Ralph and Tony

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January 13, 2021 by jacklovelace

Over Christmas I bought a Tony Bennett album with the Ralph Sharon trio. Great stuff.

It reminded me of the two intertwined encounters with Tony and Ralph.

The first one, the time I peed with Tony, is covered on another blog here. The night of our shared bathroom was when he played one of the summer concert series at the Denver Botanical Garden.

During that show, (Tony was in fine voice and charming), he referred several times to his longtime collaborator Ralph Sharon, who played piano. And he mentioned that Ralph was still performing in Boulder.

I looked it up and sure enough, Ralph Sharon was playing in the main lobby at the lovely St. Julian Hotel in Boulder on a weekend day.

Mary and I went down and got a seat real close to the piano. This really old man comes shuffling in, has a drink setup on his piano, and he starts tinkling.

Ralph never made eye contact or acknowledged anyone. He did get up to get another drink. We asked our server some polite version of “is he ok?” He smiled and said Ralph stays focused on his piano and his drink.

What was interesting is that despite his really being beyond the ability to visit or communicate, when his fingers hit the keys it was magic. He played beautifully and it was really charming.

When he finished and we applauded he just shuffled away with his drink. And by God he earned it!

He died shortly after, which not a surprise, and we were so glad we went to hear him play.

Cheers Ralph!

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