November 29, 2006
No, it’s not ex-Congressman Mark Foley about to turn a new Page.. it’s Howdy Doody and “Buffalo” Bob Smith!
I’ve known about the power of television since I was seven years old, and charged other kids five cents to watch “Howdy Doody” at my uncle’s, who had the only set in the neighborhood! I also remember performing in grade school every wednesday at “Show and Tell”, with jokes I learned the previous night from my other uncle, “Uncle Miltie”. In 1956, however, my whole world changed when I saw Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show! Up until then I wanted to become either a nuclear physicist or a clown…now I wanted to ROCK!
Unfortunately, I was a “Rebel Without Applause”, until I performed Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe”, at a High School talent show. Now the girls started paying attention to me. I don’t know if it was my Ed “Kookie” Byrnes cool way of talking or my red Elvis jacket, but even the neighborhood gangs started to respect me and would give me a head start before they’d chase me home from school! My role models were high school bon vivant, “Dobie Gillis” and “Love That Bob”Cummings, who portayed a photographer/ playboy. I even sucessfully used many of their characters outrageous “pick-up lines” that me got me close to some of the most beautiful girls in the world!
I was in for a big shock though when I got married and realized that real life wasn’t, “I Love Lucy”, and problems weren’t always solved in a half hour. Unfortunately, we wound up in “Divorce Court”…but fortunately for me, I lost the TV in the settlement! For the next 2 years, my creative abilities and productivity increased significantly. I no longer sat in the front of a tv set and watch negative stories on the news, or look at a sitcom, where the laugh track would tell me where to respond! I read, I bowled, I had actual conversations, and then I moved to Hollywood!
I was General Professional Manager at Viva music for two months before I learned how to drive. I guess I had too much time on my hands, and against my better judgement I bought my first color tv set. I was just like a recovering alcoholic, testing ing himself with just one drink…then craving a half dozen more! All I needed was one more game show, one more made for TV movie or one more talk show then, I’d be able to go to bed.
When it became no longer enough to watch TV…I had to Live TV! I started flirting with sitcom stars I’d run into at the Hollywood market, Anne ( “Honey West”) Francis, Denise ( “Room 222″) Nicholas, have dinner with Yvonne ( “Batgirl”) Craig, go dancing with Linda ( “Happy Days”) Purl or just hang out with Sissy ( “Love American Style”) Spacek. In case there would be trouble at some of the wild parties I went to, I made sure to be around TV tough guys like Michael ( “Streets Of San Francisco” ) Douglas, Bill ( “I Spy”) Cosby, Max ( “Beverly Hillbillies”) Baer and David ( “Kung Fu”) Carradine. It was during this time that I also became friendly with a couple of TV comedy writers who “appropriated” some of my real life stories and used them on “The Bobby Sherman Show”…the adventures of a songwriter! Instead of suing, I settled for a few of my songs to be used on the program.
Then I got bored with TV and all the bullshit that goes along with it, even relegated my set to a little used room in the house. That’s when my career started to flourish at Warner Brothers Music, which had recently bought Viva music. I didn’t pay much attention to television for the next ten years.
Then one day in 1982 I was invited to the launch of a new 24 hour cable music network, called MTV…and that’s when I saw the future! I’d been a fan of Scopitone, a european jukebox that played musical film clips, but I knew it could never succeed in the US because of the “stronghold” American jukebox operators had on the market. I looked at “this” MTV, not just as another place to promote music but as having the potential to become the primary means of delivering music to the masses!
In less than 25 years, MTV not only fufilled the prophecy, but actually helped to change the music itself. In the first few years the network played the ubiquitous videos of English artists, Duran Duran, David Bowie and Phil Collins, Austrailian artists Men At Work and whet the appetite of the American public for more of the same! In addition to music, fashion and slang started to travel around the world at a record pace, but it took Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album and a near boycott by CBS Records to break the color barrier at the network! Soon Lionel Ritchie and Billy Ocean were being played as much as Blondie and became regular staples of MTV.
