burt.jpeg

Since the early 60’s, Burt Bacharach has been one of the most innovative and influencial figures in popular music. His unique melodies and signature rythyms also made him one of the most imitated musicians of all times. With various lyricists, he racked up an early array of hits that included, “Tower Of Strength”, “Baby It’s You”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Any Day Now”, “Only Love Can Break A Heart”, “Blue On Blue”, “Anyone Who Had A Heart” and “Walk On By”.

I always felt a thrill just to be in his presence! I would see him at a party or a music business function and go over and introduce myself. This happened so often that after about the fifth or sixth time I did it, he stopped me, smiled and said, “I know…you’re Artie Wayne!” This not only made me feel good, but I felt validated!

He was not only a musical role model, but a personal one as well. He was probably one of the coolest people I’ve ever known, with his sunglasses on top of his premature white hair he always seemed to be dressed for a tennis game or a polo match! I also noticed all of the beautiful women that would fawn over him and it made me realize that you didn’t have to be a Rock Star to get that kind of attention!

In 1963, after I had my first hit as a songwriter and producer, “Meet Me At Midnight Mary” ( Raleigh/ Wayne) with Joey Powers, I called up Burt to see if he had any songs for the follow-up. I met him in his office at Famous music, in the Brill Building and he played me a new song he and Hal David had written, “Message To Martha” (which later became a smash in the UK by Adam Faith and a hit in the US by Dionne Warwick, re-titled, “Message To Michael”)

I loved the song, but I thought it was a bit too complex for Joey Power’s simple folk musical direction we were taking. I felt really weird turning down the song, but Burt was cool and said don’t worry about it. A few months later, I ran into him on my first trip to London, where he was the musical director on Marlena Dietrich’s concert tour, we had a drink and laughed about my embarrasment over turning down one of his songs.

The next time I saw him was in 1965, I was signed to Scepter records publishing company, as a songwriter and producer. I was encouraged to use the studio as often as I wanted for overdubbing and making demos of my songs to help break-in the studio. I produced or co-produced The Shirelles , The Kingsmen and the Guess Who, there which made the owner, Florence Greenberg, more confident in her new facility. At that point, she offered Burt Bacharach and Hal David, a chance to try her new, improved studio out.

I remember Burt and Hal had trouble mixing Dionne Warwick’s, “Are You There With Another Girl” at the original studio where they cut the track, and they decided to try out Scepter. I remember being in my office the day of the “Great New York City Blackout “…when the lights all over our building were dimming then getting brighter! Burt and Hal, after mixing for hours, ran out of the studio screaming, ” What the Hell’s going on ? We almost had it…We almost had the mix! Then machine started slowing down then stared speeding up!”

Tempers cooled, when we looked out the window and saw lights in the entire city dim…then go black! Florence’s son Stanley, who was head of A+R, as well as being totally blind from birth, yelled out, “Don’t worry, I’ll get us all out of here…JUST FOLLOW ME!”

About 20 of us, with Stanley leading the pack, managed to get down several flights of stairs, in total darkness, safely and without incident. It was an event that I’m sure none of us will never forget!

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

Advertisements

A few days ago, on July 6, I wrote about a sudden medical emergency I had that made me think I was having a heart attack! Although I fellt better after I calmed myself down with deep breathing and meditation, I decided to see a doctor. After several hours of tests, he determined that I didn’t have a heart attack or a stroke. He did say that whatever I used to calm me down worked…and asked for a copy of the technique that I used.

For the last few days, I’ve had a chance to rest and reflect on my life. I woke up this morning refreshed, did a deep meditation and turned on the news. The headlines shouted, “Terrorist Bombings in India…Israel attacks Lebanon…Wildfires sweep California, Arson suspected…Suicide bombings in Iraq!” I shook my head as the song “What the World Needs Now Is Love” started running through my mind. I turned off the TV, closed my eyes and went back to another time….

I first met Jackie DeShannon back in 1964, when she was on tour with The Beatles. We had talked on the phone a few times after I cut a couple of her songs with Joey Powers (for whom I had produced “Midnight Mary”) and we arranged to get together when she got to New York.

We hit it off immediately, with our mutual love of music, dancing and art museums. I was going to show her “My New York,” but she would up showing me hers. That world included after hour jam sessions in Greenwich Village with Dave Van Ronk, John Hammond Jr. and Tom Paxton.

My first (and only) single for Liberty Records, “Where Does A Rock and Roll Singer Go (When His Record’s Off The Charts)?” had just bombed out and I was discouraged with the music business in the States. Jackie suggested that I go to London (where I had just scored a top ten hit with “Queen For Tonight” by Helen Shapiro) in November, 1964, when she would be there promoting her latest single. Once again I was swept away to her galaxy, becoming friends with one of her co-writers, Jimmy Page, watching her perform on “Ready, Steady, Go!!” and going on several stops of the Beatles promo tour for “Beatles For Sale.”

Jackie and I never dated, but we hung out a lot, until a misunderstanding (too petty to remember) threatened our relationship and we hadn’t spoken in a month. Then, the day after I had open heart surgery (back in N.Y.), she called me from a recording studio to see how I was. She had the engineer play the backing track she was working on with Burt Bacharach and Hal David….and sang “What The World Needs Now Is Love” to me over the phone. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me….but I actually made medical history by walking around 36 hours after my operation!

Thanks to Peter Lerner and the Jackie DeShannon Society

http://jackiedeshannon.tripod.com/