Jose Feliciano

Back in his early days, we were friends. I could tell stories for hours, but I will try to keep this short.

A couple of friends opened a folk music nightclub called La Cave. Stan Kain was one of the owners and was a friend of mine. It was in the basement of a building in Cleveland, Ohio, on the east side, on Euclid, the main street. It had been a pool hall, and it was rumored that Bob Hope had played pool there. All that remained were the wires hanging down that had powered the typical lights over a pool table.

The estimate for rewiring the place was about $4000. That was well beyond their budget, so I suggested that I see if I could do something with the old wiring. With the help of a friend, in three days’ time, we traced all of the wires back to the fuse box and marked them. They were able to mount more modern lights as needed. I was rewarded with free entry with a guest forever. That was nice pay for my efforts.

As was typical, the first set was called the “lead,” which was a much less expensive performer, and when finished, the main performer came on stage. Jose Feliciano came on stage and played chamber music. Everyone was struck by his fantastic guitar ability. His manager was a horrible man who locked him in the hotel room for hours while he went out. The next time we saw Jose, his manager was his girlfriend, and she was wonderful. He was now well-known and the main performer. The lead entertainer was Pinky and Jim, my friends and neighbors. She would carefully lead him onto the stage to a stool he would use for his performance. I will never forget when his foot accidentally bumped the stool. His comment into the microphone was, “The stool has no eyes.” The audience all stood up with a long round of applause.

After the show, it was typical for Stan to invite the performer to his apartment for some social time. My apartment was just across the driveway, and I was always invited. We were playing darts, and Jose asked if he could try. We asked what he wanted in the way of help. He asked about the dartboard size and whether someone would tap in the center of the board. I did the first tapping until he was ready, and then I got way out of the way. On his first try, he put 1/2 of the darts on the board. From then on, I would tap, and when he gave the word, I would just duck down lower. Soon he was able to hit the dartboard almost every time.

Months later, we learned that Jose was performing in a town about an hour away. Pinky and Jim, another friend, and I arrived very early to get a good table. We got a table next to the stage, only about 6 feet away from Jose. Jim always played a 12-string guitar. Jose heard us talking, and his next guitar piece was played with two frets as he simulated Jim’s signature song. Jose had recognized our voices and remembered Jim’s signature song. He copied it the best he could with his 6-string guitar. We were amazed by this. During the break, he came out to talk with us.

Back to

Updated 1 April 2023