News archive (pre-2001)
December 19, 2000: The Spokane, WA-based Spokesman Review printed an interesting tidbit, in which Andy Williams admits taking LSD back in the day.
October 30: Leslie J. Pfenninger's 1298-page book From Brass to Gold: Discography of A&M Records and Affiliates in the United States and Around the World is released.
The book is also available as two separate volumes, divided into "United States" and "Around the World" discographies. Check the above link for more details, and start saving your pennies. Here's what Ms. Pfenninger told me about the book's Longet content:
"Claudine Longet appears in the A&M Albums discography, Active Singles and Memories discographies, bibliography (only one entry -- I stayed strictly with music/A&M-related articles from major newspapers and trade magazines), calendar and probably some entries in the international book. All of my content is in listings and there are no pictures of artists."
More generally, she explains, "I cover all 800-plus artists on A&M and its 13 affiliated labels. Each artist appears in appropriate albums and singles discographies and videographies, most appear in the artist bibliography, all Grammy and RIAA certifications are given, radio and television guest appearances are noted along with selected collectibles and a calendar of significant dates for the artist and record company."
October 17: Franklin Castle Recordings reissued Margo Guryan's Take a Picture (originally released in 1968). Guryan's "Think of Rain" and "I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You" were covered by Longet. The album's clear highlights are "Sunday Morning," "Sun" and (yes) "Think of Rain," which has an elegant, baroque feel not found in Longet's version. The disc also includes three bonus tracks.
August 22: Andy Williams apparently appeared on CNN's "Larry King," tonight. I didn't see the broadcast, but someone on Claudine's Imusic bulletin board gave the following description: "Andy Williams was on Larry King last night and mentioned Claudine. Said she is doing fine and still living in Colorado I believe. He said that he and his present wife got together with Claudine and her husband recently. They are still good friends."
August 13: Part four of a six-part Andy Williams profile aired today on BBC Radio 2. Today's segment specifically focused on Williams' marriage to Longet.
July 11: The Very Best of Claudine Longet has been in stores for just over two months. A friend with access to SoundScan numbers tells me the disc has sold a mighty 469 copies, as of today. Yikes. Obviously, the RIAA won't be sending over a plaque, any time soon.
[IMPORTANT] June 11: The E! channel's popular "E! True Hollywood Story" debuted a new, hour-long episode: "A Death in Aspen: The Claudine Longet and Spider Sabich Story." Wow! Actually, I've long believed that Longet's tale would be perfect for this program. I even mentioned this notion to my Varèse contact two months ago, yet he didn't know about the E! episode until I informed him myself. Strange. The program has been rerun several times, already.
As for my thoughts on the special: It was adequately done, if stuffed with the show's usual annoying, formulaic tics (for instance, all the time wasted on recaps and "Coming up..." blurbs). However, it was neat to see the old photos and film footage. I personally learned a few interesting things, like the gun's faulty operation and the background information on Spider Sabich. Also, that Longet didn't marry attorney Ron Austin until quite a few years later, in 1986.
The storytelling was reasonably fair, though the interviewed subjects were overwhelmingly slanted toward the Sabich camp. The only person directly from Longet's life was a woman who danced with the young Longet in the Folies Bergère (she gave a trivial comment about Longet's onstage appeal). Otherwise, it was brother Steve Sabich, prosecuting district attorney Frank Tucker, five of Spider's friends and two journalists tactfully uniting against Longet, emphasizing her possessiveness and jealousy. Meanwhile, one of the trial's alternate jurors shrugged about the fundamental difficulty of convicting someone for a crime which had no witnesses.
Notably, the narrator mentioned that Longet and Austin didn't respond to interview requests. Some of Longet's court testimony was recited by an appropriately waifish impersonator, while one legitimate soundbite from 1977 was uncovered: "I have too much respect and love for living things to be guilty of that crime." It was the only time when Longet's actual voice was heard.
Irritatingly, her singing career was almost entirely swept under the rug. The narrator briefly mentioned she had a hit version of "Love Is Blue," and that was it. Uninitiated viewers would never even know she recorded an album. And whenever the narrator referred to her with a descriptive noun, it was always "the actress." Never "the singer." Not one note of her music was played. And, of course, the skiing metaphors in E!'s typically over-the-top, portentous narration were laughably corny: "[Sabich] could see nothing but virgin powder and sunny skies. But it was a mirage, and tragedy loomed." "He was on top of the world, but nothing could prepare the racer for the deadly downhill course he was about to start." "Coming up: Spider Sabich races a course he can't win." "[Longet and Sabich] played hard, off and on the slopes. But their romance was headed for bumpy times." "The ski champ never suspected he was headed for his last run." "Spider was not faring well on the slopes, and his [romance] was going downhill even faster." Oh my.
Spider's friend Dede Brinkman summed up Longet nicely (if warily): "She had some sort of peculiar charm. I don't know how sincere it was. But, some sort of beguiling way." Indeed.
[IMPORTANT] May 9: Varèse Vintage released The Very Best of Claudine Longet, a long-overdue Stateside anthology! Check here for further details and artwork. The selections are heavily slanted toward her less recognized Barnaby material -- only four songs ("Hello, Hello," "Here, There and Everywhere," "Small Talk" and "Walk in the Park") are from her A&M years. According to a Varèse source, this is because Uni/Polygram has a general rule about licensing no more than 25% of the tracks on an anthology. Hence, they surrendered only four, because the CD contains 16 tracks. Amusing sidenote: Varèse's promotional one-sheet for the disc names this website as a "Selling Point" (see above). And yes, I'm mildly hurt that the label didn't contact me about this compilation, during its planning stages. Even more troubling, the back page of the CD booklet prints this site's URL, yet gets the address slightly wrong. Drat!
