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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Alley Audio Clip and Transcript

Alley Audio Clip. 

Interviewer: Alex Walsh


EA:            As I said, I was a contractor.  I became a contractor.

AW:            What does that mean?

EA:            Well, I’d hire a band — big bands would play for...

AW:            Okay...

EA:            When a big show came here and they wanted a contractor to contract  for the show...

AW:            I understand, yeah.

EA:            And I had to get the band together.

AW:            Yeah.

EA:            I was good at math and Jim Schlicht helped me a lot, getting the musicians together, because he helped me a lot in that category.  But I was good at math, so I knew how to figure.  So I was good at things like that.  Being a contractor, I got a number from the government, so I could contract work for Gene Kelly.  Gene Kelly wasn’t in the show (Clown Around), but it was his show.  So I met Gene Kelly, I met Nelson Riddle and Tony Bennett…

AW:            So, shows in the theatres downtown, those shows, or concerts?

EA:            Concerts, just [those] coming around.

AW:            Okay.

EA:            I did stuff for Gladys Knight and the Pips.  I did stuff for Tony Bennett.  I got a picture of Tony Bennett and me here.  I met Tony Bennett.  I did stuff with Jack Jones. 

AW:            Wow.

EA:            Allan Smith was a contractor, and I contracted him.  Sammy Davis, Jr.  (Both laugh briefly)  So I met some pretty powerful guys in show business for a guy (laughs) that wasn’t a full-time musician.  (Laughs)

AW:            Yeah.  How did you – did that mess with your head at all?

EA:            No, I was pretty sharp.  I have to say something.  I was pretty sharp.  I mean, I had a lot of help from some – by my friends.  Jim Schlicht helped me get a lot of musicians together.  He was a lot of help for me.  And he also played with me.  So he benefited both ways, too.  (Laughs)

                                    Working a Day Job

AW:            So – did anyone, I mean, did they care whether you had a day job or not, or was it just like, “Oh, that’s what you gotta…”?

EA:            No – no, no.  No, it didn’t interrupt my day job.

AW:            ‘Cause people now they look back and they think those are the golden days.

EA:            Uh-huh.

AW:            But, yet, here you had to have a day job in order...  Could you not have?

EA:            Yeah.  Do you know how much I was making from my day job when I got married, which was [in]… 1938…  I was making a hundred and ten dollars a month.

AW:            And  you couldn’t...

EA:            I got married on that!  So that’s why I red-capped down at Third and Townsend and played music on the side.  I had to.

AW:            Yeah.

EA:            How you gonna live on one hundred and ten dollars a month?

EA:            Yeah.  Although that was...

AW:            I mean, back then, I dunno...

EA:            Different.

AW:            Was that a lot?  I don’t know.

EA:            It was different, yeah.  But I red-capped down at Third and Townsend.  I was a Red Cap.  I’d go down and red-cap early in the morning and then went to the Metropolitan [Life Insurance Company], run elevator, and on weekends, play music.

AW:            Wow.

EA:            You had to do all those things.  But it didn’t hurt me.  I’m ninety-two years old.  (Laughs a long time)

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Eddie Alley
Alley Audio Clip and Transcript