Art M. Daane
Highly-acclaimed musician Larry Adler, widely acknowledged as the world's greatest
harmonica player, has died at the age of 87, Monday, 6 August, 2001.
He has been in show business for 73 years. Much has been written about him by himself
and others, so there isn't much point in repeating things. I do, however, like to write
about my personal affection for Larry since he had been a good friend ever since I met him
when he was on tour in South Africa. I forgot the exact date, must have been 1954-55 when
he performed in Cape Town. I was allowed into his dressing room for a chat and on my way there
it felt as if I were floating.
It was during interval that he had all the time for me.
My admiration became stronger when he did his rendition of "Le Grisbi"" playing the piano and the harmonica by himself. He did this as he hadn't bought the arrangement along since it was not his intention to play it. But having recently received a golden disc for this, the public obviously wanted to hear it "live".
Over the years I attended many of his performances, and although already a "Maestro", many times I heard him live or recorded he became better still.
He never failed to answer any of my letters, and invited me several times to come and
visit him whenever I would be in London. I never did meet him at his home because he was
always out when I managed to go to London. Larry's younger brother
Jerry also kept me informed about Larry's
whereabouts whenever appropriate.
The last time I met Larry was at the Millennium 2000 Harmonica Festival in Bournemouth, England. I was one of the lucky few to be sitting at his table during dinner.
Larry donated the instrument that he used in the movie "Music for Millions" in 1944, to the "Harmonica Hall of Fame" of Lou Delinsky. When Lou had heard of my "Harmonica Hall of Fame" he offered to send his collection to me. Today, the entire "Harmonica Hall of Fame" is on display, together with the rest of my collection, at the Accordion and Harmonica Museum "De Muse" in Malden (near Nijmegen, Netherlands).
During my near death experience which lasted about 4-5 minutes, I experienced
an unbelievable moment of truth. I hope the same happened for Larry.
I was in coma for six weeks, and during this time I have seen nothing else but harmonica playing people. They were taught music notation by saxophone player "Boy Edgar". But the big moment came when I actually met Mr. Math. Hohner. He promised me four new types of harmonicas. They were supposed to be a mixture of a "Harmonetta" and an "Orchestra VIII". Can you imagine what they would look like?
The encounter with Mr. Hohner was so real to me, that after I came out of the coma I had been looking out for the postman every day. This lasted for quite a number of weeks untill I gave up on them ever arriving.
Today of course I realize that it was a heavenly experience. The moment of truth came when I met "The Lord". He didn't speak to me but was very much "alive" so to speak. The Universe was entirely covered by his face, as if I was inside a very large globe. This must have been the moment I was sent home. I have not turned "religious" like others have, but simply still believe in a "higher power".
If Larry could hear me, I would like to say; "Dear Mr. Adler, thank you very much for those wonderful years you and your "Mouth-Organ" have given us."
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