HOT DISH: Friendships With the Beatles, Waylon and Jesus

Ken Mansfield Lived Through Wild Times in London, L.A. and Nashville

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by veteran columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at CMT.com.)

While I anxiously await the release of Ken Mansfield’s new book, The White Book: The Beatles, the Bands, the Biz: An Insider’s Look at an Era, I recently read The Beatles, the Bible and Bodega Bay: My Long and Winding Road, the fine book he wrote a few years back. Many people will recall Ken from his days of producing the award-winning “I’m Not Lisa” single by Jessi Colter on Capitol Records.

Ken doesn’t mention a whole lot about his stops in Music City as he writes about his travels down a “long and winding road.” But I can tell you for a fact, he found his beautiful Southern wife here, married her here, found the Lord here, and he had and still has many friends in this town.

Ken was well-known during his music career in London, Los Angeles and Nashville and was the sole U.S. manager of Apple Records. Does that ring your memory bell? Yep, I’m talking about the label started by the Fab Four — aka Jack, Georgie, Porgie and Richie, the telegram code names of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr during Apple’s heyday. As I scratch my head for a moment, I wish those were still the code names for the Fab Four in 2007. It’s a shame that life was snatched away from John and George.

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful in 1968 had there been e-mail and cell phones? Think of all the other Beatle music we might have. Or would it have prevented the innocence and childish patter that made these four multi-talented individuals so great in the first place? It’s always best to leave well enough alone and not ponder what might have been. They gave us way more than enough of themselves and their music.

Mansfield’s book took my breath away. After browsing through it, I read it in two days while smiling, laughing and crying. As tender and professional and loving as Ken handled the details in his book, it’s still hard for me to read his account of John’s death. It must have been the hardest for Yoko Ono, who was with her husband when he was shot.

I recall the night it happened like it was yesterday. Dennis Locorriere, the lead singer for Dr. Hook, called me from God knows where. Dennis was devastated. He was virtually weeping, and I joined in. “John Lennon is the reason I became a singer,” Dennis sobbed into my phone. I wondered how many other musicians with calloused fingers numbed from picking songs penned by John Lennon wept and made the same sad statement that night. It still angers me, but we can’t cry about it. What has to be — will be.

Ringo loved country music. Remember, while still a Beatle, he recorded the marvelous “Act Naturally” from the songwriting pen of the late Johnny Russell. Russell liked to brag about all the stars who recorded his songs — especially this song which made him a mint. Johnny went to Holiday Heights Baptist where I attend. It’s just a small church with a few people where most of them love one another.

Ken Mansfield’s book deals with the Beatles’ music and his work at Apple Records as he flew around the world as a show biz executive. But then he talks about the greatest book ever written — the Holy Bible — and his comfortable home in Bodega Bay, Calif.

The music Ken knew and loved must play in the background of his happy life. A lamp of truth burns bright like an eternal flame where he resides in a cove beside the ocean. Today, he writes books, and would you believe Ken is a minister? The former wild child roared with the Beatles and hung out with the Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser and the other Outlaws in Music City. But now he’s all about the work of the Lord.

Ken still speaks well about Joe Galante, Tompall Glaser, David Frizzell and a passel others who are still in and around Nashville. I feel blessed to be in the passel and thank Ken for his powerful book.

Just Thinkin’
Me and my pal Deborah Honeycutt were talking the other morning about how Kenny Chesney might use our help. His new single, “Never Wanted Nothing More,” reached No. 37 on the country charts before it was officially released and then bolted to No. 17 to catch its breath before shooting up to No. 13. Besides that, Kenny made a stop at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, where he took home $4,462,709. He raked in another $1,032,169 in Columbus, Ohio. With all this money and chart action flying around Kenny’s head, it makes all the sense in the world for Deborah and me to stand with a tip jar at the door of Kenny’s concerts. Since Kenny started his career playing for tips, we could make that boy feel right at home. Just thinkin’.

Keith Urban
From all reports, Keith Urban gave it all in Los Angeles during a two-hour concert, including an audience singalong and his dedication of “Got It Right This Time” to his wife, Nicole Kidman. As Keith moseyed down the long catwalk during the middle of the sold-out concert, some guy yelled, “Hey Keith, I’ll let you kiss my wife if you’ll let me kiss yours.” Keith hesitated for a moment, then walked over and gave the man’s wife a kiss before crowing, “Good luck on the other part of the deal, brother.”

Other News
Congratulations to Rascal Flatts, whose “Bless This Broken Road” single became their third track to surpass the 1-million mark for digital downloads. The other two were “What Hurts the Most” and “Life Is a Highway.” They’re the only act who can claim three downloads of 1 million each, but you knew that.

Guess who was the best-selling artist at this year’s CMA Music Festival? If you guessed Jason Michael Carroll, you are correct.

The Oak Ridge Boys recently traveled to Oak Ridge, Tenn., where they were honored with a street bearing their name. Pretty cool.

When Jennifer Hanson was in Las Vegas shooting a video for her new single, “Joyride,” temperatures hovered around 100 degrees in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park. Hey, it wasn’t that hot in Tennessee — only 99 here.

Kenny Chesney is among People magazine’s hottest bachelors while his pal Tracy Lawrence toiled for 41 weeks but finally made it to No. 1 with his single, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.”

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Sweet Cucumber Pickles.