Trumpeter Hits High Notes For Fan
By David Hildahl, from the January, 1996 issue of Autograph Times.
Copyright © 1996 Autograph Times, Used With Permission
My favorite autograph experience occurred when I met the world famous big band leader and trumpet player Maynard Ferguson. It all began when my parents offered to drive my friend Jeff Moe and me to see Maynard and his Big Bop Nouveau Band perform. Even though I had seen Maynard in concert once before, I didn't get the opportunity to meet him after his show. I had only one mission on this night - meet my hero and get his autograph.
Our pilgrimage took us to Downer's Grove, Ill., where the Canadian native was going to perform an outdoor concert at the city park. Arriving and hour and a half early to get the best seats, we set our blanket right in front of the park's bandshell. While waiting for the concert to begin, an older gentleman noticed the M.F. shirts we were wearing and struck up a conversation with us. After telling us that he had driven from Canada for the concert and that he has been to Maynard's house in California several times, he quickly gained our respect.
Finally, the band took the stage and Maynard began popping out the screeching trumpet notes that established his fame. After a sizzling set of tunes, Maynard played the "M.F. Hit Medley" and "Gonna Fly Now," as an encore. As soon as the bandleader was done accepting the crowd's accolades, he was quickly escorted to a church two blocks away.
After telling my parents where to meet us, Jeff and I made a mad dash for the church. When we got there, we found its door was being guarded by a man who would not let us in. He pleasantly told us that if we waited by the door, we might be able to catch Maynard on the way to his tour bus which was parked nearby.
As we patiently waited to see our idol, members of his band walked by us and shuffled into the church. We were pleasantly surprised when many of them said "hello" after glancing at our M.F. shirts.
After waiting for an hour, we were about to leave the cold, mosquito-infested area when Maynard's tour manager, Ed Sargent, walked up to us. He asked if we would help him load the bus. Since we were now official "Maynard Roadies," Jeff and I gained easy access to the building that housed my idol.
Ed led us to a room that was filled with the band's equipment. He told Jeff to carry a cooler outside and then he turned to me. "Take that to the bus," Ed instructed, pointing to Maynard's trumpet. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever carry my hero's horn. That is what it might be like to other people to carry Michael Jordan's favorite basketball or hold onto the Pope's Bible.
After we finished bringing out the rest of the band's equipment, Ed rewarded each of us with a can of Coke from the cooler. He led us down a hall, told us to wait by the elevator, then took off. After a short wait, I heard the elevator creak and I began to get anxious. I knew we were about the meet the aging bandleader when I heard his familiar high-pitched chuckle from behind the elevator doors. The doors opened and out stepped Maynard.
I asked him to sign my cover from his "Best of Maynard Ferguson" CD. Pointing to the cover's picture, the pudgy horn player joked, "This is when I used to by skinny!" I was ecstatic when I noticed he personalized the cover for me. After he signed Jeff's cover, he put his arms around us and Ed took our picture with the trumpet legend. We graciously thanked Maynard for his time and he was on his way.
Jeff and I gathered our belongings and left the church. After we were reunited with my parents outside, my mom said, "Maynard's on the way to his bus. You can go meet him there."
"We already have," I replied with a smile.