For years , the network thrived on it’s legitimate pop content, then something odd happened. There were fewer and fewer music shows aired in favor of reality shows. After the success of “The Real World” ten years ago, the “Reality” floodgates opened. Today when we watch MTV and it’s sister network VHI, we see endless episodes of “Laguna Beach”, where horny teens fuck with each others heads, and “Punk’ed”, where Ashton Kutcher plays practical jokes that would get him an ass kicking in real life! Then we have “Next”, “Breaking Bonaduce”, ” Road Rules”, “Made”, “The Fabulous life of…”, “Flava’ Flav”, “Best Week Ever”, and “Celebrity Deathmatch”. The most obnoxious, though, is “Sweet Sixteen”, which feature rich little bitches-in-training conning their parents out of expensive sweet sixteen parties and lavish presents. It’s a series that’s an argument for an official sanction of corporal punishment!
As far as the music goes, when you can find it, most of the groups have a sameness about them. if you don’t look at the lower left hand corner of the screen you might mistake Panic at the Disco for the Killers, or All American Rejects. It’s just about impossible to tell what rap video you’re watching, since Kanye West, “Diddy”, Lil’ Jon and “Snoop” Dogg appear in almost all of them, as either a guest or a featured artist!.
It seems like most of the artists today are conciously making music to please corporations and music directors who have narrow taste and program for an audience who prefers not to think too far outside their electronic boxes. I’ve read studies on how too much TV eventually overwhelms the viewer and diminishes productivity. I don’t want to be lulled into complacency, so I’ve decided never to watch MTV again…after I see the finale of “Laguna Beach!”
Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne
If you want to hear a recording that Terry Mace and I wrote and perform called “You’re in a coma with EMPTY -V” click onto http://artiewayne.com/music/coma.wma
Special thanks to Alan O’Day http://alanoday.com for helping with the re-mix
Streaker reconsiders trying to sneak out.
While you’re relaxing this weekend you might want to check out these exclusive interviews from Artie Wayne on the Web and Spectropop of “Unsung Heroes – the powerful men behind the scenes in the music business who helped shape the Pop culture!
SHEL TALMY- THE MAN WHO DISCOVERED, INSPIRED AND PRODUCED, THE WHO, THE KINKS, THE EASBEATS, CHAD AND JEREMY!
When I first went to London in 1965, Bess Coleman – one of the Beatles’ press officers and one of my co-writers – introduced me to Shel Talmy, a five star general in the British invasion of the pop culture. I was anxious to meet the legend who discovered, inspired and produced the Who, the Kinks, Chad & Jeremy and the Easybeats. About an hour before I met him, I was shocked to find out that he was a fellow American! When I knocked on his apartment door, in fashionable Knightsbridge, his beautiful assistant led me down a long hallway that was filled on both sides with more gold singles and albums than I’d ever seen in one place! As I sat sipping tea in his office, I heard someone playing a guitar and singing in the other room. The door opened, Shel introduced himself, as well as the singer I heard through the walls, Cat Stevens, who was there to play a couple of his new songs. Over the years Shel and I became good friends. He was one of the few people I could play a song for and get some good constructive criticism. Here he shares some stories and insights with me in this revealing Spectropop interview. Just click onto http://spectropop.com/ShelTalmy/index.htm
RUSS REGAN – OVER ONE BILLION RECORDS SOLD! THE MAN WHO SIGNED ELTON JOHN, NEIL DIAMOND, OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN AND BARRY WHITE!
When I decided to do a series of articles, on “Unsung Heroes”, the powerful men and women behind the scenes in the music business, Russ Regan, was one of the first people I wanted to interview. The general public may not know his name, but the former head of UNI Records and 20th Century Fox Records has been responsible for selling over one billion records and CDs in his career! Russ Regan is “the man”, because Russ Regan “was the man” who signed Elton John, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, and Barry White, as well as the one who was responsible for green lighting, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” In his spare time, he also named the Beach Boys! Just click onto http://spectropop.com/RussRegan/index.htm
JERRY ROSS – THE MAN BEHIND SPANKY AND OUR GANG, BOBBY HEBB, KEITH, JAY AND THE TECHNIQUES, NOT TO MENTION SHOCKING BLUE!
