This column told you last week that Larry Birkhead, the newly named father of Anna Nicole Smith’s 7-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, was working on selling a photo shoot of himself and the baby to a celebrity magazine.
Immediately after we published this, a friend of Birkhead’s called and said, “Larry has no plans to do that. That story is wrong.”
Oh yeah? Larry and the baby are now on the cover of OK! Magazine and inside in a photo shoot. I guess we weren’t wrong.
Birkhead only received the DNA report making him the father on April 10. Today is April 18. The magazine was printed several days ago. You do the math. Before the Bahamas court even officially proclaimed Birkhead Dannielynn's dad, her new father sold her out.
I’m told the price is $1 million.
Mind you, baby Dannielynn isn’t even living with Birkhead yet.
Where did this photo shoot take place? In Birkhead’s hotel room in Nassau? No. In the house where Howard K. Stern is living, where he lived with Anna Nicole before she died, a house that belongs to someone else.
The OK! interview is interesting for one other reason: Birkhead is now singing the praises of Stern.
You may recall this column from several weeks ago. Birkhead’s then-attorney, Debra Opri, whom this column has never spoken to, was furious that her client was meeting with Stern, considering offers from him to share in fees from TV shows and magazines. Stern was like the snake in the garden of Eden.
So now Opri is gone, and the cashing in has begun. If you don’t think Stern is helping Birkhead make money now, I’ve got some land to sell you in the Bahamas.
Dannielynn has two daddies. She’s very lucky.
Mick Jagger proved a couple of things last night at the memorial concert for Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun: that he’s an excellent public speaker and that he can juggle at least one girlfriend, an ex-wife and two kids at the same time.
Jagger was one of several trenchant speakers at the memorial, a deftly executed concert mixed with eulogies directed and produced by Taylor Hackford, Joel Gallen and David Wilde.
The other speakers — David Geffen, Henry Kissinger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oscar de la Renta, Jann Wenner — also proved to be charming and concise in their amusing memories of the lively Ertegun.
Bette Midler was the clever, if unofficial host (she also sang a couple of songs with her usual aplomb, including Tom Waits’ “Shiver Me Timbers”).
Everyone should have a send-off like this, but no one else ever will. The show commenced with a New Orleans-style funeral parade led by Wynton Marsalis playing a raucous “Didn’t He Ramble” as a gang of musicians marched down the aisles of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
They were followed by R&B great Solomon Burke, seated in his traditional throne, singing his first Atlantic hit, “Just Out of Reach,” with Eric Clapton’s band, and Clapton himself playing a stinging guitar on “Please Send Someone to Love” and “Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee.”
There was more and I’ll get to it, but in the audience there was an eclectic mix of music folks from Ahmet’s world and society types from his wife, Mica Ertegun's, rarified atmosphere: Dominick Dunne with sister-in-law, Joan Didion; Joe Allen and Annette Tapert; Ashton Hawkins of the Metropolitan Museum; Jamie Niven; and literary agent Lynn Nesbitt. They were not the usual types who turn up for rock music events.
But it was because Ertegun moved so easily between these worlds that he became a legend, but since it was mostly a music night, the latter group looked a little horrified and intrigued as the music proceeded.
One of my friends in the music biz referred to the society types — lots of expensive suits and jewelry — as “The Others.”
And in the middle of it all was Mica Ertegun, a magnificently gracious, beautiful woman who lived through her husband’s wild life for 40 years.
Backstage, before the show started, she popped into all the dressing rooms to greet the performers — even if she didn’t really know them.
She hugged Sam Moore and reminisced with Solomon Burke, who sang at her wedding and even at a recent anniversary party. Kid Rock greeted her and so did John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.
Meanwhile, Hackford and the other organizers worried that there was no sign of Ben E. King. But he made it and sang “Don’t Play that Song for Me” -- which Ahmet wrote for the Drifters -- with John Paul Jones and Foreigner’s Mick Jones playing behind him. It was lovely.
