(Submitted by reader Mark D)
All of us have very traumatic events in our life, that had we a choice, we would like to either omit or forget. An unforgettable event in my life that falls into this category is when I suffered critical 3rd degree burns in my home the morning of March 6, 1959.
Rushed to Childrens’ Hospital in L.A. for emergency round-the-clock surgery, I awakened in the early evening of March 7, 1959 and saw that my parents had generously placed my portable radio next to my hospital bed. Turning it on to KFWB, L.A.’s leading Top 40 outlet of the day, I heard the local debut of “Since I Don’t Have You” by The Skyliners (played from the beginning just as I turned the knob), which has gone on through the ages to become a vocal group classic, certified as a standard by ASCAP due to over 100 remakes in the past half century.
I didn’t have much of a 1959, spending 6 months of it either in the burn ward of Childrens’ Hospital or home convalescence. The Skyliners through all the years have remained my favorite all time vocal group, undergoing numerous personnel changes throughout, and recording for a plethora of different labels, persevering and gaining new and younger fans in the process.
When I saw on the Skyliners website that they had planned their Fiftieth Anniversary concert to be held at the beautiful Benedum Center For The Performing Arts in their home base of Pittsburgh, PA, I could hardly believe the date: March 7, 2009. The numerical coincidence of 50 years to the day when I first heard them under unfortunate circumstances was too much for me to resist. I knew I had to be there.
On March 6, 1959, I awaited the arrival of my ambulance around 9:00 a.m., wondering if I had any life left. On March 6, 2009, with exactly a half century of life behind me, I awaited the arrival of my airport shuttle in front of my home at 9:00 a.m. with totally different emotions. I truly had tears of joy in my eyes as the plane descended into Pittsburgh. The following night, I waited in a long line outside the Benedum Theatre in Downtown Pittsburgh, talking with a group of people from Sylvio’s Tratorria in Canton, OH and telling them of what had happened to me a half century earlier and what a truly special occasion this was for me. This group had ties to Henry Deluca, one of the concert’s promoters. I was told later that Jimmy Beaumont and Donna Groom of The Skyliners were talking about my VSA (very strange anniversary) backstage during the gala show. They went on at 9:00 p.m. EST for their headlining segment of the show. It was 6:00 p.m. on the West Coast, where I first heard their signature tune ”Since I Don’t Have You” 50 years earlier, to the hour!