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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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In 1971, When I was general professional manager of Warner Brothers music, the late Johnny Stevenson played me a song he just recorded, “Rock and Roll Heaven’. I thought the chorus was a smash, but didn’t care for anything else! I suggested that he collaborate with Alan O’Day (“Undercover Angel”, “Angie Baby”) and turn it into a tribute to Rock Stars who have passed away.

In 1974 the Righteous Brothers recorded it and took it to number one! Since then we’ve lost so many more of our heros that it was time for an update of the lyric. Alan O’Day worked on it for months, then he went to Nashville and made a demo with Ronny Kimball. I e-mailed a copy of the demo to my friend, director and producer, Sebastian Prooth for an opinion. This morning he surprised us with this brilliant video he made!

You can reach Sebastian Prooth at http://sebrt.com
You can reach Alan O’Day at http://alanoday.com
Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com

Of course, it was impossible to mention every Rock Star who has passed away in the song and the video, but I would like to start a list to honor as many as we can on this blog. I would like to begin with my friends Jim Croce and Bobby Darin, who were mentioned in the Righteous Brothers record. Then we have Bill Haley (Comets), Rick James, Marvin Gaye, Carl Perkins, Rick Nelson, Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, Sam Cooke, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Keith Moon (The Who), Richie Valens, Luthor Vandross, Eddie Cochran, Wilson Picket, Tammi Tyrell, John Phillips (Mamas and Papas), Mama Cass (Mamas and Papas), Frankie Lyman, Peter Ham (Badfinger), Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chas Chandler (The Animals), Mike Milward (The Fourmost), Stu Sutcliff, Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones), Keith Relf (The Yardbirds), James Jamerson, Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys), Carl Wilson (Beachboys), Big Mama Thornton, Bert Berns, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Blackwell, Ben Benay, Lowell George, Van McCoy, Floyd Cramer, Ersel Hickey, Bobby Sheen (Bobby Soxx and the Blue Jeans), Mickey Most, Jim Capaldi (Traffic), Gene Vincent, Tony Williams (The Platters), Joe Brown, John Lennon, George HarrisonJohnny Johnson, Ray Peterson, Janet Vogel (Skyliners) Jan Berry (Jan and Dean), Freddy Garrity (Freddie and the Dreamers), Eugene Record (Chi-Lites), Chuck Willis, The Big Bopper, Jimmy Radcliffe, Bill Orr (the Cars), Doris Troy, Joe Tex, Joe Simon, Duane Allman (Allman Brothers), Billy Preston, Joe Strummer (The Clash), Del Shannon, Barry Cowsill The Cowsills), Bill Cowsill (The Cowsills), Joey Ramone (Ramones), Stevie Ray Vaughn, Link Wray, David Blue, Danny Gatton, Zal Yanovsky (Lovin’ Spoonful), Phil Seymour, David Blue, Shel Silverstein, Graham Parsons, Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Bobby Fuller, King Curtis, Buddy Knox, Johnny Preston, Eddie Cochran, Kirsty MacColl, Jimmy Bailey, Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees), Richard Tee, Hank Ballard, Tony Romeo, Jessie Belvin, Ed Townsend, Sterling Morrison (Velvet Underground), Jackie Wilson, John Fred (Playboy Band), Hank Ballard, Bobby Hatfield (Righteous Brothers), April Young, Arthur Conley, Dick St. John (Dick And Dee Dee), Timi Yuro, Lou Rawls, Paul Atkinson (Zombies), Johnny Bristol, Francine Barker (Peaches and Herb)Maurice Gibb, Chris Curtis, Shirley Goodman (Shirley and Lee), Johnny Cymbal,The Duchess, Little Eva, Mickey Most, Billy Preston, Irving Green, Morris Levy, Nick Drake, Barry White, Laura Nyro, Frank Zappa, Barbara George, Arthr Lee, Baker Knight, Eddie Kendricks, Tony Jackson (Searchers), Link Wray, Kevin Gilbert, Michael Hutchence (INXS), Milan B. Williams (Commodores), Adam Faith, Johnny Wilder junior (Heatwave), Richard Barrett, Arthur Lee (Love), Syd Barrett (PInk Floyd) , Arthur Conley, Gene Pitney, Freddy Garrity (Freddie And The Dreamers), Shannon Hoon, Ray Peterson, Denny Doherty (Mamas And Papas), Bruce Gary (The Knack), Freddie Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers), Dennis Peyton (Dave Clark 5), Ruth Brown, Ahmet Ertegun, James Brown, Bill Pinkney (Drifters), Harry Nilsson, Dusty Springfield, Florence Ballard (Supremes), Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), Barbara Acklin, Ron Miller, Donnie Brooks, Paul Griffin, David Ruffin, Freddy Scott, Hank Medress (Tokens), Dan Fogleberg, Ike Turner, Al Gallico, Mike Smith, Wilson Pickett, Bo Diddley, Norman Whitfield, Alan Gordon, Levi Stubbs ( 4 Tops) , Estelle Bennett (Ronettes)…

To view a RARE VIDEO OF BO DIDDLEY IN HIS PRIME!                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8PIbrMh6vo&feature=related

Copyright 2008 by Artie Wayne

If you have any names that you would like me to add to the list you can click onto comments (below) or e-mail me at artie_wayne@yahoo.com You may submit up to three names to add to the list, which I will post.