(Dec 2000) Lionel Hampton escaped with his life in 1997 from a fire in his NYC apartment. Lionel lost almost all his musical memorabilia, including vibes given to him by Benny Goodman...and his piano. I worked for Kurzweil Music as a Product Specialist/Concert Artist at the time, so I was able to work out a replacement. While his apartment was being rebuilt, he lived in a beautiful suite, directly above Tower of Records in Manhattan. Lionel was excited about receiving this new digital grand piano. The day we presented him with the gift, my dad and I flew to NY to hang with Lionel. We enjoyed talking and listening to music. From that day forth, every time we ran into each other around the country, he remembered who I was. For example, at his Jazz festival, we'd see each other coming from opposite ends of the hotel hallway. When he saw me coming, he pointed and said, "Hey-y-y-y, piano man!" Mr. Hampton died in 2002 at the age of 94. Photo by Norm Harris. ©2005 Invisible Touch Music
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