Today is the birthday in 1903 of bandleader Guy Lombardo, conductor of the Royal Canadians and the cultural figure who “owned New Years Eve” before Dick Clark took it over. Lombardo’s music is clean and precise and by the more modern standards of those who were raised on rock and roll, sterile and empty.
But he wore a nice red jacket and made a name for himself at a time when a person could become a popular star simply by smiling and waving a baton. And for people in my age group, he carried an air of mystery because he did his best known work on TV, in front of my parents, after we were sent to bed.
The other thing Lombardo did is unexpected (to me). He raced hydroplanes, roaring across the surface of rivers and lakes at frightening speeds powered by engines that were loud and obnoxious in a way his music decidedly was not.
He was good enough at it to be inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. I never would have guessed this – it makes about as much sense as discovering that Liberace was a heavyweight prizefighter. (Can we start that rumor here?)
We assume people who are known for a particular thing or make their living in a specific realm love only that and never indulge in anything different. But it’s undeniable that the Guy who seems so mild and pleasant in the video above enjoyed having the wind in his hair and could have swamped a slow boat going anywhere when he was having fun on the weekend.
What is your unexpected sideline?