Terry Fischer-Siegel Interview
In May of 1998, one of the greatest singers of the Twentieth Century, Frank Sinatra, passed away.
Q – Terry, were you always a Frank Sinatra fan?
A – Always.
Q – What did you like about his singing?
A – His phrasing. His showmanship. The way he performed. And-----his voice!
Q – So, how did you land the gig as the opening act for Frank Sinatra’s 1977 “Ole Blue Eyes Is Back” Tour?
A – I was working in Lake Tahoe, and I believe I was working with Fabian. I was hired as a percussionist for Fabian when he’d come to Nevada.
Q – You mean a whole drum set?
A – I play conga drums, tambourine, and xylophone. He already had a drummer. Very quickly he found out I could sing and he started featuring me in his show. I’d come out from behind and do a couple of songs. I believe someone from Sam Butera’s band saw me. Sam Butera And The Witnesses. He was with Louis Prima for his whole career, until he died I guess. I think it was the drummer in his band, Tommy. I think they were working somewhere in Lake Tahoe-----and said you have to come sing with us we’re going on tour with Sinatra. He needed a girl singer. He said, “I’m going to have him get in touch with you”-----and he did. And, I got the job.
Q – How long of a tour?
A – It was about 3 months of one nighters with the exception of Las Vegas which we did I think for about a week.
Q – Did you find yourself performing in hockey arenas-----7-10,000 seaters?
A – Oh, more than that. 25, 30, 50,000 (seaters). Big concert halls.
Q – How many minutes were you onstage?
A – Maybe 40 minutes. I was in the band with Sam Butera, and I was the featured girl singer in the band. So, I sang some tunes on my own, and I also sang a couple of duets with Sam Butera.
Q – What kind of songs did you sing?
A – Jazz songs. The same kind of songs that Sinatra Sang-----standards.
Q – Did you sing “Popsicles And Icicles”?
A – No, no, no. That would not have fit. I was there not as a “Murmaid” but as Terry Fischer. I had a career on my own at that time.
Q – Had you met Frank Sinatra before this particular tour?
A – I had not met him.
Q – What did you think of him as a person? How did he treat you?
A – He treated me wonderfully. There were a couple of times when we all went out. I think we went to Jilly’s in New York one night, when we were in New York. We didn’t hang-out. But, we were invited to come to some of the places after work, at a couple of places around the country where we were performing. The most memorable night was one night in Las Vegas. We used to watch him come down. After we finished, we’d stand in the hall and watch him walk down when it was his time to go on. We were in awe every night. It was the same thing no matter where we went. There were three generations of people in the audience-----the kids, the parents, and the grandparents. The flashbulbs would go on for 10-15 minutes when he came out. It was awesome. Every night the same thing. I remember that one night after I came off the stage after having sung, he came up to me and kissed me on the cheek and said-----“You sing your ass off”! I will never, ever forget that as long as I live.
Q – And you’ve probably never washed that cheek since!!
A – Never washed it. (Laughs). I used to see his wife Barbara as well. We exchanged pleasantries. She was very much a fan of mine as well. So, it was great fun.
Q – Where were you when you heard the news that Frank Sinatra passed away?
A – I think I was in Las Angeles at home. I had seen him a couple of years before he retired when we was working with Sammy Davis and Liza Minnelli. He came to town. I think he was at the Staple Center. That was the last time I saw him in person. When I heard he died, it was just a shock. We had no idea. As I recall, I don’t think anybody knew he was sick.
Q – You didn’t go backstage at the Staple Center to see him did you?
A – No, I didn’t.
Q – Did you attend the funeral services?
A – No. I was not that close to him. We weren’t hanging out. He didn’t do that. He had his friends and his people that he hung with. We were just kind of on the fringe and just taking it all in. But, he was very nice to us.