Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lena Zavaroni

Artist: Lena Zavaroni
LP: Ma! He's Making Eyes At Me
Song: "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
[ listen ]
Song: "River Deep, Mountain High"
[ listen ]

I'm back from Alaska—aka. The Land With No Record Stores. (Not in Ketchikan, Juneau, or Skagway anyway.) I did find one thrift shop that had a few records though, Rendezvous Thrift Store in Ketchikan, the first stop on my Ruby Princess cruise. All LPs were just 25¢. This 1974 Lena Zavaroni album is one of the ones I found there.

[ Rendezvous Thrift Store — Ketchikan, Alaska ]
As a label known for Southern and Memphis Soul, Stax Records released music by artists like Otis Redding and Booker T & the MGs, so it's hard to imagine what executives might have thinking when they signed Scottish 10-year-old Lena Zavaroni to the label in 1974. (Wikipedia says "a number of factors" caused Stax to close shop in the mid-1970s; it's nice that they don't mention Lena Zavaroni specifically.) I also find it hard to imagine how Lena Zavaroni's Stax record ended up in a junky little thrift store in Ketchikan, Alaska. But there it was.

Poor Lena Zavaroni—singing with her father in a fish-n-chips joint in the Scottish highlands one instant, then suddenly hitting the UK top ten, being whisked off to Stax headquarters to cut a record, and then on to Los Angeles, California to appear on "The Carol Burnett Show" the next. What a whirlwind! Of course little Lena went bonkers. Just because you can be famous doesn't mean you should be. After suffering from anorexia and extreme depression that started in her early teens and stayed with her for years, Lena died of pneumonia in 1999, at the age of 35. You can read more about this pint-sized singing dynamo on Wikipedia here. I've included a link below to Lena's 1974 appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson, along with a 1989 interview clip with Lena and Peter Wiltshire, her new husband at the time (they split up 18 months later), and a beautiful, heart-breaking video of Lena singing "Help Me Make It Through the Night" on her wedding her wedding gown. 
Lena Zavaroni on YouTube:
[ "The Tonight Show" w/ Johnny Carson ]
[ Interview from 1989 ]

[ Lena Zavaroni: November 4, 1963 — October 1, 1999 ]

1 comment:

bitter69uk said...

Poor doomed Lena. I had no idea she recorded for Stax, either! x