The song Moon River was composed by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. It received an Academy Award for Best Original Song, having been performed in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It also won Mancini a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1962. Moon River became the theme song for Andy Williams, who first recorded it in 1961 and performed it at the Academy Awards ceremonies in 1962. By all standards, Moon River has become a classic that will remain in the songbook of entertainers forever, and is the signature song for both Mancini and Williams.
Fast forward to the early seventies. A friend who was a rep for Columbia Records, invited me to join him for dinner with both Henry Mancini and Andy Williams, following their concert at the Coliseum in Madison. We met at the Edgewater Hotel restaurant on the shores of Lake Mendota. Andy arrived first and, while we were chatting, Henry arrived carrying a pizza. He explained, “I don’t like hotel food.” Apparently he had not been at the Edgewater before. The food was great.
Regardless, he sat down and joined in the conversation. I don’t remember which one it was, but one of them said, “I just can’t believe we did that.” The other replied something like, “Yeah, I know,” and they both started to laugh quietly, shaking their heads and smiling. The Columbia rep sat there looking puzzled. I asked them what that was all about. They looked at each other, as if to say, “Should we tell them? Guess they didn’t notice.” Then it came out. The unimaginable. The unthinkable. At their concert that night, they had forgotten to do Moon River.
There were no reports of anyone asking for their money back or anything, probably because the concert, even without Moon River, was terrific. The review in the Madison newspapers the next day was great and, politely, made no mention of the omission.