Everybody knows the song:
"There was a boy,
A very strange, enchanted boy....."
But who wrote it?
Well it was someone named eden ahbez. Yes, no capital letters.
Anyway, you won't be surprised to know it wasn't his real name. He had a few others. And, you may have guessed by now, he was a very, very odd guy. He had a beard down to his knees, long hair, wore a sort of dressing gown and he was a vegetarian (that's important later).
He wrote this song, "Nature Boy", took it to Nat King Cole's agent who told him to get loss, but persisted pushing the song so that eventually Nat King Cole recorded it, reluctantly, on the B side of a record.
It took off. The A side song took a dive but "Nature Boy" became such a hit that all and sundry have, since, recorded it.
I get all this from Mark Stein's website.
When, after its success, eden ahbez was given 30 000 dollars he said "What do I want all that money for? I'm a vegetarian and I live off 3 dollars a week."
One of the most interesting aspects of this tale is this: here is a guy with a hit in his possession and nobody wants to know. Not even Nat King Cole knew he would have a multi-million dollar hit on his hands. How come?
It reminds me of what a scriptwriter, Goldman, who wrote among other things "Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid" and "Marathon Man", said about Hollywood - words to the effect that there in Hollywood "nobody knows anything."