夫妻、みんな来ていた。ジョン・ウェインとは握手して彼のテーブルに座ったし、レニー・ブルースとはダブルデートした。ジョニー・マティスが来て、デイブ・ブリガティが『チャンス・アー』やその他のヒット曲を歌ったのを聴いて、素晴らしいと言っていたよ。ジョニーは、近くで上演されていた『ウエスト・サイド・ストーリー』の公演をすべて観て、アルバムを出すことになったんだけど、1960年代初頭には、誰もがペパーミント・ラウンジに行かなければならなかったんだよ。
















JD:最初の明細書を受け取ると、ルーレットに1万3,000ドルの借金があると書いてあったんだ!6~7桁の小切手を期待していたんだが、そんなものじゃなかった。僕にはジョリー・ジョイスという小さなエージェントがいて、彼に「もうやっていけない。」と言ったんだ。それまでにモリスが誰とつながっているかを知っていたので、波風を立てたくなかったのだけど、ジョリーは「この男から金を手に入れるんだ!」と言ったんだ。それで、モリスのアパートに行って、ジョリーが「金をくれないと地方検事局に行くぞ」と言う。モリスのアパートには大男たちが揃っていて、彼らの頭の中は、この男の首ねっこを掴んで叩き出すことしかなかった -彼と一緒に入った僕に対してもそうだったかもしれないが-。で、モリスは、「君に小切手をあげよう。」と言ったんだ。僕の名前が母音で終わること、つまりイタリア系であること、そしてマフィアと繋がりのある叔父がいたことで、彼は僕に少しだけ敬意を払ってくれたのだと思う。ジャージー出身でイタリア系なら誰か知り合いがいそうなものだが、彼はジェノベーゼを味方につけていて、犯罪組織のトップ5に入っていたから、この人たちに手を出すことはできなかったが、少しは敬意を払ってくれたというわけさ。彼は僕に8,000ドルと5,000ドルの2枚の小切手をくれた。その後、ジョリーがさらに要求したとき、彼は僕をオフィスに呼び、こう言った。「こういうことだ。私はレコードの売上を手にし、君はライブのギャラを手にする、と。」モリスは音楽を聴く耳を持っていたが、彼はユダヤ人で、ユダヤ人はイタリア系でなければマフィアに入れてもらえなかった。しかし彼は商才に長けていたし、稼ぎ手は組織の中でしっかりと守られていたんだ。





JD:そう、「ペパーミント・ツイスト・クロニクルズ」という作品だ。この本を書くのに11年かかったけど、ヘンリー・グローバーと一緒に「Peppermint Twist」という曲を作ったときはたったの2時間だったんだ!この本のうちの90%は自分で誇りに思っていることだけど、残りの10%はあまり誇りに思っていない。妻や家族に対して良くない選択をしてしまったことについて書いてあるんだ。当時、僕には妻と2人の男の子がいたけど、どう思う?女の子にはモテモテで、家に帰ることを忘れてしまったんだ。自分がどこに住んでいるのかわからなくなり、7日のうち5日は街で過ごすこともあった......僕は良い人間ではなかったし、それは認めている。この本を書いているとき、僕は妻にこう言ったんだ。「いいかい、この本に書いてあることの多くで、これからどうにかなるわけじゃない。(ここでジョーイは話すのをやめ、深呼吸をして、その時の言葉を記憶の中で探すのに必死になった)...君が誇りに思うような、あるいは僕が誇りに思うようなものではない。君は僕にそう思ってもらいたくもないだろう。それでいいんだ。」すると彼女が言ったんだ。「もし本を書くなら、事実にしなさいよ。」彼女はジャージーガールで、僕はジャージーボーイだから、それを実行した。欠点も汚点も傷も全部入れたよ。この本は、僕が書いたからではなく、実際にあったことだからこそ特別なものになったんだし、単なる音楽の本ではなく、歴史の本でもあるんだ。当時のニューヨークで起こっていたこと、ベトナムのこと、バースコントロールのことなど、僕らにとっては何と言ってもブームだったことなんだよ!(笑)。ヴィレッジに行って、ボブ・ディランを「カフェ・ホワ?」で観たりね(笑)。アポロで素晴らしいグループを観た。その後、そのアポロで歌ったんだ!アポロで歌えた白人の若者なんてほとんどいなかったし、ビルボード誌でNo.1ヒットを飛ばした初のバンドとなったことは、素晴らしい功績だったんだ。


JD:さあ、60年前に戻ろうか、60年前だ。60年経っても良くなっていないな。何が起こっているんだ?僕はアメリカ人一世で、両親はともにイタリアで生まれた。彼らは僕に1つのことを教えてくれたのだが、それは僕の信条になっている。それは、マーティン・ルーサー・キングの言葉を言い換えたもので、「人は中身で判断しろ」というものだ。僕は才能と音楽性で人を判断し、そうやってバンドメンバーを選んだのだが、僕は行く先々で歓迎されなかった。本当だよ。本に全部書いてある。本の中には、僕のバンドのメンバーの話がいくつか出てくるが、彼らも地獄のような目に遭っている。僕はいつも彼らを励ましていたんだ。ところで、ちょうどスタジオから戻ったところなんだ。運転中などには本を読まない人が多いから、この本のオーディオ版を作っていたんだ。ジョー・ペシ、ジミ・ヘンドリックスの話も載っているよ。ヘンドリックスは、チャス・チャンドラーが西46丁目にある僕のクラブ「Joey Dee's Starliter」で発掘したんだよ。彼とは一緒に素晴らしい時間を過ごしたし、僕にとっては断然、ロックンロールの最高のギタリストだ。彼はロディにある僕の家に来て、僕が彼をオーディションしたんだ。1965年、僕はギタリストを探していて、シレルズやマーサ&ザ・ヴァンデラスなどのバックを務めていたドラマーのジミ・メイズに相談し、彼のことを知った。それで僕の甥にジミや当時私が知っていたモーリス・ジェームスを迎えに行ってもらい、彼を僕の家に連れて来てオーディションをしたんだよ。甥っ子が連れてきたジミは、裸のジャズマスター・ギターを持っていた。彼が入って来て、「何を弾いたらいいですか、ディーさん?」と言うので、僕は「まずはジョーイと呼んでくれ。好きなものを弾けばいいよ。」と答えた。彼はカーティス・メイフィールドを弾き始めたんだけど、僕はR&B人間だから、彼が弾いた後に「君はギグを手に入れたよ。」と言ってやった。この本には他にもいろいろな話が載っているので、ここですべてを紹介することはできないけど、ツアー中に起こったことなんかを想像してみてご覧よ。セックスとロックンロールはあっても、ドラッグはなかった。僕は人生で一度もドラッグをやったことがないから、僕がまだこうして生きているのはそのおかげだろうね。