I just got an e-mail from my old friend Ron Dante (lead singer for the Archies, Cufflinks, and Detergents.) about my early mentor Paul Vance (“Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, “Catch A Falling Star”) Ron assured me that the announcement of Pauls demise was definitley premature! A man falsely claiming for 50 years to be the writer of “Bikini”, passed away and when his widow printed the outrageous songwriting credit in his obituary, the Associated Press picked it up (without checking the facts, obviously) and spread the story throughout the media! I hope Paul takes action against this irresponsible act of journalism that disrupted his life and takes advantage of the media attention to promote himself and his incredible body of work!
This episode really got me worked up and I started thinking of how many imposters I’ve met in the music buisness. I once exposed a guy claiming to be Napoleon the Fourteenth who wrote and performed, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha”, which I might’ve believed If I hadn’t been at some of my late friend, Jerry Samuels sessions as he was recording this classic. I kicked this guy out of my office, as fast as I could! Then there was this woman who wanted me to sign her to Warner Brothers Music. She claimed to be the writer of Jean Knights, “Mr. Big Stuff.” You should’ve seen how fast she backtracked when I brought her into a meeting and introduced her to a couple of big Stax producers she claimed to know!

My most interesting experience, however, came when I first moved to Hollywood and started working at Viva Music. I got a call from one of the A&R men at United Artists Records, which was right down the street. He was about to sign contracts and give a rather large check to Artie Resnick (co-writer and co-producer, with Joey Levine of (“Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Chewy, Chewy”) but he felt in his gut…that something was wrong. He knew I had represented Artie back in New York and asked to me join his meeting in progress. I sat quietly and waited for Artie to come in. After a few minutes I realized that the stranger, who had been dominating the conversation, was the one who had been claiming to be my friend! I kept my mouth from hanging open and quietly left the room, informing security that the man inside was indeed an imposter! They gave me five minutes to safely leave the premises before they threw him out of the office. I left quickly, keeping in mind the old Bronx Philosophy,”The Ass You Save May Be Your own!”

You can reach Ron Dante at http://rondante.com/

Artie Wayne at http://artiewayne.com

Sept. 27, 2006, 3:37PM
Songwriter complains of impostor

By FRANK ELTMAN Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

— The man who co-wrote the song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” had the unsettling experience this week of reading his own obituary _ the result of an impostor who went through life claiming to be the author of the 1960s smash hit.

On Tuesday, The Associated Press reported on the death of a 68-year-old man named Paul Van Valkenburgh of Ormond Beach, Fla., who claimed to have written the song under the name Paul Vance. The story cited the man’s wife as the source for that claim.

But the music industry’s real Paul Vance, a 76-year-old man from Coral Springs, Fla., is alive and well, and says the other Paul Vance appears to have made the whole thing up!

September 28, 2006

Like most people who know “The Real” Paul Vance, I freaked out when I heard he died a few days ago. Today I was overjoyed when I found out he was still alive!
When I was released from Aldon music as a writer in 1962, the first office I walked into was owned by writer/producer Paul Vance. I had seen his name on records as the co-writer of “Catch a Falling Star”, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, etc. and I hoped he would like my style of pop/country/r+b. He not only co-wrote with me but encouraged me to write with other writers that were coming around at the time, which included Cirino Colacrai (“Runaround”), Joey Powers (“Midnight Mary”), Al Byron (“Roses Are Red, My Love”), Ellie Greenwich (“Be My Baby”, “Da Doo Run Run”), Ben Raleigh (“Tell Laura I Love Her”, “Wonderful, Wonderful”) and Paul’s nephew Danny Jordan (who later became one of the Detergents who sang,”Leader Of The Laundermat”)

One day, singer Frankie Sardo, a friend of Danny’s came by looking for material. He had a minor hit with “Fakeout” but was best known for having been on the last Buddy Holly Tour. After a strong B.S. session, which included Frankie telling us that he gave up the last seat on the small plane to Buddy the night of the fatal crash, the three of us started writing a song, “Find a Little Happiness”. The next day, we finished the song and played it for Paul. He was so excited that he ran us down the hall to play it for Joe Kolsky who owned Diamond records. Joe flipped out as well and suggested that Danny and I record it as a duo with Paul as a producer.

