You’re In A Coma With MTV!

November 29, 2006

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No, it’s not ex-Congressman Mark Foley about to turn a new Page.. it’s Howdy Doody and “Buffalo” Bob Smith!

I’ve known about the power of television since I was seven years old, and charged other kids five cents to watch “Howdy Doody” at my uncle’s, who had the only set in the neighborhood! I also remember performing in grade school every wednesday at “Show and Tell”, with jokes I learned the previous night from my other uncle, “Uncle Miltie”. In 1956, however, my whole world changed when I saw Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show! Up until then I wanted to become either a nuclear physicist or a clown…now I wanted to ROCK!

Unfortunately, I was a “Rebel Without Applause”, until I performed Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe”, at a High School talent show. Now the girls started paying attention to me. I don’t know if it was my Ed “Kookie” Byrnes cool way of talking or my red Elvis jacket, but even the neighborhood gangs started to respect me and would give me a head start before they’d chase me home from school! My role models were high school bon vivant, “Dobie Gillis” and “Love That Bob”Cummings, who portayed a photographer/ playboy. I even sucessfully used many of their characters outrageous “pick-up lines” that me got me close to some of the most beautiful girls in the world!

I was in for a big shock though when I got married and realized that real life wasn’t, “I Love Lucy”, and problems weren’t always solved in a half hour. Unfortunately, we wound up in “Divorce Court”…but fortunately for me, I lost the TV in the settlement! For the next 2 years, my creative abilities and productivity increased significantly. I no longer sat in the front of a tv set and watch negative stories on the news, or look at a sitcom, where the laugh track would tell me where to respond! I read, I bowled, I had actual conversations, and then I moved to Hollywood!

I was General Professional Manager at Viva music for two months before I learned how to drive. I guess I had too much time on my hands, and against my better judgement I bought my first color tv set. I was just like a recovering alcoholic, testing ing himself with just one drink…then craving a half dozen more! All I needed was one more game show, one more made for TV movie or one more talk show then, I’d be able to go to bed.

When it became no longer enough to watch TV…I had to Live TV! I started flirting with sitcom stars I’d run into at the Hollywood market, Anne ( “Honey West”) Francis, Denise ( “Room 222”) Nicholas, have dinner with Yvonne ( “Batgirl”) Craig, go dancing with Linda ( “Happy Days”) Purl or just hang out with Sissy ( “Love American Style”) Spacek. In case there would be trouble at some of the wild parties I went to, I made sure to be around TV tough guys like Michael ( “Streets Of San Francisco” ) Douglas, Bill ( “I Spy”) Cosby, Max ( “Beverly Hillbillies”) Baer and David ( “Kung Fu”) Carradine. It was during this time that I also became friendly with a couple of TV comedy writers who “appropriated” some of my real life stories and used them on “The Bobby Sherman Show”…the adventures of a songwriter! Instead of suing, I settled for a few of my songs to be used on the program.

Then I got bored with TV and all the bullshit that goes along with it, even relegated my set to a little used room in the house. That’s when my career started to flourish at Warner Brothers Music, which had recently bought Viva music. I didn’t pay much attention to television for the next ten years.

Then one day in 1982 I was invited to the launch of a new 24 hour cable music network, called MTV…and that’s when I saw the future! I’d been a fan of Scopitone, a european jukebox that played musical film clips, but I knew it could never succeed in the US because of the “stronghold” American jukebox operators had on the market. I looked at “this” MTV, not just as another place to promote music but as having the potential to become the primary means of delivering music to the masses!

In less than 25 years, MTV not only fufilled the prophecy, but actually helped to change the music itself. In the first few years the network played the ubiquitous videos of English artists, Duran Duran, David Bowie and Phil Collins, Austrailian artists Men At Work and whet the appetite of the American public for more of the same! In addition to music, fashion and slang started to travel around the world at a record pace, but it took Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album and a near boycott by CBS Records to break the color barrier at the network! Soon Lionel Ritchie and Billy Ocean were being played as much as Blondie and became regular staples of MTV.

For years , the network thrived on it’s legitimate pop content, then something odd happened. There were fewer and fewer music shows aired in favor of reality shows. After the success of “The Real World” ten years ago, the “Reality” floodgates opened. Today when we watch MTV and it’s sister network VHI, we see endless episodes of “Laguna Beach”, where horny teens fuck with each others heads, and “Punk’ed”, where Ashton Kutcher plays practical jokes that would get him an ass kicking in real life! Then we have “Next”, “Breaking Bonaduce”, ” Road Rules”, “Made”, “The Fabulous life of…”, “Flava’ Flav”, “Best Week Ever”, and “Celebrity Deathmatch”. The most obnoxious, though, is “Sweet Sixteen”, which feature rich little bitches-in-training conning their parents out of expensive sweet sixteen parties and lavish presents. It’s a series that’s an argument for an official sanction of corporal punishment!