Before there was a Rogers & Hammerstein, there was Rogers & Hart. Before there was a Gamble & Huff, there was Gamble & Ross! Working out of Philadelphia, Jerry Ross had an impressive array of hits that he produced with Candy and the Kisses, The Sapphires and the Dreamlovers, that he co-wrote with Kenny Gamble. Then he moved to New York and had an amazing run of hits with Bobby Hebb, Keith, Jay and the Techniques, Spanky and Our Gang, and Shocking Blue. 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 onto http://spectropop.com/JerryRoss/index.htm
HANK MEDRESS – UNSUNG HERO BEHIND “THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT”, ” HE’S SO FINE’, AND “TIE A YELLOW RIBBON (‘ROUND THE OLD OAK TREE) “
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. Just click onto http://spectropop.com/HankMedress/index.htm
Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/
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November 23, 2006
As we decide if we should have another piece of pumpkin pie or another glass of egg nog, the moment of truth draws closer…Black Friday! It’s the biggest shopping day of the year in America, and the official beginning of the Christmas season. I remember just a few years ago, it was wiser to buy presents closer to, or even after Christmas, to get the best deals. Now they’re advertising sales that are starting at 50% off!
Heaven forbid you waited to get your Playstation III or the new “masterbating” Elmo… Now it’s going to cost you a kidney to get one before Christmas! I was considering going to Petco today and getting a remote controled mouse for my cats, Whoppy and Streaker, but I think I’ll wait until the excitement dies down. I don’t want to be held up at gunpoint in the parking lot by some “catnip crazed” crook who’ll do anything to get a remote controlled mouse!
As I sit and think about some memorable Thanksgivings I had in the past, I flashback to one in particular. In the early ’80s, my friend Allan Rinde, owned a chinese restaurant in a Jewish neighborhood in Hollywood, which I named Genghis Cohen. This is the place in which Larry David (co-creator of the “Seinfeld”) based the episode, “The Chinese restaurant”, where he was kept waiting by an “arrogant host” for what seemed to be hours!
On the first Thanksgiving night after it opened…I was “humbly hosting” the place. There must’ve been 6 or 7 reservations that night, instead of the usual 100, so I assumed it would be like this all weekend. I didn’t even bother to have as many of my hand painted shirts, which I sold to customers from $75 to $350, onhand as I usually did. I thought that on Black Friday there would be as few customers as there was on Thanksgiving night.
As I sat back to enjoy the night, a publicist friend of mine came in for an early dinner, and left me an incredible trip…I mean tip! She gave me a capsule of MDMA ( Ecstacy) which was legal then, and I took for the very first time a few minutes later. It wasn’t long before a smile swept across my face and I felt an emotional connection with everyone I came in contact with. I even engaged in long conversations with Chinese and Mexican workers in the kitchen, even though we didn’t speak each others language!
Then the place started to fill up with our regular customers who were out shopping and asked if they could come in without a reservation. Lana Turner , came in with a party of five, Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey , Jr. with their friends, Luthor VanDross and his entourage, Rod Stewart, so on and so forth! Every time someone would show up at the door, I’d greet them with a glazed look in my eyes and say, “Welcome to Genghis Cohen, where there’s always room for one more!” It wasn’t long before I started to answer the phone, ” Hello. Genghis Cohen, where your wish…is your problem!”
I stopped taking reservations and advised everyone on the phone to order take out because there were about 60 people waiting for tables. In my chemically induced “loving” state, I was determined to make this a night to remember for everyone I encountered! I read the menu aloud to the hungry crowd on line, while the waiters took their orders promising the food would be ready by the time they were seated.
“Tonight we have Romeo and Juliet, fresh asparagus and schezewan string beans lying side by side…on a steamy bed of lettuce. If you order this dish you must be over 18, so please have your ID ready!
We also have our world famous, “Duck with no Name”. Why doesn’t it have a name? Because there’s no guilt when you eat a nameless duck. I mean, would you order it if it were called Daffy or Donald?
Finally, our special tonight is “Terminator Chicken”, a dish so powerful that if you don’t order it…it’ll come out and get you! If you Do order it, but don’t finish it, it’ll look up at you and say, “I’ll be back!”
Then things started to get serious, I ran out of one liners as well as hand painted shirts! Chef Lin stormed out of the kitchen waving a kichen knife and cursing in chinese, about the huge orders that kept coming in, so close to closing time. Although the walls were starting to pulsate and close in on me, I managed to calm the chef down and introduced him to patrons that kept gushing about his incredible food. He was absolutely beaming as he returned to the kitchen amidst a standing ovation! Chef Lin fortunately convinced his staff not to walk out at their usual quiting time and the bus boys not to beat my ass for making them work late!
