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
Las Vegas Vocal Training

My 2013 Gallagher Reunion

Gallagher

On the radio show that I am on with Skip Weisser, I gave him a nice surprise when Gallagher was in town, and agreed to be our first guest for the new year. We had first worked together starring in Shipwreck Kelly’s showroom at the Marina Hotel in 1976! then again, in the 90,s at the Sahara Hotel.

It was great  fun, he looks healthy and the show went by very fast with music by Buddy Rich and Wayne Cochran and the CC  Riders. One of the trumpet players of the riders was also on T-Don. he was fun, talking with Skip about the good old days.

Now, instead of smashing food, Gallagher is inventing things and writing songs. I mean, really good things! Slot machine ideas, and conservation with water. he has been very busy with all this for seven years.

It was a wonderful show and a great reunion, he is hanging around for awhile, so i look forward to our next visit.

So, tune into KLAV1230am every Wednesday night 6pm  Las Vegas or out of town on your computer, because you never know who we will have on!

The most important man in my solo career

In the 70’s I was in groups, traveling all over the country. Living out of a trunk. I was in Commonwealth with my then boyfriend, Jorge Casas, and friend  Maurice Moore.

Our Playboy Club contracts were over and we had been at the Lions Den at the original MGM and the Blue Room at the Tropicana. But things slowed down, Maurice, Jorge and I were doing a trio at a little place by the Sahara Hotel, when lenn Cooper heard me.  He booked a showroom at the Marina Hotel. He wanted me to open for a then-unknown comic, Gallagher. Jorge wrote my music and was excited for me. At the time, he was thinking of moving back to Miami, to finish his degree.

When our show kept getting extended, for sold out shows, 4 weeks became, 8, and 8 became 10 etc.. Jorge said, “I’m going to Miami, are you coming?” I was torn. I was doing well, and a group at the Tropicana was waiting for my show to close so I could work for them!

I left Jorge, or he left me, A big decision, we were having problems anyway with his Cuban ways. His culture is so different, and at that time, he had little respect for an American woman. Although I believe he loved me and felt I was not typicaly American. But the strain on his hot temper made it easier for us to spiit. We stayed in touch. He joined Gloria Estefan in the 80’s and still is her Musical Director, today

My show at the Marina gave me the confidence that I, and I alone, could hold a room, be funny, sing my arse off, excuse me but, no  other way to put it.  Dad brought his celebrity friends in and Variety Magazine’s Bill Williard reviewed me nicely.

Now, I the had the confidence to be a solo act. I was Jessica and Fantasy at the Summa Corporation Hotels, The Sands, Frontier, Landmark, Castaways. I was working, had a press agent, the late Judy Gold. She was great. I miss her dearly.  My decade of solo performing, with and without, a lot of help.

So, lenn Cooper, Thank you so much for getting me out of my shell. I am eternally grateful for your belief in me. 20 years hence, Gallagher called out of the blue, and said, ” Let’s do it again!!’ We did the show twice in the 90’s, at the Sahara.

What a life!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

It’s all about the ‘juice’ – Wayne Newton and more

In the 60’s and 70’s, you had to know someone to work in Las Vegas. In the 60’s. I was too young for casinos  and didn’t care, because I was rocking the concert scene as an opening act, in big arenas.We were the “FREE CIRCUS” and quite good. Performed mostly originals, some covers. Opening for Santana, Three Dog Night, Cream, The Grateful Dead, Steppenwolf, Electric Prunes, Sweetwater, and every super-group that played Las Vegas.

Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton

Then I was in plenty of lounge groups as the “chick singer”, The Sunshine Company, Spiral Starecase, and Commonwealth, the best group that toured the Playboy clubs. I got plenty of life lessons from living on the road, touring all the clubs, and living out of a suitcase.

When my bass player boyfriend in Commonwealth, Jorge Casas wanted to go back to Miami to finish his college degree, I was opening for Gallagher at the Marina Hotel, and we kept getting held over week after week after week. I just didn’t want to leave. He went to Miami, got his degree, paid his dues and in the 80’s was discovered by Emiio and Gloria. Jorge has been with Gloria Estefan ever since!!!

After the Marina showroom engagement ended, it was time to really roll up my sleeves, and make a name for myself. Ha! I couldn’t get arrested. No One would even give me an audition.

The entertainment directors were not interested in me at all. At that time, my dad , Irv Kluger, was the vice president of the musicians union.  He suggested I call Wayne Newton for “juice.” That is what we call a connection, in the biz.

Wayne had wanted to import a musician from out of state, and dad gave him the OK, so he owed daddy one. And he liked daddy. I called Wayne using dad’s name. He told me to come see his show that night , visit his dressing room with a demo and he would see what he could do.

I was 26 or 27 and dressed up pretty hot, and played him my demos. He called in Walter Kane (Howard Hughes’ right-hand man), then in charge of all Summa hotels. Walter loved me, and told me he wanted to see my group on Monday at the Frontier Hotel. I put together a quartet, rehearsed a few tunes, and voila!, an open ended contract with Summa. We worked mostly at the Sands Hotel as “Jessica and Fantasy” I hired a public relations representative, Judy Gold. We worked non-stop for 2 years. My name in lights, and even on the Sands postcard!

Even with all that publicity, tv, radio, news print, when Summa started selling off the hotels, we were let go, and guess what, I couldnt get arrested!!!  AGAIN!!

I wound up auditioning for Donn Arden and driving to Reno for the big production show “Hello Hollywood Hello” at the MGM Grand Reno. After that, “Casino De Paris” at the Dunes.

Without juice, my name was never in lights again.

When you hear the term: show business, the business can be nasty. It is all business and don’t ever forget it. Learn from it and remember that who you know is often more important than what you know.

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