Written by
Bob Stumpel

March 7

A Peggy Lee & Ray Charles Time Capsule From 1961

Off topicWith Peggy LeeWith Quincy Jones

1. Intro;
2. I Got A (Wo)Man;
3. You Won’t Let Me Go;
4. Just For A Thrill;
5. Yes, Indeed.

Peggy Lee was a huge fan of Ray Charles, who called her “Sister Peggy”. She studio-recorded some of his tunes as early as 1959. A few years later she embedded an extensive Tribute To Ray Charles in her club show. At least two* of these shows, at the Basin Street East club in February 1961, were live-recorded: the February 9 “supper show” Basin Street East Proudly Presents Miss Peggy Lee Recorded At The Fabulous New York Club (Capitol T1520, 1961), and the February 8 “dinner show” Peggy At Basin Street East (Collectors’ Choice CCM 2942, 2002).

Ray at that time was living in New York for a part of the year, and was a participant in Peggy’s late night party entourage – probably thanks to Quincy “Brother Gump” Jones. Q wrote some charts for her, conducted her band when she returned to the Basin Street East in November 1961, and had a wild love affair with her.

Not too long before this second stint at the club, the three of them were part of a dinner event at the Backstreet Restaurant. One of the participants was a Dr. Robert Walters. For some reason, all guests were asked to sign the menu for him. This menu was auctioned in early March, 2018.
RR Auction House decribed the “Ray Charles” doodle (below) as a genuine signature, but that’s a highly questionable authentication. Everybody who knew the Genius, also knew that he never signed anything. Nevertheless, seven or eight similar “signatures” from the years 1961 – 1964 have popped up over the past years.** My best guess is that this pseudo signature was routinely jotted down by Ray’s personal assistant (or “valet” as he was often called), Duke Wade.
The “Mrs” added to the name may have been another result of Wade’s discreet fantasy. It’s much more feasible that the lady was Ray’s current NYC girlfriend (or just one of them).

Peggy Lee writes, “Happy Birthday, with deep love always, Doctor Darlin,” and  Quincy Jones adds, “To my wonderful district attorney — may all your days be as beautiful as you are.” 
Program for the “Gala Premiere Dinner of Peggy Lee” at the Basin Street East nightclub on October 30, 1961.
It lists Quincy Jones as musical director.
Basin Street East photo holder: Jones posing with four people at the dinner event, one of whom was the recipient of the Back Street menu above, Dr. Robert Walter.
These memories, from Phoebe Jacobs, Peggy’s closest friend, may glue all the information above together.
From: Peter Richmond, Fever: The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Lee (New York, Picador, 2007).

* The February 9 dinner show remains unissued.
**For some fascinating discussions. see the Autograph Magazine forum.


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