Well, I see in the obituaries in the New York Times today that my pal, Speedo, has passed away. A real hero. A real rock'n'roll star. I never saw the Cadillacs perform but they were always a big favorite of mine. Mostly because of Speedo. They were in a lot of the lower rung rock'n'roll movies. They were a visual act as well as a first rate harmony group. Of course their biggest hit was Speedoo and was penned the same day in 1955 that Earl Carroll was given the nickname that would stick for the rest of his life. Another generation would come to know the twist of the name after Paul Simon quoted the line, "They often call me Speedo but my real name is Mr. Earl."
The Cadillacs broke up after years of chart success and Speedo sang bass and played first clown with the Coasters for years until there was no audience left for their art.
In 1969 when Richard Nader put together the first rock'n'roll revival for Madison Square Garden it became obvious that there was a long line waiting to see the artists who had brought us the beauty and the joy of a lifetime.
Soon after we were touring with Nader's package of Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and the Comets, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent and yep, the Coasters. Besides our set we backed up Chuck, Gene and the Coasters. What a dream.
On the second night in Orlando I was undressing for bed in my motel room when I heard a whisper in the hallway. "Duckbutter? Hey Duckbutter!"
I opened my door to find Speedo walking the halls trying to find any one of his new friends. He explained that the boys were having a little party down in one of their rooms and they thought that we might like to join in. Probably my proudest moment.
I got dressed and hurried with him back to the party. There, crammed into one small room was the entire group and three or four pretty young girls. White girls. It was several years before it occurred to me why the guys wanted us at the party.
After a short time it was fairly obvious that there would be no debauchery and no wild tales to tell later. I asked, "Speedo, are you hungry?"
"I'm so hungry if I put a biscuit on my head my tongue would beat my brains out," he replied. Most of everything he said sounded like a line from a Leiber and Stoller song.
We stumbled out to the elevator, somewhat impaired, and attempted to find something to sustain us. We went to our rooms hungry. God bless Speedo.