The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography And Videography:
Research And Inquiry Into The Beauty And The Beat Dates

by Iván Santiago-Mercado

Page generated on Jun 17, 2018


I. Contents And Scope


The present page discusses Peggy Lee's Beauty And The Beat! sessions, which started with a concert date in late May of 1959 and continued with studio dates some time later, probably in the month of June. Primary details about the dates can be found in this discography's 1957-1959 page, for which the discussion at hand serves as a supplement.

Some readers might reasonably argue that I should have incorporated this discussion to the above-linked page. There were two reasons for my abstention: (1) the inordinate length of the discussion and (2) the amount of speculation involved. By placing lengthy and speculative discourse in miscellaneous pages such as this one, I am hoping to make the main session pages a bit easier to scroll down, and thus more amenable to browsing.


II. The Miami Disc Jockey Convention


In the late 1950s, both Peggy Lee and George Shearing were Capitol artists who counted with Dave Cavanaugh as their producer. The three of them joined forces to record a concert during the Second National Disc Jockey Convention at the Americana Hotel, in Bal Harbour, Miami Beach. ("It was Dave's idea to put us together," Lee told music writer Will Friedwald in 1992.)

Scheduled to last throughout the 1959 Memorial Day weekend, this gathering of radio personalties and record executives was more formally known as the Second International Radio Programing Seminar And Pop Music Disk Jockey Convention. The first gathering, formally known as The Pop Music Disc Jockey Convention And Radio Programming Seminar, had successfully taken place one year earlier at the Muelbach Hotel in Kansas City. A planning committee for the second convention was active by mid-April of 1959, meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago. The committee's eight members all worked on radio, and included the still remembered Hollywood dj personality Ira Cook (then with KMPC), the venerable Paul Berlin (aka Houston's Dick Clark; then with KNUZ), the ultra-conservative Howard Miller (a big promoter of acts such as Pat Boone, The Four Lads, and Patti Page; according to Time magazine, "probably the nation's singles biggest influence on record sales" in 1957; then with WIND in Chicago) and the rock 'n' roll-oriented Joe Smith (then with WILD, Boston, later to become co-chairman of the Warner Brothers label).

Both conventions were sponsored by the Storz radio chain in the main, with the handling of the amenities divvied up among the record companies themselves. For instance, Mercury Records hosted a so-called splash party at the hotel's poolside. Carlton Records was given permission to keep a free beverage stand by the hotel's poolside. The stand displayed the motto Keep Cool With Carlton.

Representatives from just about all trade publications (The Billboard, Broadcasting Magazine, The Cash Box, The Music Reporter, The Music Vendor, Radio Daily, Sponsor Magazine, U.S. Daily, Variety) were present. In fact, most of them had been named panel members for one of the conferences (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.).

Estimated attendance numbers included an audience of over 4,000 disc jockeys, including non-American radio broadcasters from as far as Indonesia and Korea. They were, of course, the convention's chief target, to be actively courted by all 18 participating record companies. The latter even picked up the jockeys' hotel tabs, according to at least one of the later, not-fully corroborated reports. (Another report made a more general claim, stating that about 50 record companies had been responsible for funding the entire weekend-long gathering, presumably including some of the djs' expenses.)

The turnout was far lower than expectations, however. Many of the conferences were plagued with rumblings of low attendance. Taking into account that the disc jockeys or their stations probably had to pay for travel fare and some accommodations (the hotel's rates started at $10 daily), an attendance of 4,000 might have been too high of an expectation. The actual turnout was estimated to be about 2,500 -- still very healthy, and certainly higher than on the first year.


III. The Convention's Schedule (And The Scheduled Artists)


The official dates of the Second Annual Internationl Radio Programming Seminar And Pop Music Disc Jockey Convention were Friday, May 29 to Sunday, May 31, 1959, with Thursday the 28th serving as registration day. A welcoming cocktail party had been scheduled for the evening of that Thursday, too. The attending audience was expected to consist of "disc jockeys, program directors, record industry management personnel, broadcast industry management personnel." According to both promotional ads and official guidelines, the disc jockeys and the program directors had to pay for their flights and hotel accommodations (all of them tax-deductible, it was 'helpfully' point out by some of the advertisement). Their attendance to the convention' actual events was free of charge.

Naturally, most of the audience was male. Only one female disc jockey, named Ann Wagner, attended. For the benefit of the wives who traveled with their dj husbands, sightseeing tours were set up on both Friday and Saturday. Deejays were also told that professional photos would be taken of them next to the attending celebrities, with a view to releasing them in their hometown newspapers.

The opening cocktail party took place on an intermittently rainy Thursday. It began at 7:00 p.m. and ran until at least 10:00 p.m. Mercury Records served as its sponsor. On the next day, breakfast was sponsored by United Artists, and luncheon by RCA Victor. The former featured welcoming remarks from the main sponsor, Todd Storz (president of the Storz chain of radio stations). On Saturday, breakfast was under the supervision of Atlantic, luncheon under Columbia. Ahmet Ertegun hosted the former.

Friday's Highlights

At 9:05 a.m. (right after Storz' remarks), the scheduled series of addresses and conferences started off with a keynote speech from Harold Fellows, president of the National Association of Broadcasters. About 18 conferences were scheduled, all of them on either Friday or Saturday (morning, afternoon), and most of them devised as panels. For instance, "Do We Live And Die By Ratings" and "How Can You Promote Yourself And Your Station Through The Trade Papers" were the titles of the conferences held back-to-back on Saturday at 1:30 pm. and 2:30 p.m.

