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If it sounds like I’m dropping names…I am! Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Will Smith, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Depp, Rod Stewart, Luther Vandross, Sean Penn, Jodie Foster, and Forrest Whitaker were just a few of our customers.

On any given night, I could walk into Genghis Cohen, the Hollywood hot spot I named and hosted, and feel like I was walking onto a movie set. While my friend Allan Rinde, who owned the restaurant, was making sure every customer was having a wonderful Chinese dining experience, I was paying a little extra attention to the stars. It was about this time that I had begun working with 3- dimensional acrylic fabric paint to create a new look for myself. I started enhancing old Hawaiian Shirts with 3-dimensional acrylic paint…which patrons bought right off my back! It wasn’t long before I had a profitable little sideline.

I remember while recording across the street at Cherokee studios, Bruce Willis and his producer, Robert Kraft would come in for egg rolls during breaks. This was during the end of the run of his hit TV show “Moonlighting” when Bruce was also performing around town with his blues band doing vocals and playing harmonica. From the conversations I had with him, I found out he liked blues and early Rock And Roll singers, so I made a special shirt for him of his favorites who passed away. It was called the “Rock and Roll Heaven” Shirt, based on the classic song my friend Alan Day wrote with the late Johnny Stevenson.

It was a black T-shirt, ripped a bit here and there, with with a stenciled “Heaven” on the front, with hand painted signatures of his favorite artists. I happened to give it to him on the same night he signed a 7 million dollar endorsement for Seagrams Whiskey. To be perfectly honest, later when he thanked me and said goodnight, I don’t think that the patented smirk he was wearing on his face was for the shirt!

Another actor/ musician who would drop in from time to time, was Johnny Depp. He owned a club up on the Sunset Strip, “The Viper Room”, and whenever he had yen for Chinese food he’d come down to Genghis. The first night I met him, we talked about music. Then I asked if he would mind if I asked him a personal question? “Can I see the tattoo?”

The tattoo I was talking about was a hot topic in all the tabloids. When Johnny broke up with Wynonna Ryder, he altered a tattoo he had on his arm that said “Wynonna Forever” to say “Wino Forever”. When he rolled up his sleeve and showed me, I knew he was cool!

One night when I came into work, I saw Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey, Jr. sitting at a tiny table for 2 in the middle of an empty restaurant. I introduced myself and asked if they would prefer to have a booth?

When they finished dinner, I sat with them and told them how much I enjoyed Sarah in “Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun” and Robert in “Weird Science”. They told me that they appreciated how they were treated at Genghis Cohen. Other restaurants, wanted them to get in and out because they weren’t of drinking age and could only spend so much. I told them whenever you or your friends wanted to come in just call me. I assured them that “At Genghis Cohen, your wish…Is your problem!”

They laughed and not only became restaurant regulars, but became enthusiastic supporters of my wearable art.

One night Sarah was trying on one of my creations in the wine room at Genghis Cohen. She dresses and flicks off the light switch but it’s NOT the switch for the closet it’s the switch for the ENTIRE restaurant! Allan throws open the door, turns the darkened restaurant lights back on and GLARES at me. Sarah confesses and Allan smiles…after all who can stay mad at Sarah Jessica Parker?

(To Be Continued)

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

To read an article on Barbra Streisand at Genghis Cohen https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/04/barbra-streisand-and-the-price-of-egg-rolls/

On Ronald Isley https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/09/04/its-your-thing-do-what-you-wanna-do-ronald-isleyshame-on-you/

Luther Vandross https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/27/rock-and-roll-heaven-finally-back-online-tribute-to-joplin-vandross-and-zevon/

Glowing Memories Of Genghis Cohen https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/07/29/glowing-memories-of-genghis-cohen/

Peaking In A Chinese Restaurant https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/peaking-in-a-chinese-restaurant/

To some of my wearable art. http://artiewayne.com/art.html

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Richard Perry
I was in the music buisness as a songwriter, artist, producer, publisher and promoter from 1960 to 1996 and met many people who have become legends. One CD and record producer who particularly stands out is Richard Perry. His track record is astonishing! From Tiny Tim, Harry Niilson, Barbra Streisand, Ringo Starr, The Pointer sisters, to the last four Rod Stewart “American Songbook” albums…he’s been consistantly on the charts for the last four decades!

