Unearthed 1972 Bette Midler concert from The Continental Baths!
LISTEN — click the arrow below to play audio sample…
Hiding in an unmarked tape box for over 40 years, here we have an entire, never-before-heard 1972 performance by Bette Midler! This in-house stereo recording was made by Continental Baths deejay Don Fendley in early 1972 (most likely on January 15th).
This 77-minute show was recorded straight through (no edits or interruptions) using at least two onstage microphones, which were likely fed into the DJ booth.
This is Miss M. captured during one of The Baths’ famed Saturday night cabaret shows — and as this historic recording documents, she keeps the audience right in the palm of her hand! Bette proudly introduces her excellent backing band (Michael Federal, Kevin Ellman, Lee Gurst and Barry Manilow), teases club owner Steve Ostrow and praises The Baths toward the end of the show. The evening concludes with a final announcement by the MC: “We ask that the ladies — as soon as they can get themselves together — please leave and we can turn The Baths back to us boys and then we’ll have our disco!”
It’s an intimate, high-energy show full of songs, stories and great crowd participation!
We do not hold copyrights for any music contained on this recording. We only own the tape itself, which we are making available through auction on eBay HERE.
ABOUT DON FENDLEY
Don Fendley’s DJ career began in New York during the late-1960s at a Fire Island botel called The Blue Whale. Fendley had become frustrated with the starting-and-stopping of the botel jukebox, so he suggested to the owners that he could bring along some of his own 45s and a couple turntables. The music quickly became a hit and by 1970 a neighboring restaurant called The Sandpiper reacted by expanding its hours to accomodate late-night dancing. Fendley was hired there, and pretty soon, a MAJOR dance scene developed around his inspired selection of obscure high-energy funk/soul!
We’ve spoken with several people with first-hand accounts of that earliest period, and they all say (emphatically!) that the New York disco scene did not exist before Don Fendley (and another DJ named Ray Yeates) came along.
And here are a few other comments we discovered online (note: Fendley’s name is often mispelled):
DJ Lary Sanders:
“It was like experiencing something supernatural while Don Findlay, the Sandpiper’s first disc-jockey, created a musical masterpiece for those of us lucky enough to be on the cutting-edge and inside the most prestigious club on the Island, if not the world! Tom Moulton was there too, debuting his reel to reel tapes that summer for the who’s who list of upstart fashion designers, models, socialites, celebrities, entrepreneurs and professionals of all walk. It was under the esoteric influence of Findlay and Moulton that everyone united on this one very special dance floor.”
12 West owner Alan Harris:
“I would have to say that Don Finley was God for that period. There was nothing better than seeing everyone sing along to ‘What’s Going On’ and ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.’ He knew when to interject those records to create the maximum sensual effect, and people began to feel comfortable dancing in one another’s arms.”
DJ Barry Lederer:
“The Sandpiper was really THE place to be. It was a DJ’s dream to play there as all the ‘right’ people went there to dance. I mean designers, record executives, DJs and all else. It’s hard to explain, but the Fire Island was what Studio 54 was later on. It was the place to be. Tom Moulton made tapes there. The year prior to Tom was 1971 and a DJ named Don Finlay played the Sandpiper. This wasn’t his only year there, but his best! Though many people don’t know of him.”
As noted, famed remix master Tom Moulton pioneered the use of the mix tape, presenting his first reel to Don Fendley at The Sandpiper in the summer of 1972. The pre-formulated mix tape allowed a DJ to avoid live mistakes by perfecting crossfades, balancing levels, and sometimes extending songs through editing. A DJ would then lend the tape to a club to serve as their ‘performance’. Don Fendley immediately followed suit, committing some epic sequences of killer soul to mix tapes which, 40 years later, now serve as one-of-a-kind snapshots of the era.
Fendley continued at the Sandpiper throughout the early 1970s, but alternated at Manhattan spots like The 10th Floor, Sanctuary and The Continental Baths. During the mid-1970s, he was playing Le Jardin and Hurrah’s (there’s even a story posted online about his desperate attempt to recover part of his record collection from Studio 54 the morning after it was raided by FBI agents!).
His career took on an added dimension around 1973 when he began creating mix tapes for use at top fashion shows. Fendley would meticulously craft a programme of music to suit the style, mood, and variety of a particular fashion line. He became so expert at this, that virtually every well-known designer hired him for their shows. In addition, he was even moonlighting as a DJ for celebrity parties by Mick Jagger, Jackie Onassis, Joel Schumacher, George-Paul Rosell, Halston and many others.