Till the End of Time
Larry Ching passed away on July 5, 2003, just two months short of his 83rd birthday. He had released his first CD just a month before, and had been celebrated at a party on June 28th at the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in San Francisco. Mayor Willie Brown proclaimed it 'Larry Ching Day,' and he performed several songs to a packed house of family, fans and friends. They included several dancers who worked with Larry at Forbidden City in the 40s and 50s. In retrospect, it was a perfect sendoff to a wonderful man. Now, here's the fact sheet for his first--and last--recording. What: At age 82, Larry Ching, the 'Chinese Frank Sinatra,' as he was billed when he was a star performer at the legendary Forbidden City night club in San Francisco in the Forties and Fifties, has made his first album, Till the End of Time. When: Ching, backed by his regular pianist, George Yamasaki, and by veteran bassist Dean Reilly (Vince Guaraldi, The Kingston Trio, Carmen McRae) and drummer Jim Zimmerman (Cleo Laine, Dianne Schuur), recorded the album in February, 2003, in San Francisco, with music journalist and broadcaster Ben Fong-Torres serving as producer, and with long-time audio engineer John Barsotti at the controls. Besides the 12 newly-recorded songs - classic American pop standards and several popular Hawaiian tunes (Ching was born in Kauai), the album includes four tracks of unknown origin. Ching recorded the songs, including the title tune, 'sometime in the Forties,' he says. But he does not recall exactly when, where, or with whom he made the recordings. They were found on two 78 r.p.m. acetate disks, and excerpts were first heard on Forbidden City USA, Arthur Dong's highly acclaimed documentary about the club and it's performers. Why: Ben Fong-Torres, the music writer, broadcaster, and former Rolling Stone magazine editor, met and heard Ching sing when he co-MC'd the world premiere of Forbidden City USA at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1989. The two met again when Ching and Yamasaki performed at a mutual friend's wedding in 1993. 'I loved his voice, and I was intrigued by his story, his becoming a nightclub singer in the Thirties, and the fact that he continues to sing whenever and wherever he can. I wanted to get him down on record, for his friends, his family, and whoever else might like to hear American standards the way they were sung before they became standards.' Various books, jobs and other projects kept Fong-Torres from pursuing his idea, but late in 2002, he was invited to MC an event marking the DVD release of Forbidden City USA. Once again, Ching and Yamasaki performed, and Fong-Torres was determined to get Larry Ching into a studio. When John Barsotti, a friend and veteran record producer who teaches audio engineering and production at S.F. State, offered his services, along with studio time, Till the End of Time was finally underway. And, now, here it is! .