Little birds are
always flying by my window letting me know when things are going on in
Seoul before they're made public. I love those little birds. This one
bird dropped by and told me that Gil was coming to Seoul for a promotional
tour. I was so surprised to hear that Johnny Gill
was coming to Korea.
I haven't heard anything about Johnny Gill since New Edition broke up.
The little bird slapped me across the face and said, "Not Johnny Gill!
Just plain Gil." Now, maybe I was dropped too many times when I was a
baby, but I know that country music hasn't really taken off here in Seoul.
Hey, if Vince Gill wanted to do a promotional tour here in Seoul then
I would definitely get an interview with him! After being repeatedly slapped
by my little friend, he sat me down and explained to me there was a singer
named Gil Ofarim from Germany. He has only one L in his first name, and
he's only released his album in Asia and Europe, so most Americans would
never have heard of him before. He is almost 18 years old and his albums
have gone Gold and Platinum. Finally, it hit me! Sure! Sure! Of course!
Gil! Gil from Germany! Actually, I still had NO idea who he was. I just
wanted to get that stupid bird away from me
After recovering from my wounds, I picked myself up and bought Gil's CD.
The cover of the CD had a big picture of Gil's face on it. At first I
thought it was a girl. After checking out some other pictures of him,
I thought he might be Hanson's cousin. Everybody knows Hanson right? MmmBop
ba du ba dop MmmBop; such a catchy little tune. Aghhhh! I can't get it
out of my head now. Anyway, I thought they looked similar. I listened
to his CD and right away I knew his music was nothing like Yngwie Malmsteen.
Go check out my interview with the Malmster! Anyway, I was surprised that
I heard of some of Gil's songs before. I just never knew it was him. I
liked his music and I was looking forward to interviewing him. He sounded
similar to Bryan Adams and Axel Rose. His voice is pretty husky for a
17 year old.
He was planning on having a press conference at 2:00pm and then a Showcase
at 4:00pm at the Seoul Hilton's Discotheque Pharaohs. I love going to
press conferences in Korea!! The Korean reporters usually ask the most
interesting questions. I had a lunch appointment at noon at the Hilton.
The 50 or so, middle school girls lined up outside the Hilton surprised
me. It was only 11:40am and there was already a long line. BMG gave away
about 200 tickets for the Showcase. I found out later, that some girl
showed up at 5:30 in the morning, so she could get the best seat! There's
dedication for you.
2:00 came and went. Gil was still doing a sound check for the Showcase,
so the press conference was delayed a little. I ate my share of FREE cookies
and drank enough coffee to make all of Columbia happy. I had the opportunity
to meet Gil's father and tell him I liked some of his music. Back in the
60's and 70's Abi Ofarim was quite a singer himself. He teamed up with
his wife Esther, now ex-wife, and made 59 Gold records. Hanging out with
the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, Zeppelin it was a real pleasure
to meet him. I walked up to Abi and said, "Shalom." Abi was really surprised
somebody in Korea spoke Hebrew. He said Shalom to me and gave me a big
hug. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood back in the States, so I picked
up a little Hebrew here and there. You never get a second first impression.
Like Jerry McGuire's mentor, the late great Dicky Fox, used to say, "The
key to this business is personal relationships!" The press conference
finally began and most of the reporters asked normal questions about his
music and what his plans are in the future. I was a little disappointed.
I decided not to ask any questions, but to wait for later. The press conference
ended after 40 minutes and then Gil had some down time before the Showcase.
Pharaohs opened their doors and hoards of screaming girls filled the place.
It was quite a spectacle. All these young Korean girls with cameras around
their necks and Gil CD's in their hands, and of course their cell phones.
Gil stayed back stage away from the masses. He was in a private room playing
pool by himself. I walked in and asked if he wanted to play against me.
He said sure, so I racked the balls and got my interview at the same time.
I told him I was a reporter and he saw me in the press conference anyway.
I'm not a great pool player like Minnesota Fats or Dennis Hatch, but I'm
not awful either. For those of you who don't know who Dennis Hatch is
I'll enlighten you. Currently he is ranked 2nd in the world of professional
pool players. I've got a lot of strange knowledge in this head of mine.
Sometimes I surprise myself. When you become great pool player you get
a cool nickname, kind of like being in the mafia. I've always wanted a
cool nickname. How about Johnny two times, like in the movie 'Goodfellas'
I'm gonna get the papers; get the papers, or maybe Skinny Johnny. When
I lived in Hungary they used to call me Kaiser Soze, but not anymore.
I can think of a thousand good nicknames for Yngwie Malmsteen. Sorry,
I lost focus again! Ok, I'm shootin' pool with Gil and I'm trying to ask
him casual questions at the same time. .
Are you any good?
You can break.
All right (This is good stuff isn't it? I feel like Barbara Walters.)
Thanks, guess I'm solids.
Weren't you just here in Korea?
Yeah, this is my third time in 2 years.
Aren't you getting tired of coming here?
Why did you come back again?
Trying to promote my new album in Asia.