I talked to him a few months ago after not being in touch with him for ten years ( I was quietly recovering from a spinal operation ) and have begun to submit songs to him again. I’d like to share a couple of stories with you from my forthcoming book about some of my experiences with him.

Richard Perry and I became friends in the mid-sixties when we were neighbors at 1650 Broadway. He was producing the “God Bless Tiny Tim” album and recorded one of my songs, “Daddy, Daddy What Is Heaven Like?” His first Gold Album, and mine. Since Richard isn’t a songwriter and depends totally on outside material, he became the number one producer that songwriters and publishers would persue. When I ran the professional department at Warner Bros. Music in the early ’70’s, Richard was always the first to hear our best songs. My boss, Ed Silvers, suggested that I update the old Johnny Burnette hit, “You’re 16,” with a New Orleans feel for Richard’s upcoming Fats Domino session. Richard loved it, but didn’t cut it with Fats. Over the next two and a half years it was turned down by 122 artists and producers. My little piano voice demo became an ongoing joke at Warner’s….until Richard Perry finally cut it with Ringo Starr and sold five million records!

The next story…

In 1971, the single “Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand was in the top ten, but her album wasn’t finished yet. Richard Perry, who was the producer, called me up on a Sunday afternoon and asked if I wanted to listen to the final mixes on Barbra’s album.

Needless to say I was thrilled, but as I sat in the studio listening to the playback something was bothering me. I couldn’t hear the lyrics loud enough over the track!! As I sheepishly told Richard what I thought, his engineer, Bill Schnee, jumped up and said, “I told you Richard……You can’t hear the lyrics !!” Richard looking a little stunned, smiled, thanked me for coming down and started re-mixing again.

The already overdue album was finally released a month later. My friend Allan Rinde, who was the Columbia Records’ West Coast Contemporary A+R director, told me that I’d be banned from the company forever if I ever interfered with any of their producers again!

Sebastian Prooth’s brilliant video of Alan O’Day and the late Johnny Stevenson classic, “Rock and Roll Heaven”, featuring Ronny Kimball, has been played thousands of times on eleven internet sites in the past 24 hours! If you haven’t seen it scroll down to my previous post and click onto Elvis’ triangular eye!

If you like to read about some of my “Brief Encounters”with some of our late rock heroes including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Croce just click onto http://artiewayne.com/pg9.html

nice-phil.gif I first visited Hollywood in 1968 for a combo business trip and quicky divorce. Having lived all my life in New York, I never learned how to drive, so my friend Richard Baskin, graciously took me to my appointments. Richard (who a few years later went on to produce the music for Robert Altmans, “Nashville”, Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”, and several outstanding cuts with Barbra Streisand) was still in college and also one of the heirs to Baskin/Robbins ice cream empire. At his friends and family’s request I tried to talk him into staying in school…putting his music aspirations on hold and consider going into the family business. But after one particular day there was no going back!

After a morning of writing songs with Gary Zekely, and Mitch Bottler , the team who wrote “Sooner Or Later” and “Wait A Million Years”, we went over to the A&M lot to meet with Lou Adler, (who would produce Carole King’s “Tapestry”.)

After my appointment, I took Richard on an impromptu tour of the facility (which I had never seen). I introduced him to Herb Alpert ( who I didn’t know), who introduced both of us to Joan Baez. Then we checked out A&M recording studios to see who was there. That’s when I ran into Phil Spector, (who I did know from my days as an artist at Liberty Records ). I introduced him to Richard, who I knew idolized him. Phil invited us into the studio to listen to a track he was doing with the Checkmates, “Proud Mary”.

When Phil signaled to the engineer to start the tape…I was standing in front of the speaker and was literally blown away…not just by the recording itself…but by the incredible volume!!! Phil smiled enigmatically as Richard helped me maintain my balance.

As Richard was driving me back to my hotel I asked him if he had a chance to think about what we discussed earlier in the day? He looked at me, with stars in his eyes and said, “Yeah…Fuck Ice cream, I’m going into the music business!”

Pictured at top- Phil Spector