Before 26 Grammys, an Emmy, 7 Oscar nominations, and becoming one of the most successful record producers of all time (“Thriller”, “We Are The World”), before producing hit TV shows, (“Jenny Jones”, “Mad TV”, “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air”) and films (“The Color Purple”, “Listen Up”), Quincy was first and foremost a musician of the highest order!

“People have called me a jazz musician, but that’s ludicrous. I have yet to figure out what a jazz musician is.”

Q was the first high level black executive to work for a major record label in the 60’s, when he was producing Leslie Gore (“It’s My Party”, “You Don’t Own Me”) for Mercury records. Although Kelli Ross and I ran his publishing companies, in New York for years, I didn’t really get to know him until I moved to California and worked for Warner Brothers music. in 1972 he wanted to concentrate on writing and scoring more films.

He had already done, “In Cold Blood”, “Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice”, “Cactus Flower”, “The Getaway”and “Cotton Comes To Harlem”, a highly successful “Blaxpoitation” film. In his eagerness to take Hollywood by storm, he had over committed himself and promised his friend, Sam Goldwyn, Jr. to do the music for “Come Back Charleston Blue”, the follow up to “Cotton”, although he was weeks behind in scoring another film.

The usually cool “Mr. Jones”, was in a panic and needed a Black composer fast, or risk facing an embarrassing situation. He called me and asked if I’d do personal favor for him and help him out of a jam. The first person he wanted me to approach was one of our Warner Brothers writers and Atlantic artist, Donny Hathaway, who was riding high with his first album and singles, “The Ghetto” and “Where Is The Love” (with Roberta Flack). I remember Donny, in his Kongol Cap and me in my “Superfly” hat, “bopping” into a screening of the film and leaving with an enthusiastic commitment from Donny, which got Quincy off the hook!

Q said that he would let me have his screen credit as musical consultant if I could continue to help to put the soundtrack together. Needless to say I jumped at the chance! Although I just learned how to drive, knowing that Quincy didn’t drive at all, I volunteered to take us wherever we had to go over the next hectic month. Although he seemed nervous and at times held onto the dashboard for dear life, he never said anything about my driving! He did, however, introduce me to some of the most important men in Hollywood, and gave me a tip on how to deal effectively with them.

“Use “fuck” in your conversation every once in a while to get their attention!”

While driving around he also clued me in on what I could expect from life itself! We were both between wives, and hung out with football Hall of Famer, Jim Brown, and “Hair” director Michael Butler, who always had a party going on. We also were warmly welcomed at “The Candy Store”, “The Factory” and the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills hotel, where he introduced me to some of the most incredible women in the world! I remember one actress in particular, who was as emotionally disturbed as she was beautiful. On one of our drives I told him I was falling in love with her, he just shook his head and said,

“She can be saved…but do you want to be her savior?” A question I’ve asked of myself on several occasions, concerning other complex relationships I’ve had since then.

He also showed me how to deal in social situations with the”Soul Handshake”, which can be a very elaborate and varied ritual. Q had a simple way of handling it. He’d grab the shaker’s hand with both of his hands and hold them until the “shaker’s”urge went away. A method I’ve continue to use to this day.

On long drives I took the opportunity to pop in an 8 track and play a song or two I was promoting. This usually led to a discussion about music. I tried to interest him in covering a couple of songs by Sly and The Family Stone, which he passed on, saying he liked their tracks but the songs weren’t melodic enough for him. He laughed and said,

“I like my music, like my women…pretty on the top and funky on the bottom!”

When I complained about the quality of the 1972 state of pop music, Q said,

“The Pop market always comes back to classically influenced music…when a genre goes as far as it can go, that’s the only place where it can go.”

35 years later, his words still ring true. Today, Rap, Hip-Hop and Pop artists are incorporating more and more long passages of classically influenced music into their recordings, including Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Michael Buble’ , John Legend, and Rihanna.

Even though I haven’t seen Q in years, I remember the time that we spent together as one of the highlights of my life! I read something recently he said to his critics that inspires me whenever I get low on self esteem.

“Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me”

Official Quincy Jones website http://www.myspace.com/quincyjones

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Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne

WHILE FIGHTING LARGE CORPORATIONS WHO ARE TRYING TO KEEP ROYALTIES AWAY ME AND THOUSANDS OF OTHER ARTISTS, SONGWRITERS AND PUBLISHERSMY ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME IS FROM THE SALE OF MY BOOK. ” I DID IT FOR A SONG”, WITH OVER 100 STORIES FROM THE MUSIC BUSINESS OF THE ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. I HOPE YOU’LL CONSIDER BUYING ONE DIRECTLY FROM ME THROUGH PAYPAL FOR ONLY $9.99 AT  artiewayne@gmail.com OR BY CHECK TO…ARTIE WAYNE  P.O. BOX 1105, DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

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Jerry Wexler, Neshui Ertegun, Bobby Darin, and Ahmet Ertegun

AHMET ERTEGUN  7/3/23 – 12/14/06

When I started in the music business in 1960, Ahmet Ertegun was a already a mythical figure. In 1947, he and Herb Abramson, founded Atlantic Records and soon became a threat to all the Major labels. He built a roster of African-American artists including Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, the Clovers, Ray Charles, the Drifters, and the Coasters. As the company, grew he signed white pop artists, Bobby Darin, Vanilla Fudge, The Rascals, disco artists Archie Bell and the Drells, Chic, Sister Sledge as well as rock artists J. Geils band, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Jerry Wexler, who as a Billboard magazine writer changed the name of the genre from “Race Records” to the more respectable Rhythm and Blues, became a partner with Ahmet and his brother Neshui. Together they turned their little record company into one of the major forces of the 20th Century! When they brought, the Muscle Shoals Sound and Stax distribution deal into the equation, Memphis Soul dominated the charts. During this period the combined the talents of Atlantic artist Wilson Pickett and Stax writer and producer Steve Cropper co-wrote and produced hits, “In The Midnight Hour” and”634-5789″. Steve also co-wrote some and produced most of the recordings of another Atlantic artist, Otis Redding, including,”(Sitting’ on the) Dock of the Bay”. Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd produced classic records by Aretha Franklyn and Dusty Springfield at Stax studios in Memphis Muscle Shoals studios using their musicians and songs in each location.

I had a lot of respect for Ahmet because he not only was head of a successful record company, he was a songwriter, “Don’t Play That Song” by Ben E. King and a producer, “Mack the Knife” by my mentor, Bobby Darin. He also had the unique ability, not only to actually listen to what a person was saying…but to make you feel like you were the only person in the world, at that particular moment. I remember being introduced to him by Quincy Jones at a party for Duke Ellington. Although he was surrounded by people all night and we only talked for a few minutes, at the the end of the evening he shook my hand and said, “Nice meeting you, Artie”. Wow! I met my personal hero and was validated…all in the same night!

I saw him again when he sold Atlantic to WEA, the same company that owned Warner Brothers Music, whom I worked for. I had the pleasure of being in charge of getting cover records on Progressive Music titles, which Atlantic owned, and Ahmet was more than happy to turn me onto his favorites, which included, Ray Charles’, “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”, which he also happened to produce!

Quincy was overbooked to score films, and asked me to help him get someone to do the music for “Come Back, Charleston Blue”, which was the sequel to Sam Goldwyn, Juniors’ highly successful Blaxploitation film, “Cotton Comes To Harlem”. He got me the job and screen credit of musical consultant. The first composer to come to mind was Atlanic artist Donny Hathaway, who was riding high with his first album and single, “The Ghetto”. So Donny, in his Kongol Cap and me in my “Superfly” hat, “bop” into a screening of the film and had a commitment from both Sam, Jr. and Donny as soon as the lights came back on!

I also suggested to Sam that I go to Atlantic Records in New York and find two or three singles by other top artists on the label that were about to be released and include them in the film, as well as the soundtrack album. Sam loved the idea, but not as much as Ahmet and Jerry! Ahmet played me product they were about to release and took me to sessions in progress, including Aretha Franklyn, as she recorded,”Angel”. This was an obvious hit to me and one of my first choices! It made me feel good that Aretha remembered me as the co-writer of “Here’s Where I Came In” (Raleigh/ Wayne), which was recorded on her first session at Columbia! Then producer Joel Dorn, invited me to hear the new sides he was mixing with Chart Topper, Roberta Flack and newcomer Bette Midler. Now I had a few more contenders!

When the film was finished, score done and all the songs I found were inserted into the soundtrack. As the tapes were being mastered, Donny Hathaway, who was prone to severe mood swings, had a sudden change of heart and insisted that only his music be used on the soundtrack! I was disappointed, but encouraged at the same time, when Ahmet called me to tell me how much he appreciated what I tried to do…and how he was looking forward to working with me again.

