NEIL BOGART R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

April 27, 2007

neil-bogart.jpg

NEIL BOGART 2/3/43 – 5/8/82

Neil Bogart, was one of a few heads of a record company I’ve ever known whose own personal taste in Pop music dictated what he would buy, promote and eventually make a hit out of! I was always amazed at the diverse hits he had that reached the top of the charts. “96 Tears”, “Green Tambourine”, “Brand New Key”, “Midnight Train To Georgia”, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Chewy, Chewy”, “Oh Happy Day”, “Love To Love You Baby”, “Last Dance”, “I Love Rock And Roll”, “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me”, “The Worst That Could Happen” and “I Want To Rock And Roll All Night”, were just a few of them!

I first met Neil Bogart, when he was known as Neil Scott, dancing on Alan Freed’s afternoon show in New York. I always believed that it was his love of dance music combined with knowing a good song, that kept him ahead of his competitors, who were more interested in the bottom line.

The first time I did business with Neil, was in 1967 when he was running Cameo-Parkway records and had Question Mark and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears” at number one. He bought a master Mark Barkan ( “She’s A Fool”, “Pretty Flamingo”) and I made and released it under the name “The Third Rail”. Although it wasn’t a hit, it gave me a chance to hang out in his office, where I could witness the process of how his hits were made.

When Cameo started to implode through bad management and stock manipulation, Irving Green, the owner of Mercury and Smash records, as well as my silent partner in a publishing and administration firm, asked me do him a favor. He wanted me to introduce him to my friend Neil, who was running the label and Bob Reno, who was running the publishing company. He wanted to get them both to come over to Mercury, but Neil and Bob wound up going to Buddah Records instead.

The next time I worked with Neil, was when my partner Kelli Ross and I were running Joey Levine and Artie Resnick’s publishing companies. Their first million seller was “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, a demo sung by Joey by the Ohio Express in 1968. This was the idea of Jeff Kaznetz and Jerry Katz, who executive produced the dates to have Joey start singing lead on most of their records. They loved Joey’s commercial, young sounding voice with a Rock and Roll edge and those great tracks he and Artie produced, so they released single after single using different names of actual groups they had under contract. When a record became a hit, the real group went on the road to promote it. Neil Bogart, head of Buddah records, encouraged the concept and put out a string of hit singles “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Chewy, Chewy” by the Ohio Express, “Shake ” by the Shadows of Knight”, “Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin”, By Crazy Elephant”, Run , Joey Run” by the Kaznetz-Katz singing orchestral circus, and dozens of other singles for Buddah.

n 1969, Horizon was a group that was signed to Schwaid/Merenstein productions. My pal, Lou Merenstein, asked me if I like to produce the group, which I thought was as good as the Association. I didn’t like any of the songs they had. I told him that I’d keep the group in mind, if I had any ideas. A few weeks later, after hearing that Brian Jones, who I had hung out with on my first trip to the U.K. had drowned in his swimming pool, I put together a medley of Rolling Stone songs and told Lou that I had an idea for a concept record called “Tribute” that started with a chorus of monks slowly singing “Paint it Black” in Latin…while a Cello was playing the guitar riff from “Satisfaction” (which Brian Jones created)…which evolved into an uptempo “Ruby Tuesday”…with a mixed chorale and most of the N.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra!!

He loved the idea and gave me Carte Blanche in the studio, if I could finish it up fast and get it on the market!!!. I taught Horizon the parts that afternoon, that night I dictated the parts for the orchestra to an arranger and we were in the studio the next day…doing final mixes that night.

The next morning I took the master to Lou Merenstein’s office and played it for him. He started screaming, “I don’t believe it…I don’t believe it!!! It’s a masterpiece!!” With tears in his eyes he handed me the award he received from Rolling Stone for having produced the album of the year, Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” and said, “You deserve this !!!” (this was the exact moment I became a legend in my own mind.)

Lou called Neil Bogart, who was head of Buddah records , as he was rushing off to the airport. Lou played Neil the record over the phone, and when it was over Lou kept saying, “Hello….Hello…..”, to no one at the end of the line. We just shrugged our shoulders and kept playing “Tribute” over and over. 10 minutes later Buddah’s lawyer was in Lou’s office with a contract and a $10,000 check for the master!!! Neil couldn’t finish the conversation without missing his plane, but he had to have the record !!!

When they rush released it the following week, we were all positive that the record would go to number one! I was even bold enough to echo a statement of my hero, Phil Spector, “If this record isn’t a hit..I’ll NEVER produce again!!!” OK, it wasn’t a hit..it didn’t even make the charts…but I did have the decency to wait a few months before I produced again.”

(To Be Continued)

2011 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

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17 Responses to “NEIL BOGART R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!”

