Phil Esposito on late Alan Thicke: 'I miss that guy'
There aren't many people that can get Phil Esposito to sing.
The late Alan Thicke did.
Esposito, the Hall of Famer and Lightning founder, has been friends with Thicke since the early 1970s, the two growing up about 40 minutes apart in Ontario. When Thicke wrote a song called "Hockey Sock Rock" in 1979, with proceeds going to juvenile diabetes research, he talked the Rangers star to participate with five teammates. Esposito had lead vocals, and it raised $750,000.
"I didn't want to do it," Esposito Friday, laughing. "(Thicke) said, 'Phil, you can do this. I have faith in you.' I said, 'Okay, I'll give it a shot.' Actually it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't believe it. He made me sound like I knew what the hell I was doing."
Thicke could do anything. That's what Esposito will remember the most about Thicke, the famous actor and producer who died Wednesday of a heart attack. He was 69.
"I'll tell you man, I miss that guy," Esposito said.
When the Lightning had its first game Oct. 7, 1992, Esposito said his brother, Tony, wanted singer Bryan Adams to be the master of ceremonies for that special night. Esposito picked Thicke.
"He was a huge hockey guy," Esposito said of Thicke. "He was always giving to hockey. He became very good friends with Wayne (Gretzky). He played in a lot of celebrity games I played in."
Esposito said he talked to Thicke on the phone often, and planned to have dinner with him during All Star Game weekend in January in Los Angeles. Esposito recalled when he was in California shooting the "Hockey Sock Rock," he went to Thicke's house. Thicke's son Robin, then two or three years old, was bouncing on Esposito's lap.
"We were recording the Hockey Sock Rock, I'll never forget this," Esposito said. "We went to a recording studio, so it sounded better. There was Alan, his ex-wife Gloria, a couple of others. We drank Brandy. The more Brandy I drank, the better I sounded... No wonder I sounded so good."