I knew how much Allan hated for me to keep people waiting on line, so I made sure by the time he was expected, everyone had been seated and served. He asked how the night was…coming down from all the excitement, I quietly said, “OK, I guess.” I bid everyone goodnight and went outside where my little Genie and her magic carpet were waiting to take me home!
Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne
Thanks to Elliot Weiss for letting me borrow the title of one of his songs for this article.
November 19, 2006
Ever since I was a kid I’ve known people who have tried to keep a low profile…so low in fact, they are virtually invisible! I’ve never been one of those people. With every ounce of strength and determination in my body, I fight everyday to make my mark in this world, while carving a pathway to the next. I’d like to present a song I wrote with Terry Mace, about this struggle…and the effect love can have on it. I hope you enjoy it! Just click onto http://artiewayne.com/invisible.html
Lead vocal by Terry Mace, All instruments and background parts by Artie Wayne Special thanks to Alan O’Day for helping to mix! http://alanoday.com
The Banned Beatle Album Cover
In the early 80s I was absolutely apalled when someone took the tapes from the first Elvis Presley album, added “Disco beats, modern sounding instruments and effects”, while removing the excess echo that was my favorite sound on the original lp! I remember hearing a few cuts while I was waiting to be served at the Hard Rock cafe in Hollywood. I was starting to become physically ill from hearing some of my all time favorite cuts desecrated, so I walked out…but not before I complained loudly and vehemently to the manager! I chalked this one up to the Presley estate trying to breathe life into a dead horse! (no reflection on the Hard Rock’s hamburger, of course.)
The next time I was shlocked to my very core was when my friend, Alan O’Day, sent me the URL to the new remixes of Motown classics “remixed” by current top Hip-Hop producers. Although there were a few interesting moments…it was a futile attempt to improve upon musical history. http://motown remixed.com/
As long as I’ve been in the music industry I’ve admired, enjoyed and studied the sucess of Motown records. When I brought Nick Ashford and Valarie Simpson to Eddie Holland in 1967, I developed a strong relationship with many of the company’s writers and producers. I was also privy to many secrets of their phenomenal sucess. I used to sit (at different times) with Norman Whitfield, Hal Davis, Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, Freddie Perren, Bob Crewe and Michael Masser and listen to what sounded like instant smash hits, including early mixes of ” Touch me in the Morning”, ” Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, and “My Eyes Adored You”, all of which were initially turned down by quality control!
The endless remixing and meticulous mastering was the most important And the most frustrating part of the recording process. I remember sitting with Iris Gordy, who was head of quality control and listening to dozens of mixes of ten totally different tracks of Stevie Wonders production of “Let’s get Serious” by Jermaine Jackson. I was intrigued by some of the “radical” mixes and amazed by the subtlety of others. I asked Iris if this many versions were unusual? she laughed and said, “Sometimes there are hundreds!”
With so much care and respect Berry Gordy had for the music, it’s a shame that the new owners of the Motown catalog let someone come in and fuck with the music!
This past tuesday a double CD was released called “Love”, featuring remixes of the original Beatles hits along with an incredible advertising blitz. After hearing a little of about 10 songs, of this “Bloodless”, adreneline free remix, I couldn’t help wonder who put this shit together? Are the Beatles hard up for cash? Has producer George Martin gone mad? Is his son Gilles the actual producer of this CD set? What has Cirque du Soleil have to do with this? After reading the Associated Press story I understood what was going on! http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,229702,00.htm ,
I realized this was the soundtrack to the new Cirque Du Soleil Las Vegas Extravaganza that opened last July! This means I have to listen to it with entirely different ears. Unfortunately, that also means before I say anything more about the album I should hear it in context with the show! If the Cirque Folque are reading this, pleased be advised that Artie Wayne on the Web is ready to be flown to Vegas to check it and come back here to report the findings!
Merci’ and Auvoir
Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne
Cheryl Burke and Emmitt Smith
There are a lot of rumors circulating on the internet…let’s see what’s out there this week!
This season’s winner of the “Dancing with the Stars”competition, Emmitt Smith, has signed to star in a new film, an “All Singing, All Dancing” version of his life. Clay Aiken and Michael Jackson have already signed on to play two of his pals from the Dallas Cowboys!
This season’s runner-up, on the popular dance show, Mario Lopez has been granted amnesty by Govenor Arnold Schwartzenegger for performing unauthorized moves on his partner Karina during the competition!
