Olivia Newton-John Tries To Squeeze One More Hit Out Of Jeff Barry And Artie Wayne

September 13, 2006

In 1974, on the day of my taking over as head of Irving-Almo music, A&M records publishing arm, Olivia Newton-John called me from London looking for material. I knew very little about the catalog, so I held a song casting meeting to take suggestions from everyone on the publishing staff. After listening to quite a few songs, one caught my attention, “I Honestly Love You” by Jeff Barry and the Late Peter Allen. I was late for an appointment so I had only a chance to hear one verse and barely scan the lyric. We shipped it to London as quickly as we could along along with an idea I had, Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows”.

About a month later, Olivia calls me from Beverly Hills, to say she’s in town and she wants to come over and play me her recording of the two songs I sent, “God Only Knows” and “I Honestly Love You”. I put her on hold and ran through the offce yelling, ” What’s “I Honestly Love You”? Things at the publishing company had been moving so quickly, that I didn’t remember the song! When Olivia came over to my office with her producer John Farrar and played a dub for me…I was almost in tears. The first thing I said to them was, “This should the Record of the Year!” You can imagine my surprise when MCA records didn’t even want to put it out as a single because, “It was too slow!” That’s when Jerry Moss (the M in A&M) let me use his top record promotion staff to break it out of the album. Btw, it did become the Record of the Year!


3 Responses to “Olivia Newton-John Tries To Squeeze One More Hit Out Of Jeff Barry And Artie Wayne”

  1. Laura Pinto Says:

    Artie … how ya doin’? So, THAT’S the story behind Olivia Newton-John’s having come to record “I Honestly Love You.” You’ve solved the mystery for me! It happened this way – Jeff Barry wrote the song with Peter Allen over the course of a few sessions, then they made a little piano demo with Peter singing. The plan was for Peter to record the song, and Jeff and he put together the demo so that Jeff could bring in an arranger. Then, as Jeff went on to tell Sean Egan, author of THE GUYS WHO WROTE ‘EM, “somebody” brought the song to Olivia – “didn’t know what [Jeff’s] plans were.”

    Who woulda thunk it?

    BTW – love the pic! I think I’d seen it on your website. 🙂

    Thanks for a cool anecdote.


  2. jeff daley Says:

    do you know who played the piano arrangement on olivia’s version

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