Gary James' Interview With

Before David Cassidy, before Donny Osmond, there was Fabian. He was easily the most famous of all teen idols. For a while in the late 1950's, Fabian ruled. He sold millions of records and played to packed houses. So how did this come to be? Take trip with us down memory lane as we examine the phenomenon known as Fabian.

Q - Before Bob Macucci (Fabian's personal manager) entered your life, what did you think of doing with your life?

A - I think I was too young. You know, I wasn't quite 15. So, I really wasn't sure. I know engineering had crossed my mind.

Q - Dick Clark has said, "You don't look for a singer. The person who is the star has that magic thing and that's all that counts." With you, was it that magic thing? Was it a lot of self confidence?

A - I don't think I had any self confidence.

Q - Nothing?

A - Well, I don't know about nothing (laughs).

Q - Mr. Clark has stated that when you entered the TV studio, he saw you had that magic. I'm just trying to figure out what that magic was.

A - Well, I think you better ask him, 'cause I have no idea what he's talking about. I'm glad that he thinks that. It's the public that buys the records. That's the bottom line. If they don't buy your records, if they don't like you, there's no way in the world that you'll make it. It's the public 100 percent, as long as you do the best you can.

Q - Author Nik Cohn wrote a book called Rock From The Beginning. About you he wrote, "His management had him groomed, had him taught to speak nice, had his voice trained. He ran through voice teachers the way old-time Hollywood stars ran through wives." Is any of that true?

A - This guy's full of shit, number one.

Q - Is it true that in the beginning, your management told you what to do, but as time went on, they did not?

A - Bob Marcucci has one side of his story. I don't like Bob Marcucci. What good management should do for you is guide you and help you in every way, and not be controlling like they were, like he was. In spite of it all, I still made it. In spite of him. I think a young person needs to be groomed in things he doesn't know. As far as speaking, no one can teach you how to speak. But as far as vocal lessons, I think that's a great idea for anybody. I think acting lessons are great, no matter what stage you're in in your life. I think anything you can do to help your self is a wonderful idea.

Q - Is it true that at one point you were so fed up with singing that you turned your back on $2 million worth of contracts?

A - I don't know what the figure was, but I was sick of Marcucci. It had nothing to do with singing. I always liked singing. I always liked recording. I just couldn't stand being around him anymore. So, I bought out my contract.

Q - I think when The Idol Maker came out, you thought that was loosely based on your life and took some legal action on that.

A - And won!! (laughs) They settled out of court. Before they settled, I made them put two ads in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety and apologize to my whole family. Plus, Bob Marcucci owned 7.5 percent of the film. I now own it (laughs). Plus, I won six figures, which I can't tell you.

Q - Are you familiar with Edward Kiersch's book, Where Are You Now Bo Diddley?

A - Vaguely. It kinds of ring a bell, I don't know why. It's an odd title.

Q - You say, "It hurts to be thought of as some pompadour. From Day One I knew I was being overlooked. I knew I wasn't getting credit. Wherever I went, I was received like the Beatles. But I never got any recognition."

A - Yeah, I said that.

Q - "Even Al Capp the cartoonist put me down. The records were selling, the times were good, and I couldn't get zip."

A - Yeah.

Q - What kind of recognition did you want?

A - Oh, from my peers, from the record industry. It would've been nice.

Q - As you see it, what has been your contribution to Rock 'n Roll?

A - I have no idea. I certainly wasn't an innovator. I certainly helped the business a little bit. I don't know if I have any great contribution, but I was a fan who made it. Maybe that was my greatest contribution, you know, that anybody could actually get in there and do it, and get a hit if was a good song. As far as being an innovator, I certainly was not a Chuck Berry or anything like that. But I'm happy the way it turned out.

Q - Do you still go out on the road with Fabian's Good Time Rock 'n Roll?

A - I've cut it down to maybe 20 or 30 shows a year because of my involement with the production company (Rattlesnake Productions),

Q - In the days when you were out there, the young women who waited backstage for musicians were not known as groupies. What were those women called, do you recall?

A - No, I don't remember. I guess I thought they were always groupies. I don't know. They were great kids, I know that I always had a good time with them. I always liked 'em.

Q - Bob Marcucci said he discovered you on a doorstep. He was coming out of a door. "His father had just had a heart. attack. I was looking for an artist of his type around that time. I was searching the whole country for that really. So, I happened to see him, and he was the right look and right for what we were going for. But, I didn't approach him until after his father was fine. He lived next door to my neighbor, who was like my dearest and closest friend."

A - It's all true, except he did approach me that night.

Q - And you told him to go to hell.

A - Right.

Q - What did you think of him that night?

A - I thought he was out of his mind. I really didn't care what he had to say, I was more worried about my dad. Then we were broke and there was no money and he came around and asked me again, I said, "Hey, can I make any money? That's all I'm interested in." He said, "I think so." So I said, "OK. I'll give it a shot." My father couldn't work. He was only going to make $45 a week on disability. I had two younger brothers and my mother. That's all the money that was coming in, so I tried anything. I still kept my job as a delivery boy for the first year (laughs).

Q - Your career with Marcucci lasted how long?

A - A year and a half, two years. Then I bought out my contract. I had a seven year deal with Twentieth Century Fox to make films. I finished out that deal and made twelve films for them, then went on to make ten films after that.

© Gary James. All rights reserved.

Between 1959 and 1960, Fabian placed eight songs on the Billboard Top 40