from The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper by Sally Carpenter
Baby boomers are sure to remember ‘70s teen heartthrob Sandy Fairfax. Countless girls swooned over his love songs and boys enjoyed his successful TV series Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now he’s solving real-life crimes.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
How many hit records did you make?
Nine in four years plus a greatest hits compilation. Each one went gold.
We haven’t seen you for some time. What have you been doing since your show went off the air in 1979?
Staying alive, basically. The industry isn’t kind to teen idols when they grow up and Buddy Brave, that dippy boy dick, left me hopelessly typecast. I did guest roles on Charlie’s Angels, Love Boat and Fantasy Island. I tried to shake off my pop image by playing guitar with a hard rock band, Shipwreck—an apt description of that experience. I went through a divorce and drank myself stupid. But that was then and this is now. I recently stopped drinking and I’m ready to get my life and career back on track.
Isn’t it unusual for a teen idol to get involved with a murder investigation?
Not really. Several of my peers played detectives on TV around the same time as my show. David Cassidy—Man Undercover had the former Keith Partridge as Officer Dan Shay. David Soul starred in Starsky and Hutch. Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson were The Hardy Boys and good friends of mine. Shaun sang some of the backing tracks
for my 1978 Christmas album, Sandy Rings in the Holidays. Bobby Sherman is an honest-to-goodness certified EMT and reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He teaches first aid to the cadets at the police academy.
No kidding! How and why did you get involved in this case?
I was making a guest appearance at Beatles fan convention in Evansville, Indiana. I assumed I’d fly in Friday night, give my talk Saturday afternoon and be back in LA in time to watch Saturday Night Live at home. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans (chuckles). The Mersey Marvels, a Beatles tribute band from Indianapolis, was set to play Saturday evening. But Friday night one of the musicians was murdered and I literally stumbled over the body. The local boys in blue assumed I did it and they were too busy barking up the wrong tree to find the killer.
Tell us about this case. What made it so special?
Could you repeat the question? I lost part of my hearing in one ear from the loud screaming at my concerts all those years ago.
What makes this case special?
It was certainly my first experience with a murder investigation. Buddy Brave never encountered dead bodies—the network censors wouldn’t allow it.
Because your show was aimed at kids.
Exactly. I found such close contact with a corpse quite unnerving. The strangest part of this case was that the victim left behind some Beatles-related clues.
Like the so-called Beatles death clues when Paul McCartney was supposedly killed in an automotive accident?
Only this was no hoax. The detective in charge of the case had no musical knowledge beyond Hee Haw and muzak and hadn’t a clue what the Beatles references meant.
What made the case hard to solve?
First off, I’m not a detective—I just played one on television. I was flying by the seat of my pants, so to speak. I had enough suspects to cast an Agatha Christie movie. And I had to fit my sleuthing around rehearsals.
I filled in for the dead man at the concert. You know what they say, the show must go.
Did anyone help you with your investigation?
Beatrice “Bunny” McAllister was a big help. Bunny’s the president of my biggest fan club, Sandy’s Buddies.
Did people recognize you and ask for your autograph while you were trying to solve the case?
Yes, that’s up and down sides of fame. Sometimes the attention is flattering and other days, like when you’re knee-deep in dead bodies, you’d rather slip out the back door with a bag over your head. Right after the murder, while the detective was grilling me, a fan
came up and asked for an autograph.
What was your reaction?
Back in my heyday my handlers told me to never treat a fan rudely. So I smiled and gave her an autograph. Automatic, really. If I ever went into a coma and someone stuck a pen in my fingers, I’d still scribble a signature.
Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
Absolutely. I learned that one should never climb on the wagon right before a murder investigation. The stress might kill you (laughs). Seriously, staying sober was a challenge, but I realized that I could function without booze. At least for one more day. I had to regain my self-confidence. My last appearance on stage was five years ago and that was a disaster. The thought of playing for a live audience terrified me. But meeting the fans was incredibly gratifying. That makes my job so worthwhile. I was happy to see that people
still remembered the schoolboy shamus and that my music had such a positive impact on them.
So what’s next for Sandy Fairfax?
My agent is negotiating a guest spot for me on a sitcom. That sounds safe enough. What could possibly go wrong at a movie studio?
Sally Carpenter grew up near Evansville, Indiana, the setting of her book, and now lives in Southern California. She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school two of her plays were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. Sally also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked as an actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. Her current job is at a community newspaper. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles Chapter. Sally’s debut novel, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, is scheduled for release Aug. 29 as the first book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series. The book will be available on Amazon and through the publisher, Oak Tree Press. Contact Sally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Sandy at www.SandyFairfax.com.