Although It never happened, I’ll never forget the kindness and encouragement he gave me when I needed it most.

Until we meet again, R.I.P. Rock In Perpetuity!

Respectfully, Artie Wayne

From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne
https://artiewayne.wordpress.com

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When I started writing songs and producing records in the ’60s, there wasn’t anywhere to go to learn your craft. Like many of my contemporaries, I went to the school of Top 40 radio. First I learned the ABCs of Rock and Roll in the ’50s, listening to Elvis, Fats Domino, and the Platters, then I graduated in the ’60s, where everyone in my class majored in Motown.

Although I’m an African-American, R+B music wasn’t my first love. It was Berry Gordy, Jr.the owner and guiding force behind Motown, who changed the sound of Black America into the “Sound of Young America.” The “crossover” vision soon captured my imagination as well. His formula always started with an extremely well crafted song, musically sophisticated with a strong beat, and used the best producers, musicians, arrangers as well as pool of remarkable singers.
It was, however, the competition between songwriters and producers within the company that drove the quality, commerciality and technical superiority to such a high level. Even “Smokey” Robinson ( Vice-President of Motown), had to compete with Norman Whitfield, Marvin Gaye, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Mickey Stevenson, and every other songwriter/ producer based at the Detroit label, for every single that was released!

Ironically, It was white people who made me aware of how Motown records were put together. I used to sit with Bert Berns (“Twist and Shout”, “Hang On Sloopy”), Jerry Ragavoy( “Cry, Cry Baby”, who co-wrote “Piece of Heart” with Bert) or with Ed Silvers, who ran the New York office of Metric music, and listen to Motown’s latest releases. Each of these astute, songwriter/ producers would point out something in each record that would strike a chord in me. Little did I know that this informal education would help me forge relationships with some of the greatest African-American performers, songwriters and producers of all time that included Quincy Jones, Van McCoy, Donny Hathaway, Freddie Perren, Hal Davis, Allan Toussant, Joe Simon, and Rick James.

It wasn’t until I worked with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson did more of the pieces of the Motown puzzle began to fit. We were all signed exclusively to write songs and produce for Scepter Records. When we weren’t creating, Nick and Val would take time to show me the chords and demonstrate the harmonies of all my favorite Motown hits.

They sang background on most of my demos and shared their studio musicians with me. I always thought it was a shame that Motown didn’t consider outsde material for their artists…I was convinced that they had two or three songs that could have topped the charts with The Four Tops or the Supremes.

Then something unexpected happened, for financial reasons, Scepter records sold off their publishing companies. Ed Silvers moved to Hollywood, to run Viva music, Nick and Val started doing more background sessions, and I who was newly married, had to scramble to find another job in publishing!

About a month later, I became a partner in Allouette productions with Sandy and Kelli Ross, and we represented the publishing interests of Quincy Jones, Bobby Scott, Joey Levine, Artie Resnick and Leslie Gore. I brought Ashford and Simpson to Quincy’s company, but at the time he couldn’t afford to sign them.

When I was approached by Jeffery Bowen and Eddie Holland (Holland/ Dozier/ Holland) to join Motown’s publishing company, Jobete music, I turned them down. I did, however, take the opportunity to introduce them to Ashford and Simpson. It wasn’t long before my friends were signed to an exclusive contract.

A few months later, Nick and Valerie call me from Associated studios, and ask me to come over and listen to the tracks they’d been cutting at Motown. I sat down and freaked out when I heard, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and “Ain’t Nothin’ Like The Real Thing”. Although their voices were on the tracks, it didn’t take much imagination to hear Marvin Gaye singing it! They said he was recording it as a duet with a new Motown discovery, Tammi Terrell.

Over the next few years, I discovered that Motown was quite a secretive place and had little to do with people outside of their organisation. There were rumors that it was really owned by the Mob…but they were only rumors.

For years, I followed Nick and Val’s careers like everybody else…on the radio. The next time I talked to them was when I moved to the west coast to join Ed Silvers at Warner Brothers music. I got a call from Nick, who told me that they were victim of Motown’s “creative accounting” and they weren’t getting the money that they deserved as songwriters. I was happy to get my former partner, Sandy Ross to represent them and help them escape…but that was just the beginning!
(To Be Continued)

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left to right- Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson

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

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