"What's Next, Mr. Music Man?" was the name given to a meeting held on Friday at 10:00 a.m. Coordinated by a committee from Houston's KNUZ-radio and moderated by that station's Paul "Buzz" Berlin, that conference was presented by a six-man panel that included Capitol's Dave Cavanaugh, Carlton Records' president Joe Carlton, Roulette's vice-president Joe Kolsky, Roosevelt Music Publishing president Hal Fein, and two disc jockeys, WABC-New York's popular Alan Freed and the then-host of the morning show Coffee With Karey at WCFL-Chicago, Jack Karey, who was also a newspaper columnist). This particular panel is said to have aroused general interest among dee jays, a claim which it turn suggests possibly high attendance numbers.

(A side note of the aforementioned Alan Freed. He was, on the one hand, the disc jockey most closely associated with the effort of disseminating rock 'n' roll over the airwaves. That association ensures that his name will be remembered for as long as rock music has currency. On the other hand, he became the de facto face of the payola scandal, and paid a high price for it. In November of 1959, WABC fired Freed. The firing followed after Freed's refusal to sign an affidavit stating that he had not accepted bribes for playing records. In the next few ensuing years, the radio man still found jobs in his field, albeit all of them were away from the limelight of the major stations. In 1962, he was found guilty of commercial bribery, for which he received a suspended sentence. Addicted to alcohol, Freed died less than three years later, at the age of 43, from cirrhosis of the liver.)

Capitol vice-president Mike Maitland, Dot president Randy Wood, and WHDH-Boston disc jockey Bob Clayton were among those heard as panel members of a conference held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Titled "Too Many Releases?," it was moderated by KMPC-Hollywood's Ira Cook. Cash Box reported on the discussion as follows: "All agreed that there is no way to cut down the flow of records. The American principal of 'free enterprise' gives everyone who wishes the right to enter this business as he has the right to enter any other ... The jocks on the panel admitted that they were just as much the culprits, as the manufacturers, in the release problem. Bleyer, Maitland, and Wood concurred that creativity, selectivity and proper promotion were needed in the higher-quality-less release category. Maitland added that the 'shot gun' theory (hoping that one of two, of hundreds of releases, will hit) which many companies had been using, including Capitol, had been quite unsuccessful. He also noted that the labels' new 'riffle shot-one bullet' policy had shown remarkable improvement in the percentage of hits over the past year."

The biggest of that Friday's events was the one reserved for the evening, of course. Sponsored by Capitol Records and hosted by label vice-president Mike Maitland, the event was devised as a cocktail party within which the Peggy Lee-George Shearing recording session would be held. At some point during this same evening, Columbia tried to lure attendees with a so-called Sing Along Saloon Party, for which food and beverages were served by waiters dressed in gay 90s style, and wearing fake beards to resemble that label's executive (and executioner) of the sing-along fad, Mitch Miller.

Saturday Highlights

Saturday started out with an Atlantic-sponsored breakfast. Hosted by Atlantic's Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, this breakfast was peppered with the comedic charter of Irwin "World's Foremost Authority" Corey, one of the acts who were signed to the label at that time. Columbia took care of the luncheon, and courted favor from the disc jockeys by presenting them with a special item: 45-rpm rotary holders. At 5:45 p.m., Liberty Records sponsored the early evening's cocktail party, co-hosted by Julie London and David Seville.

An ensuing banquet on Saturday night was a wee-hours-long extravaganza sponsored by Dot Records. Called the Second Annual All Star Show and hosted by Martin Block, it provided attendees with the opportunity of listening to a long succession of artists from a wide variety of record labels. One by one, each came to the stage to perform a number or two. As in the previous year, Dick Linke and Paul Brown served as producers for what was more simply known as The Big Show. Also onstage during this spectacular was one of the governors of Tennessee, Frank Goad Clement, who is remembered in the annals of American history for the rousing quality of his speeches. Clement talked to the disc jockeys about their contributions to keeping both America and the world free. Furthermore, the host himself (Block) was feted and surprised with a cake, celebrating his silver anniversary as a disc jockey.

As for the names of the performers on this Big Show, here they are, listed in order of appearance: The Lon Norman Orchestra (Panama Records), The Kirby Stone Four (Columbia), Anita Bryant (Carlton), Caterina Valente (RCA Victor), Johnny Horton with The Jordanaires and Tommy Thompson (Columbia), Cathy Carr (Roulette), Pat Boone (Dot), Connie Francis (MGM), Jimmie Rodgers (Roulette), Dodie Stevens (Dot), Connie Russell (United Artists), Lloyd Price And His Band (ABC Paramount), Patti Page (Mercury), The George Shearing Quintet (Capitol), Peggy Lee (Capitol), Alan Dean (Panama), Chris Connor (Atlantic), Richard Otto and Sarah Lawler (Vee Jay). Also said to have performed on that evening were Vic Damone (Columbia) and Caterina Valente (RCA Victor), though I do not know where they fell in the sequence that I just provided. (It could be that they did not truly perform during The Big Show, but at one of the evening's other events.) Two other artists, Percy Faith and Tommy Leonetti, attended the convention but do not seem to have been scheduled to perform. Mitch Miller did so at the aforementioned sing-along Columbia party.

