Legendary broadcaster Larry King got his start as a disc jockey in Miami. He has a great affection for music, particularly American classics like Frank Sinatra, and tells us tales about wooing women and launching his career. He currently hosts the Emmy-nominated web series Larry King Now.
Hosted by Eric J. Lawrence.
For More: http://www.ora.tv/larrykingnow
- Frank Sinatra - "I've Got A Crush on You"
- Bobby Darin - "Artificial Flowers"
- Frank Sinatra - "The Way You Look Tonight"
- Don McLean - "American Pie"
- John Fogerty - "Centerfield"
Eric J. Lawrence: Hi I’m Eric J. Lawrence and I’m here with legendary broadcaster Larry King. Among his numerous projects through the years he currently hosts the Emmy-nominated web series Larry King Now. Today we’re here to talk about some songs that have inspired him through his life as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Larry, thank you so much for joining us.
Larry King: Thank you, Eric. I remember my days as a DJ very fondly.
EJL: Well, what's the first song you got for us?
LK: The first song had an effect on my life when I was a teenager, when I started dating, when I started necking in cars with girls, was Frank Sinatra’s “I Got a Crush on You.”
It’s a parody song because he’s sort of making fun of himself at the same time, if you listen closely to the lyrics. But it’s a wonderful love song. It's always touched my heart and Frank Sinatra’s my all-time favorite singer, the classic singer of American classic music. So, "I’ve Got A Crush On You" is number 1.
EJL: That was Frank Sinatra with “I’ve Got a Crush On You.” What’s the next track you've got for us?
LK: Well, the first famous person I ever interviewed was Bobby Darin.
I was doing my disc jockey show. Every morning I was doing the morning show in Miami. This restaurant on Miami Beach called Pumperniks, they wanted to have a morning show interviewing people so I would do that every morning from 10 to 11 and I would interview visiting firemen and waiters and waitresses, people who were in the restaurant. And one day, Bobby Darin walked in.
At that time, "Mack the Knife" was the number one hit song in America and I loved that record, but my favorite all time Bobby Darin song -- in addition to “Beyond the Sea” and “Mack the Knife” -- was “Artificial Flowers” from the Broadway show Tenderloin.
He does such a magnificent jump record of it, his swing ability was incredible. Bobby died at a very young age, but this is an incredible tune. It’s a sad, sad song about a girl selling artificial flowers who dies because of freezing cold and he makes it into an uptempo swing song that is unbelievable. And a great arrangement by Dick West. Bobby Darin’s “Artificial Flowers,” great song.
EJL: How did you get involved in being a DJ?
LK: I always wanted to be in radio. I wanted to be in radio when I was 5 years old. I had no other goal. I didn’t go to college. I had a bunch of odd jobs, but I always wanted to be in radio and finally got down to Miami when I was 22 years old, knocked on doors. A small radio station hired me. I thought I’d be a sports announcer and I wound up being a disc jockey. That led to doing the talk show at Pumperniks that lead to a night time radio talk show that lead to a television show in Miami and then a national radio talk show and then CNN, but it all started as a disc jockey and I have great affection for jocks. I like the people who bring me music. I like playing music. I had a lot of fun with it. I did a funny disc jockey show. I could do it again Eric, invite me down to the studios I’ll do a whole three-hour session for you.
EJL: That was “Artificial Flowers,” as performed by Bobby Darin and selected by our guest Larry King. What’s the next track you got for us?
LK: When I met my wife Shawn, this was right at the end of the OJ Simpson trial. I lived in Washington, but I came out to LA to cover that trial. I did a lot of shows from here then met Shawn, we started to date and then we arranged to get married. Of all the Sinatra songs, I think this is the best arrangement ever. I think this is one of the great love songs ever written and his interpretation of it is impeccable. The phrasing, the lyrics, the ability to live in the lyrics, the whole thing puts together into what I would call a great piece of American music, “The Way You Look Tonight.”
EJL: Do you consider yourself a romantic?
LK: Oh definitely. I’ve been married a few times, and I love being in love, I went the whole bid, I’d send the flowers, send the candy, keep them surprised, keep them guessing, I was good at the chase, I had a special way about me, I remember those days fondly. Yes, ahhhh, the women in my life. Yes, I remember it well.
EJL: That was the Chairman of the Board with “The Way You Look Tonight.” We’re talking about American classics, what’s the next track you got for us?
LK: Don McLean’s “American Pie." This is about when that tragic accident killed The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly. Well, Buddy Holly, his death affected Don McLean a great deal. I interviewed Don and he told me about it. And he wrote a song, I think the original cut was 7 ½ minutes. This was a disc jockey’s heaven song because you could go to the bathroom, but it’s impossible to listen to this song and not want to hear it all day. There were famous stories of disc jockeys in America who would lock themselves in the studio and play this song around the clock. It’s an infectious tune. Once you hear it, it stays with you all day.
It’s a brilliant lyric about a guy delivering newspapers and seeing the headline shock of the death of Buddy Holly. So it’s "Bye bye miss American pie, drove my Chevy to the levy," nothing like it.
EJL: That was Don McLean with “American Pie.” What’s the last track you got for us?
LK: Well, I’m a major baseball fan. I loved the Dodgers, I grew up in Brooklyn with the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. I have season tickets. My two younger boys are both active baseball players and Dodger fans so John Fogerty, who I just interviewed, he wrote a masterpiece “Centerfield.” There’s more songs about baseball more than other sports put together. “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” is part of my soul. But my all- time favorite baseball record - every time I hear it, I want to hear it all day - is John Fogerty’s "Centerfield." "Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today."
EJL: Larry, thank you so much for joining us here at KCRW.
LK: Thank you Eric, thank you. Great pleasure.