BEYOND BOJANGLES - The Sammy Davis, Jr. Encyclopedia  
 
The Legacy The Book The Authors Sammy's Archive Press & Contact Credits
 
 
Questions to the Authors
  Albrecht Anthony, interviewer (A),
Florian J. Kerz (F),
Ivar Halstvedt (I)
.

A: First of all, please tell me how the two of you met.

I: Being an avid collector, Florian contacted me through Ebay about some recent purchases I had made. Very soon we both understood we had a lot in common regarding interest in music and in Sammy Davis, Jr. in particular.

F: Ivar had actually outbid me – you guess it – on a Sammy Davis, Jr. auction. I then contacted him and we soon found out that we share the same interests.

A: And how did it come about that you decided working on a book together?

F: Both of us already had years of collecting and researching on Sammy behind us. What had started as project for us, more and more took shape as something that should be available to a wider public.

I: I had never thought that I would meet someone with the same intense interest, and was both surprised and excited about Florian’s idea of making a book presenting the complete works of Sammy Davis, Jr.

A: So Beyond Bojangles unites the results of collecting and researching you had done individually?

I: I have been a fan and follower of Sammy Davis, Jr. from when I was only four years old and have been collecting for the last 24 years. A lot of material and knowledge I have gathered in this time suddenly became useful in our work with the book.

F: Bringing our collections together and discovering each other’s knowledge has always been very exciting. Working on the book brought us closer together and made a friendship out of it.

A: How did you make that happen? You are in Norway, Ivar and Florian, you are in Germany.

F: Well, primary lots of e-mails. And I really mean lots. I’ve kept all the mails from our conversation and we’re getting close to 2,000.

I: Yes, it has been pretty intense, but very amusing to be able to work on the project in our spare time. Luckily, Florian and I have kept close contact and been able of keeping progress and to gather and share more new material during this time. I think this has improved the content of the book all the way to the release of this book.

A: 24 years have passed since Sammy’s passing. 24 years, where there had been little attention in the media.

F: That is correct. After they had dimmed the lights on the Las Vegas strip when Sammy died, it appears as if he was also obliterated from the public’s perception.

I: It is often said in Hollywood that “death is a great career move”, which has been proved by stars like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, but Sammy Davis, Jr.’s legacy just disappeared.

A: Why do you think there was need for a book like Beyond Bojangles right know?

I: A mega star like Sammy Davis, Jr. deserves better and luckily many remembers him with great love and affection. He was the total entertainer, but also an important figure in American contemporary history from the 40’s and until the time of his passing in 1990

F: The time was more than right for it. Have a look at Sammy’s Rat Pack buddies. There have been publications like ours on Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin but to this day not on Sammy. So, how can he be rediscovered by an audience or even discovered by a younger audience, if you can’t even find what he achieved artistically!

A: Beyond Bojangles is focused solely on Sammy Davis, Jr.’s career.

F: Exactly. It is not a biography – there are already plenty of them around, but none of them concentrated on providing a complete guide through Sammy’s 60 years spanning career.

I: It is the coming generations who needs help to rediscover his music and artistry, but I hope that also existing fans will appreciate to have the full overview of his complete works and use it for insight and to gather even more of his music, films and books.

A: Please tell me more about the book’s content.

F: The book is divided into three major parts: “The Singer, Entertainer & Live Performer”, “The Actor And TV Star” and “Mr. Entertainment Himself”. In the first part, you’ll find all his studio work as a singer, as well as a live performer. We have all his studio recordings listed, including the unreleased material. Then there are his record releases, not only LP’s and singles but also CD’s.  Furthermore, there are hundreds of concerts dates, many of them with detailed information about the shows like which songs he sang etc. And of course there’s the “Sammy Davis, Jr. Songbook”: a collection of all the songs, which were part of his live repertory. Also, a chapter is devoted to Sammy’s own musicians, of whom many have contributed to the book as well. The book then continues with all of his productions on Broadway, his movies and appearances on television, including his own TV shows and numerous TV specials. The third part provides information regarding commercials he did, Awards and Honors he received, as well as books written by and about him and planned projects he didn’t get to do.

A: That sounds exciting! The book cover states that Beyond Bojangles is presenting some information for the very first time…

I: Yes, we have collected and rediscovered unpublished music that fills the holes and gaps, so a complete discography may be presented for the first time. Some of the material still exists in the vaults and hopefully will be released some day from the copyright owners.

F: Indeed. Actually, a lot of the book’s content hasn’t been seen elsewhere. Like Ivar said, the recording mystery is solved; for example all of the recordings Sammy did for Motown Records are listed in the book, including the unreleased album.

A: Who supported you with all the research?

F: There are many people without whom the book would not have happened. I’m especially grateful for the support of Sammy’s musicians. Many of them have contributed, answered questions tirelessly and shared their memories.  I have such huge respect for these guys. When talking to them, you’re talking to people who were there, who had been with Mr. D., when he was making history.

A: How long did it take until the book had been finished?

I: I believe Florian contacted me in May 2013, so it has been a hectic process coming to where we are today. It has been a pleasure and a great excuse to my wife to go on collecting even more.

F: Well, if you count in all the years of researching we had done on our own individually – ages! The writing of the book itself took about one year.

A: What is your goal? What would you like to achieve with, which audience would you like to reach?

F: Reconstructing and recovering Sammy’s legacy has always been our goal. I think we both would be very happy if “Beyond Bojangles” could contribute to that in some way.


Florian J. Kerz and Ivar Halstvedt interviewed by Albrecht Anthony on May 28, 2014. This interview is part of our Press Package.


 
 
     
 
 
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