Not surprisingly, the show overran its allotted time. Consequently, some of the scheduled artists did not manage to perform. Lou Monte was one of them. There were also several initially scheduled acts whose ultimate status is not fully clear. They were either unable to attend the convention or similarly cut from the schedule. To wit: The Diamonds (Mercury), Elaine May and Mike Nichols (Mercury), The Playmates (Roulette), Jack Scott (Carlton), Gary Stites (Carlton), Jesse Lee Turner (Carlton), and Andy Williams (Columbia).

Sunday Highlights

The Saturday-to-Sunday events were not over. The reason why the overrun Big Show had to be cut short was that there was yet another event on the calendar. At 1:00 in the morning, the convention was set to cap off its long list of activities with a dance and barbecue party, scheduled to last into the breakfast hours. During this Roulette-sponsored party, a second recording date took place. That label's Count Basie And His Band were the ones set to perform and record. Due to the delays brought on by the Big Show, Basie and company probably did not start out until 2:00 a.m., at the earliest. This Roulette date was set up as yet another lengthy event. At least two breaks (perhaps many more) were scheduled through the recording date. During those breaks, two other acts performed for the crowd: Panama's Alan Dean with The Lon Norman Orchestra and Atlantic's Chris Connor with her jazz trio.

Odds And Ends

Besides the above-mentioned performances and panel, many other panels and lectures were also held over this Seminar And Convention weekend. Topics up for discussion included radio ratings, news programs, and commercials. Adding legitimate cache to the convention was a taped film address from the nation's president and the secretary of defense, plus a live address from the executive director of Eisenhower's "Council on Youth Fitness" program. The heat outdoors was said to be hitting the upper 80s. Attendance was estimated at 2,500.


IV. Scandal And Shenanigans At The Convention


Despite the presidential seal of approval, the high-class entertainment, and the instructional atmosphere suggested by the lectures, this convention was plagued by low-brow scandal. In a whistle-blowing article titled "Booze, Broads And Bribes," The Miami Herald made payola allegations and contended that some of the record companies had treated the disc-jockeys to a lavish and promiscuous way of living.  (Predictably, given its radio orientation, Cash Box magazine wrote a quick rebuttal of the charges, along with a chastisement of the offending newspaper. Embarrassingly, however, the magazine wrongly targeted The Miami Daily News as the offender, while praising the actual culprit, The Miami Herald, for its "generous and accurate coverage.")

Subsequently, a more detailed and adverse article was published by Time. The article tied three specific record companies to practices that the press deemed dubious, if not worse:  ABC-Paramount (payment for all taxi rides made by the dee jays), Columbia (gifts in the form of pre-made tapes featuring celebrity interviews, for radio airplay) and RCA Victor (play money for the disc jockeys to gamble and drink; see next paragraphs).

RCA Victor appears to have been the most blatant offender.  The record label had created a gambling contest of sorts, which would have given a $1,000 in play money to each participating disc jockey.  The play money was for the dee jays to place bids on various RCA-bestowed prizes (an in-color RCA television, a $500 stipend for clothing, a Studebaker Lark car, and a trip to Europe).  Unfortunately for Victor, Florida's police considered such bidding illegal gambling; hence the label was forced to cease and desist.  The auction portion of the contest was still carried out, though, doubtlessly to the dee jays' delight. 

In truth, all participating labels must tried their best to court favor with the convention's attendees, in one way or another.  It seems, however, that RCA Victor's efforts were more overt and notorious than those of the other labels -- including even Roulette, which was being represented at the convention by its mafia-connected owner, Morris Levy. 

Most notably, the relentless shenanigans of RCA producers Hugo & Luigi made the trade press news.  Supposedly as a show of gratitude (for the support that jockeys had given to the discs they produced), the team overwhelmed the premises with the message "Hugo & Luigi say thanks."  Stickers that carried this message were found all over the hotel.  Fake newspapers, with that same message as a headline, were slipped under room's doors.  A low-flying airplane, also carrying the message, hovered around the hotel's sky on Friday during the day.  On Saturday, a hovering plane was also in view, but its message was a different one.  Any hope that it bore no connection to Hugh & Luigi was promptly dashed, however.  This one said "You're welcome, Goldie and Phil." It had been commissioned by music publishers Aaron "Goldie" Goldmark and Phil Kahl, whose songs Hugo & Luigi had placed in the charts.   

There was still more from Hugo & Luigi.  On Friday evening (as reported by Cash Box magazine), "[a] large gathering assembled in time to see some 30 high school girls ... dressed in shorts and blouses march through the doorway three abreast and around the lobby singing La Plume De Ma Tante, the current Hugh & Luigi [single] on Victor.  They climbed up onto the balcony to finish their rendition of the song and at the conclusion mingled with the spectators and gave away ball point [pens] inscribed with [the message] Hugo and Luigi say thanks.

But Hugo & Luigi's overwhelming courting of favor might have been just the PG-rated segment of a dirtier picture. In his book Voice Over: The Making Of Black Radio, William Barlow paints a far more insidious atmosphere: [i]n May 1959, nearly fifty record labels bankrolled a lavish and lascivious four-day bacchanal in Miami, where the promoters plied some two thousand white disc jockeys with booze, broads and bribes, as the banner headlines in the Miami Herald proclaimed. Besides the around-the-clock receptions, parties, concerts, and gambling jukes to nearby Havana, the convention featured one of the largest contingents of hookers ever assembled in a Miami Beach hotel. (The prostitutes were recruited from as far away as New York City.) Although the record companies spent an estimated $250,000 on they spectacle and their top executives were in attendance, it was the DJs who were pilloried by the press. Articles in the major newspapers and magazines around the country not only documented their Miami Beach debauchery but also exposed their role in payola transactions and charged them with being a corrupting influence on the nation's youth."