Jerry Springer, former controversial talk show host, instigator, referee, Mayor of Cincinnati, and dance show contestant, has been tapped to replace John J. Bolton as US Ambassador to the UN!
Today, Al Gore celebrates the anniversary of the Internet…which he invented 16 years ago!
The Paris home of Sascha Baron Cohen, the creator and star of “Borat”, is besieged by villagers from Kazakhstan, who are bearing torches! The impoverished group, from the country where the highly succesful film took place, cry out for some more “Bread” for the demeaning roles they were tricked into playing. Cohen’s insensitive girlfriend, is heard to say, “Let them cake”… just before the shit hits the fan!
Last night, George Michael, “Googled” himself and was promptly taken into custody!
Kevin Federline, recently retired rapper K-Fed, now known as Fed-Ex, is allegedly hawking the intimate video he made on his honeymoon with Britney Spears. Gentleman that he is, he claims he’s only using it as audition tape to get his next gig! Look at your watch Kevin, your 15 minues are up!
Is it really over between 60 Minutes’ Andy Rooney and Hollywood bad girl Lindsey Lohan?
Bush goes to Vietnam…as Hell freezes over!
And finally, why wasn’t Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, invited to the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ wedding?…Because he passed away in 1986 or so we’ve been led to believe!
Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne
November 14, 2006
“When I was plugging songs in back in New York City, I used to wear a jacket, tie and “good pants” ( not jeans). When I moved to Hollywood in the early ’70s, it was jeans and cowboy boots all the way! Although I do admit to having my jeans tailored and chemically “aged”, and wearing highly polished Fry boots with two inch stacked heels. It was like John Wayne meets “Superfly”
I remember one night I was standing outside the Troubadour bar getting my cool on, when Glenn Frey of the Eagles, walks over to me, looks down at my feet and says, “I don’t believe this shit!” At this point he and Randy Meisner wrestle me to the ground, remove my “sissified” boots and throw them in the middle of traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard! The last thing I remember, was all of us lying there in the street drunk with hysterics…or was it hysterically drunk?
I’d been trying to break the ice with some of David Geffen’s acts for months and this was a good sign. I was General Professional Manager for Warner Brothers Music and we administered the publishing companies of all of David’s artists including, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills and Nash, John David Souther and Neil Young.
As any good manager must be, Geffen is relentless in getting the most for his clients, and is always on my case to get more recordings on his artists songs. After the Eagles first album comes out, one my “Warner Raiders”, Bob Stabile, gets B.W. Stevenson to cut “Peaceful Easy Feeling”. B.W. just had a number one hit with “My Maria” and his cover of “Peaceful” becomes formidable competition to the original! Of course I knew why Geffen was freaking out, it’s always more important to have an artist make a hit with their own song than have somebody else do it! It broke my heart, however, when we had to stop the Hollies from recording “Witchy Woman” after they had a number one record “Long Cool Woman ( In A Black Dress)”, but there are millions at stake…not to mention my job!
After I get Michael Jackson to cut Jackson Browne’s, “Doctor My Eyes”, which goes top ten in the UK, things begin to change dramatically. Jackson talks me up to his label mates while my friend, Lita Eliscu, who runs his publicity department, talks me up to Geffen. For about a year David and I have what I like to call an “uneasy truce.”
Then one day I walk down to his office, which is only a block or so east of Warner Bros. Music. I have five copies of the not-yet-released Van Morrison “Moondance” album under my arm and Everybody in David’s office wants a copy! Off the top of my head I offer to give a copy to whoever can name 3 Van Morrison songs. First David’s assistant, Leslie, names 3 songs, she wins an album…then the mail boy names 3, and he wins one too.
At this point, Joni Mitchell walks in and asks what’s going on? I tell her about the contest, she picks up her guitar and plays 3 of Van’s songs and yes…we have another winner!
I see it’s getting late, and as much as I hate to leave, I have to get back to my own office. On the way out of the building I run into Neil Young. He sees the remaining 2 albums under my arm, says he’s a friend of Van’s and asks me to give him one. Unfortunately he’s not able to name even One of Van’s songs, so I say, “Sorry Neil”, explain the rules of the contest and quickly leave!
When I get back to Warner Brothers music, I hear Geffen on the phone yelling at my boss, Ed Silvers. When I explain “A contest is a contest”, Ed smiles, and sends a copy of Van’s album over to Neil!”
Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com
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