My father was in the society end of music where you couldn't request a tune he couldn't play and with his insistence on the importance of being an educated, literate musician, the musical catharsis that was about to unfound was, needless to say, very profound. My mother, an absolute drop-dead beauty, was a former showgirl from the Earl Carroll Vanities in Hollywood. Life at home was anything but boring!
I started piano study at the age of four and at five was playing tenor drum in the pit of a regional production of The King and I--my father was conducting. By the time I was eleven, I publicly performed my first composition and by fifteen won a medal for piano solo in the New York state competitions.
At fourteen, I announced that I wanted to be a professional musician instead of a surgeon. My father was very upset because he knew how difficult it would be to make a living. In retrospect he didn't know the half of it! "So you want to be a musician, huh?...Well,...you're gonna have to play everything." I can still hear him say, "None of this playing shit...You're gonna be a writer...That's where the money is."