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Last year I learned how to “Lean Back” from Fat Joe in his Hip-Hop Video. I tried to learn “The Krunk” from Lil John…but I guess I didn’t have enough “Junk in my Trunk” to execute it properly. Then I thought about another time and a simpler dance that everybody could do…The TWIST!! Capitalized not because it was such a great dance…but because it was such a great social equalizer! “The Twist” was written by Hank Ballard and Henry Glover, popularized by Chubby Checker, and made into an international phenomenon by “Jet-Setter”, Zsa Zsa Gabor! It was more than just a cultural phenomenon to me…it was a turning (or should I say, “twisting”) point in my life. Armed with my fake ID (which I made in High School print shop), I’d hit all the clubs in New York and do “The Twist” all night long in the early 60s’.

I was a singer/songwriter, starting to make a name for myself. I was dating Dee Dee Sharp, (“Mashed Potatoes”), which thrust me into the center of the dance universe. I remember going out to dinner with many of her well known friends, including Jerry Butler, Joey Dee, Ronnie and Nedra of the Ronettes, La La from the Crystals and various members of the Crests. Although I was the unknown and poorest of the group, in my shiny dark blue irridescent suit, I did look pretty affluent…and would be the one the waiter would always hand the check to. Fortunately, one of my well heeled dinner companions would grab the sweaty check away from me!

These associations lead me to be put on lists of the Peppermint Lounge, the Apollo theater, the Gold Bug and smaller venues all over the city, where I would bring artists and producers from all over the world. I remember taking Chas Chandler from the Animals, Billy J. Kramer and Gerry Marsden, from Gerry and the Pacemakers his brother Fred, to the Peppermint Lounge, where we saw the Ronettes perform one night. I felt like I was in a scene from the movie, “Don’t Knock The Twist’…The “High School Musical” of it’s day! At one point in the evening, the entire overcrowded room was on their feet. Even the fire marshall was “Twistin’ The Night Away”!

These days I keep looking in vain for a “Twist” night at the Disco. I guess I’ll just rewind my Betamax while I’m looking for my Hula Hoop!

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The Isley Brothers

I was preparing to write an article about music in commercials, and the durability of two 40 year old songs, “Shout” and “It’s Your Thing”, both written by the Isley Brothers. I clicked onto an ominous news headline and was saddened to read about the problems the last surviving brother, Ronald Isley is facing. The ailing 65 year old has just been sentenced to three years in Federal prison for income tax evasion!

I took a break…and thought about a simpler time

I met Ronald, Rudolf and O’Kelly Isley at an Alan Freed Rock and Roll show in 1959, when they signed my high school yearbook. The next time I saw them was in London 1964, when we all were staying at the infamous Madison Hotel, right off of Hyde Park.They were in town to do “Ready, Steady, Go”…and I was there as a Songwriter/Publisher, playing my songs to whomever would listen. I would chat with them at the complimentary breakfast, along with other hotel guests at the time, that included Wayne Fontana, the Mindbenders and the Pretty Things.

Peggy, the hotel manager, had a very strict policy. If you didn’t pay the daily rate for your room by 6:00 every night, all of your belongings would be packed up and moved out. Although I was only paying a pound a night [$2.80 US] for a tiny room in the attic…I foolishly showed up late one night after the 6:00 deadline.

I had just spent the afternoon on cloud nine in the studio with my friends, Mickey Most and the Animals, as they put background vocals on “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. I quickly came down to earth when I saw my luggage and guitar waiting for me in the lobby!
Peggy demanded her pound for the night…plus payment in advance for four more nights! I searched through my pockets, but all I found was a half-crown and a blank personal check, that Peggy wouldn’t accept. My heart sank, as her manservant, who I’ll call “Igor”, started to drag my belongings down the stairs into the street. That’s when Ronald Isley, who I barely knew, came over and handed Peggy a 5 pound note. I stood there with my mouth hanging open, trying to say thank you. As he ran off to meet his limo, he smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it…you can pay me back the next time I see you.”

The next time I saw him was 30 years later, when he came in for dinner at Allan Rinde’s legendary Chinese restaurant in Hollywood, Gengis Cohen (which I named and hosted). As I took him to his table, I reintroduced myself and he laughed as I reminded him what happened all those years ago.

He was surprised, and maybe a little touched, when I sent the waiter over with a belated thank you note, a $20 bill, and a bottle of the best wine in the house!

I thought I saw a tear in his eye…but maybe it was just a little Jeri-Curl juice.

