Once Upon a Time

I have had so many requests to write the story of how I met John.

Once upon a time….there was a fantastic Baritone Player with the Don Ellis Big Band. Bari is my favorite Sax and this Guy was Good! So I went to hear the Band as often as I could…by myself. The guys that I was dating didn’t particularly care about…Odd Times…or Jazz. John Magruder became my second favorite Baritone Player (after Gerry Mulligan). I never got enough nerve to talk to John. I bought all his records.

In the meantime, my daughter, Debbi, transferred to University High School from Van Nuys High. A pianist, she took a music theory class and was the “secretary” from Marching Band. Her teacher was a “Mr. Magruder”. He made her cry on the first day of school. He didn’t think her dramatic pout was very cute! Eventually I had to come to school because she was failing gym class. In January 1972…I walked into Mr. Magruder’s first period Band class and they were playing “The Philosopher”, a chart that Bob Harmon had written for the Don Ellis Band. Yes, dear friends….it was the Real John Magruder!! His students, including Ron Singer, Steve Rawlins, Bruce Eskovitz, etc., were playing those difficult charts with ease and excitement; I stayed for the rest of the school day….I was so impressed.

Now, I have to explain that I was a hair stylist at a very hip salon with celebrity clients. I did not wear “normal” clothes. The day I met John, I came to school in a black hot pants suit with black pantyhose and tall high-heeled boots! He was 15 years older, so I was not quite sure what he thought (his students thought I was a “Babe”). Apparently he liked what he saw…me too. We became great friends. I went to football games, monitored marching band buses, and did costumes, hair and make-up for Uni musicals. I also discovered what a pro-musician’s life was all about. My professional life was totally unpredictable and nutty…very “Hollywood”. Somehow the two combined well.

Nine months later, after one of John’s gigs, I told John I had something important to discuss. He thought I was going to say good-bye… but instead I proposed! We both had decided that we were crazy in love and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Then we went to Disneyland. It’s true. We did.

We decided to get married two months later. It was crazy nights and crazy days with a lot of happiness in between– I kept a full work schedule at the salon, plus hair and make-up for Vogue Magazine, TV commercials and wig design for a Las Vegas show – not to mention the pool motor exploded and moving into an 11 room house bringing 12 cats, one dog and a teenager!!! Of course John continued his busy schedule as a school teacher and musician.

Six days before we were supposed to get married….I had a heart attack! It was a big surprise since I was only 32 years old. It turned out to be caused by a rare birth defect. (can you just hear the violins in the background?) We had planned to marry on John’s 47th birthday. I was very determined to walk down the aisle on that day….and so I did.

It was a beautiful wedding and reception. With some very colorful guests on both sides. Some of the male guests wore dresses… John had one ex-wife and one ex-girl friend…. I had three ex-boy friends. The boy friends only wanted to know, when I told them that I was getting married, if I would still cut their hair….of course, I would.

Not long after we were married, we started the “Magruder Machine”…John’s Big Band. See my Blog Postings… “Ponce’s Saloon” and “Cat Calls”.

The rest is both History and legend. We had 30 amazingly wonderful years together. I truly miss him.


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