SHELBY SINGLETON R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

October 8, 2009

SheblySblu3frame

SHELBY SINGLETON 12/16/31 – 10/7/09

This morning I was talking to my friend “Country Paul Payton”, about some “Classic Hits” radio promos we’re working on, when he asked me if I knew that Shelby Singleton had passed away. I was taken aback and nearly dropped the phone; I told Paul I’d call him back, then spent the rest of the morning reflecting on one of the pioneers of the Modern Music Business…a man I was proud to call my friend

“The first time I met Shelby Singleton was in the mid-sixties, when he was head of Mercury records A&R department. I was a small publisher always trying to get a song cut. Fortunately, my new wife Sheilah is working at Mercury, one of her closest friends is Carol, Shelby’s secretary. It isn’t long before I’m able to go in and out of the inner offices whenever I want. One day as I’m talking to Carol at her desk, Shelby rushes in from the studio, with a record he just produced and he invites us in to listen to it. It’s a cut from the next Brook Benton album, and although it doesn’t sound like a hit single, it’s a cut an artist can be proud of.

This is the first time I have a chance to sit down with Shelby. We talk for a bit about music, and he plays me a new band he’s signed, The Blues Magoos, and describes them with a word I never heard before, “Psychedelic”,

Shelby remembers, “The Blues Magoos were the first Psychedelic group I ever heard-My thought was this was so different it had a shot in the market- We decided to call The album “Psychedelic Lollypop” as the stories of the day in all the news was hippies putting LSD on lollipops to get high. The first single from the album was “Tobacco Road It was a immediate success. Mercury wanted me to find more groups like the Blues Magoos, but I said no, let’s work on this group!”

Shelby always kept his door open and encouraged me to do more producing, in fact when he left Mercury and started his own record company, I produced the first record he released by 9 year old Dewey Jones, “Please Mr. Johnson (Send My Brother Home) protest against the Viet Nam War.”

Over the years we lost touch, but reconnected on Facebook. I talked to him a few months ago and asked him for a few paragraphs to include in my book. True to his generous nature, he gave me pages more than I asked for, including a few hilarious stories that are some of the highlights of my book!

I was fortunate to have known Shelby and shared some of those stories. Perhaps legendary singer/songwriter Ray Stevens, himself one of the most unique souls to smack boot heels on a Music City sidewalk, says it best, “Shelby Singleton was absolutely one of a kind.”

Shelby Singleton R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

Respectfully, Artie Wayne  https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne from his book “I Did It For A song” https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/thank-you-for-one-million-hits/


BACK TO THE R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY ARCHIVES https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/rip-rock-in-perpetuity-archives/

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13 Responses to “SHELBY SINGLETON R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!”

  1. Barry Osalncer Says:

    This is so sad to hear this about Shelby the gentleman of the south. When I was living in Nashville we had a few meals and great talks and when living and working at Mercury Records as you said his door was always open… It has not bee that long since we sent messages via FB. I will remember him and that big smile. And pray for his family.
    Barry Oslander

  2. Patti Says:

    So sorry you’ve lost yet another friend. The one blessing in this is knowing you will see him again. But not too soon I hope!

  3. Brooks Arthur Says:

    This one hurts. “TRIPLE-S”… Is what I called him. Triple-S truly helped to get my career rolling. We became the best of friends. May he rest in peace.

    Brooks


  4. Few people know that Shelby Singleton was one of the most important mentors I’ve ever had. When I met him, in 1964, he was the head of A & R at Mercury Records. He took an instant liking to my songs and to me, I suppose, although we were so culturally different!. There I was, a sixteen year old NYC kid full of P & V and there was Shelby, a true Southern gentleman, spewing his now famous descriptions…”it’s colder than a well diggers ass in Montana”. He introduced me to Quincy Jones, the newest member of the Mercury A&R family and then to Luchi DeJesus, Ed Townsend, Hal Mooney, Bobby Scott…all members of Mercury’s A & R staff. He encouraged me, supported me, motivated me and then ultimately hired me as a member of the NY A&R staff to work closely with him and Quincy on projects of all kinds. Like Shelby, I enjoyed, and felt I could relate to a lot of different styles of music. This was one of his great strengths. He could go from rock to country to pop to folk seamlessly. He was also an incredible “people person”. I came to understand that and see it first hand with so many different kinds of folks. I saw Shelby from time to time over the years and stayed in touch, although not frequently. When I did see him, I always told him just what he meant to me and how he truly jump started my career.

    In the late 70’s. I met Tom Jones in Las Vegas. He invited me to come see him and talk about making a record together. He told me Jerry Lee Lewis was his idol..the artist that really lit a fire in him. I told him I worked with Jerry Lee and that I wrote a song for him in the mid 60’s (thanks to Shelby). When Tom excitedly asked me what song i had written, I said he wouldn’t know it. It was obscure and unimportant in the grand scheme of JLL’s career. I told him the title…there was a momentary pause…and then Tom sang the entire song acapella. When I got up off the floor, Tom said he had been opening his show with my song, “This Must Be The Place” for almost a year. This was just one example of what the great Shelby Singleton did for people like me.

