It was one of those Beverly Hills "celebrity" concerts which we sometimes play. But in this case we were mostly concerned about the reaction of one person in the audience: Steve Allen. Our hosts, famous restauranteurs, had invited Jayne and Steve but weren't sure they would show up for this Gershwin concert. Steve, they told us, wasn't much of a party-goer. But they saved a couple of seats just in case.
And at the last minute, Steve and Jayne kind of snuck in, virtually unnoticed. We learned later that they had decided to come not really to hear us (actually they had not the faintest idea who we were!) but because they were great lovers of the songs of the Gershwins.
And so it went. We sang and played as best we could. And of course the Gershwin songs were, as they always have been, wonderful. After the end, amidst the chatter and the glitter, Jayne approached us. As anyone who has ever met her knows, she is a lady of great bearing and dignity...and she said a few gracious things.
And then, gulping, I asked her, "And Steve? Did Steve like the music?"
Her eyebrows seemed to arch ten inches and she said, "Oh, Steve? Didn't you notice? He began to cry after 'Embraceable You!'"
Then Lynne said, "But that was our very first tune."
Jayne snapped back, like a delighted school-mom, "Exactly!"
A few days later we received a call from the hostess. Apparently, she had heard a rumor that immediately after leaving her house, Steve had hurriedly returned home and composed a three page essay about the concert!
No, this is not a story about two performers. But it IS exactly the point about this remarkable, gentle man, a man whose heart and brain remained so open to music, a man who would go to any length to help an unknown performer, a man who, in every obituary, would be described as "the beloved Steve Allen."
Steve Allen: Comedian, jazz pianist, composer and lyricist, educator, philosopher, political activist, poet, historian, novelist. Steve Allen, who leaves all of us with an inextinguishable legacy of laughter and learning.
"The beloved Steve Allen. The beloved Steve Allen."
In that very phrase is his enduring legacy.
-Lynne Jackson & Mike Palter