Excerpt from the book:
"Other Days" (Published soon)
by Lee Alan
First Book "Turn Your Radio On"
Audio Book available
In the 60s Joel Sebastian and I were on television with our own version of a dance party show. Music, stars, dancers and fun. Joel was the picture of cool. Well dressed, smiling, deep voice, handsome and just plain suave. I was the opposite.
Our Halloween show on Club 1270, ABC-TV in 1963 had Marvin Gaye, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and Cassius Clay (Before he became Muhammad Ali).
Playing the idiot fool as usual I came out dressed as a Ghost. Cassius had just released an album called “I Am the Greatest”. It was hilarious. Most of it was all about Sonny Liston, how he was going to “whup the big ugly bear”, and the entire cast and crew of the show were doubled up laughing as he floated like a butterfly roaming all over the set reciting his “greatest” material.
“Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat,
if Liston goes back an inch farther he'll be in ringside seat.
Clay swings with a left, Clay swings with a right, just
look at young Cassius carry the fight.
Liston keeps backing but there's not enough room,
it's a matter of time until Clay lowers the boom.
Then Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing,
and the punch raised the bear clear out of the ring.
Liston still rising and the ref wears a frown, but he can't
start counting until Sonny comes down.
Now Liston disappears from view, the crowd is getting frantic
and our radaring stations see him over the Atlantic.
Who on Earth thought, when they came to the fight,
that they would witness the launching of a human satellite.
So the crowd did not dream, when they laid down their money,
that they would see a total eclipse of Sonny.”
All the time he was moving and dancing I was behind him in my Ghost outfit, blowing "The Lee Alan Fine Toned Horn", mimicking him and dancing like his shadow. Now and then he would suddenly turn around and shoot some left jabs and combinations my way just barely missing.
He played to the audience, for a few seconds, ran up the studio stairs to the master control room over looking the set, then down again. All the time I was close behind waving my arms like I was scaring him…or somebody!
That night he was on my radio show reciting the same “Greatest” material.
A few months later on February 25, 1964 not only was Sonny Liston totally psyched out; but couldn’t come out for the seventh round. Cassius Marcellus Clay “whupped that big ugly bear”, became the heavyweight champion of the world, soon after joined the Muslim Religion, and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
Some weeks after his appearance on Club 12-7-0 a friend wanted to know how I survived and kept my job. You still working there? What ?
He pointed out to me what that Halloween appearance looked like to some people. Think of it. Cassius Clay, a black Olympic Gold Medalist from the south dancing around a TV studio followed ever so closely by someone blowing a Horn covered with a white sheet and a hood with holes for eyes and mouth.
A black man being chased by a white shadow in a sheet! Now what’s wrong with that picture? I’m sure he realized what it looked like. While it was happening it never crossed my mind. But he was gracious, funny, fun loving, and a master psychologist.
From Bob Hardt. A great radio news journalist who was there:
"Lee, I remember the night he was on the radio with you. I was working in the newsroom when he sailed through on his way to your studio. We met again years later when I was at WABC in New York and did a one-on-one interview with Ali in his hotel room. The change in his demeanor from the brassy Cassius I met at WXYZ to the matured and mellowed Ali was amazing."
The “Greatest” was the Heavyweight Champion of the World and I still had a job.
To me he was then, is, and always will be…THE GREATEST!
UPDATE June 5, 2016
Worldwide headlines: "Muhammad Ali Dead at 74".
Another part of us is gone.
Brother Joel Sebastian passed at age 53 in January 1986
There was a tear this morning from me. For them. For all of us.
Our "Other Days" are fading more quickly now. More quickly......