Trying to describe a day in the life of a 1970s teen idol is like explaining what happens during a hurricane; only a tropical storm is more calm and orderly. A typical weekday started way too early in the morning with me falling out of bed, throwing on whatever clothes were clean (when did I have time to do laundry?) and zipping over to Mammoth Studios in Hollywood in my 1964 poppy red Mustang convertible to shoot my TV series, Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth, starring Sandy Fairfax.
My then-manager, Jarvis Lycowich, invented my stage name in 1974. He felt my given name of Stanford Ernest Farmington II was too unwieldy for a marquee.
At the studio, whenever I had a break from shooting—which was rare since I was in nearly every scene—I was busy posing for photo shoots, giving interviews to teen magazines, signing merchandise for giveaways, meeting some friend of the network brass, talking business with a concert promoter, or meeting a lovely lassie in my dressing room.
When we finished shooting around six or seven o’clock, I hopped in my car, dodged the fans hanging outside the studio gate, hit the nearest drive-through for a burger and Coke, and headed for the recording studio to lay down vocals for my next album (I recorded eight studio albums that went gold. The label also released a live concert record and greatest hits compilation).
At the studio I listened to the demo tape, looked over the lyric sheet, and nailed the tune in one or two takes. With my schedule, I didn’t have the luxury of spending hours on one song. On the days when I wasn’t recording, I rehearsed for my concert show.
When I left the recording studio around eleven p.m. or later, I’d hit the clubs to check out the music scene or go out with a girl I had meet on the set. Trouble is, by the time the girl and I got back to my place, I was usually too tired to do anything about it.
No rest for the weary on Friday nights. That’s when I flew out somewhere across the country for a weekend of concerts. Some weeks my plane didn’t returned to L.A. until Monday morning and I rode a limo straight from LAX to the studio. The makeup gal had to give me eye drops to cover my red eyes. I quickly mastered the art of power naps where I could fall asleep instantly and feel refreshed after twenty minutes of sound sleep.
I didn’t even slow down during the summer hiatus of my TV show. From June to August I filmed Buddy Brave feature movies (like the TV show only longer) and traveled around the world in concert tours.
After my show was cancelled in 1979 and people stopped buying my records, my days were far less busy—or productive. I married, had two beautiful kids, and spent my days drinking and partying. In 1988 my wife divorced me and left with the kids, which gave me more time to drink, go out with neurotic girlfriends, and wonder why nobody loved Sandy Fairfax anymore.
Now it’s 1993 and I’m tired of the tabloids running photos of me drunk and disorderly. I quit drinking and took the first job offer that came my way—a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention in the Midwest. What started out as an easy gig turned deadly when a member of the tribute band was shot. The local Barney Fife detective fingered me as the prime suspect (I barely knew the victim!).
That weekend consisted of dealing with oddball fans, holding the detective at bay, and rehearsing to take the dead man’s place in the tribute band concert. And I had until Sunday evening, the end of the convention, to uncover the killer.
To find out whodunit, read The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (Oak Tree Press), available in paper, Kindle and Nook.
My next job is a guest spot a sitcom that tapes in the same soundstage as where I filmed Buddy Brave fourteen years ago. What can go wrong in a movie studio?
** Sally is giving away one (1) autographed copy of THE BAFFLED BEATLEMANIAC CAPER. Contest open to US residents only and ends October 29. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **
Meet the author
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif. She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school two of her plays, “Star Collector” and “Common Ground,” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.
Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked a variety of jobs including actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and movie studio tour guide/page. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, the first book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, was a finalist for the 2012 Eureka! Award for best first mystery novel. The next book will be The Sinister Sitcom Caper.
Books are available at www.oaktreebooks.com and online booksellers.