Initially, this didn’t really sit well with Danny or myself since we both were aspiring to be single artists. I knew Joe was a dynamite record promoter since I had an earlier release on Diamond that I wrote with Paul, “Mommy and Daddy were Twistin'” by Susan Summers, but I was still aprehensive. Paul was pissed off that we didn’t jump at the chance to record for the man who was behind some of the biggest acts at Roulette records( Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, Jimmy Rogers, Joey Dee and the Starliters) so we reconsidered.
In the year and a half that I wrote with Paul we had our songs recorded by the Fleetwoods, The Playmates, etc . He also got songs of mine that he published recorded by the Brian Poole and Tremoloes, Frankie Sardo, and the Angels. Although I wasn’t getting a salary, he did let me have a key to the office where I held many late night “auditions”. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in thirty years, but I want him to know how much I appreciate what he taught me about songwriting, the music buisness and life itself!

aaed002100-sa1.jpg

Saw a dozen donuts sittin’on a shelf…So hungry he almost forgot himself.

Too honest to steal, too proud to ask for help…

He just walked by with a look in in eye that made the icing melt!

He wasn’t a drifter, he wasn’t a bum he just wasn’t prepared when the hard times come.

Headlines shouted, “STOCKS HAVE A RECORD WEEK!” He just used the news

To line the soles of his shoes…John Doe On The Street…John Doe On The Street.

Then he saw a derelect in an alleyway…his eyes said more than words could ever say.

He saw himself tomorrow in the cold light of the day

And just in time down to his last dime straightened up and walked away!

He wasn’t a drifter, he wasn’t a bum he just wasn’t prepared when the hard times come.

Headlines shouted, “AL QAEDA IN RETREAT” He just used the news

To line the soles of his shoes…John Doe On The Street…John Doe On The Street.

Now it might sound romantic to be “King of the Road”

But you don’t feel like royalty when there’s no where else to go

I know ’cause I’ve been struggling to get back on my feet

I may be down but I’m not down like John Doe On The Street.

He wasn’t a drifter, he wasn’t a bum…his spirit lifted when he heard the drum

The brass was playing and salvation sounded sweet…trading in his blues

for some wings on his shoes…John Doe On The Street…John Doe On The Street.

Copyright 2006- by Artie Wayne

To learn more about the Salvation Army go to http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn.nsf

jd.jpg
Dick Clark and Jerry Ross at American Bandstand

Artie Wayne On The Web and Spectropop proudly present my interview with legendary producer/ songwriter/ and entreprenuer Jerry Ross. When you read my in depth talk with my old friend and sometime songwriting collaborater, you’ll discover a new connection to songs that you’ve loved all your life. Just click and enjoy! http://spectropop.com/JerryRoss/index.htm

You can reach Jerry Ross at http://www.phillyoldies.com

Spectropop at http://spectropop.com

Artie Wayne at http://artiewayne.com

marvingaye_whatsgoingon.jpg

Although Motown had been having hits produced in Hollywood for the Jackson Five and Michael Jackson, the move to the West Coast from Detroit allowed Motown more time and money to develop new artists, like the Commodores, Lionel Ritchie, and Thelma Houston, songwriters like Michael Masser, Patti Dahlstrom, and Clifton Davis. The producers that came into their own during that time, included Freddie Perren, Deke Ritchards, Fonse Mizell, Hal Davis, Jerry Marselleno and Mel Larson. Only a handful of those who had hits back in Detroit were able to make a successful transition. the first was Marvin Gaye, who initially met with resistance from Gordy when he delivered his landmark album, “What’s Going On’?” Berry wanted to continue his persuit of “The Sound Of Young America”, making “crossover” singles that dominated the charts. Marvin, on the other hand, wanted to push the envelope with a socially relevant concept album. My friend, Jobete staff writer Al Cleveland, told me that when he heard Marvin working on a new track in the studio, he stuck his head in the door and asked, “What’s Going On?” This led to their collaboration on a song that defined a generation!

Although I was General Manager and Director of Services for Warner Brothers music, I was up at Motown so often people thought I worked there. I would sit in the outer office flirting with the receptionist, waiting to see what producer or artist would walk in next. I remember meeting writer producer Norman Whifield (“I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, ” Cloud 9″) that way. After briefly, but enthusiastically, discussing his body of work he invited me into his office to listen to a track he was starting to work on. I sat there and listened to a track for twelve minutes that consisted of only of an electric bass and percussion and was a bit confused. I asked him if there was a song that went along with it? He started the track again…and sang, “Papa was a Rolling Stone”

Around the same time I cornered Freddie Perren in an elevator, who was cutting Jermaine Jackson and convinced him to cut a Warner Brothers standard, “I Only Have Eyes For You”. I also got Hal Davis to produce “I Want To Be Happy”, from the Broadway revival of “No, No Nannete” for Michael Jackson, which eventually went to newcomer Lionel Ritchie.

