Two previously unreleased Judy Garland performances from her March 25, 1969, Copenhagen concert have been discovered and released on The Judy Room’s YouTube Channel. The videos are embedded below, followed by John Haley’s notes about where the recordings came from, plus clarification about the recordings and why they were previously unknown.
JUDY GARLAND AND JOHNNY RAY SINGING DUETS IN COPENHAGEN
by John Haley
We Judy Garland fans love to encounter newly discovered recordings of her, which thankfully do seem to keep coming to light. For anyone who has been mesmerized by the experience of listening to her last live concert in 1969 in Copenhagen (available in fine sound on the acclaimed 2015 CD set “Judy Garland: Swan Songs, First Flights,” for which I had the privilege of restoring the audio, the thought of being able to revisit that concert and hear yet more of it is a tantalizing proposition. Rarely do we get such “second chances,” but as described below, two more pieces of that concert have fortuitously come to light, and for ten minutes we can once again experience the thrill of hearing Garland’s magic on stage, in a live performance, recreated before us. I have restored these two new pieces, and I am pleased to make them available through the good auspices of The Judy Room.
Some explanation is in order. Garland’s last concert before she passed away at the too-young age of 47 occurred in Copenhagen on March 25, 1969, three months before she died. This concert was the last stop on a short Scandinavian tour, and she was in fine form, singing well and putting on a great show. In 2015 a recording of this concert was released in what was then believed to be complete form, sourced from an excellent sounding radio station tape—the concert had been taped for broadcast and was in fact broadcast several days after it occurred. Since the release of that CD set, amazingly, another tape of this same concert has surfaced, which I now own, made by the concert hall itself. This second tape is unrelated to the broadcast and is in equally fine sound as the first tape.
From this newly discovered hall tape, we know definitively that the first half of the evening was a performance by pop singer and Garland friend Johnny Ray, with Garland appearing on the second half of the concert that evening. We also now know that the radio station eliminated two duets, “Till The Clouds Roll By” and “Am I Blue,” in which she was joined by Ray, who also accompanied both himself and Garland at the piano. These duets occurred right after the number “Chicago” on the program, before Garland concluded the concert with “San Francisco” and “Over the Rainbow.” If there were any encores thereafter, they are undocumented and are not preserved on any known tape. The seven glowing, contemporaneous reviews quoted at length in Scott Schechter’s excellent chronology of Garland’s life and career, Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend, pp. 373-376, do not mention any encores.
A 1993 CD release on the Legend label contains the same two duets with Johnny Ray, taken from other performances. “Am I Blue” on that set is identified as being from a rehearsal [Note that it’s actually the audio from the footage of Garland and Ray at a piano with friends], and we know from Scott Schechter’s book (p. 373) that “Till The Clouds Roll By” on that Legend set is from a prior performance on the same tour in Malmö, Sweden, that occurred on March 23, 1969. A film was being made during the tour, and collectors have various pieces of it, some of which may be seen on YouTube. These video pieces present Garland and Ray performing “Till The Clouds Roll By” in a concert setting, which (despite some mislabeling as Copenhagen that can be found) has to be from the Malmö performance, which Scott Schechter tells us was filmed. And the video of “Am I Blue” shows some kind of piano bar setting that is clearly not the Copenhagen performance. In these video pieces, the soundtrack to both duets is exactly the same as what is heard on the Legend CD, and they are completely different from the newly discovered Copenhagen performances. [Note that the 1993 Legend CD incorrectly gives the Malmö performance as being the Copenhagen performance, hence much of the confusion regarding these recordings.]
I am now happy to confirm with certainty that the two duets as performed in Copenhagen have never been released before and are in fact genuine new Garland discoveries, made public for the very first time courtesy of The Judy Room. They are well performed, with the first duet, “Till the Clouds Roll By” having the character of something like a spontaneous jam session. “Am I Blue” is sung mostly by Garland, unforgettably, as Ray requested of her before they started. Both duets are enhanced by Ray’s beautiful piano accompaniments. The entertaining banter with the audience and between the performers before each duet is also included in full, making us feel even more like members of that 1969 audience as we listen.
These excerpts are part of the very last public performance that Judy Garland gave on any stage, as she made no concert appearances or other public appearances thereafter. Listen and be held again in Judy Garland’s hand as she works her magic spell on the audience, and by extension, us lucky listeners many decades later.
John H. Haley