Woody Harrelson promises: `I can sing’

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 7, 1991

In Hollywood, where every other person claims to be an actor, singer, model or screenwriter, actor Woody Harrelson doesn’t raise too many eyebrows when he jams with his group Manly Moondog and the Three Kool Kats.  But when the “Cheers” star takes his 10-piece band out on the road, he attracts a crowd that’s made up of music lovers as well as a strong contingent of curiosity seekers who want to know if “the boy can really sing.”

“I can sing,” said Harrelson, who hopes to drill that point home when he makes his Chicago debut this Saturday at the China Club, 616 W. Fulton. “But I think it’s understandable that there’s skepticism in general about actors turned singers. I know I have them. That’s one reason I waited so long to go out on the road with my band. I was nervous about what people would say and think. Finally, I realized that the time was right for me to just forget all about that and do it.”

Harrelson is best known to the public as the naive bartender Woody Boyd on the NBC sitcom “Cheers.” Besides roles in the films “Wildcats,” “L.A. Story” and “Doc Hollywood,” Harrelson has a role starring opposite Wesley Snipes in the upcoming “White Men Can’t Jump.”

“For a while, I didn’t have the time to tour because I was doing `Cheers,’ then got film parts and then did a play (`Brooklyn Laundry’),” Harrelson said. “I just kept putting it off because I felt I was lucky enough to be acting.

“In a way, burying myself in acting jobs was a safe way for me not to have to face public rejection of my music. But so far, everyone’s been really receptive to my music and pretty supportive of me.”

Laughing, he added, “Of course, they’ve already paid the cover charge to get in, so they might as well try to make the best of it once they’re in the club, right?”

The 30-year-old Harrelson, who composed his first song at age 11, said he didn’t take an active interest in performing his own music until after he learned to play the piano at age 19. Before that, he was the classic shower singer.

“Someone asked me if (singing) was a publicity stunt,” he said. “Not that I’m the greatest actor or the most famous one by any means, but I really don’t need additional publicity at this point in my career. I get free publicity every week that `Cheers’ airs.

“I’m doing both right now because I truly have love and respect for both fields. My one regret about doing acting and singing seven days a week is that I don’t get much sleep. I miss that, but that’s about it.”

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