  1. Country Paul Says:

    I always thought Neil Scott’s “Bobby” was sort of a “weenie” song, a definite weeper for the girls – but that’s the only negative thing I can say about him. When he was a Buddah and again at Casablanca, Neil Bogart and his labels were always very good to me personally and to my radio stations. And that connection almost served me well in a different way. As I remember it through the smoke and haze of time, my band, Benefit Street (based in Providence, RI), had been label-shopping and hitting dead ends all over for a variety of reasons. When the Buddah promo man was at WBRU one day when I was hanging out there between gigs, I mentioned Benefit Street to him and asked if he could take our tape to Neil. (Buddah had just had success with Wadsworth Mansion [on their Sussex label], another Providence band whose guitarist, Carl Armstrong, later became our bassist.) Neil wasn’t crazy about us and thought we were OK, but his staff liked us, so he said he’d do a single on us, and if there was any action at all we’d get to do an album. The band was all for it, but our manager went down to 1650 Broadway to sew up the deal and apparently asked for an outrageous amount of front money (legend has it at $50,000 – and those were 1970 dollars – although it could have been only $5K). Needless to say, the deal never happened. Too bad – it would have been an interesting association. (Gee, Artie, maybe if it had worked out, I might have known you back then!)

    Country Paul

  2. Alan O'Day Says:

    Hey Artie,

    Just wanted to say I enjoyed this piece, it honors Neil and that era nicely. Of course, that was way before my time…. (I wish!)

    AO

  3. Barry oslander Says:

    Artie:

    I did not know Neal Bogart very well, but did know many friends who were closer to him including my good friend Bob Reno. Every pro record person always said of Neal, he is good or great for the biz. He had creative imagination for the likes of five people. He always acted like he loved the record business world.

    The only time I had a one on one conversation with him was at a luncheon which was in honor of Colonel Parker at some fancy eatery in Los Angeles. The aim was to raise money for cancer, which Neal had. Here’s a man who has the big C and never once did he talk about his problems just the idea of how to raise money for others….and how great the record biz is and how wonderful all these record folks are who showed up to give money for fighting what he knew was taking his life way before he could chart more records and have more fun. It must have been great fun being on his team.

    The only other thing we had in common was the building which housed his offices on Sunset Blvd. It was called the lucky record company building by many because a number of record companies started out in that building including 20th Fox Records. As for my thinking it was a lucky building, I think not, it was a building that the best record men of all time just happened to rent….the man made the building, the building did not make the hits.

    All are in the same very high caliber of Neal. In thinking back on just how and what Neal contributed to the record business it can be said with one word, passion, excitement and enthusiasm. Oops, I guess you can’t do it in one word.

    Artie, have a great weekend,
    Barry Oslander


  4. Artie…

    It was nice reading about Neil whom I first met when he was with M-G-M. H I was MD and one the air at WRIT im Milwaukee. I was MCing a Herman’s Hermits/Animals concert, and Neil and I became good friends. When I moved to Nashville in 1967 to program WMAK Neil flew down to personally introduce me to the key players in the town. He stayed at my place for almost a week as we made the rounds. A little over a year later I was doing independant promotion for him and working the Buddah hits. I had left radio and decided to get involved on that end of the buisiness. I spent a couple of years flying back and forth to New York hanging out with him as he developed his projects. I’ve always considered him a genious. I left Nasvhille and retired back to Iowa for a couple of years, but a few years later we crossed paths again. I was managing a couple of stations in Salt Lake City and helped set up some promotional gigs for a couple of his artists. That was my last contact with him as I once again returned to Iowa got a teaching degree and taught high school English until retirering 3 years ago. I had many great times with Neil.

    KZ

  5. Marc Nathan Says:

    Barry Oslander… wow, there’s a name/face from the past 🙂

    So Artie… In 1975 I left Bearsville after 4 years (I was 20) and joined Casablanca. Buck Reingold was the head of promotion, and they re-located me from NYC to California (SF at first, then Los Angeles) to be the West Coast promo guy.

    I loved Neil, and I still have my Canadian import copy of Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie” album that has a “PASS – NB” stapled to the upper right hand corner (he wasn’t right all the time 😉 )

    I have many fond memories of my year and a half at Casablanca (I moved on to Playboy/Beserkley, Mushroom, Sire and quite a few more… and now I am at Capitol over 30 years later.)

    I just emailed you for a copy of “Tribute.”

    My favorite obscure Casablanca single when I worked there was “Hey Fonzie (Add Your Name To The List Of American Heroes”) by Steve Sawyer. A year later, the exact same track came out with completely different lyrics as “A Tribute To The Beach Boys ’76” by The Sands Of Time — this time on Kirschner/Epic.

