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SHEL SILVERSTEIN  9/25/30 – 5/12/99

“In the late 50’s, I was familiar with Shel Silverstein as a regular contributor to Playboy magazine as an artist, photographer, travel journalist and writer of children’s books. It wasn’t until 1969 when Johnny Cash took Shel’s song, “A Boy Named Sue” to the top of the charts, did I realize what a great songwriter he was as well!

Producer, Ron Haffkine was staying at my apartment in New York, while we were recording my “Shadow Mann” album for the legendary Morris Levy. At the same time he was producing his girlfriend, Sunny Monday for Decca on one of Shel’s song, “You’re Always Welcome At Our House” and cutting a few singles for Columbia Records with Shel Silverstein Himself.

The first time Shel came over was with Ronnie and Sunny, after midnight on one night during a quiet week. We played each other a few of our songs, as songwriters are known to do, and started a friendship that would last for years. Then I played him my latest song on a Telecaster electric guitar. When I had finished, he asked if he could try it. This was the first time he had ever played an electric guitar and he was as excited as a little kid with a brand new toy!

When Shel turned the amplifier all the way up, the neighbors started to stir…then curse…then started pounding on the walls! We agreed that he should come over to the house the next day, when we could play and sing as loudly as we wanted!

Before we started playing again, Shel and I talked about songwriting in general and our own shortcomings in particular, that’s when we made a deal with each other. I wanted to be able to write better lyrics and he wanted to learn some more interesting chords. Every time we got together after that, he would critique my lyrics and I would show him a new chord or a new way of playing the one he already knew.

He once told me something that I still think about today, ” Your first verse of a song is usually the best, but don’t follow it with a 2nd verse and a bridge that’s just a variation of it. Take each section, add new information and ideas, then end up in a place where no one expected you to go.”

Through the years I heard little nuances in the chords of songs that he wrote for Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show like, “Sylvia’s Mother” and “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”, that he started developing in my apartment all those years ago.

When I stopped writing and singing and moved to Hollywood, I went to work for a publishing company. I remember running into my old pal, outside of the Troubadour. When he asked what I’d been up to, I lowered my head, and almost apologetically said that I was showing other people’s songs at Warner Brothers Music.

Shel didn’t bat an eye, and said, “You don’t have to be ashamed of that…you could be just as creative as you’ve always been, just in another area!”

I never forgot that.

(To Be Continued)

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

Special thanks to Ann Munday for locating the clip of Shel on the Johnny Cash Show

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

BACK TO ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB https://artiewayne.wordpress.com

For the story of Shadow Mann with pictures https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/06/legendary-music-man-morris-levy-meets-shadow-mann-a-legend-in-his-own-mind/

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Kristen Bell blows a bubble!

My interview with Spectropopper, Jean Emmanuel Dubois, for his forthcoming book “Le Bubblegum”, the history of American and French Bubblegum music, published by le cahiers du rock, continues…

JE- There were a lot of sexual overtones in the music? “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Chewy, Chewy”

AW- Sexual overtones! Sexual Undertones! Shit! There was all kinds of sex…all kinds of tones! (laughs) Those guys tried to get away with as much as they could…under the guise of innocent teen pop music! I remember one day a staff writer came into the office with a song, ” 1, 2, 3 Lickety Split”…and was sent home because the title wasn’t suggestive enough!

JE- Weren’t Joey Levine and Artie Resnick the first to have “backwards” versions of their a-sides as the b-sides of their records?

AW- It made sense, kids who were buying Bubblegum records weren’t buying them for the artist…but for hit A-side! There were no production costs for the B-side, and since all of the royalties were divided in the same way as the A-side, it was a win…win situation!

JE- Besides Levine/Resnick you represented Bo Gentry? ( “I Think We’re Alone Now” )

AW- Joey started writing with Bo and started coming up with some excellent stuff! They wrote a song, “Make Believe” and put it out under the name, Wind. This time Joey wasn’t the anonymous singer on the track, it was Tony Orlando. Ironically, Tony was also having hits at the same time as the anonomous voice of Dawn, (“Candida”, “Knock Three Times”)

The record was a modest hit in the US, but the B-side…a “real” B-side “Groovin’ with Mister Blo”, was top ten all over Europe!

