Wilder Ferguson Interview
Recently I had the opportunity to communicate with Maynard's daughter, Wilder Ferguson. She graciously agreed to grant me an exclusive interview and answer a few questions about her life! I think that you will find that her comments are intelligent and thoughtful. Below you will find the complete transcript:
How have your father's philosophies influenced your life?
Well, Maynard is not the sort of father who sits his children down and lectures them on life and morals and religion. I think he always treated us as equals and did his best to be sure we were always having fun. When I wanted to learn guitar (I had only ever been interested in Dance) he got all excited and found me a great little guitar with an amp built into the case, so I could take it anywhere. I would have bought something plain, but it would not have been as much fun. Enjoyment has always been a major thing with Maynard, he wants everyone around him to be happy and love what they are doing. This includes work and practice and taking his vitamins.
Do you have a favorite Maynard Ferguson song?
Pagliacci !! Maynard really loved this tune and when he played it at some huge fairground he climbed up this big cliff, that formed the back of the stage and finished the tune up there. It was such a crazy thing to do, but he was really having fun.
Have you met any remarkable people as a result of being Maynard's daughter?
I am glad that you asked me about "remarkable people" and not famous. Everyone always thinks the most interesting people are famous. When Maynard kept us kids on the road with him, which was most of the time at first, everyday was an adventure. In almost every town we would all be taken to dinner or a barbecue and people would go out of their way to plan things for me and my brother to do. I don't mention any particular person, because all the fans, families of band boys, musicians and concert organizers made my road life incredible. When our parents were busy or resting, people would bring their kids over to play with us, or play catch with us or take us on all the rides (We played lots of amusement parks) It was a great life because everyone was wonderful.
Has it been difficult being the daughter of a famous jazz musician?
I did not realize I had a famous father until I went to the Interlochen Arts Academy. I was about 15. I never stopped to think about it before then. At Interlochen it was suggested that I not wear my MF T-shirts by a girl I met. She told me I should not mention my father as it would sound like I was bragging. I agreed, and the next two months were filled with me and my girlfriend lying to all the musicians who had heard Maynard's son or daughter was there, and were determined to figure out who it was. I was studying dance, so I was mostly around dancers, but kids would pull the telephone out of my hand when I was on the phone and say "Hey MF send me a superbone" or other silly stuff. One guy was really a pain, he was a great trumpet player and years later ended up in the MF band. Other than those first few months at Interlochen it was never difficult, it was always fun.
What is your favorite memory growing up with Maynard as a father?
That's a hard question, how do you pick one moment? One comes to mind which might not seem very positive but still sticks as a favorite memory:
When I was eight there was a beauty contest at my little school and my dad was the judge, my mother bought me an incredible floor length dress (something no other eight year old would have) so you can imagine my horror that I did not win. I was the worst at everything in school and I thought finally I would be the top banana. I was very upset, but Maynard took me into the changing room and said the other girls were very pretty and he loved me best, but it would not be fair to choose me. Then he spoiled me for the rest of the day, and really let me know he loved me. The girl who did win was a tall black girl who really was pretty.
"Wilder" is obviously a unique name. Where did it come from? Is there a story behind it?
My parents lived a wild life and so Maynard thought Wilder was a great name. I agree, I love it!
Do you have difficulty understanding the "hype" that surrounds your father among young trumpeters?
Because I always loved dance I bought anything and everything to do with Fred Astaire. And anytime his movies were on TV, even 3am, I was allowed to stay up. Since I always knew that Maynard was a great trumpet player I understood that young horn players would idolize him. I think looking up to our peers is a healthy thing, they show us how good we can be and give us the motivation to get there.