I was always trying to connect with very important artists; one of these was Edith Piaf. She came to the U.S. periodically and on one visit gave me one of her most important songs. I believed the song was meant to be an instrumental and contacted Capitol Records. Capitol recorded the song with Les Baxter. I changed the French title to "The Poor People of Paris." It was an enormous worldwide hit. Piaf was so happy that she called me the next time she came to the United States. She asked if I would find an apartment where she and her accordion player and his wife could stay. I got her a beautiful place. She then asked me to attend her performance at the Waldorf Astoria: she had a brand-new song she wanted me to hear. I went, and she sang "Milord." I loved it, and told her so. We immediately phoned the original publisher in Paris, Mrs. Salabert. She gave me the song for the United States, and an advance of $5000. The song became an enormous success here, and all over the world (Mrs. Salabert retained rights to the song in France).
The next time I worked with Edith Piaf I gave her a song. I was in Los Angeles and she called, saying she was singing at Ciro's; she indicated that she'd love to hear any compositions I might have for her. I had a marvelous song called "Bell-Bottom Trousers and Motorcycle Boots" which I played for her. She was in L.A. with a very talented songwriter who put French lyrics to the melody. I left the song with her and she recorded it as "L'Homme A La Moto"; it became very famous, reaching the top in France and other French-speaking countries.
Edith Piaf was a fascinating woman who did not like other women. Once, I was in my office with my wife, who hardly ever came to my place of business. My secretary told me Miss Piaf was there to see me. She came in, sat down opposite my wife, and told me she had something very important to discuss with me. She invited me to come to her apartment the next day for a special meal that she would cook, but I should come alone. Of course, my wife was not crazy about her; but the lady was Edith Piaf.