Carmel Magazine

Summer/Fall 2020

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songwriting career. His music has been recorded and performed by a pantheon of singing stars that includes Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Doris Day, Mel Tormé, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn, Tony Bennett and the biggest of them all, Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. "I was the house pianist at The White Room, a private club near Piccadilly Circus," Coates recalls, "even though I was too young to be admitted." Cabaret singer Julie Wilson had made the young songwriter's "London by Night" a sta- ple part of her act, frequently closing her show with the number. One evening Sinatra came in, heard her sing it and wanted to meet the songwriter. "He told me, 'Kid, that's a good song. I want to take it back to the states and record it.'" And that's exactly what he did. The tune appeared on the hugely popular album, "Come Fly with Me," released in 1958. "Frank was half hoodlum and part charmer," Coates says. "If he liked you, you were in. If he didn't, well, it was 'take your hand off the suit.'" Sinatra was charmed and urged the song- writer to come to America where he could help the young man—he called Coates "Kid" for the rest of his life—further his career, an offer he gladly accepted. It was a wise move. Once in Los Angeles, Coates's obvious talents brought him to the attention of some powerful music biz players, including film and television composer Lionel Newman. Newman was hav- ing difficulty finding appropriate lyrics for the theme song he was writing for a 1956 Robert Wagner film, "A Kiss Before Dying." "He gave me a go at it, with a four-day dead- line," Coates recalls. He beat that deadline, Photo: Kelli Uldall The Chairman of the Board took a liking to Coates—he called him "Kid"—and encouraged him to emigrate to the US, where the singer helped further his career. Sinatra made several of the songsmith's tunes part of his repertoire. After settling here, Carroll met Carol Wieben in a most appropriate Carmel manner: while walking his Corgi around the neighborhood. They married in 1999. 132 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 2 0

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