Lovely Guarnieri

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Reading Steve Voce’s review of Derek Coller’s biography of Johnny Guarnieri brought back a memory from nearly 40 years ago.

My wife and I were at The Tail of the Cock in Hollywood. Prominent in the room was a grand piano that had built around it a red-velvet bar at which were seated a man and a woman. Playing the piano was Johnny Guarnieri. We, too, sat at the piano bar, quietly drinking and listening to John’s playing.

Not so the other couple. They were having what might be termed “a heated exchange of views”. This went on and on and eventually we gave up trying to listen to the music and left.

The following night we went back, taking with us Bill Berry and his son, Bill Jnr. Although it was some time since they last met, John and Bill knew one another and after a hugely enjoyable set, John joined us for a drink.

Mostly we just listened as reminiscences flowed, but at one point I mentioned to John the experience of the previous day and asked how he coped with that kind of thing. He shrugged and said: “It goes with the job”. A lovely man and a superb pianist. Looking forward to reading Superstride.
Bruce Crowther