May 27, 2012
OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS I’VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT MY OLD FRIEND, SISSY SPACEK, AND HER NEW BOOK, “MY EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY LIFE” AND WONDERED HOW SHE WOULD TALK ABOUT HOW I DISCOVERED HER AND CHANGED HER NAME TO “RAINBO”!
“Back in 1968, I was recording an album under the name Shadow Mann for the legendary Morris Levy. During the recording of one of my tracks, a cute little girl with a giant guitar case, walked into the control room. Ron Haffkine ( Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show), who was producing my album, jumped up, introduced himself…and then he introduced me as Shadow Mann. He got our engineer, Brooks Arthur, to play the track back as I danced around the studio.
Sissy and I hung out over the next few months. She played me and Ronnie quite a few songs she had written, on a guitar that was almost as big as she was…but we didn’t hear that special song that could make her a star. Just before I left on a trip to California, a couple of free-lance writers Ron Dulka and John Marshall, brought a song to me that was a comment on the controversial John Lennon and Yoko naked LP album cover of “Two Virgins”. I suggested A few lyric changes and flew off to California for 10 days.
When I returned I was surprised that my partner, Kelli Ross, had signed Sissy to our record label and Ronnie Haffkine had started making plans to record her on the song, “John, You Went Too Far This Time!”, by the two writers who finished the song in my absence! After I heard her sing it, I knew why everyone was so excited!
When my album and Sissy’s single was finished, Morris Levy decided to send both of us out to promote our records at the same time…but not before one little thing. I convinced her to change her name to something more suitable for the times…a name that was opposite of “Shadow”. Sissy, bit her lip and agreed to let herself be known as, “Rainbo”.
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January 20, 2011
If they built a time machine it could never equal the experience I had at the TROUBADOUR FAMILY REUNION last Monday Night! Jackson Browne played to a packed house that included old “Troubadourians”, Allan Rinde, Sandy and Michael Ochs, Patti and Richard Kimball, Ron Haffkine, Don Williams, Jerry Heller, Joel Diamond, Bobbi Cowan, Pete Senoff, Todd Everett, Val Garay, Billy James, Terry Kirkman, Colin Cameron, and Van Dyke Parks.
Pam McKenna one of the Reunion’s organizer’s said, “The intention of The Troubadour Family Reunion was to gather together a group of people…a very lucky few, who were in the right place at the right time in America’s musical history. Doug Weston had a knack for finding great singer/songwriters…and we were the fortunate recipients. One such artist was Jackson Browne…so it was only fitting that he came to play for us again. This is where he began, like so many others, and his return brought him and us, full circle…May the circle be unbroken.”
Many people flew into Hollywood for this once in a lifetime event, including producer Ron Haffkine (Dr.Hook, Shel Silverstein), and singer/ songwriter Van Dyke Parks (“Heroes and Vllians”) who apparently is still flying!
On Friday, I’ll post more pictures and comments .
To know more about the evening click onto the official TROUBADOUR FAMILY REUNION WEBSITE http://www.troubadourfamilyreunion.com/
Thanks to Sean McKenna from X-SITE MEDIA for the photos http://www.xm.la
Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne- http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MY BOOK, “I DID IT FOR A SONG http://artiewayne.com/book.html
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August 12, 2010
Here is part two of my exclusive interview with Tommy James (“I Think We’re Alone Now” , “Mony, Mony”) about his controversial new book, “Me, the Mob, and the Music”…and the owner of Roulette Records Morris Levy! the story starts back in 1967.
“Although I was apprehensive about having a label with Morris and being an artist for the notorious Roulette records as “Shadow” Mann, I felt somewhat safe because my silent partner in my publishing company was Irving Green (who owned Mercury and Smash Records), who was not only my partner Kelli Ross’ father, but also Morris Levy’s best friend.
I always considered Tommy James, Roulette’s top artist, and his records to be ahead of their time, but I wonder how many people know that he was a major creative influence on the Beatles. How many people are aware that George Harrison even wrote a few songs for him (which were eventually passed on because they too much in the vein of “Mony, Mony”).
Now I had a chance not only to see how the infamous but charming, Morris Levy and Roulette promoted records, but also how Tommy James made them! One day I was up at the label walking past Morris’ office and I heard some great music coming out. I couldn’t help but stop and put my ear a little closer to the door. SUDDENLY…the door swings open and I’m a bit scared to see a startled, serious looking Morris less than a foot away from me!
