Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The First Family

In October 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 26 year-old lounge pianist Vaughn Meader recorded a comedy album. In those days people used to sit around in apartments, drinking cocktails and eating canapés, listening to comedians on the stereo. Meader called his album The First Family. It featured his dead-on imitation of President Kennedy, speaking in that odd way he had––half Boston sophisticate, half Cape Cod fisherman. The album was a huge hit, selling 200,000 copies in its first week, 7.5 million in 12 months, and winning the Grammy for album of the year. JFK, supposedly, sent a hundred copies as Christmas gifts. Meader appeared on Ed Sullivan. Then, on November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated, and it was all over. Comedian Lenny Bruce sighed and said “Vaughn Meader is screwed.” Meador lived another 41 years, playing the occasional piano gig in small bars. He never did his JFK bit again. Vaughan Meader appears once in A Book of Ages.

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