David Kelsey left behind many friends who will be contributing to this memory
of a truly remarkable person. If you have photos, videos, candid recordings
and/or memories of David which you would be willing to share, please contact
me. If any of you have videos of David performing, which you can upload to
YouTube, let me know so that we can link to them from this website.
From the summer of 1981 until "David Kelsey and
Pure Trash" disbanded in 1985 I was manager for
David and his band. During those years the band
performed numerous shows from Southern
California to Vancouver, British Columbia. While
they billed themselves as a Dixieland Jazz Band, their
repertoire extended well beyond that. Over the
years some shows turned out better than others and
there are two that will forever represent the
On the other hand the band was well received for virtually every other show they did. And for me, the "high" point during
my tenure with the band came a few months before or after the Ballet debacle.
A longtime businessman in San Francisco had decided to give his partner a birthday dinner party at the Stanford Court Hotel
on Nob Hill. He called me and asked if the band could play before, during and after the dinner. Arrangements were
immediately finalized. The band got to the hotel early and were all set up by the time the guests started arriving. The guest of
honor, as it turned out, was more than just a businessman. He was also the "poster boy" for the Stanford Court Hotel's print
advertising. The guest list including Steve Silver, creator and producer of the then long running show "Beach Blanket
Babylon." Among the other notables attending was Academy Award-winning actress (for 1941's "Suspicion") Joan Fontaine.
Another notable guest was Mary Martin, who had won four Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards, and would go on to be
recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors Career Achievement Award in 1989. In terms of the band being very well received,
this event stands out. Prior to dinner being served, so many people were dancing (led by Ms. Martin who never seemed to sit
down) that the hotel requested that the band STOP playing long enough for people to take their seats. The entrees were
Following dinner I was informed that a late guest would be arriving. Keith Michel and his wife were on their way following
his performance in "La Cage aux Folles" which was playing in San Francisco at the time. Mr. Michel had been asked to sing
a number from the show and wanted to know if David knew any of the shows songs. After passing along the information
that David knew all the songs from that show, I suggested that Mr. Michel just let David know what key he liked. This
evening turned out to be perfect. I kept waiting for something to go wrong but, remarkably, nothing ever did!
What might be called the "low" point occurred when I was
contacted by the San Francisco Ballet in late 1983. They were
preparing for the grand opening of their brand new headquarters
building on Franklin Street behind the San Francisco Opera
House. The opening was to be a two-night event and they
wanted David and the band to perform both nights. Naturally, I
saw this as a great opportunity and contracts were drawn up.
The first night's performance produced the usual music for
which the band was well known. Unfortunately, THIS
audience was not the usual audience for the band. While the
band had never, to my knowledge, been described as "high
brow" this audience apparently was. When the evening ended I
was approached by the person that hired the band and, in an
effort to lessen the blow, informed me in what can only be
described as feigned cheerfulness that this was probably going
to be the first time in the band's history that they would be paid
NOT to perform again.
I don't know for certain what brought about their decision, and
I am only guessing that perhaps it had something to do with the
style of music this audience preferred compared to what they
got. Or maybe it was lack of amusement caused by the band's
antics, not the least of which was the trumpeter showing up
and performing while dressed in a very tight pink tutu.
|Bob Alder Archives, with thanks to Jerry Wirtane for names.
|Click on photo for larger view
|Do you have memories of David you'd like to share?
Please use the address at the bottom of the page to
submit your written recollections.
|DAVID KELSEY AND PURE TRASH
|A recollection by