Hank Medress – The Unsung Hero behind, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, “He’s So Fine”, And “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”!
October 31, 2006
l to r Hank Medress, Mitch Margo, Phil Margo, and Jay Siegal
The Tokens are inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame 2005
Hank Medress, the founder of the Tokens (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and producer of the Chiffons (“He’s So Fine”), Dawn ( “Candida”, “Knock Three Times”) , Tony Orlando and Dawn ( “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ( On The Old Oak Tree “) talks about his career, challenges and aspirations.
In an exclusive interview that amounts to a couple of old friends talking, Hank shares stories and experiences that make you feel like you’re there in the moment with him! He also talks about the organzation that he represents, and the gratification he receives from finding recording artists who don’t even know they are owed money.
Artie Wayne On The Web and Spectropop proudly present The Hank Medress interview http://spectropop.com/HankMedress/index.htm
October 31, 2006
This is a public service announcement from Artie Wayne On The Web
Elisha Cuthbert blows a bubble!
In the the middle to the end of the 1960s, a new kind of Pop music emerged in America called Bubblegum Music and I was fortunate to be smack dab and sticky in the middle of it all! My partner Kelli Ross and I were representing the publishing catalogs of some of the hottest artists and producers in the Music buisness, that included Quincy Jones, Leslie Gore, Bobby Scott, and Janis Ian when we picked up a new catalog, Peanut Butter Music.
The catalog was owned by Joey Levine, a newcomer, whose first song I published in 1965 and my old friend , Artie Resnick ( “Under The Boardwalk”, “Good Lovin'”.) It mostly consisted of material that Joey, Artie and Kris (Arties wife wrote) and Joey and Artie produced. Their first million seller was “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, a demo sung by Joey by the Ohio Express in 1968. This was the idea of Jeff Kaznetz and Jerry Katz who executive produced the dates to have Joey start singing lead on most of their records. They loved Joey’s commercial, young sounding voice with a Rock and Roll edge and those great tracks he and Artie produced, so they released single after single using different names of actual groups they had under contract. When a record became a hit the real group went on the road to promote it. Neil Bogart, head of Buddah records, encouraged the concept and put out a string of hit singles “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Chewy, Chewy” by the Ohio Express, “Shake ” by the Shadows of Kniight”, “Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin”, By Crazy Elephant”, Run , Joey Run” by the Kaznetz-Katz singing orhestral circus, and dozens of other singles for Buddah.
The records were geared for the “Tweenies”, the nine to 15 year olds and suffered a fatal backlash from radio in 1969…bursting the bubble of the Bubblegum market! Joey, Artie and Kris ( Artie’s wife who co-wrote many of the songs ) started to write more adult themes and formed the group “The Third Rail”. When the group disbanded, the Resnicks continued to write songs while Levine wrote, sang and produced jingles for commercials that include several top Coca- Cola campaigns.
When my Spectropop pal, Jean-Emmanuel Dubois, asked me for an interview for his forthcoming book on Bubble Gum Music in France, some of the information went beyond the genre so I decided to include some of it here.
JE- When did you meet Joey Levine?
AW-In 1964 when I went into business with Dave Kapralik ( Sly and the Family Stone, Van McCoy, Peaches and Herb) Joey Levine stopped me and introduced himself, as I was walking through the Brill building. He asked if he could play a song for me, he did and I signed it on the spot. Although I hardly remember the incident, Joey said that act was a big consideration when he and Artie Resnick were looking for someone to administer their publishing companies.
JE- How did you discover Tony Romeo ( The Partridge Family) ?
AW- Tony came in off the street and played me 6 or 7 songs and we signed him to an exclusive songwriting contract. Tony was more into the Beach Boy kind of music, at the time, and the two of us did a single for Columbia called, “Californie” (Romeo) under the name Tomorrow’s People. He was incredible at stacking background vocals and we were disappointed that it wasn’t a hit.
It was a couple of years before Tony hooked up with Wes Farrell and wrote,” I Think I Love You” (Romeo), and all those other hits for the Partridge Family.
JE- You seem to have a strong connection with French recording artists.
AW- Yes, my first hit in France was, “Excuse Me Lady” (Wayne) by Joe Dassin. The song had gotten to #3 in the UK by the Magic Lanterns…Joe covered it and took it to top ten in France. American by birth, I remember hanging out with Joe a few times in New York, when I was known as Shadow Mann. He, his entourage, Sissy Spacek ( who I had renamed “Rainbo” for recording purposes) and I, made the rounds of all the clubs and hot spots…and had an incredible time!
JE- Did you know Sylvie and Johnny Hallyday?
