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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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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

I’m one of those people who get angry when the newspapers print a rumor masquerading as as a fact on page one and a few days later print a retraction on page 45. In my last blog I mentioned that Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones created the famous guitar riff from “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. Musician, Artist, producer, and musicologist Al Kooper, who I’ve known since the sixties contacted me about my claim. He said that,”The guitar riff is famously associiated with Keith Richards, who has told the story in many interviews” Al also said that he e-mailed Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones former producer/ manager, who confirmed that it was, “A Richards Riff not a Jones Jangle!”

This set me to thinking where did I get my information? We all know that, “It must be true if you saw it on the internet’…but this was long before Al Gore invented it! After a little meditation and some memory retreival I narrowed it down to two possible sources. The first, was a serialized version of a former Rolling Stone, disgruntled drug dealer’s “tell all book”, that ran in the National Enquirer (that I read at the checkout counter.) The second was the confession of one of Brian Jones’ ex-girlfriends, revealed during an intimate moment ( I won’t even try to go there)

Anyway, I try not to let the facts get in the way, so I e-mailed Al back that I was standing by my claim that Brian created that famous riff. Al e-mailed back, ” I just like to see the truth printed in the day of so much untruth.”, which really hit me hard, Al continued,”The guy who produced the record and was in the studio, who was in the store when Keith bought the fuzz-tone at the suggestion of Jack Nitzsche, says it was totally Keith, and he’s a huge Brian fan !!!! He discovered the band, produced them and managed them. Is there a better authority?”
How can I argue with that…Another Urban Myth Bytes The Dust!
Thanks Al…Andrew.

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Brian Jones
In 1969, Horizon was a group that was signed to Schwaid/Merenstein productions. My pal, Lou Merenstein asked me if I like to produce the group, which I thought was as good as the Association. I didn’t like any of the songs they had. I told him that I’d keep the group in mind, if I had any ideas. A few weeks later, after hearing that Brian Jones, who I had hung out with on my first trip to the U.K. had drowned in his swimming pool, I put together a medley of Rolling Stone songs and told Lou that I had an idea for a concept record called “Tribute” that started with a chorus of monks slowly singing “Paint it Black” in Latin…while a Cello was playing the guitar riff from “Satisfaction” (which Brian Jones created)…which evolved into an uptempo “Ruby Tuesday”…with a mixed chorale and most of the N.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra!!

He loved the idea and gave me carte blanche in the studio, if I could finish it up fast and get it on the market!!!. I taught Horizon the parts that afternoon, that night I dictated the parts for the orchestra to an arranger and we were in the studio the next day…doing final mixes that night.

The next morning I took the master to Lou Merenstein’s office and played it for him. He started screaming, “I don’t believe it…I don’t believe it!!! It’s a masterpiece!!” With tears in his eyes he handed me the award he received from Rolling Stone for having produced the album of the year, Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” and said, “You deserve this !!!” (this was the exact moment I became a legend in my own mind.)

Lou called Neil Bogart, head of Buddah records , who was rushing off to the airport. Lou played Neil the record over the phone, and when it was over Lou kept saying, “Hello….Hello…..”, to no one at the end of the line. We just shrugged our shoulders and kept playing “Tribute” over and over. 10 minutes later Buddah’s lawyer was in Lou’s office with a contract and a $10,000 check for the master!!! Neil couldn’t finish the conversation without missing his plane, but he had to have the record !!!

When they rush released it the following week, we were all positive that the record would go to number one! I was even bold enough to echo a statement of my hero, Phil Spector, “If this record isn’t a hit..I’ll NEVER produce again!!!” OK, it wasn’t a hit..it didn’t even make the charts…but I did have the decency to wait a few months before I produced again.

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BARRY WHITE  9/12/44 – 7/4/03

“The first time I met Barry White he was sitting behind my desk at A&M’s publishing company, Irving/Almo music, amused at the dance floor a 12 year old Michael Jackson convinced me to put in my office. I had been trying unsuccessfully to set up a meeting with Barry to play some songs, when one of my assistants, Gloria Sequoia, got her old friend to drop by the office. From then on he dropped in whenever he could. He even spoke at one of the writers meetings I used to hold on the sound stage at A+ M. He was truly a gentleman and the more successful he became the more humble he was.

I doubt if there was any other artist who assisted in more conceptions than Barry White….but what I admired most about him was the positive way he promoted love and devotion in his music during a time of rampant promiscuity. When he talked…you listened. When he sang… you knew he was for real!!”

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


BACK TO THE R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY ARCHIVES https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/rip-rock-in-perpetuity-archives/

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