Although I was starting to get cuts…they they were slow to be released. Ed Silvers, President of WB Music, thought I was spending too much time at Motown and doubted I’d ever get any of our new material covered. I couldn’t give up now, so in an accelerated effort I got Hal Davis to cut “Doctor My Eyes”, which Jackson Browne wrote and Michael Jackson took to the top ten in the U.K. As my friendship grew with Jerry Marselino and Mel Larson, who produced a top ten hit with Michael on “Rockin’ Robin”, I suggested that they cut as a follow up, “Little Bitty Pretty One”, which I had no interest in. I knew for certain that I had their attention when it became a hit…but I wanted to wait for the right opportunity to present them with an original song that I really wanted them to cut.

In the meantime, over the next few weeks Norman Whitfield let me hear “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, in it’s various stages of development. There were layers of vocals put on and taken off, sections editited or deleted, countless re-mixes, and finally the last step…the mysterious mastering that set Motown apart from all the rest! That’s when I met Iris Gordy, head of Quality control, who allowed me to watch and listen as she performed her magic!

The Temptations classic was finally released and zoomed up the charts. I remember running into Norman Whitfield in the lobby of Motown, the day the song hit number one on the Billboard charts. He was livid that he had written and produced another smash for Motown…and Berry Gordy hadn’t even called to congratulate him…it was never like this back in Detroit!

Berry’s new aspirations, producing films and his obsession with making Diana Ross a movie star, brought new problems along with new priorities. For the first time in Motown’s history his relationship with everone he had worked with at the label seemed to be on shakey ground! (to be continued)

Ten years ago, if you looked at a TV commercial or a photo in an advertisment that featured pictures of people, the odds were you’d see an ethnically diverse group. You’d see a Caucasion, an African- American, a Hispanic, and Asian all enjoying a product together, oblivious to their cultural and racial differences. Today, advertisers and filmakers, who usually are the first to jump on trends, portray quite a different picture of life in America today…a life for many of self imposed segregation. I recently saw several McDonalds “Seperate but equal” commercials. In one, a group of Black students are hanging out at a “back table” together and supersizing, while in another, a group of Hispanics make an urban safari type trek to hang out at the golden arches. I know that many people today, in real life, prefer to stay within their comfort zone and associate with people only like themselves…but whatever happened to the media promoting unity as it has for the the last 40 years? I wonder if these commercials reinforced self imposed segregationist attitudes that sparked the recent riots among Black and Hispanic students in California?

I’m a Bi-Racial, who has identified himself as an African-American since the hard fought civil rights battles of the ’60s and I see the danger of what’s going on! I’ve always known the effect that TV, films and the media had on me as I was growing up…aspiring to “White” ideals and revering their icons. I developed a Black Pride, but not at the expense of giving up my friends from other races and cultures.

About 30 years ago, my English wife, was the head of George Lucas’ Star Wars merchandising company and did everything she could to keep me away from her boss. She knew I was dying to ask him, “Why were there no Black people in the first Star Wars film? Are there no Black People in the Future?” I felt guilty about not saying anything, then the second movie came out, which included Billy Dee Williams as Landro Calrissian…obviously somebody else was thinking the same thing as I was!

Finally, it’s appalling that the TV show Survivor, is dividing up the contestants into teams according to race this season. It’s important that we all see positive images of ourselves portrayed on the big and small screen living, working together and communicating. Is a common enemy, with nuclear capability, the only thing that can bring us together…or will it be the last thing to blow us apart?

aa65.jpg
I must be the luckiest guy in the world, I woke up this morning and found four e-mails that have changed my life! The first came from the U.K., I was informed that I won one million euros in the Powerball lottery! I don’t remember entering, but I’ll be happy to claim the prize anyway. The next e-mail came from a bank director in Zimbabwe who tells me that they’ve been looking for me to give me $500,000 left to me by a relative I didn’t know I had! That was only chump change, however, compared to the ten million dollars that awaits me from another estate in Ouaga Dougou (wherever the hell that is!)

Just as I was wondering if it would be foolish of me to order a new Hummer AND a new Porshe…I read the last e-mail which set my mind at ease. Faith and Begora, wouldn’t you know it I also won a million dollars in the Irish Sweepstakes! I know some of you are laughing out there…but haven’t you heard of the law of averages? That’s what my friend at the FBI tells me everytime I forward him one of these e-mails!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers