Drummer, manager, painter, a card carrying, memory laden true member of His Lordship's inner circle of the inner circle of the inner circle has flown the coop. Dick Zalud, whom Lord Buckley named Prince Owlhead (take a wild guess why) died Monday June 24, 2013 in New York City. He had been residing for sometime at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale in the Bronx.
As a young musician Dick was introduced to Lord Buckley one night when, well, I'll let Dick tell the story:
Where did I meet him? I met him on Seventy-First Street [in New York City], on the West Side when he had a little apartment with his wife and two children and the baby sitter was a dwarf named Lenny. He had a little dwarf baby sitter, yes sir. Yeah, it was there that I first met him. I was with Larry Storch and a great hoofer Ray Malone. And he [Buckley] enjoyed us so much that he said, "Gentlemen, I've enjoyed your company immensely." He says, "I would like to give you a special treat." He said, "I want you beggars to stand up and face the wall. And when I tell you to turn around you'll turn around and my darling wife Lady Buckley, Lady Elizabeth will do some poses for you."
So, he says, "I would like to share with you my wife's body." [Prince Owlhead laughs] and he made us face the wall. And she laid on the couch and was doing art poses. I mean no sex involved, no sexy things, just art poses. And we were facing the wall and he was at the light switch and he [said], "All right you beggars, turn around." And he'd turn on the light for two seconds and turn it off. And he'd say, "OK, Elizabeth, another pose!" And she would get into another pose. And we'd face the wall and he'd say, "All right you beggars turn around." And he'd turn the light switch on and she'd be in another pose. And that went on for about five or six minutes and that was the end of that and we left."
Dick says that he helped Lord Buckley write "The Boston Tea Party" routine. And valiently attempted to manage His Lordship's career at one point. Needless to say it was a challenge.
His royal swingin' partner in life was the jazz singer Millie Vernon whom His Lordship dubbed Lady Renaissance. In fact it was The Lord himself who introduced the future royal couple in the '50s at one of His grand party pads in Hollywood.
Dick and Millie had a really swingin' run of it. The had a couple of kids (one with the middle name of "Buckley") and toured the world playing music. Millie died several years ago and it just about broke Prince Owlhead's heart. He never had quite the bounce in his step or the roar in his laughter again.
On a personal note I loved Prince Owlhead for his spirit and a sense of humor and his friendship wtih me. He would call sometimes and ask if the UFOs had been spotted over my neck of the woods. I always told him, "of course, and they await your command."
Keep swingin', Prince, wherever your roost is now.