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

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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


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On July 30, 2006 Top of the Pops, which has been on the air in the U.K. for 42 years, will broadcast its final show. I only saw the show once…when I went to London for the first time 40 years ago…

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In 1964, when I became disillusioned with the music business
in the U.S., my friend Paul Simon [then known as Jerry
Landis], convinced me that I should go to London, where I
just had a top ten hit with Helen Shapiro, “Queen for
Tonight” [Raleigh/ Wayne]. At the time I was trying to get
some club work in New York’s Greenwich Village, Paul
introduced me to the folk scene and backed me up on guitar
at the Bitter End and Gerdes Folk City. He was tired of
plugging other people’s songs at E.B. Marks Music, and was
hoping his debut accoustic album with Artie Garfunkle,
“Wednesday Morning 3Am”, would put him on the map. His
producer at Columbia, Tom Wilson, disappointed with the
public and label’s response to the album, went in and
overdubbed the same electric group he used to record Bob
Dylan, which caused a controversy among folk purists!. I
remember, Paul shaking his head and telling me how much they
respected his music in the U.K. and how he longed to go back.

It didn’t take much to convince me that I too, needed a
change. My Liberty single “Where Does a Rock and Roll Singer
Go” [Wayne], had bombed out, money was slow coming in from
my songs, and Amy records, for whom I produced “Midnight
Mary” [Raleigh/ Wayne], was trying to take the Artist, Joey
Powers away from me, because I didn’t have any subsequent
hits.

As I was about to leave for London, I came down with the
chicken pox and had to postpone my trip. It was during the
next few weeks that I met Bess Coleman, one of the Beatles
Press officers, and started writing some songs with her.
When she said that she was friendly with the road manager
of the Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger was going to be
staying at his apartment, I jumped at the chance to write
for the group.

We wrote a few songs…made a few demos…and Bess gave her
friend two songs to pass along to Mick. One of them, “It
Ain’t Me”, is the song I eventually sued over.

I knew the Stones were slated to record in Chicago, at the
legendary Chess studios, before they went to Hollywood,
where they filmed the “TAMI” show…so we crossed our
fingers and hoped we had made the session. We didn’t hear
back from anybody…so we uncrossed our fingers and went on
with our lives.

My co-writer, Bess Coleman, started preparing for the
Beatles to come to New York and introduced me to Jackie
DeShannon, who was the opening act for the Fab Four. As we
all hung out, it was Jackie, who re-ignited my desire to go
to London. She said she was going there on a promotion tour
in a few weeks, and it would be a perfect time me me to go.
I figured that I could still meet up with Paul Simon, and
play whatever clubs were left on his tour. When I arrived
at Paul’s publisher’s office, however, I found a note from
him saying that he had to go back to the States to promote
the reworked single of “Sounds of Silence”.

I wasn’t too upset, since It gave me the opportunity to go
to recording sessions and TV shows with Jackie and her new
co-writer, Jimmy Page. I had time to hang out and jam with
the Animals and the Moody Blues, play guitar with “Howlin’
Wolf” and “Sonny Boy” Williamson, participate in a
“kidnapping” of Cilla Black, from the Palladium, by her
pals, Mike Millward and Billy Hatton, of The Fourmost, and
go on the “Beatles for Sale” promotional tour.

It was at “Ready, Steady, Go”, while chatting up one of the
dancers, I heard a few familiar lines being sung by the
Rolling Stones. It sounded like the song Bess and I had
given their road manager to pass along to Mick. They were
celebrating the success of “Little Red Rooster”, which was
their first number one record, and this was the b-side,
“Off the Hook”. After the performance, I went over to Mick
and told him how much I enjoyed the way he did my song…he
just looked at me somewhat astonished and just walked away,
without saying a word!

The next day, when I bought a copy of the record, “Off the
Hook” and I saw that it credited Nanker Pheldge [Jagger and
Richards] as the writers! I hired David Jacobs, one of the
Beatles’ lawyers, to put a temporary injunction against the
single. This came as a shock to everyone, bringing a volley
of threats against me.

I decided it would be safer for me to keep a very low
profile for the remainder of my trip to London…and I hid
out with a couple of “Birds” who lived on the floor below
Charlie Watts in Ivor Court.

I heard that a lot of unsavory characters were out looking
for me, but I managed to escape the U.K. and get back to
New York unscathed. For the next five years I spent
thousands and thousands of dollars seeking justice in the
U.S. courts, but ultimately lost the case. It seems that
the defendants claimed they wrote their song a week before
I wrote mine and sang it to an engineer friend, which in
the U.K. constutes a common law copyright! Although my case
prompted a change of the U.S. copyright law, I was
devestated, traumatized and lost my will to write. This is
when I started working for an array of publishers, showing
other people’s songs.

It was years before I was able to write again…but now,
forty years later I can talk about it… and hardly feel
any pain.

Regards, Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com