As far as the music goes, when you can find it, most of the groups have a sameness about them. if you don’t look at the lower left hand corner of the screen you might mistake Panic at the Disco for the Killers, or All American Rejects. It’s just about impossible to tell what rap video you’re watching, since Kanye West, “Diddy”, Lil’ Jon and “Snoop” Dogg appear in almost all of them, as either a guest or a featured artist!.

It seems like most of the artists today are conciously making music to please corporations and music directors who have narrow taste and program for an audience who prefers not to think too far outside their electronic boxes. I’ve read studies on how too much TV eventually overwhelms the viewer and diminishes productivity. I don’t want to be lulled into complacency, so I’ve decided never to watch MTV again…after I see the finale of “Laguna Beach!”

Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne

If you want to hear a recording that Terry Mace and I wrote and perform called   “You’re in a coma with EMPTY -V” click onto http://artiewayne.com/music/coma.wma

Special thanks to Alan O’Day http://alanoday.com for helping with the re-mix

 
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Elisha Cuthbert blows a bubble!

In the the middle to the end of the 1960s, a new kind of Pop music emerged in America called Bubblegum Music and I was fortunate to be smack dab and sticky in the middle of it all! My partner Kelli Ross and I were representing the publishing catalogs of some of the hottest artists and producers in the Music buisness, that included Quincy Jones, Leslie Gore, Bobby Scott, and Janis Ian when we picked up a new catalog, Peanut Butter Music.

The catalog was owned by Joey Levine, a newcomer, whose first song I published in 1965 and my old friend , Artie Resnick ( “Under The Boardwalk”, “Good Lovin'”.) It mostly consisted of material that Joey, Artie and Kris (Arties wife wrote) and Joey and Artie produced. Their first million seller was “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, a demo sung by Joey by the Ohio Express in 1968. This was the idea of Jeff Kaznetz and Jerry Katz who executive produced the dates to have Joey start singing lead on most of their records. They loved Joey’s commercial, young sounding voice with a Rock and Roll edge and those great tracks he and Artie produced, so they released single after single using different names of actual groups they had under contract. When a record became a hit the real group went on the road to promote it. Neil Bogart, head of Buddah records, encouraged the concept and put out a string of hit singles “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Chewy, Chewy” by the Ohio Express, “Shake ” by the Shadows of Kniight”, “Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin”, By Crazy Elephant”, Run , Joey Run” by the Kaznetz-Katz singing orhestral circus, and dozens of other singles for Buddah.

The records were geared for the “Tweenies”, the nine to 15 year olds and suffered a fatal backlash from radio in 1969…bursting the bubble of the Bubblegum market! Joey, Artie and Kris ( Artie’s wife who co-wrote many of the songs ) started to write more adult themes and formed the group “The Third Rail”. When the group disbanded, the Resnicks continued to write songs while Levine wrote, sang and produced jingles for commercials that include several top Coca- Cola campaigns.

When my Spectropop pal, Jean-Emmanuel Dubois, asked me for an interview for his forthcoming book on Bubble Gum Music in France, some of the information went beyond the genre so I decided to include some of it here.

JE- When did you meet Joey Levine?

AW-In 1964 when I went into business with Dave Kapralik ( Sly and the Family Stone, Van McCoy, Peaches and Herb) Joey Levine stopped me and introduced himself, as I was walking through the Brill building. He asked if he could play a song for me, he did and I signed it on the spot. Although I hardly remember the incident, Joey said that act was a big consideration when he and Artie Resnick were looking for someone to administer their publishing companies.

JE- How did you discover Tony Romeo ( The Partridge Family) ?

AW- Tony came in off the street and played me 6 or 7 songs and we signed him to an exclusive songwriting contract. Tony was more into the Beach Boy kind of music, at the time, and the two of us did a single for Columbia called, “Californie” (Romeo) under the name Tomorrow’s People. He was incredible at stacking background vocals and we were disappointed that it wasn’t a hit.

It was a couple of years before Tony hooked up with Wes Farrell and wrote,” I Think I Love You” (Romeo), and all those other hits for the Partridge Family.

JE- You seem to have a strong connection with French recording artists.

AW- Yes, my first hit in France was, “Excuse Me Lady” (Wayne) by Joe Dassin. The song had gotten to #3 in the UK by the Magic Lanterns…Joe covered it and took it to top ten in France. American by birth, I remember hanging out with Joe a few times in New York, when I was known as Shadow Mann. He, his entourage, Sissy Spacek ( who I had renamed “Rainbo” for recording purposes) and I, made the rounds of all the clubs and hot spots…and had an incredible time!