    Shelby Singleton – one of the true music business giants and for all the right reasons.

  5. RAY DAHROUGE Says:

    MET SHELBY IN THE 90’S IN NASHVILLE. HE OWNED PART OF THE SUN RECORDS CATALOG. HAVE A NICE PIC OF SHELBY & I AT HIS OFFICE. HE GAVE ME A SUN RECORDS
    KEY CHAIN.
    LOST CONTACT AFTER HIS BUILDING BURNED DOWN. I ALSO
    GOT TO KNOW HIS SON WHO WAS PRODUCING IN NASHVILLE.
    YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE WE BOTH KNOW IN
    COMMON. PROBABLY EACH OTHER. E MAIL ME & LET’S TALK.
    I’D LIKE TO EXCHANGE NUMBERS. JUST A FEW ARE CHARLIE
    CALELLO, JOEL DIAMOND,(BOTH GOT ME AN ENGELBERT CUT.)
    ARTIE KORNFELD, ARTIE KAPKLAN, BROOKS ARTHUR, TRADE
    MARTIN (WROTE TUNE FOR (JOEY DEE) TOGETHER. LINDA
    NOVEMBER AND TOO MANY MORE . WE SHOULD TALK.
    PEACE & RESPECT, RAY DAHROUGE
    THIS NOT A DUPLICATE

  6. Marc Miller Says:

    This is *very* strange! For my b-day (yesterday) I bought “Plantation Gold” (The Mad Genius of SSS, Jr. and Plantation/SSS Records 1967-76), one of the most out-there collections of *anything* I’ve ever heard!!! RIP SSS!

  7. Country Paul Says:

    Artie, I appreciate the name-drop, but I was just the messenger. The news was broken to me in a discussion group by Nashville bassist Bob Moore’s wife, Kittra. Shelby Singleton was a real “record guy” in every sense of the word – pioneering, audacious, and very mmusically aware. He left a wealth of recordings, many good to great, many hits, and some at least “interesting.” Not knowing him personally, I can say as a former radio personality and music director in various formats that his contributions to music often made me smile, sometimes made me wince, but always enriched my gig. They don’t make ’em like him anymore, and the music biz is poorer for that.

  8. Jason Odd Says:

    Leaving a message in such good company is daunting enough, but in regards to the passing of Shelby Singleton, it’s very heavy indeed.

    I wrote the sleeve notes to a recent CD release; Plantation Gold, by the Omni Records Corp.
    Essentially a compilation based around mostly country material recorded for the Singleton’s labels, Plantation and SSS-International. It was a dream gig.

    Shelby Singleton cut and distributed some of the most amazing records I have ever heard, and can lay claim to personally producing more than a dozen albums in various genres, which are stone cold classics.

    He helped popularise the sitar-guitar as a production sound, alongside Joe South and the boys over at American Sound Studios in Memphis.
    If you concentrate on that small feature alone, there’s a period of hit records where as soon as you hear those funky little electric sitar riffs, it has to be one of those three, if it’s followed by dobro, it’s a Singleton cut for sure. (that’s also a salute to Singleton’s former sideman and session leader, Jerry Kennedy)

    Singleton surrounded himself with great singers, songwriters, song-pluggers, producers, publishers and engineers. He hired away deejays who broke his records, in part recognition of their talent, but of course in an attempt to make the Singleton Corp. more efficient at pushing their product.

    He was old-school country and rock and roll and understood R&B. He changed what he thought would make a song better, and if often did.

    I won’t name names, because it’s not fair to the others who tried, but many producer and A&R contemporaries of Shelby tried their hand at their own labels and production companies. They didn’t do as well. The people I’m thinking of cut some great records and had some damn fine ideas, but they weren’t like Singleton, who I think was driven by a heady mix of business acumen, musical knowledge, and an absolute sense of adventure, a willingness to really gamble with song that didn’t fit in with prevailing trends.

    No doubt about it, a family man, a friend to many, and one hell of a record man. Shelby Singlteon, Rest In Peace, we will miss you.

    Regards

    Jason


  9. Another great loss for our “Music Family”..

    Sincerely,
    Denise


  10. Artie, I just heard the news about Shelby and I am so very sorry, I just spoke with his Assistant A very sort time ago and I thought he was doing fine. A wonderful Music Person and very sweet person. I feel Sad for our loss , kids and Grandkids as well. Love and Prayers to you all. Vikki Sallee-Dillard & Douglas Dillard

  11. Steve Owen Says:

    I never knew Shelby SIngeleton, but I sure was aware
    of his history..read articles about him, and saw his photos…
    Sorry to hear of your loss, those of you who knew him…
    He seemed like a wonderful person.
    Steveo

  12. Jerry Ross Says:

    IT IS A SAD TIME , I GET MAD TIME, WHEN WE LOSE A DEAR FRIEND AND ICON !!!!

    MY LIFE CHANGED THE DAY I MET SHELBY SINGELTON……HE WAS MY MENTOR…MY RABBI..
    MY CHEER LEADER…..AND MOST OF ALL MY FREIND…

    I WILL MISS HIM,

    JERRY ROSS


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