If it weren’t for Tom Powell, I wouldn’t have my career at AB. I interviewed with him back in mid-1985, he liked me and hired me as his managing editor.
This is a story that needed to be told. It’s a work of love and admiration. I was impressed with his old time journalism style. He drank Scotch, but (as far as I know) never kept a bottle in his desk drawer as the movie-style journalists always did. He wears glasses, but I never saw him with a green visor shade.
He was already a legend of sorts when I met him. The newspaper was popular, advertising sales were good, and we all traveled a great deal.
I’ve written nearly a dozen books and literally thousands of articles through the years. During that time, I’ve learned to spot a good story when I see one.
After working with TP for 18 years, I decided his story was ready to be told. Maybe he’s not as interesting as a movie star, and maybe he’s not as articulate as a politician, but TP doesn’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to telling a great story or working a room.
Tom and I have become great working friends and he was best man at my wedding in 1996. I have him on videotape singing to my bride, Kathleen. He toasted us with a wonderful Irish toast he borrowed from the late and great Irishman and amusement park pioneer, Ken Wynne. Tom is a practicing Catholic and for years I jokingly addressed him each morning as Pope Tom. He never discouraged that repartee.
He has always been there for me to talk with, and he has remained loyal, not only to me but to his myriad friends, his family, and surprisingly, the newspaper itself. Badmouth Amusement Business in front of Tom, and you’ll surely get a quick and strong response.
Tommy Lasorda, the Los Angeles Dodgers manager and Baseball Hall of Fame member, a long time friend of Tom Powell gave me a pep talk as I was gathering information for the book. "Tom is a great man, a wonderful man. You have to write this book so that the people who read it know what a great man he really is," he instructed me. "It should be a best seller," he added. I guess he always thinks big!
The story as it unfolds here is not your basic biography. Most of the words come from people who know Tom. It’s certainly a biased biography. I didn’t try to dig up any dirt. I didn’t talk with the two or three people out there that don’t like him, and I didn’t write everything I know about him. I also didn’t have space to write all the stories related to me by his friends or to write of all his travels, adventures and experiences. I’m saving those for the sequel.
In places, this book will not read like a published biography, but more like a collection of stories and tributes. I didn’t follow the "proper" writing methods. Instead I wrote to communicate a fun story. A fun and often heart-felt story of a great Irishman who is cool enough to be able to call several sideshow freaks, sports heroes, and many stars of stage and screen as his friends.
Nashville, Fall 2003