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On The Upbeat—Tab Hunter

A minute ago there was casual banter, laughter, the sound of an orchestra tuning up. Now, there is only silence. The conductor raises his arms, waiting for a cue from the engineer in the glass booth. At a microphone dangling from the ceiling stands a young man, bronzed, tow-headed. He is expectant, tense. He moistens his lips. Suddenly the small room is flooded with music as the orchestra plays the opening bars of the first in a new album—Tab sings. . . . Is he serious about it? Or is this new career just a lark? “I don’t even hum well,” he once said. The trouble was, he had no faith in himself. But fans who liked his singing have given him that faith. As these intimate photos, taken when Photoplay spent an afternoon with Tab at Dot Records Studio, reveal, he is taking his singing seriously—because this is his way of saying, “Thanks to you.”

“This record has to be right. I can’t stand on ‘Young Love.’ I owe too much to it. And to all the fans who’ve stood behind me. I just can’t let them down. . . . Only a few seconds to go. Just time for a sip of water. . . .

Feel scared inside, maybe I’m too tense, pushing too hard. I mumble the words in my sleep. The melody races through my head every waking minute of the day. Hours and hours of rehearsal. And I thought making a picture was hard. . . .

Here goes. Everything fine right down to the last bar and then the orchestra and I hit a sour note. Perhaps because we’re all so beat, we start laughing. But it breaks the tension. I undo my collar, take off my sweater.

Everybody’s feeling all right now. It’s like we’re doing it for the first time. . . . But on the playback, I wonder. Is this my best? Will my fans really like it? I sure hope so. . . . ’Cause, I’m singing this one just for them”



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