In reality, disc jockeys had been wined, dined, and offered money or other perks for decades, but only in the aftermath of the Second Disc Jockeys Convention were such practices politicized and deemed illegal.


V. The Payola World Of Entertainment


On November 6, 1959, a U.S. House of Representatives sub-committee revealed that they were conducting an industry-wide investigation on illegal pays-offs to disc jockeys -- aka payola. One day later, the National Disc Jockeys Council sent a wire to the House of Representatives. It was to little avail. Record subpoenas were sent out to both the Americana Hotel and WQAM (the latter being the Storz-owned broadcasting company which had served as the convention's host station). According to news reports, the tipper or accuser had been the American Authors and Composers Guild, which had a high financial stake in the matter.

From a judicial standpoint, the investigation of corruption in the radio industry should be perceived as a sequel (or as a development parallel) to a corresponding investigation into the television industry. In October of 1959, long-standing rumblings about the fixing of televised quizz competitions had culminated with the set up of a congressional committee to look into the matter. The allegations of rigging were proven true (most notoriously in the case of the NBC show Twenty One, about which Robert Redford made a well-received movie in 1994). As a result, the whole field of televised quizz competitions went into a decades-long state of dormancy.

As in many other aspects, the radio and TV industries dovetailed when it came to payola corruption, too. In november of 1959, the Associated Press' Cynthia Lowry portrayed the overall situation in extensive detail. Quoted almost in full, her portrait will take up all the remaining paragraphs of the present section.

"[Congress] announced it planned to follow its investigation of rigged TV quiz shows with lighting up another dark corner of broadcasting: payola. In Tin Pan Alley's slang, payola means the widespread custom of under-the-counter payments for playing or singing certain pieces of music. Involved, according to reports, are some of the nation's 5,000 radio disc jockeys and some television production men willing to use songs of an individual music publishing house for a share in broadcasting performance royalties ... 'It's a joke, dragging this thing out like they'd just discovered it,' says one veteran of the music field. 'Everybody knows about it. It's a big, powerful racket; and it's been going on for years.' ... "

"Payola, the knowledgeable ones explain, is well organized and businesslike. Small fry are likely to be the most willing to accept cash — some are actually on a regular secret salary from some of the smaller publishing houses. It is the big boys—the ones who can reach the large audiences— who can and do demand more. 'Some guys will call up a publisher and tell him they saw a car they like,' says one record company executive. 'He'll get the car the next day.' One Eastern seaboard disc jockey they still talk about is -reputed to have acquired an $80,000 house in the suburbs with about $200,000 worth of furnishings ..."

"Some big operators ... have branched out from the mere spinning of discs to the ownership of retail record stores — which can be stocked cheaply by 'gifts' of platters — to owning factories where records are made. One powerful man in the entertainment business is rumored to insist on either owning a 'piece' of a song or holding the contract to manufacture its records before he will consent to use the piece."

" 'I'm clean,' protests one popular disc jockey, 'and I think most of us are. But look at it this way: a disc jockey gets about 200 records a week. If I'm lucky I can play maybe that number in a month—so that leaves about 600 records that never get on my air. And naturally, the people who make those 600 records are going to try to get them played—somehow.' It appears that the trying often involves the dispensation of such things as cash, cases of liquor, furniture and household appliances, cars and even boats."

" 'Payola does not go for the album sellers—like Como, Sinatra, Frankie Laine, Jo Stafford and like that,' explains a publishing house executive. 'Big payola involves singles—the single records that cost 98 cents. Eighty-five per cent of them are bought by girls between the ages of 12 and 16. And to get these kids buying the records, you've got to get them on the shows of the jockeys they listen to.' Concern over the situation is hardly new. Almost 11 years ago, Billboard, a show business trade paper, reported that the Federal Communications Commission was looking into a complaint that one record company couldn't get its records played on certain radio stations unless its disc jockeys were paid."


VI. Bacchanalia And Payola At The Miami Convention


In general, the investigation and the ensuing hearings focused on the conduct of the individual disc jockeys, rather than on the events which took place at the convention. Still, some of the extracted confessions did acknowledge illicit behavior at the May 1959 festivities. For instance, Stan Richard, a disc jockey at WILD in Boston, would disclose the fact that the record companies had taken care of his bill for clothing to wear at the Americana convention ($117.42).

At the hearings, the hotel's convention manager (Edward Eicher) gave a particularly eye-popping account of what went on at the Old-Fashioned Dance And Barbecue which concluded the weekend's festivities. As paraphrased by Marc Fisher in his excellent book Something In The Air: Radio, Rock, And The Revolution that Shaped A Generation, "[i]n one eight-hour party at the American featuring the Count Basie Orchestra, two thousand bottles of bourbon were consumed. Hired women were instructed to make themselves available to any dee jay, with one proviso: at the height of the man's arousal, the prostitutes were to extract a promise that the jock would play the latest record being pushed y a record company." Fisher also states that "free bottles of liquor and prostitutes [were] on call all week long."

The House of Representatives made their final findings public in 1960. A total of 207 disc jockeys were declared guilty of succumbing to payola. The condemned resided all over the nation (on 42 cities, to be exact. In New York, 11 of them ended up being charged with bribery, too. The bribes were linked to 23 different enterprises, some of which were record labels, and others music distributors. Despite the initial sending of subpoenas, no charges against the hotel or against Storz himself are known to have been filed, however.

