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       Drinking Champagne, Feelin’ Some Pain in Hawaii
By: Bill Mack

My composition, “Drinking Champagne," has made me very proud. It’s been a very successful ditty, and has been recorded by dozens of artists…from Dean Martin to George Strait.
No, I’m not going to wallow in a self-centered success story, here. Instead, I’m going to insert a couple of funny happenings pertaining to the song that I composed in the mid-sixties while driving home from the golf course in my little MG. I passed a billboard reading, “This Holiday Season–serve Champagne!” The song was completed by the time I reached home.
I recorded the tune for Pike Records and within a few months, my recording was picking up some action in Dallas.
“Drinking Champagne,” grabbed nationwide attention when Cal Smith, a great singer, recorded it for Kapp Records, taking it to the best-seller charts.
Soon after Cal’s version turned it into a hit, “Drinking Champagne” began showing up in various albums. A pretty lady named Myra English recorded it for Hula Records, and my little tune became the most popular song in Hawaii.
I agreed to host a flight to Hawaii as a promotion for the radio station where I was working at the time. The timing was perfect! It was to be my first trip to the islands.
Shortly after landing in Oahu, I struck up the idea of taking some of my friends to a nightclub named, “The Outrigger,” to see Myra English, in person. There were about ten of us in the group when we entered the rustic nightspot. I was introduced to Myra, who was on a break. She hugged me and thanked me for writing her big hit.
While my bunch was gorging on roasted pig, Myra English and her combo stepped back on stage. She said, “I am happy to announce that the writer of my biggest hit song is in the audience. Please welcome to Oahu… Mr. Bill Mack!”
As I stood, smiling, the packed house gave me a most gracious round of applause. After sitting back down, I struck upon another idea. I motioned the waiter who was tending our table and told him that when Myra English began singing my song, I wanted to buy a round of champagne for all of the people who were seated with me at the long table.
It was obvious he didn't understand, so I repeated the order: “I want all of these people with me to have champagne when Myra begins singing my song, ‘Drinking Champagne’! Understand?”
“Understand!”
The combo was playing a very beautiful Hawaiian instrumental as the waiter smiled and walked over to Myra. As he whispered in her ear, the beautiful singer looked at me and shouted, “Are you sure?”
With pride, I nodded, “Yes!”
Myra, appearing to be a bit shocked, walked to the microphone and announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make that is going to make most of you very happy. I am about to sing Mr. Bill Mack’s composition, ‘Drinking Champagne’. (Loud applause) And listen! Bill Mack has ordered champagne for everyone!”
The announcement brought on the inevitable sound of clapping hands and screams of appreciation. I faked a smile as the spotlight hit my face and the waiter slapped me on the back, laughing with glee.
As Myra was belting out ‘Drinking Champagne”, the popping of corks throughout the huge room resembled the sound of battle!
The bill: $728.75. I still have the stub in my collection.
I can’t remember the amount I tipped the waiter.
Another true tale from Hawaii:
Warner Mack (no relation), a popular recording artist from the states at the time, was appearing at one of the military bases in Hawaii when “Drinking Champagne” was the number one song on the islands. Since the Cal Smith recording of my tune quoted W. Mack, in parenthesis, as the writer (W. was the initial for William), news spread around Oahu that Warner had written the song. He informed me that he was sitting in his hotel room when he got a call insisting that he be the special guest at a big party given by a beautiful land-owner at her huge ranch. It dawned on Warner that he must be a hotter act than he had imagined. He accepted the invitation.
After arriving at the ranch, the beautiful hostess approached Warner with open arms, screaming, “Here is the man who wrote my favorite song!” Then, after planting a big kiss to Warner’s astonishment, she shouted, “Now get your butt up on that stage an’ sing my song!”
Warner whispered, “Which song is that?”
Hesitating for a moment, the lady growled: “I want to hear you sing th’ biggest hit on the island! We want to hear ‘Drinking Champagne’, of course!”
Warner whispered, “I didn’t write ‘Drinking’ Champagne’! Bill Mack wrote that tune! I don’t even know th’ words to that song!”
Doing a double-take, the hostess whispered: “Well, get up on that stage and act like you wrote th’ damned thing!”
Warner said he walked upon stage after a tremendous introduction and faked the lyrics. He laughed, “I put words into your song that had never been heard, but the crowd didn’t notice it. They were clapping and screaming all the way through it! And right after I finished doing my version of your tune, the grand lady jumped to the microphone and said, ‘Sorry to report that Mr. Mack has to rush back to the military base for a late night performance. No time for autographs!’”
Warner added, “The chauffeur shoved me into the limo and rushed me back to the hotel. I wasn’t even given a chance to eat a salad!”

Hear Bill Mack daily from 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m. (ET) on XM Satellite Radios Open Road Channel (171). Shows are replayed evenings from 8:00 p.m. until Midnight. Weekends, hear The Best of Bill Mack at these times on XM Satellite Radio. Also see and hear Bill weekends on Country Crossroads, syndicated on over 800 radio stations and on FamilyNet Cable TV. Write Bill at P.O. Box 8777, Fort Worth, Texas 76124. Website: www.billmackcountry.com or e-mail: billmack@billmackcountry.com.
 
 
 
 

 

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