October 18, 2013 - 1:08 PM
By Mary Kunz Goldman
Doc Severinsen, with his flashy suits and mighty trumpet blasts, has never been shy. The longtime bandleader on "The Tonight Show" is on his way to Buffalo -- and on the way, he paused for some honest talk about the new book on Johnny Carson by Carson's longtime attorney, Henry Bushkin. The book, widely described as a hatchet job, has caused a firestorm in the entertainment world.
“I know Henry Bushkin and I knew Johnny Carson,” the maestro said on the phone, choosing his words carefully. “And the idea that anybody would ask any single person to write a book about Johnny Carson and have it be Bushkin is beyond disgusting.”
Severinsen, still fit and handsome at 86, was speaking from a hotel in what he said was "some town in North Carolina." He is currently touring with his big band and winning rave reviews. ("Doc Severinsen Blows Out Auditorium," ran one recent headline, in Burlington, Iowa.)
He and the band are headed for Buffalo. Next Friday morning and Oct. 26, they will be joining the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall for a show called "Solid Gold Doc."
“Johnny will figure to some extent to this show,” said Severinsen, who was the BPO's principal pops conductor from 1992 until 1999. “How could he not? You think for one minute I would do concerts any place – that I would be coming to Buffalo to conduct your beautiful symphony orchestra, if it weren’t for Johnny Carson? I’d be in a home somewhere.”
He pointed out that Bushkin left Carson's employ under a cloud.
"I didn’t have any personal problems with him except it seems that he was
released from Johnny's employ over a matter to do with some questionable
behavior," he said. "There may have been an agreement, something like 'Sign this paper and go away.' I
have no business going beyond that."
Severinsen went on to reflect: "I feel he might be desperate for money or something, or someone said to him, 'Did you work with Carson? You did? Why don't you write about it in a book?' That says it all."