Months of sensationalized press and a conclusion involving multiples sentences took their toll on the radio industry. After 1959, Todd Storz sponsored no additional conventions. The notion of any future nationwide gatherings for disc jockeys was effectively dead. Five years later, Storz himself, only 39 years old, was found dead, possibly from an adverse reaction to a sedative prescribed for insomnia.

The Disc Jockey Association, an entity originally meant to facilitate the organization of further conventions, reshaped itself into an enforcer of ethical principles within the radio industry. In 1960, the only radio-related event worthy of national attention was the brand new Men Of The Year Awards, bestowed to radio broadcasters. But the concept of a national radio convention had to wait until 1966 for its resurgence. It was on that year that Bill Gavin (the man behind the well-known music tip sheet The Gavin Report) successfully sponsored a two-day radio conference in Chicago. Incorporated to the 1966 convention was the aforementioned Men Of The Year Awards, an annual ceremony which would remain a staple of the ensuing conventions (1967-1974).


VII. Capitol's Cool Concert Concept


Having now discussed the overall contents of the Second Disc Jockeys Convention, as well as the scandal which clouded it, we will now cast a spotlight on the one event of full relevance to any Peggy Lee discography: her live session at the convention, on May 29, 1959, with George Shearing And His Quintet.

An intriguing detail can be found in some of the advance notices for this date at the Americana Hotel. According to an article published on the March 28, 1959 issue of Cash Box, the act scheduled to duet with Peggy Lee was Jonah Jones. The article makes no mention of Shearing. Moreover, the title for the prospective album is given as Beauty And The Beast. The latter could simply be a human/typographical error. The reporter might have misunderstood, assuming that the title was the same one as that of the fairy tale, rather than a pun build on it. Or it might have really been the intended title at the time; the reporter does state that it was a tentative title.

It is harder to assume that the reporter was confused on the matter of the musical accompaniment. The mention of Jonah Jones would seem to suggest that, at an early stage, the instrumentalist scheduled to duet with Lee was this trumpet player (and his ensemble), rather than the aforementioned pianist and his quintet. Like Shearing, Jones was also a Capitol act at the time. (For what is worth: Jones had recorded the Peggy Lee-penned song "It's A Good Day" about eight months before this concert took place.)

It should also be reiterated that this particular Cashbox article was published at a fairly early date, and hence many of the concert's details were probably still being ironed out. The report was essentially devised to increase enthusiasm and lure more disc jockeys to attend. It read, in part: "... one of the featured events will be a stereo and monaural recording session. Details of the session have been worked out by Bill Stewart of Storz stations, who said that many of the several thousand deejays that will be in attendance have never witnessed an actual session in progress."

All subsequent Cash Box articles about the concert do name George Shearing as the scheduled co-performer, and no further mention of Jonah Jones is made. In addition to the Shearing quintet and Lee, the Capitol team scheduled to travel to the convention included Dave Cavanaugh (producer), Jack Marshall (Lee's musical director at the time), Tom Morgan (producer), Buck Stapleton (producer), and the following executives: Max Callison, Bud Fraser, label vice-president Mike Maitland, Joe Mathews, Bill Michaels, Dick Rising, and Bill Tallant,

Incentives to attend included not only the opportunity to witness a recording session but also material incentives promised by the label. One of such incentives was Capitol's promise that the resulting album would be mailed to the disc jockeys in the form of a souvenir package. Inquiring dee jays were required to come to he label's penthouse suite right before the recording session, in order to register for a copy. The registration paperwork naturally asked each disc jockey to identify their radio station, where their copies are likely to have been mailed. Another perk or incentive involved a so-called "surprise," on account of which disc jockeys were asked to bring their car keys while registering at the penthouse suite. (No further details about this secretive surprise are revealed in the press accounts that I have consulted.)

The event was formally advertised as a "Cocktail Party And Stereo Recording Session," to start on Friday the 29th at 7:30 p.m. The above-mentioned Mike Maitland served as the host of the cocktail party. Naturally, producer Cavanaugh was present as well, and hard at work. Those two names, along with Lee, Shearing, and the quintet, are the only ones found in the literature at my reach. There is no identification of any other executives preset at the session, much less the individual members of the audience. (However, it is reasonable to assume that most of the aforementioned Capitol executives did follow through with their intention to attend.)

Some of the passing comments made in the extant literature (e.g., references to people "on the back") support the impression that this event was well attended. So does commentary from some of the session's participants. In his autobiography, George Shearing wrote extensively about the concert. The pianist stated that "the whole industry was there, all the main record companies. So this gave us a built-in audience response, in fact it was an incredible audience and the whole atmosphere [...] was charged because of that." See also Dave Cavanaugh commentary, quoted in the next section.

In the liner notes of the 1992 Capitol Jazz CD Beauty And The Beat!, Peggy Lee added: "I was so exhausted [after flying in, working out keys, and doing continuous rehearsal with little sleep], I don't remember the performance too well, I just remember standing there." Notwithstanding the unpromising vagueness of Lee's recollection, she and Shearing were in excellent form, aided and abetted by a highly appreciative audience. Serving as evidence is the one and only concert track to ever be commercially released. (For specifics about that track, check Lee's May 29, 1959 session.)


