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Brian O’Neal and The Bus Boys, “It Must Be Saturday Night!”

The acomplishments of the Black architects of Rock and Roll, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino have always been underappreciated and still largely remain underacknowledged. So tell me, what chance does an African-American Rocker have competing in today overwhelmingly “White” Rock and Roll World?

Every now and then a Black artist will make it through like Sly Stone, Rick James and Lenny Kravitz whose music has elements of early Rock and Roll…but actually is a fusion of Rock, Funk, R+B, punk, and/or Psychedelia which makes it easier to pigeonhole and fit into an acceptable radio format.

I’ve actually heard some white kids say, “What do Black people know about Rock and Roll?” What do they know? SHIT…We invented it! Although I enjoy groups like U2, All-American Rejects, Fall Out Boy, and Green Day, the Rock and Roll of today is more about angst, alienation, sexual obsession and other dark topics than it was at the beginning, when it celebrated the joy of life!

Brian O’Neil and the Bus Boys have brought that joy back and over the years have remained true to the original spirit of the genre! What I’ve heard, so far, of his “Future Retro” music has entertained me, made me smile and makes me want to hear more!

I first met Brian in 1982, when I was hosting Genghis Cohen, a top Hollywood restaurant. Brian was riding high with the hit single “The Boys Are Back In Town” from Eddie Murphy’s “48 Hours” (which will be out on DVD in April) and became a regular customer. When I started creating wearable art, he bought a hand-painted graffitti shirt for his girlfriend and asked me to add, “A Hard Man Is Good To Find!”. His sense of humor, is indicitive of what you’ll find in his music…but “That’s like tryin’ to tell a stranger bout Rock and Roll!” you can download “It Must Be Saturday Night!” from the forthcoming Bus Boy Album, FREE for the next two weeks! http://busboys.com

“Come On…Get On…The Bus Boy Bus! They’re servin’ up a real good time!”

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

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If you like video game violence…You’ll LOVE, “Album Cover Massacre”!  It’s a bloody tribute to Asia, Madonna, Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, Weezer, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Rush, Yes, Madness, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Green Day, 50 Cents, David Lee Roth, Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, Jane’s Addiction, Roxy Music, Iron Maiden, Tom Petty, Beastie Boys, Dio, Billy Joel, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Rick James, Black flag, Quiet Riot, Lionel Ritchie, Shaun Cassidy, Ozzy Osborne, The Scorpions, B-52s, Night Ranger, Herman’s Hermits, Lou Reed and Metalica.

Thanks to Loni Spector for sending this fun clip by ugly pictures
http://motionographer.com/media/battle_adbands-w.mov

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RICK JAMES  2/1/48 – 8/6/04

When I was running Irving/Almo music in the early 70s, a young Black man walked into my office, dressed from head to toe in a Psychedelic leather outfit and dreadlocks. His name was Rick James, I didn’t know him, but he had been so engaging on the phone that I agreed to listen to his music. He flashed a confident smile as he handed me a demo of a new song he had just recorded.

I put the needle on the steel acetate…and when the intro started I leaped out of my seat onto the dance floor, I had built in my office upon a 12 year old Michael Jackson’s suggestion. I’ve never been one to conceal my enthusiasm in front of a writer or singer. I was so excited by what I’d heard I could have danced on the ceiling!!

I thought the demo Rick made of “I Love my Mama” was good enough to be a master …and so did Kip Cohen, head of A+R at A+M, when I brought it in to him. They signed him to a record deal while I signed him to an exclusive songwriters contract for 5 years.

It was always a pleasure to hang out with him or see him working around
the A+M studios. He was still developing the fusion of Rock and Funk, he became famous for a few years down the line, and I would really look forward to everything he wanted to play me. He was hardworking and dedicated…the kind of a guy who would do anything it takes to make him a Rock star.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for Rick James at A+M. It took a few more years of development and the Power of Motown to put him up where he belonged. Through the years when I’d run into him, he’d tell whoever he was with that I was the guy who discovered him and gave him a chance. I’m proud to have played a small part in his career…but I’m even prouder to have been his friend.”

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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