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BEN RALEIGH  – 1997

One of my first songwriting heroes was Ben Raleigh, who was the lyric writer of hits like “Dungaree Doll”, “Wonderful, Wonderful”, “She’s a Fool”, “Love is a Hurting Thing” and one of my all-time favorites, “Tell Laura I Love Her” in 1962. I was introduced to him by one of my early mentors Paul Vance, who co-wrote “Catch a Falling Star”, “Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie Weenie Yellow polka dot bikini”. Paul wanted me and his nephew, Danny Jordan (who later became one of the Detergents) to write with Ben for a session we were recording as a duo for Diamond records.

Soon Ben and I just started writing together and started getting some good covers…Wayne Newton, Jack Scott, Leroy Van Dyke, Aretha Franklyn, Jose Feliciano, and Bobby Darin. Ben introduced me to Freddie Bienstock at Hill and Range, who asked us to write for several Elvis movies, to Arnold Shaw at E.B. Marks music who got us a hit with Helen Shapiro in the U.K. and to Al Gallico at Shapiro Bernstein, who offered me a chance to become the first Black country artist signed to major label.

At that time Ben was also writing with Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Sherman Edwards and Mark Barkan. I was lucky to have him on Wednesday and Saturday.

Then in 1963 we wrote and I produced “Midnight Mary” for Joey Powers. I still can remember taking publicity pictures and being handed a gold record by Larry Uttal (head of Amy/ Bell records), who whispered, “Now this doesn’t necessarily mean it sold a million records!”

We continued to write for several years and have covers by Dion, the Hues Corporation, Gene Pitney, Freddie and the Dreamers, etc. and when I was at WB Music I got the company to buy the renewal rights to his classic song, “Laughing on the Outside, Crying on the Inside”.

Two weeks before he passed away in 1997, we got together and updated “Midnight Mary”. Originally, our Hero worked on the railroad…( and with apologies to Joe Nelson, who wrote recently that it was his favorite part of the song] we changed the line to ‘Just got a job at the Airport. Also in the new version, Mary gets pregnant, which you couldn’t say in 1962.

In one of my last conversations with Ben, I asked him, which of all of his hit songs has earned the most money? He laughed and said, “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”, which he co-wrote in 20 minutes. He was offered a few thousand by Hanna-Barbera as a buyout…but opted for a royalty instead.

This was before the release of the Multi-million dollar making “Scooby-Doo Movie”…and it’s equally successful sequel!

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


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Songwriter and Producer Jeff Barry, is always someone I’ve looked up to…and not just because he’s about a foot taller than me! Before I got into the music buisness, I remember first seeing Jeff’s name on one of my favorite records, “Tell Laura I Love Her” (Raleigh/ Barry) by Ray Peterson, and paying attention to his creative output ever since.

The first time I met him was in 1650 Broadway at the office of Paul Vance (“Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”) where I was putting the finishing touches on a song I had written with with Ellie Greenwich and Danny Jordan (the Detergents), “You Should’ve Told Me”, that the Angels were about to record. I was introduced to Jeff when he came in to pick up his Fiance Ellie, for lunch.

While Danny and I sat daydreaming of songwriting superstardom collaborating with this talented lady on dozens of future hits, Jeff had plans of his own. He and Ellie, had started writing with Phil Spector and created songs that not only would become instant classics but would define the 60’s as well, including “Be My Baby”, for the Ronettes, “Do Wah Diddy” for Manfred Mann and “River Deep, Mountain High” for Ike and Tina Turner. Jeff’s love of Doo-Wop, Ellie’s affinity towards girl groups and Phil’s ability to mold the songs they all had written into a “Wall Of Sound”, made for an unbeatable combonation!

Jeff and Ellie sang together as the Raindrops, and co-produced Neil Diamond’s first hits, “Solitary Man”, “Cherry, Cherry” and worked with Shadow Morton, on “Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand)”, and “Leader Of The Pack” by the Shangri-las and “Chapel Of Love”, by the Dixie Cups. When their marriage ended , so did their collaboration with Phil Spector and Jeff started producing on his own. After a successful string of hits with the Monkees, “I’m A Believer”, “A Little Bit You, A Little Bit Me”, and the Archies, “Sugar, Sugar”, “Bang Shang -a-Lang”…his creativity took a new turn.

I didn’t see Jeff for a couple years, then while I was visiting my friend songwriter, Paul Williams (“We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Old Fashioned Love Song”) on the A&M Records lot. Jeff, who had just signed a co-publishing deal with Irving/ Almo Music, came in and played me a song he had written, “Walking In The Sun”

Walkin’ In The Sun

Words and music by Jeff Barry

Well, things have been goin’ wrong long enough to know when everything’s just right
I’ve been walking in the dark long enough to know when I’ve finally seen the light
I’ve been losing long enough to know when I finally have won
And even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun.

Well, I’ve cried enough tears to recognize this feeling of a smile
I’ve been bottom rung long enough to know when I’m doing it in style
I’ve been running long enough to know when there’s no more need to run
(O Lord) Even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun.

The wind is at my back and I’m sailing on a ship long overdue
I’ve blown so many chances, I ain’t gonna blow this one with you
And I’ve seen enough bad times to know when the good times have begun
O Lord – Even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun

(Oh yeah) Even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun.

Copyright 1973 Irving Music/Jeff Barry International, administered by BMI.

I sat there with my mouth dropped open, fighting back a tear. I always admired and respected Jeff for his ability to tap into the teen market and realistically express their emotions…but I realized his writing had reached a new level. Although I was working for Warner Brothers Music as general Professional Manager, and it was my job to plug my companies songs, I gave a demo of “Walking In The Sun” to my friend, Bob Monoco who recorded it the following week with Chaka Kahn and her group Rufus!

It was years later that I learned that the song was written for his father, who was blind and only this morning did I read the complete story behind the song, in Jeff’s own words on his official website.

The next time I placed one of Jeff’s songs, it was in a more of an “official” capacity. I was hired to run Irving/ Almo, and on my first day on the job, I gave Olivia Newton John, “I Honestly Love You”, that Jeff wrote with the late Peter Allan, which became the record of the year in 1974!

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

For Jeff Barry’s Official Website http://lpintop.tripod.com/jeffbarry/

Special thanks to Laura Pinto http://laurapinto.tripod.com/

For the complete story behind, “I Honestly Love You”

https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/09/13/olivia-newton-john-tries-to-squeeze-one-more-hit-out-of-jeff-barry-and-artie-wayne/