VIII. The Concert's Technical Difficulties


On this opening night, serious problems with the audio system at the hotel's ballroom produced unsatisfactory results. From the array of commentaries at hand, the picture that emerges is one fraught with hastiness and disarray. The necessary accommodations for a recording date had been carried out in a hurry, and technical adjustments were happening at the last minute. On this Friday night date, the execution from those in charge of the convention left plenty to be desired. By Sunday, when the Count Basie Band arrived from New York and proceeded to play, the recording problems might have been fixed. (Or so one would gather from listening to the commercially issued version of that concert. Of course, there is also the alternative possibility that the Roulette Jazz CD Breakfast Dance And Barbecue is deceiving us with a performance from another date, posing as the one from the May 31 concert.)

The liner annotator of the Capitol LP Beauty And The Beat! does acknowledge that "[a] troublesome P.A. system caused the audience some difficulty in hearing parts of the session." Additional commentary was included in the LP's souvenir edition, sent to the disc jockeys who had registered to receive a copy. In one of two typewritten letters that are part of the souvenir's package, Lee and Shearing give "a special thanks to each of you who stuck through the inaudible opening portion of the session that Friday night long enough to hear the entire session." (The letter ends with the handwritten words "we love you," in Lee's penmanship, which she signs as coming from "Peggy & George.")

A more detailed explanation of the concert's difficulties is found in the other typewritten letter that forms part of the souvenir package. Unsigned, it was presumably written by Cavanaugh: "Starting at 4:00 PM on Friday from absolute zero, we had to build rooms, a stage, install and check out recording equipment, install lights and arrange the hundreds of other details required to serve 3,000 people. Not having had any previous access to the Grand Ballroom prior to 4:00 PM, we were working against odds that would make Vegas child's play by comparison. When the last electrical outlet was installed and the switches were ready to throw for the first test - the room had 2,000 people in it - we had a distinct disadvantage. The events that followed were pretty much history. We went ahead with the stereo session - despite the feedback from the P.A. system." The writer of this letter goes on to estimate that about half of the audience left, unable to hear either Shearing or Lee: "We are sorry that so many of you could not hear note one in the rear of the room. Surprisingly enough, slightly more than 1,000 people were crowded down front close enough to the stage so that they could hear Peggy and George without benefit of a P.A System."


IX. Recording At The Convention


We do have one second-hand account of what actually transpired as the date started recording. The account was provided by Cy Godfrey, who was Peggy Lee's attorney in the 1990s, and who was also involved in the release of one of the CD editions of the album. He might have thus intend to the concert's tapes, which are extant in the vaults.

According to what Godfrey told to Michael Cuscuna (the reissue producer and liner annotator of the album's 1992 CD edition), "a live recording was attempted one night at the convention before an invited audience. Shearing did two numbers and everything came to a halt due to equipment problems. When they resumed, Peggy Lee sang three songs, but the technical problems proved insurmountable and the event was prematurely ended with nothing to show for the effort. The next night, they did a full show for the entire convention, but it wasn't recorded."

The tapes still rolled (at least during those three songs), and Capitol has kept them in its vaults. In 2003, one of those songs was cleaned and released. The titles of the other songs (and any chatter or additional detail on the tapes themselves) remain not only unreleased but also shrouded in mystery. For further details, check Lee's May 29, 1959 session.

(For what is worth, I am left to wonder if Lee perhaps tried an all-Porter mini-program, singing not only "Always True To You In My Fashion" but also "Do I Love You?" and "Get Out Of Town." Those last two songs were recorded during the Beauty And The Beat! studio sessions. One ended up as the opener of the resulting LP, the other as its closer.)


X. Compromising Projects: The Music Industry's Penchant For Falsely Live Albums


Back in 1959, Capitol's plans to release a live LP version of the Lee-Shearing concert had been set in stone before such a concert took place. The company had committed in advance to sending album copies to various parties, including the disc jockeys had who signed for them at the Convention. The prospective album was one of the accomplishments that Capitol Records expected to tout and draw from the convention. Its cancellation (on account of unsuccessful audio engineering) would have thus come off as an admission of failure. The label was not to make such an admission. However, the poor audio fidelity of the tapes meant that an alternative to their release had to be put into action.

Producer Dave Cavanaugh re-enlisted Lee and Shearing to re-record the numbers at an unknown location, and without an audience. In doing so, Cavanaugh and Capitol were just proceeding in the same manner that other labels and producers had acted before, and would keep on acting thereafter: they altered a studio date to make it sound like a live-in-concert performance. (In both the jazz and pop fields, a large number of alleged live albums are partially or completely studio reconstructions.)

The anonymous liner annotator of the original Beauty And The Beat LP would have us believe that, "[f]ortunately," and despite the acknowledged problems with the audio system, "great sounds were being fed continuously to Capitol's engineers manning the recording equipment backstage, so that the recorded results escaped unscathed." Not true.

