Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passing Strangers - Gina Eckstine & Elmer Hopper

Meeting Billy Eckstine

Billy Eckstine was without a doubt one of the greatest entertainers of all time. I first met Billy in Australia back in 1979 while I was on tour with the Platters. I was invited by a group of beautiful dancers from Las Vegas called Harlem Fever, to see Billy who was performing at the St. George Leagues a few miles from Sydney. The show was so awesome, there was a tap dance act called The Clark Brothers, an incredible singer called Damita Jo. This show was something that Paul Robi said you could only see in New York or Las Vegas many years ago.

After the performance Paul Robi and I went to say hello to Billy. I was so taken by how professional Billy Eckstine was. I was 25 years of age at that time and had only knew of Billy Eckstine from a previous album I heard on the radio called "Feel The Warm". To meet Billy after watching him literally slaughter this particular Australian audience, was a huge deal for me.

Nearly 10 years later while in Brazil, again on tour with the Platters we ran into Billy once again. This time Billy was finishing a performance at a hotel called the Maksoud Plaza, in Sao Paulo. He was also staying at the hotel, so Paul called his room as said that we had just checked in and wanted to meet in the lobby's coffee shop.

I waited for Paul to get ready and call me to go down and say hi to Billy for so that I just went down stairs on my own to meet again with my favorite singer. Our conversation was so funny and I believe that because Billy has sons my age, that he felt as if I was just like one of his own kids. I asked as many questions as I could without seeming like a pest or an over excited fan before Paul and his wife and the other members of our group came down. What we talked about I'll save for me book.

Paul Robi finally came down stars to meet his longtime friend Billy Eckstine and embraced and carried on with an incredible conversation about great times from years of working just opposite to Paul telling him what a fan he was to Billy.

Interesting thing was during our conversation, Billy mentioned that I should contact his son Ed who was a big producer at Mercury/ Polydor record company, which I did only to talk about things one should do to get a record deal. Ed was a very busy man and I could tell that he didn't have time to talk to someone he didn't personally know. He was very nice though.

After talking to Billy for a long time he never mentioned a word to me about his daughter Gina who was pretty close to my age. Had I known Gina was a singer and was probably working on her own at that time, If I was Billy I wouldn't have. Never the less Billy's daughter Gina's name came up to me while I was assisting a friend and legendary bassist Jimmy Bond, with his computer. He said that he knew Gina and was going to try and help her with getting some gigs through some of his connections. I asked if he would introduce me to her, which he did say he would but when was another question.

After months passed by while waiting for Jimmy to give me some information about Gina, after another month passed I asked again about Gina. This time Jimmy's cousin Vincent Bond told me that he had a promo video on Gina, and would let me have a look and copy it. I took it home and viewed her promo video to see that she was not only good, but beautiful. I looked her up on line to find that she was a vocal teacher, and was available through email. I contacted her with a plan.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Elmer Hopper/The Mills Brothers

This is just a small idea of the activities to stay busy. Click On The Photo

Soundtrack Elmer Hopper recorded on the movie "The Express" (2008) "I Love You Darlin'"
Written by Steve Weisberg
Performed by Elmer Hopper
Courtesy of Stove Proeber Music

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gina Eckstine

This is a promo video of Gina Eckstine

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kind Words said about Hopper


Things Said

Everyone felt Tony Williams’ lead was the most attractive. He was followed by Sony Turner, then Monroe Powell, but some of the original members did not like the new lead vocals, so they left the group and started their own in search of a lead singer like Tony Williams.

Paul Robi continued The Platters for approximately 20 years with Elmer Hopper as the lead. Paul Robi died in 1989.

It is 30 years since Reed, Robi and Ram started a three-cornered battle over the Platters name. During this time, the verdict went to Ram, then back to Robi, and in the meanwhile, both of them have died. Nearly 20 groups scattered around the world are calling themselves “The Platters”. This dispute is yet to see the end. The Platters’ name is all that attractive.

There’s a similar tale about the legitimacy of the trademark “Noren” curtain of a famous “Soba” (Japanese noodle) restaurant in Azabu-Jyuban Nagasaka.

Tony Williams himself said that the only singer who is good enough to sing his hit songs is Elmer Hopper.

The very same Elmer Hopper one day sent Shakushigakudo Master an email asking about something he wanted to know. He asked about news on some Japanese musicians. He didn’t know that Hidehiko Matsumoto had died. He had toured Japan often during the ‘70s and ‘80s. He now tours as the Mills Brothers with son John II of the youngest of the original Mills brothers, Donald.

In October 2005, John Mills II and Elmer Hopper toured Japan as the Mills Brothers. I hadn’t thought that they would be able to make a tour here, so we all were very happy to be able to meet in person. What a strange coincidence. I had been corresponding with John II since 2003 and with Elmer since 2004 via the internet.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Mills Brothers (Featuring John H. Mills II)


Elmer Hopper & John Mills

Upon the hospitalization of Donald F. Mills, Sr. of the Mills Brothers, Elmer joined forces with Donald’s son John H. Mills, II, in June of 1999. Forming this newest generation of The Mills Brothers, John and Elmer present a singular recreation of music that has been universally embraced by audiences since 1922.