Feliz Navidad! Gracias Jose Feliciano y Bill Rother

If they’re lucky, most nursing home residents sing Christmas carols with a couple of karaoke wannabes.

Fairfield County residents get an annual show with Jose Feliciano and Bill Rother.

Jose Feliciano (left) and Bill Rother

Feliciano, of course, is the musician who wrote and recorded “Feliz Navidad,” one of the 10 most popular Christmas songs of all time.  (His version of “Light My Fire” also hit #3 on the American pop charts.)

Rother played guitar in the 1950s with the then-famous Fred Waring & his Pennsylvanians.  They did lots of live television, including “Ed Sullivan”; they also performed at the White House for President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth.

When Feliciano moved to Weston — where Rother lived — they met through Mark Graham’s WMMM radio show.  Rother was then in the midst of a 40-year career with Tauck Tours.

After Rother retired, Feliciano asked him to become his tour manager.  Rother had no desire to get back on the road — he’d already seen over 100 countries — but the singer assured him there wouldn’t be much traveling.

In their first year together, they went around the world.  Twice.

Some years ago, Feliciano’s mother-in-law was in the Wilton Meadows nursing home.  He and Rother did a Christmas show there.

The residents had such a good time — and the duo enjoyed themselves so much — they’ve made it a holiday tradition of their own.  Each year — very quietly, because they don’t want a lot of hoopla beforehand — they perform for area seniors.

This year they did shows at the Westport Health Care Center (formerly Mediplex), as well as nursing homes in Darien and Greenwich.  Last week, they starred at the Assumption Church senior luncheon.

The senior citizens like the energetic, up-tempo Feliciano.  But they love Rother.

“I play all of the old stuff, from World War II,” Rother says, with a playful jab at his friend.  “I get a bigger hand than Jose.”

4 responses to “Feliz Navidad! Gracias Jose Feliciano y Bill Rother

  1. Thanks, Hearing Jose sing at mass on Christmas Eve at Assumption has been a big part of Christmas for many years.

    See this link to read about how morons used Jose’s beautiful music in a a despicable way


  2. Scotty Johnston

    Hi Bill, got your e-mail and think it is just great the work you do with the senior center and local nursing homes. Keep up the good work as it is a blessing to the listeners but even more of a joy for the performers. I am sure that God approves wholeheartedly.

  3. Bill…………..attended Brewerytown Fairmount Oct 2011 luncheon & thoroughly enjoyed your banjo playing & remarks after you were added to the honor roll. One of the best luncheons in years. My brother Seamus was one of the honorees.
    Tom Kearney turkeytk@verizon.net
    Ambler, PA