The music industry has a long history of releasing albums which falsely advertise themselves as "live." A comprehensive list of concert albums which are actually studio pieces (some of them fully, some of them partially so) should include Ellington At Newport (Columbia, 1957), Tony Bennett's In Person! (Columbia, 1959), Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus (Candid, 1960), The Kingston Trio's College Concert (Capitol, 1961), Chuck Berry's On Stage (Chess, 1961), James Brown's Showtime (Smash, 1964), Live! B. B. King On Stage (Kent, 1965), Paul Revere & The Raiders' Here They Come! (Columbia, 1965), Phil Ochs' in Concert (Elektra, 1966), The Rolling Stones' Got Live If You Want It (Decca/London, 1966), Johnny Horton On Stage (Columbia, 1966), James Brown's Sex Machine (falsely claiming to have been recorded a Brown's home, King, 1970), Kool And The Gang's Live At The Sex Machine and Live At P.J.'s (De-Lite, both 1971), Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live! (Columbia, 1972), Lou Reed's Rock And Roll Animal (RCA Victor, 1974), Harry Chapin's Greatest Stories; Live (Elektra, 1976), Guns 'n' Roses' Live?!*@ Like A Suicide (Uzi Suicide, 1986), Simple Minds' Live In The City Of Light (Virgin/A&M, 1987), Van Halen's Live: Right Here, Right Now (Warner Brothers, 1993), Frampton Comes Alive II (El Dorado, 1995), The Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Live At Slane Castle (Warner, 2003). This partial list demonstrates that the practice cross across genres, labels, and time.

Though a ruse, this practice had a modicum of justification. The average listener has an expectation of clean and crisp sound quality, which is rarely achievable outside of the controlled environment of a recording studio. The amount of control that can be exerted over a "live" space is comparatively limited, not to say anything of the large audience that is occupying it at the given time. All too often, the audio is intermittently lost to the noise generated at the moment, or muddled due to less-than-ideal acoustics. Some instruments might be poorly picked up by the microphones. The high volume of the instrumentation might drown the vocals. Background noise might manage to sneak into the audio foreground. Hence,

From the perspective of music producers and record labels, the creation of an illusion is an end which justifies their recourse to any number of duplicitous strategies, from light tampering to outright simulation. It could be persuasively argued that no officially released concert album is truly, entirely and absolutely live. As with any studio session, the "raw" tapes of a concert date need to undergo an engineering process before they can meet the most basic standards of a commercial release. Some degree of "tinkering" is invariably necessary -- most often, overdubs on parts with poor audio or flubs committed by the personnel.

Of course, the full recreation of the concert inside a studio is the most extreme of possible measures. Among the producers of the above-listed albums, there were some who set out to perpetrate this ruse from the start (i.e., they had no intention to actually tape a concert ). But there were others who genuinely attempted to record the act in concert, and tried to make the best out of their failed attempt. The latter is clearly the case with Dave Cavanaugh and his work on Capitol's Beauty And The Beat (1961). It would not be the only time in which he would face this conundrum. Similar circumstances besieged the sessions for the album Basin Street East Proudly Presents Miss Peggy Lee. In that case, Cavanaugh resorted to a combination of strategies. He used some of the actual concert tracks in the album, but also included a few studio recreations, which he had Lee record in the weeks that followed her concert engagement. (This same approach can be found in albums such as The Kingston Trio's College Concert, also a Capitol 1962 item, and Nina Simone's 'Nuff Said, from 1968, on RCA.)

Yet a third strategy was the setting up of a special live date, with only an invited audience. Some of the album's tracks are from that by-invitation-only Basin Street concert, too. This compromise (i.e., recording at the concert venue with a smaller, less unruly and more manageable audience) would be rarely used, but a variation on it would become a producer's favorite: an audience invited not to the concert venue but to a studio, furnished with a bar, alcohol and other stimulants. Examples of such invited-audience studio albums include Cannonball Adderley's Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!: Live at "The Club" (1966), Tom Hawks' Nighthawks At The Diner (Elektra/Asylum, 1975)


XI. Summary Of The Recording Schedule


Before moving on to a discussion of the studio concert, let's summarize the various states of this Lee-Shearing project:

1. Miami rehearsals in late May of 1959. Presumably, a sound check before their live show, too. One extant photo shot, known to have been taken at the Americana, is probable evidence of a rehearsal.

2. The actual show, on the evening of Friday May 29. Actually said to not have progressed beyond a mini-show, consisting of a couple of Shearing instrumentals and three Peggy Lee vocals. The poor quality of the p.a. system would have then led to the cancellation of the rest of the show.

3. A show on the evening of Saturday May 30 which was not taped, and in which Lee and Shearing were but two of a large number of acts. (Godfrey's wording suggest that a full Lee-Shearing show took place at some point on this Saturday. If the reference is to the evening, then it was definitely not a full show, but merely a number or two. The very large number of acts scheduled for that evening would have not allowed for more.)

4. Studio sessions that presumably recreate the intended contents of the May 29 show, and which will be inspected in the next sections of this write-up.


XII. Dating Of The Studio Sessions


Capitol's Peggy Lee session file assigns the date April 28, 1959 to the Beauty And The Beat masters, including those which are instrumentals. Though clearly erroneous, that April 28 date has been disseminated through Capitol's digital world. It can be found in the 1992 edition of Beauty And The Beat! and also in the boxed set Miss Peggy Lee.

According to CD producer Michael Cuscuna, other Capitol files list a second date, April 30. This date is erroneous, too. "Most likely, the New York office entered the information into Capitol's files incorrectly and the 14 tunes were recorded in two or three sessions between May 28 and 30," theorizes the producer in his notes for the 2003 CD version of Beauty And The Beat!.

As for Capitol's masters inventories, they offer May 28-30, 1959 as the correct dating. That is actually an "umbrella date," covering the main scheduled days for the Second Annual International Radio Programming Seminar And Pop Music Disc Jockey Convention, of which the Lee-Shearing concert was part.

Since the masters released on the Beauty And The Beat album are recreations of the ones performed at the Miami concert, all the above-mentioned dates are off the mark, including the umbrella dating.