There were electrifying performances by the Manhattan Transfer (“Sing Moten’s Swing”) and Phil Collins solo (“In the Air Tonight”) and with Genesis (“Follow You, Follow Me”) that showed the breadth and depth of Atlantic’s amazing run after their R&B heyday in the 1960s.
But it was that heyday that ruled the show. Helen Mirren, Hackford’s wife and recent Best Actress Oscar-winner for “The Queen,” went gaga for Moore’s sizzling duet with Kid Rock on “In the Midnight Hour” and “I Thank You.”
“It was the best moment of the whole show,” Mirren raved.
She was right, but she also could have included Stevie Nicks’ unexpected knockouts on Led Zeppelin’s “Rock & Roll” and her own Top 40 hit “Stand Back” with all-star sidemen Waddy Wachtel, Danny Kortchmar, Cliff Carter, Leon Pendarvis, Steve Jordan and Willie Weeks.
Crosby, Stills and Nash did a poignant (if a little flat) version of The Beatles’ “In My Life,” but pulled it back together for a sublime reading of “Helplessly Hoping” with Neil Young.
Indeed, it was Young, with Stephen Stills, who summed up the evening by playing “Mr. Soul,” a song from their Buffalo Springfield days. This was maybe the coolest grace note, because Ertegun’s nickname could have been “Mr. Soul.”
Still, there was a lot going on and more speeches. Midler hit the nail on the head when she said of Ahmet, “He lived the life everyone wanted.” But this is Midler’s milieu, and she’s good at live performance.
It was Jagger, Kissinger and Geffen who really made the night. For Jagger it couldn’t have been easy. He sat in the front with girlfriend L'Wren Scott while ex-wife Jerry Hall and two of their kids were further back in the orchestra.
Later, Jagger made a brief appearance at the lavish supper hosted by Mica Ertegun at the Central Park Boathouse. Hall stayed and enjoyed herself.
Jagger’s speech, though, was a highlight of the night.
“Some people say Ahmet was like a father figure to them," he said. "To me, he was a wicked uncle with a wicked chuckle.”
He recounted many late nights with Ertegun in the '70s, many of which ended with Jagger going home first at 4 a.m. The pair, he said, often attended the Olympics together, with Ertegun buying their seats from scalpers (“ticket touts”) while Jagger awaited the outcome.
One time, Jagger recalled, he met with Ertegun to discuss the promotional budget for a new album. Ertegun -- Jagger mimicked him very closely — responded, “We’re going to take all the money and blow it all on the first day on one big f----ing party!”
Geffen, who never speaks publicly, recalled how Ertegun helped him launch Asylum Records with Jackson Browne and put him on his way to making billions.
He asked Ertegun how to make a lot of money in the music business. The elder statesman told him to pay attention, then got out of his chair and walked, bent over, clumsily. Geffen didn’t get it. “You have to bump into genius,” Ertegun explained.
And then to the party, where Paul Shaffer led the "Saturday Night Live" band through a series of Atlantic hits.
Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers sang along, as did Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, The Band’s Robbie Robertson and J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf, although none of them performed in the show.
In the end, it was Ahmet’s night, and it was perfect. Some people were missing — Aretha Franklin was performing in Texas, Roberta Flack was MIA without explanation, Keith Richards sent a note that his mother was ill (this sent nervous laughter through the room considering what Richards said he did with his dead father).
Music moguls of Ertegun’s era, like Clive Davis, Doug Morris and Walter Yetnikoff, were absent. Ertegun’s partner, Jerry Wexler, himself a legend, sent a video in which he poignantly thanked Ahmet for their amazing life together at Atlantic.
Ertegun’s influence will be felt forever, even as the music business stumbles its way into the next generation.
But it was amazing to see what he left behind. The range of his success is astounding. The jazz and R&B came first. But he loved cabaret, hence Midler and Manhattan Transfer. He had an ear for rock, whether it was the Rolling Stones, Foreigner, Zeppelin or Yes. He appreciated female rockers like Stevie Nicks and the late Laura Branigan (she would have turned 50 this July), a particular favorite.
Ertegun’s eclecticism and open-mindedness was the key to his survival and success. If only someone were brave enough to emulate him now, there might be a record business.