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“Be Careful What You Say” by Byron Janis

  • “Be Careful What You Say” by Byron Janis

    As Russia has been so prominent in the news of late, I thought I would tell you an amusing story that happened to me and my ex-wife, June, in what was then the Soviet Union.

    In 1960, I was honored that I was chosen to open the new Cultural Exchange between our two countries. Two years later, I was so pleased to be invited to return for another concert tour and was given the green light by the authorities here to accept the invitation. Mercury Records was also invited along to make recordings of me. One afternoon while we were at the hotel, I asked their extraordinary recording engineer, Bob Fine, to please find the listening devices in our room because I knew that almost all the rooms had them. It didn’t take long – one was in the telephone and one was in the chandelier – “well done,” we laughed.

    That night, I said to June, “Let’s try to have a little fun in ordering breakfast tomorrow morning by not asking for room service over the telephone. Let’s just say, ‘Could we please have more toast.’” The next morning, the breakfast came up and there was more toast than breakfast!