We have already noted that the Miami convention concluded on May the 31st. We also know that Lee and Shearing were still present at the convention on the evening of May 30, when they were two of the night's many performers. Taking those facts into account, we can confidently state that the Beauty And The Beat studio masters must have been recorded in June 1959, or later. We could speculate about the likelihood of early June date(s). It would have made sense for producer Cavanaugh to set up a studio date as soon as possible, depending on the availability of the performers and the venue of choice.


XIII. The Venue For The Studio Sessions


Anecdotal, fan-based stories portray Peggy Lee recording these numbers at her dressing room in the Americana Hotel, immediately after the concert had taken place. If such stories were to be believed, she would have just put on a set of earphones and would have proceeded to sing and re-record all the vocals over the (unsatisfactory) tapes from the original concert. It's a mythical story. A far likelier scenario is that Lee, Shearing and other musicians recreated the session elsewhere.

Cuscuna thinks that the album's contents were "probably recorded in Miami, either at a local studio or more likely at a ballroom in the hotel with the remote equipment that Capitol's engineers brought down from New York." (Cuscuna wrote those comments for the 2003 CD version of Beauty And The Beat!. In 1992, when fewer details about the Beauty And The Beat! date were known, his discovery of two bonus tracks led him to speculate that they could have been "cut at a rehearsal or the sound check in the hall that housed the concert.")


In his liner notes for the 1992 Capitol Jazz CD, Will Friedwald asserts that, "[w]ithin days of the convention, the threesome were at work transforming the event into an album." His timeline is probably predicated on beliefs held at the time of his writing, and now known to be incorrect -- i.e., that the album contained the live event. Continues Friedwald: "At the original concert, Lee and Shearing had generally seguewayed from one tune to another without saying anything, and some of the announcements that were there had been off-mike. However, to make it sound even more live, Cavanaugh decided that each tune should have a spoken intro."

If we are to base our assessment on Lee's Miami timeline (or what is known about it), these studio date(s) could have been recorded either before or after the concert. However, I can think of no logical reason to assume that they were recorded before the concert -- unless the album contents actually come from taped rehearsals.

"We rendezvoused in Florida," Lee writes in her autobiography, referring to Shearing and herself, "to set the keys and figure out the arrangements. We were up seventy-two hours straight." Lee was also interviewed for the 1992 CD release, in which she is quoted as saying that "[w]e were all pretty much wrecked ... They had a talk-back set up for Dave [Cavanaugh], and he would speak to us from the control room. His feet were so swollen for having been on them for so many hours ..."

Lee had made another pertinent comment decades earlier, while being interviewed wby radio broadcaster Fred Hall: "How we lived through it and stayed alive, I don't know, because it was 72 hours that we were up ...[...]... We recorded the whole thing in front of the disc jockeys convention, and then we did some extra sides and polished some things that the acoustics were not quite right, or something. I always think about Dave Cavanaugh, whose feet had begun to swell up because he was so tired, and every time he touched the button for the talkback it would give him a shock, and he would say, We'll do that--OUCH!" This comment, like the one in the previous paragraph, suggests that the studio recording (the extra sides and what she vaguely recalls or misremembers as "polishing") happened very soon after the live concert.


XIV. Personnel Of The Live And Studio Sessions


The identities of the sessions' bassist, drummer and vibraphonist have also been the subject of contention. In the main body of this discography (i.e., the sessionography), I have chosen to list the names given in Capitol's session file, which is my primary source for the Capitol pages of this discography. Besdies George Shearing's, the names are Carl Pruitt (b), Ray Alexander (vib), and Ray Mosca (d). All three musicians were members of Shearing' quintet during the late 1950s. In the album itself, George Shearing is heard saying "at this time, we introduce our bass player, Carl Pruitt," thereby giving partial validation to the personnel listing in the session file.

However, the 1992 Capitol Jazz CD Beauty And The Beat! lists a different set of musicians:

James Bond (bass)
Roy Haines (drums), Warren Chaisson (vibes)

The Bond/Haines/Chaisson personnel has been proven to be erroneous. Vibraphonist Ray Alexander is credited with being the first to notice that the personnel given in the 1992 CD was not correct. He contacted Capitol about it, and as a result corrections were made. Alexander showed gratitude for the correction in a 1993 interview for Jazz Journal International: "I was fortunate enough to record the album Beauty And The Beat!, with Peggy Lee. It's proved to be a classic over the years ... The only thing that bugged me was that none of the musicians were credited on the album. I'm happy to say that it's been re-released on a CD and all the musicians were listed ... The record is considered a classic, and it's great that they took the time to give credit to the proper musicians for the session." Michael Cuscuna is to be thanked for this diligent correction, which was made in later pressings of the 1992 CD, as well as in the updated version of the CD that came out in 2003.

A small chance remains, however, that both of these sets of musicians are correct. That is to say, the musicians who played live in concert and the musicians who came to the studio could have been different men. But so far I have found no evidence leading in that direction. (A scenario such as this one would make sense if the first set of musicians was momentarily unavailable due to travel restrictions or a commitment to another engagement.)

There are additional sources that list yet other musicians. To wit: Percy Bryce on bass, Emil Richards on vibes ,and Ray Ellington on vibes. Those additional sources are incorrect.

Over the decades, the Shearing Quintet naturally underwent personnel changes. Such changes, along with general misinformation, could account for the existence of the personnel discrepancies at issue.