AW-I met Sylvie Vartan once backstage at one of her incredible shows, after she recorded one of songs, “Ma Decadance” (Leikon/ Munson/ Wayne)…I met Johnny Hallyday a few days later in the middle of a media blitz. The Headlines shouted, “Sylvie Divorces Johnny” and all during our lunch, he was understandably preoccupied!
JE- As a publisher you had quite a few American hits…with French songs?
AW- Oui’, in 1968, my partner Kelli Ross and I found “J’Taime” by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, at MIDEM the international music conference held every year in Cannes, France. Eight years, later my partner, Lou Reizner and I were sitting in a little café in Cannes, when we heard the pianist playing a catchy little tune. The pianist was Claude Morgan, and he was the composer of the song, “El Bimbo” which was becoming a number one hit by Bimbo Jet all over the world! Lou and I looked at each other and lit up like light bulbs knowing the song could be a smash in the US as well!
It was midnight, but before the sun came up Lou and I had a meeting with the French Producer and the original publisher. We secured the American sub-publishing rights, before MIDEM opened it’s doors the next morning, even before our competitors started their continental breakfast!
Jean…I remember when I was at Warner Brothers music, I heard, “Amorouse” by Veronique Sanson and asked Patti Dahlstrom to write an English lyric. She recorded it herself as “ Emotion” (Dahlstrom/ Sanson) on her 20th Century Fox album, it was covered and became a hit by Helen Reddy. That song is as timely today, as it was when it was written…and should be a hit again!
For Part II of the interview http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/11/12/it-was-women-and-children-firstthe-day-the-bubblegum-bubble-burst/
Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne
To Hear Patti Dahlstrom sing “Emotion” click onto http://artiewayne.com/emotion.html
To find out about Spectropop http://spectropop.com
October 27, 2006
The Dixie Chicks
When I raved to a couple of friends on how much I liked the recent number one single, “I’m Not Ready To Make Nice” by The Dixie Chicks I didn’t expect to wind up in a political debate! I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but I consider myself an original thinker. I will listen with an open mind…up to a point.
I’m feel blessed to live in America and be able to enjoy freedom of expression as an artist and a writer. I lived through many political witchunts and saw many writers and entertainers careers ruined by accusations that were exaggerated or sometimes even fabricated. When I heard, for myself, Natalie Maines (lead singer of the Chicks) make the comment that the band is “ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas”, my first reaction was one of horror! How could she say such a thing about our president, in a foreign country at a time of War? I would imagine that such a statement at other times in our country’s history, during time of war, would be tantamount to treason!
When I saw their Radio play, CD sales and sale of concert tickets suffer, I thought it was a shame that the public still couldn’t seperate the Artist and the Art! I actually thought they had suffered enough, but just as I was about to forgive them and put on another cut from their landmark album, one of my friends showed me an article that ran in the Hollywood reporter on Thursday…
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The company distributing a new documentary about the Dixie Chicks has blasted the NBC and CW networks for allegedly refusing to accept a commercial spot for the film, which opens in four theatere on friday.
The film, playing initially in Los Angeles and New York, revolves around the political firestorm stirred up in 2003 when the Dixie Chicks criticized Bush during a concert in London.
The Weinstein Co. distributed documents that appeared to be from NBC’s advertising standards division rejecting the spots and with the handwritten remarks about President Bush.
According to a source, the spot has been cleared for broadcast on CBS, MTV and on local NBC, CW, ABC and Fox affiliates in New York and Los Angeles, as well as on local cable systems, including local spots on Fox News and CNN. The commercial, posted at features footage of Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines.
After I read this, I shook my head and said to my friends , ” Haven’t we heard enough about this already?” One of my friends chimes in, “Yeah…Let Sleeping Bitches Lie”, while the other friend responds, ” Hold on a second…You ignorent slut!” While the shit is hitting the fan, here at Artie Wayne On The Web, I’d like to hear what all of you think about all of this. You can make your comment at the end of this article…
October 23, 2006
Paul with that “other” Artie
Bobby Darin was one of the first professionals to recognize my talent and offer his help… you could say he discovered me. Although he was certainly a mentor, I never knew how committed he was to folk music until Capitol Records reluctantly released “Earthy” in 1963. The album came out unnoticed between a wave of top ten pop singles. It had some incredible material on it that reflected the spirit of the times and Bobby performed it brilliantly!I was so impressed with the album I learned 3 or 4 songs on my guitar and performed them live with some of my originals and some songs from my friend Paul Simon, who also occasionally backed me up on guitar.
