(Radio Rick Myers-1978)
I had two whirlwind romance chances with Olivia Newton-John. Twice I held her in my arms, twice I dazzled her with my charms, and twice she left unimpressed. To protect my ego, I must assume she simply doesn’t like younger men.
The last day of March 1976 was a sun-splattered San Francisco Sunday, and M.C.A. Records had invited me to an Olivia Newton-John cocktail party! I was invited partly because M.C.A. knew of my undying devotion to Olivia. I was invited mostly because KFIV was a “Reporting Station,” which meant we reported the songs we played to the record trade magazines. If we discovered a song, then a station in say, Mobile, Alabama, might decide to give that song a try. We carried weight. M.C.A. knew who to invite to this party, bless its corporate heart.
This was my big chance, and I arrived predictably early; Olivia arrived fashionably late. We were at The Sheraton at the Wharf. Five-star hotels begin with “The,” as in “The Fairmont Hotel,” “The Waldorf Astoria,” but never as in “The Holiday Inn.”
I informed my date that if I could sweep Olivia away on the wings of romance, she, my date, was to get home the best she could. I was at the bar when Olivia entered. I couldn’t believe she was unescorted! She stood there in the middle of the banquet room, alone. I drove a hundred miles to see her, this was no time to be shy. I walked right up to her and said, “Olivia, I would like to shake your hand.” She placed her hand in mine and smiled. In retrospect, I believe she smiled because she was relieved she was no longer unnoticed. Under my breath I was humming, “This Could Be the Start of Something Big!”
Olivia, with twinkling blue eyes, said, “My, you must be a radio announcer!” I knew what was going on, I lowered my voice another notch and asked why she said that. “Your voice, it’s so low!” I now lowered my voice to the point of pain and explained I was from Modesto, California.
I asked if she had ever heard of Modesto and she said indeed, she had! I never learned what she had heard, for it was time for more pressing matters. I pressed my arm around her waist as we posed for photos. A line of invited guests/fans had woven its way all the around the hors d’oeuvres table. She autographed a few colored glossies for me, smiled again, and it was time for me to move on.
The cocktail party continued another forty minutes. I had another drink, but the exhilaration of the moment was more powerful than any intoxicant. I stood next to Jim Lange, radio personality at KSFO, and host of the “Dating Game” television show. He gulped down double shots of Scotch. He was friendly and funny. (Mental note: when you reach the big time, make sure you enjoy it.)
Olivia soon left the party, and like that, my/our romance was over. As she left, my heart melting, she turned, smiled, waved to the room and disappeared. Who knew destiny would soon bring us together.
M.C.A. Records, the corporation with a heart, invited me to yet another Olivia Cocktail Party! This was December, 1977, and Olivia had been re-signed! Kill the fatted calf, we’re going to have a party! This was the biggest gala I ever attended. M.C.A. booked the Grand Ballroom of the Marc Hopkins Hotel. Easily 500 were in attendance, 125 tables for-four lined the perimeter. Two identical wall-to-wall hors d’oeuvres tables traversed this gigantic room. Each table had two ice sculptures anchoring the ends. The San Francisco 49ers were there! The San Francisco Giants were there! Over there, was Willie McCovey!!
Olivia, this time, did not enter alone She was escorted by two M.C.A. big shots, a body guard, and the record promoter who knew all the little people, like me. The Queen had arrived. This was a formal audience with Olivia. We were to sit at our tables, and wait to be introduced.
When my turn came, I mentioned that perhaps she remembered me from last year! She smiled, being too polite to say no. I had photos of our last, brief fling; maybe they would refresh her memory! Again, Olivia smiled. She autographed my photos, and then posed with me for others.
Her escorts thought it was time to resume the procession. Now was my chance! From last year’s photos, I made posters! If she would autograph them, I would give them to listeners during my show!!
She said she would like to sign them, but over 500 people were waiting, and first she had to circulate. (Mental note: when you make the big time, while others walk around, you “circulate.”)
Les Garland is the Program Director of KFRC Radio. When it was his turn, he rushed to Olivia, tripped, and spilled his drink on her gray-on-white three-piece suit. (Mental note: even when you make the big time, sometimes all you can do is want to hide.)
Olivia circulated and departed. Like that, she was gone. The record company officials said she had retired to her suite. Had my second chance come and gone? I had nothing to look forward to now except enjoy some shrimp in the shadow of an ice sculpture, and have a pleasant conversation with Gene Nelson, a true radio star from KSFO. Gene was wearing a turtleneck sweater. (Mental note: though not fashionable at this soiree, one is always forgiven once one has reached the big time.)
The party had continued for another 45 minutes. Suddenly, I felt a tapping on my right shoulder. I turned around and stood face-to-face with Olivia Newton-John!! “I came back to sign your posters.” She came back by herself, all alone, just to see me! Gene Nelson was my all-time radio idol, but now I had bigger fish to fry.
Olivia and I turned and I placed my hand on the small of her back escorting her to my table. Five hundred sets of eyes were watching us! “What? Olivia is back?” “What’s going on?” “Who is that guy?” Altogether I spent 47 years in radio; this was my finest moment. She autographed the posters, and left. Leaving me had become a habit.
I love her to this day. My love was not reciprocated, but I will never forget when Olivia Newton-John returned to a party just to see me (Mental note: I had made the big time.)