STEPHEN -CRAIG ARISTEI AND THE WARNER RAIDERS

September 3, 2006

RAIDERS

top l-r Ed Silvers, Tony Byrne, Mel Bly… bottom l-r Artie Wayne and Stephen – Craig Aristei

Back in 1972, I moved to Hollywood, became General Professional Manager and Director of Creative Services at Warner Brothers Music. I headed up a group of seven relentless songpluggers, I named “The Warner Raiders”, who would go to any lengths to get one of our companies songs recorded.

There was a kid in the mailroom that had the same fire in his eye as David Geffen had, when he was in a similar position at the William Morris agency. Stephen Craig Aristei would work hard, ask questions of everybody and stay late in the office listening to songs in the vast catalog. Ed Silvers, president of the company, and I welcomed him to our staff meetings where he would make astute casting suggestions and be treated like one of the “Warner Raiders”.

We all knew that he had the potential, but I didn’t have the budget, to hire another “Raider”. One day, Ed called me into his office and told me that we had to get cover records from the show that was just revived on Broadway, “No, No Nanette”. I looked at him like he was crazy … and asked if that meant I should try to get Michael Jackson to cut “Tea For Two”? He glare and said, “You’re the Director of Creative Services … be creative!”
Craig and I listened to the score over and over, and we decided that I should update the song “I Want To Be Happy” and submit it to Motown. I gave my piano voice demo to the late Hal Davis at Motown, who cut the track for Michael Jackson.

A week later, when I went to Mowest studios, found him putting an unknown Lionel Ritchie on the track!! Hal, an imposing bear of a man, saw that I was freaking out over the “switch”, grabbed me and threw me across the recording console, warned me that if I got anyone else to record the song, I would have to answer to him!!

I quietly got up, brushed myself off and went back and locked myself in my office. That night, Craig and I sent out dozens of copies of “I Want To Be Happy” to everyone I could possibly think of!! Nobody Fucks with the Warner Raiders!!

NANA

A few days later, I hired a dancer, the actress Teri Garr, to join Tony, Craig (who would carry a boombox, playing “Tea For Two” and “Happy”), a limo and a camera-bearing limo driver, who would capture us promoting “No, No Nanette” in the offices of Mo Ostin, Joe Smith, Jerry Moss, Artie Vallando, Mike Curb and Jimmy Bowen. 

On the morning of the promotion, Teri Garr, the dancer, is a no-show, at which point Stephen Craig Aristei jumps in and says, “I can dance!!”. I got down from the window ledge and said, “If you dance today …you’ll be a “Warner Raider” tomorrow!!

Well, Craig became a “Warner Raider”…and “I Want To Be Happy” was cut by Sammy Davis, Jr. and wound up on the b-side of his million selling, “Candy Man”! Over the years Craig has become one of “Unsung Heroes” of our business, and one of the best song men I’ve ever known! 

CRAIG

Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne

To reach  Stephen -Craig  Aristei https://www.facebook.com/stephencraig.aristei?fref=ts#

ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/celebrating-two-million-views-today-on-artie-wayne-on-the-web/

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3 Responses to “STEPHEN -CRAIG ARISTEI AND THE WARNER RAIDERS”

  1. Chuck Antin Says:

    Dear Mr. Wayne,
    I enjoyed your vignette about Steven Craig Aristei. I beleive he may be someone I knew vaguely in California in the ’70’s. Would you happen to know his mailing address, or in care of whom he can be reached?
    Thank you.
    Chuck Antin

  2. Chuck Antin Says:

    Dear Mr. Wayne,
    I appreciated your last interview with Hank Medress of the Tokens.
    A couple of cousins of mine were in that group, and I vaguely remember a family dinner-table discussion, many years ago, that touched on Ronnie Mack.
    Maybe you can tell me if it all could have possibly been this romantically poignant.
    The story I remember: Ronnie was a young songwriter, dreaming of his breakthrough. He finally sold a song called ‘He’s So Fine’ to the Tokens’ company, and before the record by the Chiffons came out, he fell into a coma. The song became a hit, and standing by his hospital bed they told Ronnie this, told him that his dream was coming true.
    But they had no way of knowing if he heard them or not. He never came out of the coma, and soon he passed away.

    You know, this, taken together with the plight of the man who wrote the original version of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight,’ in Africa – never having made a penny on the American hit version of his song – and it almost sounds like the makings of a Curse of the Tokens. (Ask George Harrison, whose biography ‘Here Comes the Sun’ tells us that the ‘My Sweet Lord’/’He’s So Fine’ suit caught him at a vulnerable moment, and he ‘went into a deep depression. His drinking and smoking increased.’)
    By the way, do you happen to know how I could contact Craig Aristei?
    Thanks

    Chuck Antin

  3. arminda Says:

    I love looney tunes


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