Then a smile sweeps across his face as he grabs my arm and says, “Shadow…I want you to meet somebody.” Then he introduces me to Tommy James, who brought by a test pressing of his next single, “Crimson and Clover”. From the beginning it sounds like a hit, but when it reaches the end and goes into an electronic chant “Crimson and Clover…over and over”, it sounds like a classic!
(Here’s the original clip of “CRIMSON AND CLOVER” 1969) http://www.faniq.com/video/Tommy-James–the-Shondells-Crimson-in-Clover-YouTube-38590
When my pals at Spectropop and Forgotten Hits, the ‘60s and ‘70s music forums, heard I was interviewing Tommy they submitted six pages of questions. Two of those pages were filled with questions that basically asked, “How did you get that sound on “Crimson and Clover”?
Tommy said, “We had done the record with tremolo on the guitar. It’s just a built-in sound on guitar amplifiers. When I played the guitar, we recorded it with tremolo pretty much in synch with the music. In other words, we tried to make it so that it was vibrating at the same speed that the drums were playing. So we made the whole record that way. And then at the end, it was like one of those whimsical ideas, we said, “Why don’t we put it on the voice?” So that’s what we did, we ran the vocal mike through an Ampeg guitar amp, turned on the tremolo and miked it, and ran it back through the board. It was just that simple. What was so amazing, back then, if you wanted to make a sound wiggle, you had to basically do it yourself. There was no button you could push on a synthesizer, you basically had to build the circuits yourself and everything else. So that’s what we did, we just ran the vocal mike through the guitar amp, and then miked the amp and ran it back through the board.”
“Crimson and Clover” was not only a major point in their career turning them overnight from AM singles artists into FM album artists; it was also the first of the hits that Tommy James and the Shondells created themselves. After working with producers Ritchie Cordell and Bo Gentry on his earlier records, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, and “Mony, Mony”. ” Tommy says, “Those guys were the best and we learned a lot about producing and getting new sounds from them!”
I then I told him that Forgotten Hit’s Kent Kotal, wanted to know if there are any stories about “Crystal Blue Persuasion”. Tommy said, “That’s from the Crimson and Cover” album. At that point we had drastically changed our style. It was a difficult record to make. We completely over produced it, so gradually we started pulling instruments out, guitars, congas, percussion, etc. until it became as you know it.”
Artie – “So basically you let it breathe”
Tommy – “Yeah, we let it breathe…and it came to life!”
Artie- “There has been a lot of speculation about the meaning of “Crystal Blue Persuasion”. I always thought you were writing about Crystal Meth.”
Tommy – (smiles) “No. It’s about my conversion to Christianity…just listen to the lyric.”
The more time I spend up at Roulette I start to believe more and more of the stories I’ve heard about Morris. One day I see him and Nate McCalla, his friend and partner in Calla Records getting off the back elevator with a dozen hot TV sets…giving me the pick of the litter!
Although I was honored to sit in on some of Morris’ meetings there were times when I’d leave the room for fear of hearing too much…especially when the conversation would turn to Morris’ favorite forms of promotion…payola and intimidation.
Tommy told me about his first day up at Roulette, when he overheard Morris and some of his pals, talking about beating up some guy for bootlegging his records, then resumed the conversation as if nothing happened.
Tommy actually tells dozens of compelling stories in his book, “Me, the Mob, and the Music”, which made my hair stand on end…or laugh, sometimes both at the same time!
I told him how my producer Ron Haffkine and I would sit in Morris’ office while he was on the phone “encouraging” disc jockeys to play my records. “You play the Shadow’s records…or I’ll break your legs!”… Then Tommy told me something that made my mouth drop open!
(To Be Continued)
From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song” Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/
YOU CAN ORDER TOMMY JAMES’ “ME, THE MOB, AND THE MUSIC” ON HIS WEBSITE http://www.tommyjames.com/
Thanks to members of Spectropop , Forgotten hits, Alan O’Day, “Country” Paul Payton, Brooks Arthur, Ed Salamon, Alan Karr, Jim Cassidy, Kent Kotal, Dee Trane, Patti Dahlstrom, Ayrton Mugnaini, Robby Leff, Art Munson, AJC, and Matthew David, for the questions this article is based on..
