February 21, 2007
Mike Stoller, Elvis Presley and Jerry Leiber
Sometimes visiting Artie Wayne On The Web, is like going to the Turf Bar and Grill, after a long, hard day at the Brill Building! You never know who you’re gonna’ meet…but you know you’re gonna’ have a good time!
The last time I saw Mike Stoller, was at a quiet dinner with my late manager Marty Machat. Mike kept us spellbound with his tale of having been rescued from the Andrea Doria, the luxury liner that was shipwrecked in 1956!
The last time I saw Jerry Leiber, was at a little sushi bar, in Hollywood. He had me, and my friend, Patti Dahlstrom laughing so hard…that we forgot that we had an opening to go to at the Troubador!
The first time I became aware of Leiber and Stoller, the songwriter/ prodcers, was in 1956 when I saw their names on an Elvis Presley Record, “Hound Dog”. It wasn’t long before I considered them the equivelant of a “Name Brand”, and would buy one of their creations without even hearing the song! I became impressed with more than their songs and productions, however, when I realized how much they helped define the image of the artists they worked with!
Although Elvis had dozens of hits in his remarkable career, 30 years after he passed away, whenever there’s a tribute to him you”re sure to hear “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock” by Mike and Jerry. Both songs are full of humor and rebellion…and embody the Spirit of Elvis!
Until I saw their photos, I assumed they were “Negroes”, which African-Americans were called at the time. Their output of hits with deep roots in West Coast Rythym and Blues, The Robins, The Clovers and “Big” Mama Thorton was legendary but it wasn’t until their smash hits by the Coasters, “Young Blood” and “Searchin'”, did they start to leave their indelible mark on the Pop Music Market!
Although they produced many hits over the years for the Coasters, Drifters, Ben E. King, Stealers Wheel and Peggy Lee, the most memorable recordings they made are the songs they wrote or cowrote for those artists. These signature songs include, “Stand By Me”, and “I Who Have Nothin” for Ben E. King, “Yakity-Yak” and “Charlie Brown” for the Coasters, “Love Potion Number 9″ for the “Clovers”, “There Goes My Baby” and “On Broadway” for the Drifters, as well as, “Is That All There Is? for Peggy Lee.
I never knew Mike and Jerry well, but I knew their songs intimately…and there was never a time that I’d be around them when I didn’t hope that a little of their “Magic” wouild kinda’ rub off on me!
Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne
December 15, 2006
Jerry Wexler, Neshui Ertegun, Bobby Darin, and Ahmet Ertegun
AHMET ERTEGUN 7/3/23 – 12/14/06
When I started in the music business in 1960, Ahmet Ertegun was a already a mythical figure. In 1947, he and Herb Abramson, founded Atlantic Records and soon became a threat to all the Major labels. He built a roster of African-American artists including Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, the Clovers, Ray Charles, the Drifters, and the Coasters. As the company, grew he signed white pop artists, Bobby Darin, Vanilla Fudge, The Rascals, disco artists Archie Bell and the Drells, Chic, Sister Sledge as well as rock artists J. Geils band, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.
Jerry Wexler, who as a Billboard magazine writer changed the name of the genre from “Race Records” to the more respectable Rhythm and Blues, became a partner with Ahmet and his brother Neshui. Together they turned their little record company into one of the major forces of the 20th Century! When they brought, the Muscle Shoals Sound and Stax distribution deal into the equation, Memphis Soul dominated the charts. During this period the combined the talents of Atlantic artist Wilson Pickett and Stax writer and producer Steve Cropper co-wrote and produced hits, “In The Midnight Hour” and”634-5789″. Steve also co-wrote some and produced most of the recordings of another Atlantic artist, Otis Redding, including,”(Sitting’ on the) Dock of the Bay”. Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd produced classic records by Aretha Franklyn and Dusty Springfield at Stax studios in Memphis Muscle Shoals studios using their musicians and songs in each location.
I had a lot of respect for Ahmet because he not only was head of a successful record company, he was a songwriter, “Don’t Play That Song” by Ben E. King and a producer, “Mack the Knife” by my mentor, Bobby Darin. He also had the unique ability, not only to actually listen to what a person was saying…but to make you feel like you were the only person in the world, at that particular moment. I remember being introduced to him by Quincy Jones at a party for Duke Ellington. Although he was surrounded by people all night and we only talked for a few minutes, at the the end of the evening he shook my hand and said, “Nice meeting you, Artie”. Wow! I met my personal hero and was validated…all in the same night!
I saw him again when he sold Atlantic to WEA, the same company that owned Warner Brothers Music, whom I worked for. I had the pleasure of being in charge of getting cover records on Progressive Music titles, which Atlantic owned, and Ahmet was more than happy to turn me onto his favorites, which included, Ray Charles’, “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”, which he also happened to produce!
