Breaking away from bands to Opening for Gallagher at the Marina Hotel

Jessica with Gallagher

Jessica with Gallagher

I had been in so many bands, and was yet to lead a band of my own . That would come a year later with Jessica and Fantasy.

The year was 1976, and Commonwealth was breaking up. I don’t remember why we broke up, perhaps we were just exhausted from the road.

When a nice producer had faith in me to book me in to Shipwreck Kelly’s showroom at the Marina HotelI got the chance to go out on my own, working with the fruit-smashing Gallagher.

I was quite nervous, Jorge was writing the charts for my show; we chose Minnie Riperton‘s Lovin’ You, for my opener.

Jorge thought I should start on-stage with the soprano hook, and then walk up the stairs going into the song. It was quite effective.

I sang the Joni Mitchell classic, Twisted, and  Maybe this Time, from Cabaret. I would wear Joseph Magnin gowns and was now getting excited about my solo debut.

I consulted Billy Kaye, a well-known comedian for advice on my banter. His advice: “Be yourself!” I have been myself on stage ever since.

Marina Hotel, Las Vegas

Marina Hotel, Las Vegas

Jorge and I were drifting apart. He wanted to head back to Miami to get his music degree. I felt like my career was just taking off. The pressure was intense. We loved each other, but he moved out.

We still saw each other. It was like an addiction, but we couldn’t live together. He had a temper, it had flared up years before, and I always forgave. Now I felt independent and let him go.

Gallagher and I became friends, and we hung out on our nights off.  I felt he was a volcano, and if he didn’t become famous, quickly, he would blow explode! He had a real need for attention and success that drove him.

Gallagher started surprising me on stage. When I was right in the middle of a torch ballad, he would roller-skate around me and try to crack me up. I never broke. The audience roared. We were held over, repeatedly, for months.

My dad was my biggest fan. He came in, often, and brought friends like drummer, Louis Bellsonand Leonard Feather

Feather reviewed me for Variety Magazine. A very nice review might I add. He started the piece by saying, “She came out in a gown like second skin.” Pretty good for the ego.

Twenty years later, Gallagher called me up and said, “let’s do it again”. I worked the Sahara Hotel with him twice in the 90’s. We picked up where we left off, I’d be singing and he would come out with a hose and spray the audience.

Gallagher

Gallagher

My daughter, Lexi, then in high school now, brought her friends, and insisted on sitting right in front where you get food thrown at you. This time, Gallagher wanted me in a bathing suit to hand him the food he was going to smash. I insisted on a raincoat, and got filthy every show. Then, I’d dash up to the shower and tried not to vomit. I would get food in my eyes, it was hell.

I went grocery shopping a few times with him, and found him very moody.  We decided not to finish the engagement, He paid us and we went our separate ways.

My Commonwealth bandmates scattered. Jorge was in MiamiMaurice went to Chicago. I am one lucky lady, with an angel on my shoulder. Which is so much better than the sauerkraut that Gallagher threw on me night after night!

Jessica - Gallagher

Jessica – Gallagher

UPDATE = September 23, 2013

Amazingly, Gallagher is still touring. Early in 2013, returned to Las Vegas and is performing regularly at The Tropicana,, smashing fruit at every opportunity.

I’m not opening for him, this time around. No need for a raincoat. After all these years, it’s been great to reconnect with him and know that he’s living it up on-stage.

Jessica Marciel
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