Mike Skinner

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Larry Horowitz » 08/27/01 02:12 PM

I'll start this historical forum off with a question. Is there any record or does anyone know, What Mike skinner performed in his history making week at the castle of all different effects?
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Postby Geno Munari » 08/27/01 10:00 PM

Roger Klause has a great story on this and how he performed a different effect every show and went on and on.....but I hope Roger will jump in here and tell us about it. There is a great ending.


:)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/27/01 11:14 PM

I don't think anyone really knows the list, I think it was must've been over 200 effects (at 10 effects a show, with over 20 shows that week). Perhaps Mike made a list in one of his notebooks, but only one person knows that now.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/03/01 11:06 PM

I have more of Mike's unpublished material, so perhaps more of it may appear in Genii one day.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 09/03/01 11:16 PM

If someone could catalog the 200 effects that Mike did that week, and be able to describe them all, THAT would be quite a book and an incredible tribute.
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 09/04/01 02:30 AM

A book about that week or even a feature article in the magazine would be a great tribute. Not that the past issue wasn't.
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Postby Cugel » 09/04/01 02:36 AM

Skinner deserves more than a few pages in Genii, regardless of how reverentially the effects are described. How about a decent book? A BIG book?

The L&L book had some neat stuff, despite the fact that it was dumped on by Busby, et al. But I'm sure Kaufman and Company could put together something really good, along the lines of the Jennings stuff. I'd wager Richard's even got lots of unique footage of Mike - maybe more than just the Roger Klause stuff that circulates in 5th and 6th generation dubs. How about it Richard?

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Postby Guest » 09/04/01 04:48 PM

I hear you, Andrew. I haven't meat Michael Skinner, but from what I've heard he was the best of the best. So I agree, that he deserves a big book, maybe along the lines of The Classic magic of Larry jennings!

Are there anyone here on this boeard, who was lucky enough to meet Michael Skinner?? If so how was he like??

Thanks,
Daniel
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/04/01 05:42 PM

Skinner was a remarkably nice guy--soft-spoken and modest. He was not always the same, however, because of the heavy dose of medication he took to control his mental illness. Sometimes he was extremely robotic in his magic performances, other times he was closely in touch with his audience.
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Postby Guest » 09/06/01 12:04 PM

Richard: Your comment that only one person knows re: Michael Skinner's personal notebooks, is an interesting one.

Michael's notebooks, the majority of his props and his entire magic library were acquired by Geno Munari of Las Vegas as
the result of an estate sale conducted by the probate court.

I was privy to the notebooks, over the years, during my countless visits to Michael's home.

I was somewhat curious when I saw an example of one of these notebooks in the fabulous Michael Skinner issue of Genii Magazine. Care
to divulge the donor?

Re: Michael's 200 effects during his week at the Magic Castle...

Michael told me that Bill Larson requested that he not continue with this marathon due
to the fact that only magicians were first in line to crowd into the close up room to see what new effects Michael would do next.
This restricted the laymen from the shows.
I think Michael told me that he received this request after the third night.

At any rate, I understand that, with the blessing of Michael's heirs,Geno is planning
to release to the fraternity a formal tribute to Michael as well as establish a collection of Michael's memorabilia in one his Houdini Magic shops. Much like he has done with the Houdini Museum at the Venitian
Hotel and Casino.

Keep up the great work Richard. I love the Forum.

Roger

[ September 06, 2001: Message edited by: Richard Kaufman ]
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/06/01 11:58 PM

Roger, Geno Munari does NOT have Michael Skinner's notebooks. :)
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Postby Guest » 09/07/01 12:22 PM

Richard:

Re: Michael's notebooks...While in Vegas for the Magic...Live event, I was at Geno's home and saw 7 of the notebooks that I was very familiar with: identical to the one depicted in the Skinner issue of Genii.

So, now I'm confused...are their duplicates
out there, or are we talking about a different set of notebooks? If so, you have
my apology for my ignorance. Enlighten me,
please...

