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Oscar Peterson: The practical joker

The Story

Being a famous musician means a lot of time spent on the road and Oscar Peterson has been touring since his twenties. To counter the unrelenting intensity of a hectic touring schedule, musicians often get their kicks by playing tricks on each other. Taped keyboards, broken piano stools, loosened strings and "untuning" of instruments are just a few of their favourites pranks. In this clip from 1975 Peterson recalls an unforgettable gag he played on his bassist Ray Brown. It takes place in Japan while on tour with Jazz At The Philharmonic and involves a loosened G-string. Consequently, Brown got the better of Peterson a few days later with little steel balls placed strategically inside the piano.

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Tuesday Night
Broadcast Date: June 10, 1975
Guest: Oscar Peterson
Host: Lilly Barnes, Greg Gallagher
Duration: 8:42

Did You know?

• One classic Oscar Peterson gag happened when the pianist swapped the mouthpieces on the trumpets of Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge. The entire troupe had been assembled on stage for the grand finale. When Gillespie and Eldridge blew in to their respective horns, they produced awful, ear-shattering sounds.
• Peterson said that being on the road was one of the loneliest things in the world.


Oscar Peterson: A Jazz Giant more