One night, after my first set at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village, a stranger came backstage and asked if he could sit in and play guitar on the next set. Paul looked at me and I looked at the stranger like he was crazy….until he said he was Bobby Darin’s guitarist!
I knew I was “busted,” so I just smiled sheepishly and let Roger McGuinn ( A founding member of the Byrds) sit in with us.
October 22, 2006
Whoppy and Streaker in a reflective mood.
It’s been ten years since Alex, the lovely hostess at Genghis Cohen, gave her boss Allan Rinde, a little calico cat by the name of Streaker. I watched Allan, who had little experience with pets, proceed to spoil her over the next 6 months. I remember going to visit him once and he answered the door with Streaker dangling by her claws, casually, from the bottom of his shirt. That little booger would always manage to do something that would keep me in stiches. She knew how to use the remote control on the TV and would change channels just as a program was starting to get good. Allan thought he had the problem solved when he started using two remotes. Then I remember one night, we were all watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, just as Sarah Michelle Geller was about to drive her point across…Streaker changes the channel! I quickly change it back…and Streaker changes it again! This “duel” goes on for a while until I chase her into the other room where she ducks under the bed. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I could heard her laughing.
This was about the time that Allan and songwriter Toni Wine ( “Groovy Kind Of Love”, “Candida”), who I introduced, were starting to get serious about each other. Allan was spending more and more time in Nashville where Toni lived, so Alex suggested that he should consider getting another cat to keep Streaker company. That’s when she brought a chubby, but dashing little white tomcat over, recently rescued from a crack house fire, whose name was Whoppy.
Allan let me stay in his apartment, after my spinal operation, where I fed and looked after my two little friends. Whoppy, who was now tipping the scales at 25 pounds, would lie on my right hand which, was partially paralyzed until it opened up! Streaker remained aloof with me, but fell in love with “Whop”. When I moved into my own place in Silver Lake, Allan gave me Whoppy as a present. A few weeks later, when he and Toni decided to marry, he asked me if I would take Streaker as well, because Toni was allergic to cats!
It’s been almost four years since the three of us moved here to the desert. Although I hate air conditioning, I turn it on for my little pals when it hits a hundred degrees or when they start sweating…whichever comes first!
This morning I was in a reflective mood myself and I took a look at the guest book on my website. I was amazed at many of the old and new friends who signed and some of the incredible stories they tell! If you’d like to see it just click onto http://www.artiewayne.com/Guestbook/
After the “English Invasion” of the U.S. in 1964, at the urging of my friends, Paul Simon and Jackie DeShannon, I decided to go to London to promote my songs and productions. Bess Coleman, one of the Beatles press officers, with whom I was writing songs , brought me into the groups inner circle and I traveled with them on several stops of their, “Beatles For Sale” promotional tour.
Backstage at a venue in White City, George and Paul were playing guitar and singing to relax in with a handful of their old mates and confidantes. Bess introduced me to them, and just as Paul smiled and handed me the guitar for me to take a turn…John majestically strode into the room. Bess introduced me to him as the American who wrote the recent top ten UK hit by Helen Shapiro, “Queen For Tonight” (Raleigh/ Wayne) John, with a wide grin, shook my hand and in a deep voice sang a parody of my song, ” I am a Queen For Tonight…but will I be a King tomorrow?”…which had the room in hysterics! Unfortunately, I didn’t know they were laughing at John, who was poking fun at the husky voiced 16 year old Shapiro’s sexuality, which had recently been questioned by the press…I thought they were laughing at me! I was embarrassed, but managed a smile as I passed on playing one of my songs and handed the guitar over to John, who sat down and sang, ” I’m A Loser”.
Although that was my only personal encounter with John Lennon, it wasn’t the only connection I had. The first was in 1968, when I found a song, “John You Went Too Far This Time”, a reaction to the John and Yoko naked “Two Virgins” album cover, recorded by Sissy Spacek, whom I discovered and renamed “Rainbo”.
The second was concerning the original artwork of “Clouds” used on the “Imagine” album cover, which I was given as security from a friend who needed a fast $100.00 loan! I never asked my friend how he got it, but I knew I had to enjoy the painting in “secrecy” for as long as it was in my possession! Then one day, about three years after John’s assasination, my now well-heeled friend who gave me this treasure in trust, offered to buy it back. Although I knew it must be worth upwards of a $100,000 dollars, I just asked him to return the hundred dollar loan I made him originally. To this day I wonder was that the right choice?
Anyway, here’s a glimpse of this beautiful piece of art that hung for years in my office at Warner Brothers music. You can see it in the upper right half of the photo.
Artie Wayne with Singer and Songwriter Patti Dahlstrom
Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/+
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