Regards,

Roger
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Postby Steve Bryant » 09/07/01 01:12 PM

Geno had also mentioned to me having 7 of Skinner's notebooks, in the past week or so. How many are there? I was fortunate to have seen Mike work only in his "prime," first at the Magic Castle and later in lectures in Seattle and St. Louis. As I recall, most of what was in the lectures was in the L&L book and in the earlier Genii issue on Skinner.
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Postby Guest » 09/07/01 05:43 PM

A few Mike Skinner anecdotes that might be of interest...I was fortunate to spend time with Michael when he would come east to the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City.

I would usually meet him mid-morning when he was just getting up. We'd first meet downstairs at one of the restaurants where he would wake up with coffee and easy card tricks. He would fool me with some of the "easier" stuff.

Mike was very gracious and always offered to buy breakfast. Of course, he was "compted" (sp?)

One trick which "knocked my socks off" (I perform it today for magicians and they love it) is a classic from Vernon's Ultimate Card Secrets--Jay Ose's "Do as I Do" with one pack. It reads "dry," but TRY it...just once and you'll use it!

Another great trick, which was published in Classic Sampler, is the Mona Lisa trick. If you haven't tried it, just do it once for laymen. Great effect. When Michael first performed it for me, I could do nothing more than smile...Excellent audience response, little work. (Although, I still believe that the double lift is one of the most difficult moves to perform--and the most maligned.)

After awhile, we would usually retire to his room and session at a table. It was always intriguing to see the selection of books that he would bring east to study. They would be across the floor of his room. (I remember the Marlo Magazines in particular.)

I still have audio tapes from our sessions. Michael was always very open and willing to share virtually any sleight or trick he performed. Slow and smooth, silky. His voice was almost mesmerizing as it "lilted" through his patter. Quite engaging, very entertaining.

Also, I had the pleasure of introducing Michael to Geoff Latta at Reuben's Deli in NYC. It was the first time they met. Needless to say, they were both impressed. Michael immediately suggested Geoff come out to Vegas to meet with the "boys."

I remember one effect Michael did which fooled us badly. It was since published, but I can't remember where. Geoff shuffled the deck, Mike turned the cards face up one at a time in a pile and memorized the cards. He asked Geoff to name any number. Geoff named 34. Mike named a card and then counted down slowly to the 34th card. Sure enough, it was the card he called. (It did involve some memorization, but the cool thing was Mike's misdirection. He stared up at the ceiling as if remembering every card and just waited...waited to do the move...very slowly. We both missed it and were fooled, bad.)

Michael then asked if all the "regulars" would perform a few effects for him. Everyone gathered around the table. What a session!

The one "sad part" of the story was that Gene Maze was sitting at another table at the Deli and for what ever reasons (I think mainly modesty as Gene was/is never one to "show off") they never met each other. I know they would have enjoyed each other's company! Hopefully they had a chance to session some other time.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 09/07/01 06:10 PM

A quote from MB Korn
"Although, I still believe that the double lift is one of the most difficult moves to perform--and the most maligned."

It is very easy to do _poorly_. (just difficult to do well -- like playing guitar).
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/08/01 01:57 AM

I don't really know what Geno has, but I DO know that another person has (perhaps had?) several of Mike's notebooks. More than that I cannot say. Roger--I'm sure you know who it is! He'd rather not have his name mentioned publically.
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Postby Gary » 10/10/01 09:48 PM

A good friend of Michael's was PERMITTED, by Michael, to make copies of the notebooks, so I would say Geno has the originals and a "friend" of Michaels has a copy of the notebooks.
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Postby Guest » 10/11/01 07:27 AM

HI.

I just recived a 3 hour underground with MIchael Skinner at his Prime. After seeing this tape, I understand why Roger Klause called him the best of the best. In my opinion he was the best close-up magician ever.....

Best,
Daniel
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Postby Thomas Van Aken » 10/12/01 06:18 AM

Hi Daniel,
Is it the one where his cat jumps on the table ?
Thanks
Tom
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/17/02 11:29 AM

My favorite, although it has little to do with Mike, Mike Skinne story...

