Ted O’Reilly, the Toronto broadcaster, sent a recording of an interview he did with Paul Desmond in 1975. O’Reilly asked if there was a moment when Desmond realized the astounding degree of popularity the Dave Brubeck Quartet had achieved. Not really, Paul said, but that reminded him of a favorite question.
We were on a State Department tour in ’59, and we landed in Ismir, Turkey, and there was this huge hoop-de-do at the airport. They had a band playing one of our tunes, and a whole bunch of people; jazz fans and critics and whatnot. We were schlepping all of the equipment and baggage and everything to the hotel. Press conferences and interviews and pictures and all of that went on for an hour or so. Then, ultimately, it all subsided and I was sitting in the bar. There was nobody much left except this one guy who came up and said, “How long have you been famous?”
I said, “Well! That’s sort of hard to pin down. I suppose it would depend on whether you
start with the Columbia records or the concerts and Fantasy. Oh, I don’t know, I guess maybe 1954 or somewhere around there.”
And then he said, “What’s your name?”