JUST ONE LOOK
The memory of a smile seen from across
Leilani Chandler and Bob Norton met in 1978 and formed a partnership that has lasted musically and personally ever since.
the room leads to a lifetime of songs
BY PATTIE DURHAM
Their relationship began like the Frank Sinatra tune
Strangers in the Night. Bob Norton was playing in
a band at the Yellow Submarine lounge on North
Hutchinson Island in the 1970s when little did he
know that love was just a glance away as he looked out and saw
a girl with the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. He was
to remember that night and Leilani Chandler, the girl with
the dazzling smile.
Years passed. It was 1978. Chandler, who had been married
and divorced, was talked into going with friends to Seymour’s
Inn in Jensen Beach (now Conchy Joe’s) to “see a cute
guy in the band playing there.”
When the band took a break, Norton “walked by and gave
me a smile, then he sat down and started talking,” Chandler
recalled. “It was like we were just catching up and we’ve
been talking ever since.”
To Norton, who had also been married and divorced, it
was like those Sinatra lyrics: Something in your smile was so
exciting, something in my heart told me I must have you. The two
arranged to go on a date and have been in love ever since and
making beautiful music as The Sophisticats.
Norton, who started playing professionally when he was in
junior high, was a four-time first chair saxophonist at Pompano
Beach High School. He is also proud that he was first
chair saxophonist in the Florida All-State High School Band.
And he also traveled to Michigan and played in a warm-up
band for the Four Seasons and other groups.
“We warmed up for Motown bands and did studio tracks
back in the 1960s, based out of the Bay City/Saginaw area,”
Norton said. “Our band was going to sign with Motown, but
the deal fell through when the finances didn’t come together. I
moved back to Florida, with a wife and two kids, and worked
for BellSouth, playing in bands on the weekends. My wife and
I parted ways, and I started playing music full time.”
Over the years, Norton has mastered seven instruments,
including the guitar, bass and drums, all of which he plays in >>