He and I shared a room at an IBM Convention and were both booked to to close up.

OK we stayed up too late the night before.

Woke up late. Rushed, and like jerks decided to wolf down some breakfast (needed some protein)...

So, my FIRST EVER close up booking at a national convention...

No sleep, rushed breakfast.

Am introduced, a little nervous, right?

Walk out and front/center is Larry Jennings.

What did I do?

I THREW UP.

Honest! :eek:
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 12/17/02 03:03 PM

Michael Skinner was one of the great LOVERS of magic. His love (for our art) was deep, dedicated, diligent, consuming, steadfast, and highly SPIRITUAL. He also never forgot his roots or forgot his precursors and the bounty he enjoyed as a result of their equally dedicated and altruistic contributions.

Whenever Michael performed (even when ill) you could hear a cheerful respectfulness (for his art) in his voice. His voice was deep, steady, and resonant, as though he were uttering a benediction or love poem. And his glorious smile, his full-wattage grin, celebrated the joy he felt in SHARING this kind of "magic" and the exhilaration he felt when performing it (in private and in PUBLIC).

He also loved (perhaps adored is a better word?) EVERYTHING about magic. He loved reading and studying magic books. He loved practicing. He loved watching others perform. He loved performing himself, and if he thought anyone loved it half as much as he did, he willing shared much of what he knew. He was incredibly generous.

Spending time with this remarkable person, even if it was for only a few minutes, always renewed my faith and spirit. He always inspired me; always surprised me.

He was, in short, one of the archangels of magicdom.

Onward...

P.S. BTW, I think that Michael performed only 200 different effects at the Castle because they wouldn't let him do 400.<g>
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Postby Guest » 12/17/02 05:11 PM

I would just like to also state that Michael Skinner was such a wonderful magician and man. I had the great pleasure of meeting him in 1991 on a trip to Vegas. My wife and I dined at Lily's and Mike sat down for 45 minutes of magic and talk. This forever changed me and my respect for magic. He told me a story about when he worked the east coast and Richard Kaufman showed up with a bag of peanuts and the two shelled peanuts and did magic. I look up at my wall from here at the computer and stare at the picture of myself and Michael. I shall never forget. Thanks Mike.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 12/17/02 06:26 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Skinner was a remarkably nice guy--soft-spoken and modest. He was not always the same, however, because of the heavy dose of medication he took to control his mental illness. Sometimes he was extremely robotic in his magic performances, other times he was closely in touch with his audience.
It's a shame...I just picked up Vols 1&2 of his "Professional Close-up Magic" videos from Tannen's this afternoon. He definitely seems a bit "robotic," as you put it, on those tapes. I would love to see some footage of him when he was in better shape -- I never had a chance to see him in person, so this is all I've got!

-Jim
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Postby Lance Pierce » 12/17/02 09:26 PM

The first time I met Michael Skinner was about fifteen years ago at the invitation of Bill Malone. I knew of Michael, of course, but Id never heard of Bob Stencel. Bill said both of them were coming to see him in Chicago for the weekend and that I was invited.

Michael and Bob both regaled us with effect after effect after effect for days while Bill and I simply did our best to keep up. At one point we were sitting in a sandwich shop (the same sandwich shop where Bill and I had our first session), and as Michael was known for, he said that we would just go around the table, and everyone would do tricks. This session literally lasted hours, but Bob and Mike lasted the longest. I remember Mike pulling out gem after gem after gem, but also that he loved being fooled, and he laughed loudly when Bob made an entire deck disappear and lifted his hat to show them sitting on his head.

That night, we were up until about four in the morning. Michael finally retired first and went to his room. Bob and Bill and I talked for a little bit, and then Bill went home. Bob and I, believe it or not, played a game of chess and then finally went to sleep.

The next morning, Bill came by about nine oclock. We got ourselves up and went knocking on Michaels door. There was no answer. We knew he was pretty tired, so we figured he was just totally out of it. We decided to check on him later after we ate breakfast.