JE-How were you involved with Tommy James and Shondels?

AW- I recorded an album under the name Shadow Mann, for the legendary Morris Levy, and he sometimes put my label mates and me out on promotion together. I remember once we all did the Upbeat TV show in Cleavland, Neil Diamond was there, Jimmy Ruffin, Kenny Rodgers and The First Edition. Tommy sang his number one hit, “Crimson and Clover”and I performed,” Come Live With Me ” the title track of my album. I also introduced my protoge, Sissy Spacek, who I renamed “Rainbo”. She was promoting her single, “John, You Went Too Far This Time”, which was a Bubblegummers reaction to the naked John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Two Virgins” album cover.

JE- It was around this time you started writing songs with Gary Zekely and Mitch Bottler, who wrote, “Sooner or Later”, “Wait A Million Years”, “Superman”, and other “Sunshine Pop Songs”?

AW- I fell in love with a beautiful, Playboy Playmate on my last trip to California…and couldn’t wait to get back to the West Coast! The night before I was scheduled to write with Gary And Mitch…I broke up with her! I was crushed and devestated, but when I heard the chorus that Mitch started banging out on the old stand up piano I started singing some of the happiest, most positive lyrics I ever wrote in my life!

I used to look at life through a shade of grey

‘Til I found some satisfaction in the things you’d say

You took me in your hands like a piece of clay

Made me a man now I gotta’ say

Hallelujah…Hallelujah…Hallelujah…Hallelujah!

Copyright 1969/ 2006- EMI music/ Artie Wayne music

JE- What about the beautiful Playmate?

AW- Never saw her again…anyway, Gary Zekely had a top ten hit as producer for the Clique with “Sugar On Sunday” ( written by Tommy James), and recorded “Hallelujah” for the album. It was covered about a year later by Sweathog, and went to the top 30 in the US!

JE-You also produced, Sal Tramalchi who wrote the smash,”1, 2, 3 Redlight”, for the 1910 Fruit Gum Company.

AW-Sal Tramalchi was a very complex person. He could go from writing bubblegum songs to psychedelic anthems in the time it takes a cube of sugar to dissolve in a cup of coffee! He wrote a great song, “Woodstock”, which Howard Bogess and I produced for Vanguard. Sal was magic when he played guitar and sang, so I got the “Brilliant” idea to cut him live with my studio band. Unfortunately, Sal arrived in the sudio, “inspired” but unable to perform.

After we redid the tracks and overdubbed the N.Y. Philharmonic string section, Sal came in and did an excellent vocal in one or two takes. The record came out and quietly sank into the sunset, as I packed up the last of my belongings and moved to Hollywood.

JE- What would you consider your greatest acheivement in bubblegum music?

AW- In 1973, I was at the Tokyo music festival for Warner Brothers music and picked up a song from a white South African writer, who the music people were avoiding because of his country’s stand on apartheid!

JE- You’re an African- American, why didn’t you ignore him also?

Aw-After talking to him, I felt he had the heart and soul of an artist that transcended the archaic practice of his country. It only took a few minutes to listen to the song that nobody wanted to hear…but I knew right away it was a hit!

Terry Dempsey gave me the sub-publishing rights for no advance, if I could get his song, “Daydreamer”, covered by a major US artist. Within days of my returning to Hollywood, Stephen Craig Aristei, one of my “Warner Raiders” gave it to David Cassidy. He was fresh from the Partridge Family, and it became his biggest solo hit, selling 5 million records!

JE- I never realized how involved you were with Le Bubblegum!

AW- Now that you mention it…neither did I!

Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne

If you missed the first half of the interview…and Elisha Cuthbert blows! click on https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/10/29/play-me-something-bubblegummy-chewy-chewy-yummy-yummy-yummy/

EXTRA! Lindsay Lohan And Paris Hilton On Top Of Britney Spears. PHOTOS! https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/12/04/exclusive-photos-lindsay-lohan-and-paris-hilton-on-top-of-britney-spears/

To see the naked John Lennon and Yoko Ono Naked album cover and hear Sissy Spacek (“Rainbo”) sing, “John, You Went Too Far This Time” Just click onto https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/18/the-naked-truth-about-john-lennon-and-yoko-ono-and-an-outraged-sissy-spacek/

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“Back in 1968, I was recording an album under the name Shadow Mann for the legendary Morris Levy. During the recording of one of my tracks, a cute little girl with a giant guitar case, walked into the control room. Ron Haffkine ( Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show), who was producing my album, jumped up, introduced himself…and then he introduced me as Shadow Mann. He got our engineer, Brooks Arthur, to play the track back as I danced around the studio.

Sissy and I hung out over the next few months. She played me and Ronnie quite a few songs she had written, on a guitar that was almost as big as she was…but we didn’t hear that special song that could make her a star. Just before I left on a trip to California, a couple of free-lance writers Ron and John, (whose last names I don’t remember) brought a song to me that was a comment on the controversial John Lennon and Yoko naked LP album cover of “Two Virgins”. I suggested A few lyric changes and flew off to California for 10 days.

When I returned I was surprised that my partner, Kelli Ross, had signed Sissy to our record label and Ronnie Haffkine had started making plans to record her on the song, “John, You Went Too Far This Time!”, by the two writers who finished the song in my absence! After I heard her sing it, I knew why everyone was so excited!

When my album and Sissy’s single was finished, Morris Levy decided to send both of us out to promote our records at the same time…but not before one little thing. I convinced her to change her name to something more suitable for the times. She bit her lip and agreed to let herself be called Rainbo.”


From my book, “I Did It For A Song” Copyright 2011

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L to R- Shadow Mann, Ron Haffkine, Kelli Ross, and Morris Levy                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Photo by Stephen Paley

“In 1968, I wrote a song, “Come And Live With Me,” and Ron Haffkine (who several years later produced a string of hits with Dr. Hook) helps me make a demo. Then my publishing partner Kelli Ross arranges for us to play it to the legendary owner of Roulette records, Morris Levy …who’s riding a wave of Tommy James hits (“Crimson & Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now”.)
Although I had met him before as Artie Wayne, I introduce myself to Morris under my new persona… Shadow Mann.

Ronnie puts the music on….turns the volume up…and I leap onto Morris’ desk!! in my black, floppy ‘Shadow Hat’ … custom made black suede jacket with a giant red eagle on the back… I lip-synch my little heart out!!

“Come and live with me…I’ll treat you nice…na na na na na na na”

Morris can hardly contain himself…he makes me perform it over and over for different members of his staff. Then he clears his office…leaving only the three of us. Morris slowly lights a cigar…and tries not to appear excited.

Then he says, “OK Shadow…I want to to do an album…I’ll even give you and Kelli your own label!! How much do you need to get started?” Haffkine chimes in “$25,000″…at which point Morris reaches under his desk…pulls out a brown paper bag and hands me $25,000 in cash!!

I look at Morris wide-eyed and say, “Don’t you want me to sign anything?”, he laughs and says, “Don’t worry, I know where you live!”

3 months later “Come And Live With Me” is released. I go on a promotion tour with one of my discoveries, Sissy Spacek. She’s promoting a song I found and Haffkine produced, “John You’ve Gone Too Far This Time,” a commentary on the Lennon/Ono nude album cover.

I change Sissy’s name to Rainbo, which I think is more commercial, and we travel the country promoting our records, until radio finds them too controversial, as “Shadow” and “Rainbo.” I go back to writing songs and producing, while Rainbo changes her name back to Sissy Spacek and decides to try her hand at acting.”


From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song” Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

BACK TO ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB https://artiewayne.wordpress.com