PAUL LEKA R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!
October 14, 2011
THE FIRST TIME I MET PAUL LEKA WAS IN MY FRIEND BOB RENO’S OFFICE AT KAMA-SUTRA RECORDS. PAUL, ONE OF MANY OF BOB’S DISCOVERIES, HAD JUST GONE NUMBER ONE WITH A RECORD HE CO-WROTE AND PRODUCED FOR THE LABEL, “GREEN TAMBOURENE”. WHEN I BROUGHT BOB RENO OVER TO MERCURY RECORDS, AS SOON AS HE COULD HE BROUGHT PAUL LEKA WITH HIM.
“Paul Leka was a friend and a mentor to me. We worked at Mercury Records and MRC Music together….he was the older more experienced happening producer/writer in our circle and I looked up to him. I remember when I was 21 and everybody at the company was touting me as the “new kid to watch”, I was stressed over not having a chart record. Paul’s office was on the other side of the floor from Barry Oslander’s and my office. I walked over and told Paul about my trepidations. Paul looked at me and laughed, and said “Don (he sounded like Columbo) if you worry about having a chart record, you’ll never have one…you’re making great records…just keep doing what you’re doing and it’ll happen….” a few months later I had a chart record with Lorelai….I song I wrote with Mark Barkan. When I was doing arrangements for various acts that Bob Reno had me doing, I went to Paul for arranging advice….he always gave it…I still draw a treble clef the way he showed me. The coolest thing though was that Paul gave me his arranging book that was given to him by the incredible arranger, Fred Wisemantle. It was also owned by Irv Spice, and several other “old timers”. I had it rebound by my friend, Iris, several years ago. Paul Leka was one of the best…inventive, resourceful, encouraging…..all around a great “individual”…..he became a bit of a recluse over the past 10 years or so, which was the last time I spoke to him….I believe he was doing a project with John Luango….in any event…RIP, Paul….you were a huge part of my early days in the old time music biz….I can still hear your infectuous laugh from the other side of the hall…..”
DON ORIOLLO (FELIX THE CAT, ORIOLLO GUITARS)
“Paul Leka a friend of mine and so many others who was one of the good and most talented guys of the record business has past away. As the saying goes the good die young. Both of us worked for Mercury records Paul as producer and me as a producer/engineer. One night when I was come out of the studio after a long day of recording Paul was going into the studio to record a “B” side for a single he was about to put out.
He asked me if I would sing background and I told him NO and I’m doing you a favor if you want a hit. He gathered up a number of Mercury employees and they sang on his “B” side, which turned out to be, NA NA HEY HEY KISS HIM GOODBYE GOODBYE…The song went number one and is stilled played at sporting events today. We should all have Paul talent it is a gift from God. It’s a sad day for all that knew him as a friend and nice guy. “
BARRY OSLANDER (PRODUCER/ ENGINEER)
“Paul and I were born on the exact same morning of the same date of the same month and of the same year. Every February 20th for the past 30 years Paul and I would exchange loving phone calls wishing each other a “happy birthday” and catching up on the preceding days since our last conversation. I don’t think a year went by without Paul saying to me on the phone, “Joel, one of these days one of us will not be here to either make or receive this phone call” to which I always responded, “Paul, we will always be here.”
Now the unthinkable has happened! For all of us who had the privilege and honor of knowing Paul, he was truly one of those people about whom nobody could ever or did ever have a bad word. His talent was only surpassed by his sweetness, kindness, and ever constant availability to help out a friend. Bob Reno was both Paul’s mentor as well as mine and many other prominent music figures today and now they are together, and way to soon for me to accept. I spoke to Paul’s wife yesterday and it just tore my heart out when she said to me that “their two year old son is looking all over the house for Paul.”
Paul has certainly left a legacy of both music and inspiration for us all.
Joel Diamond (producer)
THE LAST TIME I SAW PAUL LEKA WAS AT THE MELTING POT, IN WEST HOLLYWOOD, WITH ANOTHER FRIEND OF MINE, HARRY CHAPIN. THEY JUST HAD A NUMBER ONE SINGLE WITH, “CAT’S IN THE CRADLE”, AND WERE WORKING ON SOME NEW TRACKS. THE SOLID INFLUENCE THAT PAUL BROUGHT WITH HIM TO THE STUDIO I’M SURE WAS AN INSPIRATION TO HARRY, WHICH SHOWS IN THE RECORDINGS THAT ARE CONSIDERED THE BEST IN HIS CAREER.
GOODBYE MY FRIEND, YOU LEFT A LEGACY TO BE PROUD OF.
PAUL LEKA R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!
RESPECTFULLY, ARTIE WAYNE
2011 by Artie Wayne
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