When we got to the sandwich shop, Michael was sitting there with all the wait staff around him, watching him with great fascination. Hed been unable to sleep and had gone right back to the sandwich shop. By the time we arrived, hed been doing magic for the staff for about three hours.

Michael was always thinking ahead about the effect he was going to do next. Later that day, we went to Ciaos, where Bill worked, for lunch. As we were sitting there, Mike started to do a trick, but Bob just grinned and pointed at his shoulder. You see, Michael was wearing a yellow shirt that was a little sheer, and there, trapped beneath the fabric against his shoulder, you could see three playing cards that hed loaded some time before. When Bob pointed and Mike looked down, he started laughing so hard he had tears coming out of his eyes.

A little while later, a lady whom Bill knew came up to the table. Bill introduced Michael first, and Mike set the tone by standing up and greeting her very graciously. He was the consummate gentleman, and she recognized it.

That afternoon, Mike said he wanted to visit Magic, Inc. Now, Bill had taken some pains to not tell very many people that Mike and Bob were in town, because he didnt want them to be harangued by crowds of magicians everywhere they went, so their visit was rather hush-hush. However, when we arrived at Magic, Inc., there must have been 50 magicians standing around waiting for him to show up. Again, Mike was very gracious and talked and performed for quite a while.

Yes, the magic was impressive. Yes, the tricks were great. Yes, the sleights (and the sheer number of them) were wonderful. But what I remember most is how kind Michael was to everyone and how he set a standard of behavior for the rest of us that trip. I also remember how he managed to find some kind of beauty in even the smallest trick, whether it be with playing cards or a paper clip. Nothing was beyond his scope or unworthy of performance. His love for magic shined through. It couldnt be ignored.

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Postby Dave Egleston » 12/17/02 11:38 PM

I've posted this before - But I don't care - I've only got a couple of big name magician friends (that's probably more than enough) and one of the best was Michaael Skinner -
Roger Klause introduced me Mr. Skinner at one of Maxwell's conventions - He asked how long I'd been doing magic and asked to see what I was "working" on -
I was learning and working on Larry Jennings "Larrollover Aces". I performed it, and managed not to drop the deck on the floor - You would have thought I just levitated the building and made it disappear - And he made me think I might have done just that. Well I got to hang around with him and Roger for the rest of the weekend. That would have been the highlight of my relationship with Mr Skinner - But aboout 3 months after that weekend - I went down to Las Vegas - and spent some more time with him - and thogI'm the biggest hack magician in the world - He sat and talked and performed with me for at least 2 hours and once again - He made me feel HIS love for the art.
The only thing missing on that visit was Roger. Roger knows this already - But Michael really loved him like a brother.
Oh well - Now I got to go watch the videos again

Dave
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Postby Bill Duncan » 12/17/02 11:43 PM

The very first magic lecture I ever attended was by Michael Skinner. I had just finished reading Bobo's New Modern Coin Magic and had yet to pick up a deck of cards.

Mr. Skinner must have performed the 200 hundred tricks that they didn't let him do at the Magic Castle :) and probably a dozen more. I remember him doing a burglers routine, Walter Rollins' Penny Times Two, Presto Chango, his Ball Vase routine (which killed me), RubADub plastic cups and balls and Emerson and West's The Whole Thing.

He performed every trick with the same sense of importance. Here was a guy who was one of the biggest names in magic doing the stuff from the local magic shop as if it was "as good" as the "real" sleight of hand stuff!

Mr. Skinner taught me that what you do is more important than what tricks you do.
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Postby Guest » 12/18/02 05:00 AM

I absolutely love the Skinner tapes. I only wish I could have met the man in person but it is very fascinating to live vicariously through the stories posted here.

I must admit that I am glad I didn't witness Pete Biro's vomitting session. Thanks for the warning. If I get to see you perform I will wear my raincoat and turn on my windshield wipers. ;)
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Postby Matthew Field » 12/19/02 07:54 AM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
I THREW UP.
Peet -- I didn't know you did a production act!

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Postby Pete Biro » 12/19/02 01:43 PM

Actually... I SAVED IT... kept it all in, just turned around and went back behind the door, found a waste basket nearby. Caught my breath and asked Larry to do a bit while I "re-set"...

