July 4, 2006
IRVING GREEN 2/6/16 – 7/1/06
What do Sarah Vaughn, The Platters, Brook Benton, Patti Page,
The Diamonds, Del Vikings, James Brown, Dinah Washington,
Roger Miller, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Laine, The Troggs,
Wayne Fontana, the Mindbenders, the Troggs, Leslie Gore, Blue
Cheer, Manfred Mann, Steam, Freddie and the Dreamers, Dusty
Springfield, Keith, Paul Mauriat, Jay and the Techniques,
David Bowie, The Blues Magoos, Spanky and Our Gang, Crispian
St. Peters, Jerry Butler, Bobby Hebb, Louie Armstrong. and
Rod Stewart all have in common?
They all recorded for Irving Green, who owned Mercury Records,
a little indie who could… and did… become a major label!
He also owned Smash and distributed Phillips records and all
of their subsidiaries. He was one of the first champions of
Rock and Roll and Mercury was the first major company to
promote Black artists to crossover into the Pop mainstream.
It also was the first to have an African-American as Vice-
President of A+R, Quincy Jones.
Although he repeatedly asked me to call him Irv, I always
called him Mr. Green, out of respect for his daughter Kelli
Ross, who was my partner in Alouette Productions. Not many
people knew that Mr. Green was a silent partner in our
publishing and administration firm.
He was one of the few CEOS I’ve ever known who an artist
could talk to. Although he wasn’t a producer, I remember
when James Brown recorded briefly for Smash, he wouldn’t go
into the recording studio without Mr. Green being there.
From time to time he’d ask me to go “undercover” for him. In
the last days of Cameo-Parkway records, he asked me to
introduce him to my friends Neil Bogart, who was running the
label and Bob Reno, who was with the publishing company. He
wanted to get them to come over to Mercury, but Neil and Bob
wound up going to Buddah Records instead. A few years later,
Bob Reno did have a successful stint at Mercury, as head of
MRC publishing and later as head of A+R.
When the Lovin’ Spoonful were about to re-sign with Kama-Sutra,
Mr.Green sent me to Wilkes-Barre to meet up with my old pals
and offer them a check for a million dollars to defect to
Mercury! When I mentioned to him that he hadn’t signed it, he
said, “When they sign a contract…I’ll sign the check!”
The last time I saw him it was 35 years ago hanging out at
Quincy’s house. He said he would leave the music business
when it stopped being fun. I guess it stopped being fun when
a big conglomerate bought him out. A few years later he went
into semi-retirement and moved to Palm Springs.
Although I’d heard he had become a top land developer, I will
always remember him as one of the greatest developers of pop
music and the human potential. Thank you for believing in me
and helping me to believe in myself.
Respectfully, Artie Wayne
From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne
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