Quincy was overbooked to score films, and asked me to help him get someone to do the music for “Come Back, Charleston Blue”, which was the sequel to Sam Goldwyn, Juniors’ highly successful Blaxploitation film, “Cotton Comes To Harlem”. He got me the job and screen credit of musical consultant. The first composer to come to mind was Atlanic artist Donny Hathaway, who was riding high with his first album and single, “The Ghetto”. So Donny, in his Kongol Cap and me in my “Superfly” hat, “bop” into a screening of the film and had a commitment from both Sam, Jr. and Donny as soon as the lights came back on!
I also suggested to Sam that I go to Atlantic Records in New York and find two or three singles by other top artists on the label that were about to be released and include them in the film, as well as the soundtrack album. Sam loved the idea, but not as much as Ahmet and Jerry! Ahmet played me product they were about to release and took me to sessions in progress, including Aretha Franklyn, as she recorded,”Angel”. This was an obvious hit to me and one of my first choices! It made me feel good that Aretha remembered me as the co-writer of “Here’s Where I Came In” (Raleigh/ Wayne), which was recorded on her first session at Columbia! Then producer Joel Dorn, invited me to hear the new sides he was mixing with Chart Topper, Roberta Flack and newcomer Bette Midler. Now I had a few more contenders!
When the film was finished, score done and all the songs I found were inserted into the soundtrack. As the tapes were being mastered, Donny Hathaway, who was prone to severe mood swings, had a sudden change of heart and insisted that only his music be used on the soundtrack! I was disappointed, but encouraged at the same time, when Ahmet called me to tell me how much he appreciated what I tried to do…and how he was looking forward to working with me again.
Although It never happened, I’ll never forget the kindness and encouragement he gave me when I needed it most.
Until we meet again, R.I.P. Rock In Perpetuity!
Respectfully, Artie Wayne
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December 15, 2006
Original Christmas of clips of Bing, Elvis, Band Aid, Darlene Love and Phil Spector! Christmas Video animations featuring Destiny’s child, Bobby Helms and the Drifters!
When Whoppy and Streaker were little more than kittens I sat down with them on their first Christmas Eve and sang Christmas songs on my guitar. Ten years later they’re playing Christmas songs for me that they found on the Internet! Sound outrageous? Not as outrageous as some of the the videos they found!
Here is the 50’s version of “White Christmas”, by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters, one of my aunt Wan’s favorites, which my friend Publicist/ Writer Gary Stromberg, sent me as a Christmas card. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ooc5eJc5SHA
Growing up in the 50’s, Irving Berlin was one of my greatest influences. He wrote other classic songs like “Easter Parade’, “True Love”, “Always”, and “God Bless America”, but none ever touched as deeply as his perrenial “White Christmas”. When I started in the music business, I remember going from door to door in 1650 Broadway, trying to get my songs published. One day I walked into Irving Berlin Music, which occupied a suite of offices on the second floor. I asked the receptionist If I could see Mr. Berlin, and play him a few of my songs. Holding back a smile, she said, “I’m sorry, but Mr. Berlin, no longer comes into the office…besides this company Only publishes Irving Berlin songs!”
This “Brash Brotha” from the Bronx, smiles and asks, “In that case may I just take a look at his piano?” She smiles back and says she shouldn’t be doing this…and took me into the room where he did his writing.
This is the instrument, I read about in Life Magazine. Berlin, with no formal training, was only able to play in the key of C. So he had this upright piano made with a “gear shift”, to change keys or modulate with a flick of the wrist! Although I want to sit and play, I don’t want to overstep my bounds, so I just gently and respectfully touched it on my way out.
Here’s “White Christmas” performed by Bing Crosby, from the 1942 film, “Holiday Inn”.
The next video is from a 1977 ABC special with a duet by Bing Crosby and David Bowie on “Little Drummer Boy”.
Author and songwriter, Patti Dahlstrom sent this interactive video Christmas card, I thought you’d enjoy! http://badaboo.free.fr/merryxmas.swf
Patti sent this incredible “Silent Night” interactive card as well! http://ecard.ashland.edu/2004admission/index.html
Along with my first phonograph, my mother gave me “Elvis’ Christmas Album”. Here’s a clip of Elvis Presley, from the Ed Sullivan Show, singing “Peace in the Valley”with the Jordanaires. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7879112400700265061&q=Elvis+peace+in+the+valley&hl=en
How did Whoppy And Streaker know I loved “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” It’s the Band Aid Video That Bob Geldof put together in 1984 to raise money for starving people in Africa.
Here are the Jingle Cats and their version of ,”Jingle Bells” http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4713533704832803716&q=jingle+bells+jingle+cats&hl=en
Here’s Bobby Helms with Dancing Snowmen and “Jingle Bell Rock”
Elvis Presley from his 1968 “Comeback” NBC Special doin “Blue Christmas” in a medley.