IF YOU MISSED PART ONE AND PART THREE CLICK ONTO
To reach Spectropop http://spectropop.com
Forgotten Hits http://forgottenhits.com
Special Thanks to Carol Ross – Durborow and Ed Osborne for their assistance in putting this article together.
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January 30, 2010
Back in the ‘60s, a songwriter and a publisher were supposed to split two cents for every record sold. When the infamous but charming, Morris Levy (Roulette records) asked for a “special rate” of one-half cent per song on my Shadow Mann album, I laughed and said, “Sure, why not? You’re not going to pay us anyway!”
Today writers and publishers divide upwards of eight cents for every unit sold and sometimes share hundreds of thousands of dollars that come for licensing fees from films, TV, and commercials.
Since I resumed writing and as well as pushing other people’s songs using the Internet, dozens of people I know from back in the day have been in touch with me to breath new life into their catalog and get new recordings on their songs. Unfortunately, many of these people are nefarious characters and are notorious for screwing anyone they can, and I’d be stupid to do any business with any of them. Needless to say I’m also wary of anyone I’ve never dealt with before, so I make sure I get a fee up front against a percentage of whatever income I’m able to generate, but even so I get taken in at times.
A top writer from the ‘60s, I knew casually, asked me to get a former number one song of his to Miley Cyrus, which I did foolishly, before I had an agreement with him. I stopped trying to deal with him when he became evasive. I never told him that I had played it already for one of Miley’s producers who flipped out over his song. I also never told him that I lied to the producer and told him Carrie Underwood had just cut the song, which of course stopped Miley from recording it!
A few days ago, I got a call from one of the owners (whom I’ve never met) of a publishing company I once was signed to. He wanted me to share my intimate knowledge of his catalog, and asked if I wanted to show some of his copyrights. He said was willing to give me a percentage, but not pay me a fee which…of course I wasn’t interested in.
When he mentioned, however, that he was considering selling his publishing company for $300,000 (10 times recent earnings) my eyes lit up and off the top of my head I came up with a unique idea to sell his company for a million dollars instead, in a way that’s never been done before…an innovation sure to make the front page of Billboard Magazine!
He thought it was a great idea and asked me to draw him up a proposal. He only had two songs that were bringing any income in the catalog, and I knew I could get hit covers on them as well as about 15 other “undiscovered” gems, but I played it cool as he was trying to pick my brain. In my head I was casting his songs with artists I could get to…Beyonce…Adam Lambert…Alicia Keyes…etc. knowing that I could significantly increase the value of his underexploited catalog. Before I talked with him initially, I checked his two biggest titles on “Google”, and found a John Mayer performance video of one of his songs…which he didn’t know about. He didn’t even know who John Mayer was…but that’s why you hire someone like me.
I wonder why this guy hasn’t responded to my phone calls or e-mail, but if he’s thinking of “appropriating” my idea, he should be aware that he needs someone like me with the expertise to pull it off, as well as means to publicize the sale (like my blog with over 1,450,000 hits). He probably doesn’t know I’ll get a “Google Alert” the minute my idea goes up on the Internet, and I’ll jump in 30 minutes later offering one of my clients catalogs, and crush him in the marketplace..
Last week was my birthday, I was 39 for the 29th time, and I’m working harder than ever before. I’m still recovering from contacting every Michael Jackson fan club in the world to alert their members to my song “Little Christmas Tree”, which led to 110,000 views on YouTube during Christmas week. I’m also developing a few ideas for Tommy James (“I Think We’re Alone Now”, “Crimson and Clover”) who has a book coming out Feb.16 called “Me, The Mob, and The Music”. I hope he doesn’t go into some witness protection program before I have a chance to interview him!
Alan O’Day (Undercover Angel”, “Angie Baby”), DJ Paul Payton, and I are finishing up some demos to pitch to classic hits stations which could liven up their formats and attract new listeners. Finally I’m in the editing stages of my book, “I Did It For A Song”.
Of all the things I’m doing, however, I’ m most excited about reconnecting with hundreds of old friends on Facebook, Twitter, my blog, Forgotten Hits, and Spectropop, and helping them reconnect with each other. I just wish those who try to con me into doing one thing or another for free would stop…but I suppose a#@holes never take a day off!
Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/
Photo at top by Stephen Paley left to right- Artie Wayne as Shadow Mann, Producer Ron Haffkine, Kelli Ross, and Morris Levy
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