t was the end of January when Mark Fox from the International Tony Bennett Appreciation Society send me the good news that Mr. Bennett was to visit England and Scotland this summer to give some concerts.
The last time Tony toured Europe was in the summer of 2000. He even was in Hamburg, Germany, but it was because of some exams I had to pass at university that it was impossible for me to see him back then. Having never seen him live in person before there was no doubt for me that this time I simply had to see him. Unfortunately I would have to go through some exams at university once again, anyway as I said before, this time I JUST HAD to see him!
With the decision made, I just had to choose the concert date. My busy schedule left only one choice: July 2nd, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
With all hotel and flight bookings done the time went by pretty fast, but just a couple of weeks prior to the event a thought struck me: Who would deserve it more than Tony Bennett to become the very first honorary member of our Sinatra Society? Of course, you all know the answer…
The board of our society immediately supported the idea and was absolutely enthusiastic about it (who wouldn’t?). So I contacted Mark Fox and asked him what he thought about the whole idea. Mark was very positive about it, encouraged me and gave advice on how to meet Tony.
Everything seemed to work out well. Anyway by now there were only a few days left for preparing a nice framed honorary membership certificate. It was almost literally the last minute before departure when I got the certificate from our president via express delivery from Berlin!
Finally everything was prepared, now I just had to meet Tony in Glasgow.
In the morning of July 2nd my mom, who is a Tony Bennett fan as well, and myself were leaving from Frankfurt to Glasgow. With only a short delay we arrived in Glasgow, then checked in at our the hotel, that was located in the wonderful centre of the city. After that we already had to go to the Royal Concert Hall not just to pick up our tickets for the evening but even more important to finally meet Tony and present him the membership. You might guess that on our way to the Concert Hall I got quite nervous…
At the concert Hall we were supposed to meet Tony’s Manager Vance. The staff at the hall were very kind and called him via radio immediately. Only a couple of seconds later he came down to us. He seemed to be relaxed and was very nice as I told him, that I was the member of the German Sinatra Society who was to present Tony with the Honorary Membership. Vance replied that it was no problem to meet Tony, that he’d be happy to receive the membership and to meet us. We should just come back one hour later when Tony was supposed to arrive.
Boy, that was it – I was to meet Tony Bennett!
And as you might guess, I was now even getting more nervous. I mean, you don’t meet Tony Bennett everyday.
An hour later we returned to the concert hall where we were lead to a waiting room. When we entered that room I was thrilled because the quartets’ soundcheck was transmitted via speakers. And now guess what the quartet played the moment
we entered? The Best Is Yet To Come!! I’m not kidding.
Tony obviously hadn’t arrived yet as one could only hear the quartet doing their check. We sat down on a sofa right next to an elevator and listened. After 20min or so the elevator doors open and just a couple of inches away stands Tony Bennett!!
Of course my mother and I jump on our feet as Tony comes towards us with a smile on his face. We shake hands with Tony and I introduce my mother and myself. The moment I say that I’m from the German Sinatra Society, Mr. Bennett interrupts me and says „Great, Great“. He also says that he’s honoured to meet us, and of course I answer that we are honoured to meet him!
To be honest I actually don’t know anymore what I said when I presented him the honorary membership (I told you I was nervous). Yet I do know that Tony as he looked at it said „I’m honoured, I’m really honoured“. Unfortunately Tony had only very little time because of his sound check and an interview date later on. Of course, he had still enough time left for taking a couple of pictures and signing my latest copy of the TBAS magazine (To Michael – THANK YOU – Tony Bennett). After that we said goodbye to him and Vance, who took the pictures. Just before the elevator doors closed I could hear Vance say as he was looking at the framed membership certificate „Look how beautiful this is“.
Only a minute after they had left us, we could hear Tony doing his soundcheck. And that was quite exciting! Especially because he was singing „The Christmas Waltz“ and another Christmas song. As we know now he was probably rehearsing for his new Christmas Album with Robert Farnon and the London Symphony Orchestra. These two songs were followed by „In A Mellow Tone” and once again „The Christmas Waltz“. Finally the sound check was concluded and so we decided to leave. After thanking all the guys at the stage door and saying good bye, we walked outside where we found Clayton Cameron, Tony’s Drummer, standing right before us. I just said „Oh it’s Clayton Cameron!“ where upon he smiled at me and we shook hands.
At the end of that marvellous afternoon we headed to a nice pub and looked forward to a wonderful concert that evening…
Meeting Tony Bennett was really something very special for me. Mr. Bennett was in no way arrogant or anything like that. He is a nice, friendly and most courteous and down-to-earth person – or in other words: he’s just Tony!
By the way all this was just one day before I turned 23 and I assure you that this year’s birthday is one I will never forget! It was certainly the most beautiful birthday I can think of – Thank You Tony.
Last but not least I want to thank my mom for her support in Glasgow, and of course Mark Fox for his help.