Smoking a Joint with “The Killer”… or Not?
It was 1966. I had just graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit school with a degree in Mathematics. It was my first year without football in 12 years, and I was looking forward to a job befitting the first College Grad ever in my family. I was fortunate enough to land a job at Joe Bathey’s Club (on Wyoming Ave. in Detroit)… as my charismatic Brother, Michigan Marty’s, junior Bouncer. One night in June of 1966, “The Killer,” Jerry Lee Lewis, and his entourage showed up at Joe Bathey’s. After marrying his 13-year-old, first cousin, The Killer took a nose dive on the American music charts. He was happy to have a gig, any gig, and his one night stand to a limited audience at Joe Bathey’s Saloon in Detroit was a good as any.
The Killer took forever to come out of his basement dressing room. As the crowd reached fever pitch chanting: “Jerry Lee”, “Jerry Lee”, “Jerry Lee”, Michigan Marty and I had a few cocktails and anxiously awaited the The Killer’s arrival from down below. After an inordinate delay (at least for non-musicians), the owner, Hymie Greenblat (his son Sheldon now a lawyer in the Detroit area), sent brother Marty and me down to get The Killer’s ass upstairs to start pounding on the piano, sing some songs and finish up by setting the piano on fire. When Marty and I got downstairs, Marty told The Killer to get his ass in gear. The Killer and his groupies were smoking a “joint,” and invited Marty and me to partake. Marty’s immediate response to the Killer: “Jerry Lee… you are on my turf and in my town, and it’s me who does the inviting… not you, so let’s get on with the show.” Marty trudged upstairs with a crestfallen Killer behind him… and me and the groupies bringing up the rear.
Forty one years later, in 2007, when Michigan Marty had about six months to live, I asked him if he had any regrets, or anything he wished he would have done differently in life. Marty’s immediate response: “Brother Fred… I wished I would have smoked a joint with Jerry Lee Lewis, but I let me ‘ego’ get in the way.” The lesson for all of us, courtesy of the Great Man, Michigan Marty Lahti… If anyone offers you a joint, don’t die unfulfilled. “Smoke” the “joint”… because you never know, until history leaves its imprint, what great celebrity you might be getting high with. Go Marty. Go Killer, and a long, respectful salute to the “lost youth” of all us sons and daughters of Greatest Generation Detroiters.
Jerry Lee Lewis, “The Killer”
Michigan Marty Lahti
Bouncer in Training
Downtown Freddie from Detroit, Michigan Marty’s Younger Brother
By Frederick W. Lauck