April 30: Longetmania is kicking into high gear (well, relatively speaking). An important new Claudine site is now open, devoted solely to audio clips from her catalog. If you're one of those who believes she's more interesting to read about than to actually hear, this will be your acid test.
March 24, 2000: Entertainment Weekly printed a short article, acknowledging the anniversary of the Spider Sabich tragedy.
December 15, 1999: The news of Claudine's public appearance is considerably less interesting than initially suspected. Here are two more stories about the Folies Bergère reunion from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, dated December 10th and October 15th. Judging from these pieces, the only firm news seems to be that Longet was invited to attend the celebration. In other words, perhaps she was hiding at a back table during the show. If, even that.
According to Penny Parker's October 15th column in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Claudine will briefly re-emerge into the public eye! Having gotten her start as a showgirl in the Folies Bergère, she will appear in a Folies Bergère reunion show in Las Vegas, taking place as part of the Tropicana casino's 40th anniversary celebration. The date: December 11th.
September 23: Someone has actually launched a Claudine Longet mailing list. Join now, and you'll receive several exciting emails a year!
August 15: An amusing exchange appeared in the Los Angeles Times, as Robert Hilburn interviewed Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.
Question: "Did you think of Linda as a trailblazer, Emmy?"
May: Issue #13 of Cool and Strange Music magazine features a three-page profile of Claudine. There's no interview, of course, but writer Curtis Cottrell takes a fond look back at her career. The article also includes a vague reference to this website, and it's clear that Cottrell found a fact or two within these very cyberwalls.
Harris: "Absolutely. I think that any woman who was out there working in a basically male-dominated world, which it was up to the era of Lilith, was a trailblazer. I remember auditioning for someone at a record company when I was getting started, and I did several songs that ended up becoming hits for people, including 'Mr. Bojangles' and 'Get Together.' It was a very eclectic mix of songs. At the end, he gave me a Claudine Longet record and said to come back when I could do that."
March 18: A Japanese label called Vivid reissued Claudine's hard-to-find later albums We've Only Just Begun, Let's Spend the Night Together and Sugar Me. Eureka! Check my shopping page to find sites selling these new discs.
A documentary called Bobby Darin: Beyond the Song is being shown at various times on PBS affiliate stations. Andy Williams appears throughout the program, being interviewed about his memories of Darin, and some archive footage is shown of Williams and Claudine arriving at an important 1966 Darin show (I believe it was in Las Vegas). She is briefly seen twice during this segment, and while she doesn't speak, the narrator does mention Williams being with "his wife Claudine." Hey, we take what we can get.
January 21, 1999: The much dreaded record-biz meltdown officially began, stemming from last year's purchase of PolyGram by the Seagram corporation. Among other ramifications, A&M Records was essentially shut down, and will be absorbed into Interscope. A&M's current roster may be lousy, but the closing is tragic from a sentimental point of view.
November 3: Rhino Records released The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection, a multi-disc compilation of classic Bacharach compositions sung by various artists. While "The Look of Love" and "Close to You" are included, Claudine's versions were (predictably) not chosen.
The Claudine revival continues to build! Dimitri From Paris' album Sacrebleu (originally released overseas in May, 1996) is finally available in the States on Atlantic Records. The album contains two high-tech versions of "Nothing to Lose," a song originally written for "The Party" which was recorded both by Longet and the composer, Henry Mancini. One version features Claudine-esque singer Mademoiselle Atlantique, the other is instrumental with a lead flugelhorn part. Get further information about Dimitri From Paris here and here.
February 25: Andy Williams (along with Patti LaBelle) presented a posthumous honorary Grammy to Paul Robeson. It was noted that Williams hosted the first televised Grammy ceremony, back in 1971. Williams reflected briefly about all the fine music of that period, citing folks like Simon & Garfunkel and Three Dog Night. His neglect to mention Claudine Longet was not exactly a surprise.
[IMPORTANT] February 11, 1998: A&M Japan has released The Best of Claudine Longet, a digitally remastered anthology CD covering her A&M period.
Wow. Mono's radio hit ("Life in Mono," originally taken from the Great Expectations soundtrack) could not sound more like Claudine Longet! The band's album Formica Blues (previously available as an import) was released February 10th in the States through Mercury Records.
A fan relays that there's an indie-pop band in Washington, DC named "The Claudines." For their logo, they intend to use the same font found at the top of this page (taken from Longet's debut record), and "may or may not" call their album "Sorry, Spider." Oof.
October 12: John Denver crashed his plane into the ocean and died. I wince at the thought of his music, but his death is worth mentioning since he and Longet both lived in Aspen, Colorado for years and were friends at one time. Newsweek even reported that Denver gave Longet shelter on the night of the Sabich shooting. Another connection: Longet sang Denver's "For Bobbie (For Baby)" on Colours, released before Denver's solo career even began. He didn't record the song himself until four years later, as "For Baby (For Bobbie)" on his Rocky Mountain High album.
September 16: Rhino Records released Golden Throats 4: Celebrities Butcher Songs of the Beatles, a hilarious compilation which includes Claudine's "Jealous Guy/Don't Let Me Down" (see Let's Spend the Night Together). See the AllMusic site for more details. [Note: The CD is now out of print, and is being sold for some ridiculous prices.]
September 9: Jetset Records released Songs for the Jet Set, a various-artists compilation which includes a cover of "Nothing to Lose" by the group Viva Maria.
July 1, 1997: The Geraldine Fibbers released their superb second album Butch, which includes an instrumental titled "Claudine." Yep, it's named for that Claudine. Incidentally, the Bozulich quote posted on the greeting page is taken from my own interview, and is exclusive to this site.