    Good times 🙂

  6. drfeelgoed Says:

    Although I never worked in the record industry, I enjoyed this very interesting & entertaining story on it’s own.
    Could you please send me the MP3? As someone fascinated by unusual Stones covers it sounds great!
    I’d never heard of this medley before, until it got mentioned in the May issue of MOJO Magazine…

  7. Bobbi Cowan Says:

    Hi Artie…
    As you know, I was in a brand-new PR and Recored Promotion business with Beverly Noga back in 1965, and Neil had been a good friend of Beverly and her mom Helen. So his Cameo Parkway Records became one of our first clients. We didn’t have a record player in the office (corner of Sunset & Doheny Dr.) so when Neil sent us a box of 45’s to begin promoting, I had to bring one home to listen to it so we would know what to tell the music directors at KHJ Boss Radio and out at KRLA, among the stations we visited once or twice a week to get his records on the air. He sent us Melanie records, the great J.J. Jackson “But It’s Allright,” and several others, but one day a new box came in, and I took a single home. I couldn’t believe how bad this record was, so awful that I told Beverly I was embarrassed to show up at the stations with it. Honestly it was quite the worst piece of shit I had ever heard, and I told Beverly she had to tell Neil we couldn’t work this record. I don’t remember if he fired us or let it go, but that record was (ta-da…) “96 Tears” by Question Mark & The Mysterians, which I believe is the hit record that “made” Cameo-Parkway a success, and ramped up the legend that became Neil Bogart. As you also know, I had the further experience of working for him as VP of Casablanca Records & Filmworks in 1978, when Donna Summer was just beginning her amazing ascent to the heights of Disco Queen-dom. It’s great to see Donna back, sounding and looking as great as ever, and I’m grateful that we have all survived those Disco days and mights.
    Love ya…
    Bobbi Cowan

  8. Bob Perry Says:

    Wonderful tribute page. I was the head of promotion for Heilecher Bros. Miami when Neil left WB(Casablanca) for Indi distribution. To make an impact Neil and Bucky came up with The Last promotion contest. A 4 month contest where they launched the New carerrs of Kiss,Donna,Masekela,James and Bobby Here’s Johnny etc. 1st prize 10,000 (73 Dollars)I competed with with all the indi distributors around the country and won it. One of my all time heroes and mentors in the record business.Neil’s credo “Whatever it takes”
    Respectfully; Bob Perry Miami..

  9. don mc morrow Says:

    what a great story, and i would absolutely love to hear the mp3.when is your book coming out?
    don

  10. gootsy Says:

    Hello there !
    I read the story somewhere, I think it was a mojo magazine, and I’m amazed that the song can’t be found anywhere ! I mean, with all the box set reissues of 60’s nuggets, at Rhino’s or Charlie’s, but it’s nowhere to be found ! I think the 60’s must have been a magic time to be in the studio. And I’d looove to hear that track.
    Cheers from France
    Gootsy

  11. Brunn, Rainer Says:

    Hi, there,

    thanks fot this article, a lot of
    interesting informations!

    My name is Brunni.

    I have my own vocal group running (myspace.com/themysterialsorig or http://www.mysterials.de) here in Germany plus two radio – shows per week `bout the Golden Age of Rock`n`Roll, specialized in Vocal groups, called the Street Corner Memories Show” (www.myspace.com/professorrwop) – you can listen to worldwide…

    I´m seaching heavy for the Neil “Bobby” Scott album on Portrait; is there someone who got it .. and maybe can put it on tape for me …?
    It would make me a happy guy!
    Warmest regards!

    A fan from Germany


  12. Great article Artie! I remember Neil well; I had a couple of Tokens’ records out on Buddah. In fact, Neil and I suggested the same song on the same day (“She Lets Her Hair Down”) which became our 1st Buddah single. It made the top 100 charts, and top 20 in NY, but didn’t go all the way because of 2 other versions getting played at the same time, though ours outsold both of those. I just looked at my Alan Freed souvenir program from Labor Day 1959 to see if I could locate ‘Neil Scott’ in a photo of the tv show (not sure if one of them is Neil).

    Thanks,

    Norman

  13. carol ross-durborow Says:

    hi artie, i , too , loved neil bogart…..we worked together when i represented kiss and then neil gave me several other artists on his label to do pr for….he was an incredible music man and a delight to work with….carol ross-durborow


  14. Hi Artie – loved reading this story… I worked at Casablanca in the late 70s and I was new to the music industry so I didn’t know how to evaluate it against other record companies… but with hits popping out of that company one after another — Donna Summer, Kiss, Cameo, and others — I know it was a historical moment in time.

  15. Chris Says:

    My name is Chris Olive, and I am Neil Bogarts grandson, and first grandchild. Seeing that he passed away while my mother (Jill) was very young, I never had the opportunity to meet him. However, it is from blogs and stories like this that I learn more about him. He is of course one of my heroes, and I appreciate your stories. Id love to hear more! Included is my personal email… Id love to hear from any of you. Thanks!
    Chris Olive
    chrisolive@me.com


  16. WAS OWNER OF BOARDWALK1981 CAROLE BAYER SAGER


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