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“When I was plugging songs in back in New York City, I used to wear a jacket, tie and “good pants” ( not jeans). When I moved to Hollywood in the early ’70s, it was jeans and cowboy boots all the way! Although I do admit to having my jeans tailored and chemically “aged”, and wearing highly polished Fry boots with two inch stacked heels. It was like John Wayne meets “Superfly”

I remember one night I was standing outside the Troubadour bar getting my cool on, when Glenn Frey of the Eagles, walks over to me, looks down at my feet and says, “I don’t believe this shit!” At this point he and Randy Meisner wrestle me to the ground, remove my “sissified” boots and throw them in the middle of traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard! The last thing I remember, was all of us lying there in the street drunk with hysterics…or was it hysterically drunk?

I’d been trying to break the ice with some of David Geffen’s acts for months and this was a good sign. I was General Professional Manager for Warner Brothers Music and we administered the publishing companies of all of David’s artists including, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills and Nash, John David Souther and Neil Young.

As any good manager must be, Geffen is relentless in getting the most for his clients, and is always on my case to get more recordings on his artists songs. After the Eagles first album comes out, one my “Warner Raiders”, Bob Stabile, gets B.W. Stevenson to cut “Peaceful Easy Feeling”. B.W. just had a number one hit with “My Maria” and his cover of “Peaceful” becomes formidable competition to the original! Of course I knew why Geffen was freaking out, it’s always more important to have an artist make a hit with their own song than have somebody else do it! It broke my heart, however, when we had to stop the Hollies from recording “Witchy Woman” after they had a number one record “Long Cool Woman ( In A Black Dress)”, but there are millions at stake…not to mention my job!

After I get Michael Jackson to cut Jackson Browne’s, “Doctor My Eyes”, which goes top ten in the UK, things begin to change dramatically. Jackson talks me up to his label mates while my friend, Lita Eliscu, who runs his publicity department, talks me up to Geffen. For about a year David and I have what I like to call an “uneasy truce.”

Then one day I walk down to his office, which is only a block or so east of Warner Bros. Music. I have five copies of the not-yet-released Van Morrison “Moondance” album under my arm and Everybody in David’s office wants a copy! Off the top of my head I offer to give a copy to whoever can name 3 Van Morrison songs. First David’s assistant, Leslie, names 3 songs, she wins an album…then the mail boy names 3, and he wins one too.

At this point, Joni Mitchell walks in and asks what’s going on? I tell her about the contest, she picks up her guitar and plays 3 of Van’s songs and yes…we have another winner!

I see it’s getting late, and as much as I hate to leave, I have to get back to my own office. On the way out of the building I run into Neil Young. He sees the remaining 2 albums under my arm, says he’s a friend of Van’s and asks me to give him one. Unfortunately he’s not able to name even One of Van’s songs, so I say, “Sorry Neil”, explain the rules of the contest and quickly leave!

When I get back to Warner Brothers music, I hear Geffen on the phone yelling at my boss, Ed Silvers. When I explain “A contest is a contest”, Ed smiles, and sends a copy of Van’s album over to Neil!”

 Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com 

From Wayne’s new book, “I DID IT FOR A SONG” now available at  AMAZON , Barnes & Noble or from Smashwords

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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#

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