Between 1975 and 1980, I traveled with Neil Sedaka as his musical director. There was almost always an opening act on the show and it was usually a comedian. One of the guys who worked with us many times was Jay Leno. The audiences liked Jay. He really made them laugh, and he worked clean. Never any vulgar language. I got to know Jay and I remember him being a real nice guy. As Neil’s music director, I was able to just sign my name and all of my food and beverage charges were gratis wherever we worked. Being that I was able to do this, I would take Jay to dinner a number of times during an engagement. I remember one time in Reno Jay wanted to reciprocate so he offered to take me to a $1.99 breakfast buffet at a smaller hotel. I knew he could not afford the expensive dinners, and this was his way of saying thanks. So we walked to the other hotel and had a great time.
Wow, how things have changed for Jay. Today he could not only buy the breakfast buffet, he could also buy the hotel where it’s being served. I’m real happy for Jay. He really is one of the nicest guys I have ever met in the entertainment industry. He deserves all of the success he has achieved. He worked hard for it, and never let his huge success go to his head. I see him once in awhile at a mutually favorite hotdog stand in Los Angeles and we catch up.
This photo was taken backstage at Harrah’s Hotel in Reno in 1977. I think this was between shows and we were on our way to a $2.99 dinner buffet.