Georgia On My Mind

April 23, 1979  “Governor George Busbee of Georgia issues a proclamation declaring Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind” the new official state song. Ray Charles sings his famous version at the ceremony.”  via


After graduating high school in Brooklyn I moved right into the city.  I was accepted at Manhattan School of Music and started studying privately with Sanford Gold  – he was the pianist on the Ed Sullivan show, played with everybody, and was piano teacher for all the jazz guys in NY.  Lessons were $25 then and it was an astronomical amount of money to come up with every week.  Sanford was a stocky guy with a goatee and a hard demeanor, but he was really a pussycat.

My first lesson with him he yelled at me because I didn’t bring him a joint.  He said, “What, no apple for the teacher?”  This guy taught me how to play stride piano.  He made me listen to all the old stride guys like Fats Waller, Earl Hines and Tatum.  He took me aside one day and said “If you really want to play stride piano you need to drink a lot of booze.” What a great influence 😉

Well, I followed his advice for a while and can’t remember if I played stride any better drunk or sober – but here is sober me playing Georgia on My Mind.  I loved Ray Charles singing this!

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