JE- Did you know Sylvie and Johnny Hallyday?

AW-I met Sylvie Vartan once backstage at one of her incredible shows, after she recorded one of songs, “Ma Decadance” (Leikon/ Munson/ Wayne)…I met Johnny Hallyday a few days later in the middle of a media blitz. The Headlines shouted, “Sylvie Divorces Johnny” and all during our lunch, he was understandably preoccupied!

JE- As a publisher you had quite a few American hits…with French songs?

AW- Oui’, in 1968, my partner Kelli Ross and I found “J’Taime” by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, at MIDEM the international music conference held every year in Cannes, France. Eight years, later my partner, Lou Reizner and I were sitting in a little café in Cannes, when we heard the pianist playing a catchy little tune. The pianist was Claude Morgan, and he was the composer of the song, “El Bimbo” which was becoming a number one hit by Bimbo Jet all over the world! Lou and I looked at each other and lit up like light bulbs knowing the song could be a smash in the US as well!

It was midnight, but before the sun came up Lou and I had a meeting with the French Producer and the original publisher. We secured the American sub-publishing rights, before MIDEM opened it’s doors the next morning, even before our competitors started their continental breakfast!

Jean…I remember when I was at Warner Brothers music, I heard, “Amorouse” by Veronique Sanson and asked Patti Dahlstrom to write an English lyric. She recorded it herself as “ Emotion” (Dahlstrom/ Sanson) on her 20th Century Fox album, it was covered and became a hit by Helen Reddy. That song is as timely today, as it was when it was written…and should be a hit again!

For Part II of the interview https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/11/12/it-was-women-and-children-firstthe-day-the-bubblegum-bubble-burst/

Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne

 

To Hear Patti Dahlstrom sing “Emotion” click onto http://artiewayne.com/emotion.html

To find out about Spectropop http://spectropop.com

You can reach Jean-Emmanuel Dubois at http://martyrsofpop.com
also at http://myspace.com/jeanemmanueldeluxe

After the “English Invasion” of the U.S. in 1964, at the urging of my friends, Paul Simon and Jackie DeShannon, I decided to go to London to promote my songs and productions. Bess Coleman, one of the Beatles press officers, with whom I was writing songs , brought me into the groups inner circle and I traveled with them on several stops of their, “Beatles For Sale” promotional tour.

Backstage at a venue in White City, George and Paul were playing guitar and singing to relax in with a handful of their old mates and confidantes. Bess introduced me to them, and just as Paul smiled and handed me the guitar for me to take a turn…John majestically strode into the room. Bess introduced me to him as the American who wrote the recent top ten UK hit by Helen Shapiro, “Queen For Tonight” (Raleigh/ Wayne) John, with a wide grin, shook my hand and in a deep voice sang a parody of my song, ” I am a Queen For Tonight…but will I be a King tomorrow?”…which had the room in hysterics! Unfortunately, I didn’t know they were laughing at John, who was poking fun at the husky voiced 16 year old Shapiro’s sexuality, which had recently been questioned by the press…I thought they were laughing at me! I was embarrassed, but managed a smile as I passed on playing one of my songs and handed the guitar over to John, who sat down and sang, ” I’m A Loser”.

Although that was my only personal encounter with John Lennon, it wasn’t the only connection I had. The first was in 1968, when I found a song, “John You Went Too Far This Time”, a reaction to the John and Yoko naked “Two Virgins” album cover, recorded by Sissy Spacek, whom I discovered and renamed “Rainbo”.
The second was concerning the original artwork of “Clouds” used on the “Imagine” album cover, which I was given as security from a friend who needed a fast $100.00 loan! I never asked my friend how he got it, but I knew I had to enjoy the painting in “secrecy” for as long as it was in my possession! Then one day, about three years after John’s assasination, my now well-heeled friend who gave me this treasure in trust, offered to buy it back. Although I knew it must be worth upwards of a $100,000 dollars, I just asked him to return the hundred dollar loan I made him originally. To this day I wonder was that the right choice?

Anyway, here’s a glimpse of this beautiful piece of art that hung for years in my office at Warner Brothers music. You can see it in the upper right half of the photo.

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Artie Wayne with Singer and Songwriter Patti Dahlstrom

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/+

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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

EXTRA! EXTRA! NOW YOU CAN BUY MY NEW BOOK ,“I DID IT FOR A SONG” DIRECTLY FROM ME FOR $9.99 THROUGH PAYPAL. JUST SEND  TO artiewayne@gmail.com

TO READ A CHAPTER OR TWO FOR FREE CLICK  HERE

TO READ SOME OF THE COMMENTS  CLICK  HERE

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

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