My opening trick those days was as follows.

"I didn't bring any cards, does anyone have an ordinary deck?" (I would get one, have someone shuffle the cards and ask someone else to take a card. While they were showing the card, I took the deck back and put the cards back into the card box. I then got the selected card back, shoved it into the boxed deck. Holding the boxed deck with thumb and first two fingers, the box would open, the card would rise out almost all the way. I then handed the deck, no moves, no steals, right back the owner.

This was one of the best $1.00 tricks I had ever purchased.

Larry Jennings later that day asked me "How did you know about that use?" I told him I stumbled onto it. :rolleyes:

(Sorry folks, can't tip)
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Postby Anthony Brahams » 01/23/03 02:38 AM

Just got round to reading postings about Mike Skinner--wonderful, deserved tributes. I first met him in 1974 (or was it 1975? Can check) when he gave his first lecture ever, at Ken Brooke's, Started at 8 p.m.,a short break at 9. He restarted and did not know when to stop. Now often people are on too long but not this time.After some discussion Fred Robinson told Mike he did not have to explain any more, just please perform, and he did until well after midnight. One of the greatest magic experiences for me and the dozen or so there.

Regarding the L&L book, "Classic Sampler", I agree this is much better than the detractors would have but consider the high spot the 15 page prologue, called "Profile" by William Murray, evidently an author, describing Mike's performances from lay eyes. "Priceless" as Ken would say!
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Postby Bill Evans » 03/05/03 04:33 PM

Wow.....I don't know where to begin. I'm new to the Genii Forum and just discovering some of its great features and stumbled on to this. Michael was my best friend in magic. I loved him dearly. I have read all the posts that you all have made and they are all right on as far as what the man was all about. I never met anyone as generous or as thoughtful as Mike. A true GENTLEman. "Magic Mike" as he used to say when he would call my office. "Tell Bill Magic Mike is on the phone". LOL!

I'll tell you my favorite Michael Skinner story (Jon I think I told you this one). Mike and I met in LA one weekend for a session and we stayed at the Magic Hotel next door to the Castle. Mike was not feeling at all well the first night, coughing about every 5 seconds, so he sent me next door to let Larry know he wasn't going to make it. He felt better the next day and by nightime, he decided he would give it his best effort to go over and see his friends for an hour or so. Well, we went over and after meeting everyone and sipping on a Couvousier, Mike sat down in Vernon's corner with John Carney, Larry Jennings and me (boy was I outclassed). Mike brought out the cards and did a great trick and passed the deck to me, and I've got this deer in headlights look on my face and said "Well, 90% of what I can do was invented or made famous by one of the three of you, so I'm definitely at a disadvantage." I managed to think of something passable which by some miracle I got through without screwing up, and then passed the deck to John who of course floored us all, as did Larry when the deck was passed to him. When the deck was passed back to Mike, Larry asked him if he still did such and such. "Oh sure" said Mike. "Anything you would like to see I'll be glad to do" upon which he reached into his wallet and brought out 7 to 10 pieces of business card stock that had handwritten tricks listed in tiny print on both sides...over two hundred card tricks were listed (I counted them later that night). "This is my current performing repetiore" he said. "Anything you want to see, just ask." Well, that started it all, and Larry and John got hold of those cards (I stayed the hell away) and started naming off effects, and for the next 3 to 4 hours, Mike did one after another (between appropriate libation pauses of course) and you couldn't possibly know that he was so sick just a few hours before. The magic and the fast company of Larry and John cured him on the spot, I swear. A close up mat was brought from behind the bar so he could do those effects that required such. A crowd began to gather looking on and Mike graciously continued without a hitch. When too many people were causing a problem, he would quit saying "lets have a drink." The crowd would lose interest and thin out, then the whole process would start all over again. He was radiating and "on" that night and I was so proud of him.

Back at the room later he was still pumped and we had a late night session, but I was flying out the next day and went to bed about 4. When I got up at 9 the next morning, he was still at the table working on "something new". Unbelievable!

