Last night, as my 9 year old daughter Zoe and I drove home, she said what she often says while riding in my car, “Can we PLEASE listen to something from the 2000’s?”
I like contemporary music, but I also love the old stuff. I go through phases of different eras and genres. I would apologize to my kids for subjecting them to that, but I love that my daughter can sing the lyrics to almost any Motown song, much of the 80’s music, and can often be heard belting out “Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons.” Currently as I am typing this, she is walking down the stairs singing “Love will keep us together” by “Captain and Tenille.”
So I ignored her request and flipped on the 70’s station. It was Glen Campbell singing “Southern Nights.” I heard a groan from the back seat.
“You know, your dad flew on a plane with Glen Campbell once.”
“Yes, and the plane got struck by lightning.”
“You’re making that up.”
But I wasn’t. Several years ago my husband was on a flight with Glen Campbell. He said at the time he got on the plane he knew he was someone famous, but couldn’t quite figure out who he was. He said that he was dressed really well. ( I asked him this morning if he was dressed like a “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He looked at me for a moment and then said, “No.” He doesn’t think I’m as funny as I think I am.)
Glen was in first class, and my husband was kiddie corner from him, so he had a direct view. He heard the murmurs all around, people whispering “isn’t that…” and it was clear the flight attendant was giving him extra attentive service. Jeff says Glen looked like he was trying to keep a low profile.
Partway through the flight, that all changed. It was a bumpy stormy flight to start off. But suddenly there was a large CRACK! The plane lit up like Times Square and then dropped like a thousand feet in an instant. Everyone on the plane thought they were going to die. (He says now that he’s not sure if it actually hit the plane or was just very close. Would a direct hit cause all the electronics to fry?)
When they all realized they had survived, the atmosphere of the plane changed. Suddenly the flight attendants were serving drinks, everyone was getting liquored up in relief and celebration, and Glen Campbell was out of his seat signing autographs. Jeff said, “If he had his guitar with him, he probably would have led a sing-along on the plane.”
Sadly, Glen Campbell is in deteriorating health, but we have his music and this awesome story that will live on.
That story got me thinking about other celebrity encounter stories I have heard and/or experienced. “US” magazine says stars are “just like us!” and then they post ridiculous things like “Justin Timberlake pumps his own gas!” or “Khloe Kardashian has deodorant balls!”
As a general rule, I do believe celebrities are just like me… only with more money and fame. We are all human beings. And my instinct when I see one is to leave them alone. I passed Urijah Faber (UFC fighter for those who don’t know) in the taxi line at McCarran airport in Las Vegas. His butt chin was unmistakable. I felt that momentary buzz you get when in the presence of someone famous, but then I realized it was 95 degrees, he was in a line of a hundred other people, all of us weaving our way through the queue like lambs being led to slaughter. In that moment, he WAS just like us. I made eye contact and then looked away. It seemed like the right thing to do.
We had another UFC celebrity encounter in Vegas last year. The UFC is headquartered in Vegas, so I guess that’s not so surprising, but we lived in Southern Cal for 5 years and I never saw a celebrity.(*editor’s note- Sydney just reminded me that for a semester Bobbi Kristina Brown aka Krissi aka daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown attended her middle school.)
We were at SW Steakhouse at the Wynn hotel for our anniversary dinner when Chuck Liddell walked by. My husband almost peed his pants. Chuck Liddell is a former UFC light heavyweight champion who successfully defended his belt 4 times, and is now a member of the UFC Hall of Fame. (He’s also my friend Jami’s second favorite UFC fighter.) The next time our waiter came over, Jeff told him he wanted to send a drink over to the “Iceman.” A little while later he returned and said, “He appreciates the gesture, but he no longer drinks. He’d be happy to take a coffee, though.” I said, “Good one. You sent a drink to a recovering alcoholic.” We later found out that Liddell’s sobriety was short-lived when he began appearing in Miller Light commercials.
Nice restaurants are great places to spot celebrities, but I never expected to see one in Utah. We lived in Utah for 5 years, and when we moved to Southern Cal, our house in Utah was still on the market. It took several months, but it finally sold, and we had to fly back to Salt Lake to oversee the final packing and closing of the house. We decided to do it in style, so we stayed at the Grand America Hotel. One morning as we sat in the nearly empty restaurant having breakfast, I looked over at a group about 20 feet away and almost choked on my orange juice.
“Oh my God!”
“It’s that guy. Holy Cow. The guy. You know, ‘Silence of the Lambs.’ One of the greatest actors of our time!”
I couldn’t think of his name. I had a total mind blank.
Our waitress came over. “Is that…?”
She smiled. “Yes it is.”
It took my brain another couple minutes and then I said triumphantly, “Anthony Hopkins!”
Jeff said, “Shh.”
I leaned forward. “Oh my gosh I can’t believe this. He’s amazing. I wonder what he’s doing in Utah of all places?”
Jeff responded, “Currently I’d say he’s trying to eat his breakfast in peace.”
A little while later he said, “You need to stop looking at him. ”
“I can’t. He’s Sir Freaking Anthony Hopkins!”
“You’re making me uncomfortable. I’m sure you’re making him uncomfortable. Stop looking at him.”
“I wanna go over there and ask him if he’s having some fava beans with a nice Chianti.”
Blank stare of incredulity.
We eventually got the scoop from our waitress that Sir Hopkins was in town because he was filming the movie, “The World’s Fastest Indian” on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
I said, “Well that’s racist.” But it turned out the “Indian” in question was a motorcycle.
Jeff has had a lot more celebrity encounters than I have, in part because his old job required a lot of traveling. One day, when we still lived in Socal, he texted me.
” I’m at the airport sitting next to Jesse Jackson.”
“Shut up! You are not!”
“I am. Do you think I should sidle up next to him and say, ‘Hey my last name is Jackson too?'”
Hmm. Should you, a white man, tell Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist, that you share the same last name? Probably not. But I replied, “Totally. You totally should.”
He didn’t. I’m pretty sure he was joking.
I have to say, though, my favorite celebrity encounter story is my mother’s. My mom was born and raised in Southern California. She went to high school with David Ward (Oscar winning screenplay writer of “The Sting.”) and musician Jackson Browne (who taught my aunt to play guitar.) She went to college at USC at the same time as Tom Selleck, George Lucas and OJ Simpson. She’s also a people person, can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Celebrity status doesn’t phase her.
Back in the 70’s when she was living in Huntington Beach, there was a local club called the “Golden Bear.”
Note- Hoyt Axton’s name on the marquee. See my previous post http://kbjackson.com/any-man-can-be-a-father-it-takes-someone-special-to-be-a-dad/ to learn more about Hoyt Axton.
My mom was a regular down at the “Golden Bear.” It was a place where you could go hear rising stars and past their prime musicians perform in a cozy atmosphere. The small space lent itself to a feeling of familiarity with the performers. Early in her career, Linda Ronstadt played the “Golden Bear” and my mom went to see her several times.
One night Linda said that she was trying out a new band. At the break, my mother walked up to her and said, “I think you should lose the back-up band.” She went on to tell her that she felt the band was overpowering her, that she loved the acoustic style and that these guys were just too loud. Linda thanked her for her feedback.
She didn’t lose the band. Good call on Linda’s part…
It was “The Eagles.”