marvingaye_whatsgoingon.jpg

Although Motown had been having hits produced in Hollywood for the Jackson Five and Michael Jackson, the move to the West Coast from Detroit allowed Motown more time and money to develop new artists, like the Commodores, Lionel Ritchie, and Thelma Houston, songwriters like Michael Masser, Patti Dahlstrom, and Clifton Davis. The producers that came into their own during that time, included Freddie Perren, Deke Ritchards, Fonse Mizell, Hal Davis, Jerry Marselleno and Mel Larson. Only a handful of those who had hits back in Detroit were able to make a successful transition. the first was Marvin Gaye, who initially met with resistance from Gordy when he delivered his landmark album, “What’s Going On’?” Berry wanted to continue his persuit of “The Sound Of Young America”, making “crossover” singles that dominated the charts. Marvin, on the other hand, wanted to push the envelope with a socially relevant concept album. My friend, Jobete staff writer Al Cleveland, told me that when he heard Marvin working on a new track in the studio, he stuck his head in the door and asked, “What’s Going On?” This led to their collaboration on a song that defined a generation!

Although I was General Manager and Director of Services for Warner Brothers music, I was up at Motown so often people thought I worked there. I would sit in the outer office flirting with the receptionist, waiting to see what producer or artist would walk in next. I remember meeting writer producer Norman Whifield (“I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, ” Cloud 9″) that way. After briefly, but enthusiastically, discussing his body of work he invited me into his office to listen to a track he was starting to work on. I sat there and listened to a track for twelve minutes that consisted of only of an electric bass and percussion and was a bit confused. I asked him if there was a song that went along with it? He started the track again…and sang, “Papa was a Rolling Stone”

Around the same time I cornered Freddie Perren in an elevator, who was cutting Jermaine Jackson and convinced him to cut a Warner Brothers standard, “I Only Have Eyes For You”. I also got Hal Davis to produce “I Want To Be Happy”, from the Broadway revival of “No, No Nannete” for Michael Jackson, which eventually went to newcomer Lionel Ritchie.

Although I was starting to get cuts…they they were slow to be released. Ed Silvers, President of WB Music, thought I was spending too much time at Motown and doubted I’d ever get any of our new material covered. I couldn’t give up now, so in an accelerated effort I got Hal Davis to cut “Doctor My Eyes”, which Jackson Browne wrote and Michael Jackson took to the top ten in the U.K. As my friendship grew with Jerry Marselino and Mel Larson, who produced a top ten hit with Michael on “Rockin’ Robin”, I suggested that they cut as a follow up, “Little Bitty Pretty One”, which I had no interest in. I knew for certain that I had their attention when it became a hit…but I wanted to wait for the right opportunity to present them with an original song that I really wanted them to cut.

In the meantime, over the next few weeks Norman Whitfield let me hear “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, in it’s various stages of development. There were layers of vocals put on and taken off, sections editited or deleted, countless re-mixes, and finally the last step…the mysterious mastering that set Motown apart from all the rest! That’s when I met Iris Gordy, head of Quality control, who allowed me to watch and listen as she performed her magic!

The Temptations classic was finally released and zoomed up the charts. I remember running into Norman Whitfield in the lobby of Motown, the day the song hit number one on the Billboard charts. He was livid that he had written and produced another smash for Motown…and Berry Gordy hadn’t even called to congratulate him…it was never like this back in Detroit!

Berry’s new aspirations, producing films and his obsession with making Diana Ross a movie star, brought new problems along with new priorities. For the first time in Motown’s history his relationship with everone he had worked with at the label seemed to be on shakey ground! (to be continued)

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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#

ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/celebrating-two-million-views-today-on-artie-wayne-on-the-web/

Lindsay Lohan…Mel Gibson…Robin Williams…Who’s next? For my musical comment click onto http://artiewayne.com/crack.html

whoppy


One of the main reasons I joined Spectropop http://spectropop.com was the appreciation, by its members, of the well-crafted Pop song, the kind that dominated
the Top 40 charts in the 1960s. I’m formerly a “Colored”, “Black”,
“Negro”, and currently a “Bi-Racial”, African-American songwriter/
producer/publisher, who started in that era, who is still interested
and active in all kinds of music today. Every weekend I religiously
listen to the Top Ten on MTV, VH1, Country Music Television, and the
Black Entertainment Network, to stay aware of the market. I’ll admit,
the last few years have been very discouraging.

The only genre in which the Pop song, as we knew it, has consistently
evolved is country music. The song is still well-crafted, cleverly
written, and heartfelt. It is also universally considered the most
important ingredient in the recording process. The field is currently
dominated by some of the best singer/songwiters, coming from all
around the world, including Gretchen Wilson (USA), Keith Urban
(Australia), and Shania Twain (Canada).

As far as music that might have evolved from ’60s bubblegum hits
Levine/ Resnick produced, Fountains of Wayne and Bowling for Soup
are really satisfying. Over the last year or so, I’ve watched bands
like Coldplay emerge who might be considered the grandsons of The
Left Banke. As I’m writing this I can hear Coldplay singing “Walk
Away Renee” in my head.

As far as the current state of rap goes, Its glorification of
inappropriate behavior and pursuit of things I care little about
overshadows everything else. How many times can you, “Raise your
hands in the air and wave ’em like you just don’t care”? Then, about
a year ago, I heard what Kanye West was doing and I knew from that
point on the genre had been elevated!

As far as R&B goes, the listening and viewing public is starting to
demand more from today’s artists. Check out by R. Kelly’s brilliant
“Trapped In A Closet”, which rivals anything Marvin Gaye ever
released. I can’t wait to hear what Usher, the Michael Jackson of his
generation, is going to come up with next.

Personally, I’d like to hear some more ’60s and ’70s songs covered by
today’s artists. Can you imagine “Happy Together” being done by Tim
McGraw and Faith Hill? or “Rock And Roll Heaven” being revived by The
Foo Fighters or American Idol Taylor Hicks? Alan Gordon, Alan O’Day …
are you listening?

One thing that I’m certain of for the rest of my life I will love songs — past, present and future. That’s why I want to thank Mick Patrick for helping to create and maintain one of the best music sites on the web… Spectropop!

Regards,
Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com

special thanks to Whoppy (pictured) for helping to make this announcement.


luis

Although each of us has our own concept of New Orleans, as it once was, whether we have actually been there or not. We all carry around some piece of it’s musical heritage, which we share with people from all over the world.

An “Old” New Orleans lives on in films and tv shows, while a “New” New Orleans is seen emerging from the devestation of last years hurricanes. I can see hope on children ‘s faces and a determination among adults that I’ve seldom seen in my lifetime. It’s heartwarming to hear about the special concerts and CDs that have been made to benefit the hurricane victims by artists like Michael Jackson, Aaron Neville, The Neville Brothers, Harry Connick, Jr., Usher, R.Kelly, and Coldplay.
Like everybody else, I can’t wait to hear the newscasts report that all of New Orleans is thriving once again! A place where family, friends, and pets have all been reunited. The “Power of Music” and the generousity of it’s people cannot be denied!

Remembering what Louis Armstrong once said, “It’s A Wonderful World!”