Thanks for letting me tell this story, and thank all of you for telling your own stories which I really enjoyed reading, though most of you are probably wondering who the hell is this guy. Well the answer is nobody, but "he was a friend of mine" and I miss him every day.
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Postby Guest » 03/07/03 03:50 PM

Bill Evans:

Yours is a fine contribution to this thread, thank you.

As far as:
though most of you are probably wondering who the hell is this guy. Well the answer is nobody, but "he was a friend of mine" and I miss him every day.
I must say you are my absolutely favorite piano player -- Waltz for Debbie is my favorite of your albums. Anything new planned?

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Guest » 03/08/03 03:45 AM

Reading this thread has been a great joy for me because I came under the spell of Michael Skinner.

Thinking about all of the wonderful magicians I have met, I have come to the conclusion that Michael Skinner the greatest magician at close-quaters I have ever seen; period.

I met Michael a year before his untimely passing at the Golden Nugget along with my mentor Alan Alan. After our meal at the Golden Nugget, Michael performed for us. I can remeber most of the routines that night.

He opened with: The dice routine of Dr Saks and then The Timble Routine from the Vernon book-Torn and Restored Paper. He took out his wallet removed some bills and performed the trick by Larry West and then follwed through with All the Non Conformist.

Card effects started off with Oil and Water, Follow the Leader, Spectator Cuts and Turns the Aces-Open Travellers and then a version of Sam the Bell Hop. I am sure there were other effects but these are the ones I remember most.

The impact of Michael Skinner's magic and his way of being didn't hit me until much later becuase I was in awe of him, like Jennings before him and Dingle and Krenzel and Slydini.

The little time I spent with Skinner was enough to remind me that when love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. This was Michael Skinner throught and through.

A wonderful role model for magical excellence and being a gentleman.

I would like to share one thing with you that Michael said to me before I left him.

"Fool the hell out of your audience.......but be nice about it".

The essence of his magic lives on.

Michael Vincent
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Postby Guest » 03/08/03 04:10 AM

Originally posted by Randy Campbell:
Bill Evans:
I must say you are my absolutely favorite piano player -- Waltz for Debbie is my favorite of your albums. Anything new planned?
That's a joke, right?

http://www.billevanswebpages.com/

Dave
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Postby Glenn Godsey » 04/19/03 06:20 PM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
My favorite, although it has little to do with Mike, Mike Skinne story...

...I THREW UP.

Honest! :eek:
I found this story interesting because I once saw Mike Skinner throw up. We were at the incredible "Tribute to Faucett Ross" gathering in Wichita, late 1970's?. It was invitation only, about 100 of the best: Vernon, Ross, Jennings, Paul Harris, Alan Ackerman, Roger, etc. Even David Copperfield showed up and was very humble that they let him in. It was just before Mike's performance, I went in the men's room, and Mike was tossing his cookies. I was very surprised because Mike was the most experienced performer I knew of since Bobo. I then sat directly across the table from Mike and he performed beautifully. I was especially taken with his version of the "Devilish Miracle".

Later, I was having a session with Jennings in the bar and I asked him about "Devilish Miracle". Larry said for me to call him in a few days and he would give me a good version. In a few days, I devilishly wrote down card jargon shorthand as Jennings dictated to me over the phone. When I sat down with it later, I couldn't get it to make sense. I never saw Skinner's version again until the videos from late in his life were released, so I finally learned it some 20 + years later.

I was unaware, back then, of Skinner's life-long struggle with illness, which could have explained his pre-performance nausea. However, it wasn't a great shock because the first thing I had seen when I had arrived at the hotel was the Professor unceremoniusly passed out on the lobby sofa. My HERO!

Best regards,
Glenn Godsey
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Postby Anthony Brahams » 05/08/03 12:59 AM

I believe there may be a time limit for topics to remain on this Forum so I make a plea that this on Michael stays permanently. In the future there may be new readers who should read it, for the rest of us it is something to re-read for its fascination and feeling good, especially Jon Raherbaumer's post.
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