The next song, “Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer”, is one of the best known songs in the world. It was originally the B-side of a Gene Autry record, “If It Doesn’t Snow On Christmas” It was the first 78 I ever owned, a gift from my uncle Mick and aunt Polly…to be played on the new phonograph my mother gave me!
Johnny Marks, the composer of “Rudolf”, as well as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, was definitely the King of Christmas? The song became so popular, that everytime a reindeer was drawn or painted with a red nose, he would get a royalty! Johnny was a character out of a Damon Runyan story, hair slicked back 40’s style, always nattily dressed, the kind of a guy you’d see at the race track waiting in line at the $100 window. He was quiet and assuming most of the year, but at Christmastime, he’d be in his glory! I remember once in the mid-sixties, during the holiday season , Johnny took my wife and I to lunch at Jack Dempseys’. The restaurant was located right next to the Brill Building and the poor man couldn’t take a bite without one his songwriter or publishing pals coming over to interrupt. Without question he was definitely one of my songwriting heroes!
Now Destiny’s Child’s 2001 video of “Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer”
About ten years ago after inexplicable weakness and episodes of falling down in the street. I checked into UCLA Medical Center for 3 days of test. They kept me for 3 weeks! It was a few days before Christmas, I was in a ward with many who were far worse off than me…and we did our best to keep each others’ spirits up. Somehow, I lost my phone book, and the only numbers that I could remember was my Mothers’, who had moved to West Virginia, and that of my long time friend Alan O’Day, who was on his way out of town.
It’s a policy of most hospitals to send as many patients home for the holidays to be with their family and friends. Soon, I was the only one left in the ward, since I had nowhere else to go. One lonely night, as I sat feeling sorry for myself, I heard a group down the hall, singing Christmas carols. I followed the voices to the the children’s ward…where I heard the joyous sounds of “Jingle Bells”. It was the Salvation Army, passing out toys and candy, and singing to the kids, who were confined to their beds. I joined in on “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, and “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”, but when they started singing “White Christmas”. Tears started running down my face, and I had to sit in another room to compose myself. This song, written by Irving Berlin, always brings back memories of family and friends in a snow covered New York City…flooding me with emotions.
10 years later, I told Toni Wine (“Candida”,”Groovy Kind Of Love”) I told her the story…and showed her some lyrics I had written that fateful night, “I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”. She loved it, but wanted to make the story more universal. Over two writing sessions, which we actually started on Irving Berlin’s piano that Toni bought many years ago, we came up with….
“I LOSE IT WHEN I HEAR “WHITE CHRISTMAS”
words and music by Toni Wine and Artie Wayne
They can play “Jingle Bells” all day
talk about Santa’s Sleigh
I’m alright on a very “Silent Night”
But then my tears begin
when they sing I can’t join in
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”
Bein’ without you just ain’t no fun
What kind of thrill is cookin’ for one?
Can’t deny I wanna’ cry myself out
Here’s to Holiday spirit
don’t wanna’ be anywhere near it
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”
And Baby I know…You needed to go
But why did you have to leave me now?
Don’t feel like spreading good cheer
Just wanna’ sleep in the New Year
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”
If you’d like to hear the Tony Orlando and Dawn recording click http://artiewayne.com/I_Lose_It.html
Where to buy Tony Orlando and Dawn”Reunion” CD http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Reunion-Tony-Orlando-Dawn/dp/B000ANVP7Y
FOR THE ORIGINAL TOP CHRISTMAS MUSIC VIDEOS featuring
Elvis Presley “Blue Christmas”, Neil Diamond “Holly Holy”, Celine Dion “Oh Holy Night”, Bing Crosby and David Bowie “Little Drummer Boy” plus THIRTY MORE! JUST ADDED…JOSH GROBAN FROM HIS #1 “NOEL”…OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN FROM HER NEW CHRISTMAS ALBUM, John Denver, the Muppets, MORE!
For “Nookie’s Top Christmas And Hanukka Videos!” Adam Sandler, “Hanukkah Song”, Neil Diamond, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, ‘n Sync, Toby Keith, complete version of Charlie Brown Christmas, more! http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/nookies-top-holiday-video-picks/
To reach Toni Wine http://toniwine.com
For Sebastian Prooth http://sebrt.com
To know more about Gary Stromberg’s book, “The Harder They Fall http://thehardertheyfall.blogharbor.com/
For the Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn.nsf
More Artie Wayne on the Web http://artiewayne.wordpress.com
If you liked “Whoppy and Streaker Present The Top Christmas Videos of all time”, feel free to share it with a friend…I you loved it, please feel free to send it to your entire address book!