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Richard Perry
I was in the music buisness as a songwriter, artist, producer, publisher and promoter from 1960 to 1996 and met many people who have become legends. One CD and record producer who particularly stands out is Richard Perry. His track record is astonishing! From Tiny Tim, Harry Niilson, Barbra Streisand, Ringo Starr, The Pointer sisters, to the last four Rod Stewart “American Songbook” albums…he’s been consistantly on the charts for the last four decades!

I talked to him a few months ago after not being in touch with him for ten years ( I was quietly recovering from a spinal operation ) and have begun to submit songs to him again. I’d like to share a couple of stories with you from my forthcoming book about some of my experiences with him.

Richard Perry and I became friends in the mid-sixties when we were neighbors at 1650 Broadway. He was producing the “God Bless Tiny Tim” album and recorded one of my songs, “Daddy, Daddy What Is Heaven Like?” His first Gold Album, and mine. Since Richard isn’t a songwriter and depends totally on outside material, he became the number one producer that songwriters and publishers would persue. When I ran the professional department at Warner Bros. Music in the early ’70’s, Richard was always the first to hear our best songs. My boss, Ed Silvers, suggested that I update the old Johnny Burnette hit, “You’re 16,” with a New Orleans feel for Richard’s upcoming Fats Domino session. Richard loved it, but didn’t cut it with Fats. Over the next two and a half years it was turned down by 122 artists and producers. My little piano voice demo became an ongoing joke at Warner’s….until Richard Perry finally cut it with Ringo Starr and sold five million records!

The next story…

In 1971, the single “Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand was in the top ten, but her album wasn’t finished yet. Richard Perry, who was the producer, called me up on a Sunday afternoon and asked if I wanted to listen to the final mixes on Barbra’s album.

Needless to say I was thrilled, but as I sat in the studio listening to the playback something was bothering me. I couldn’t hear the lyrics loud enough over the track!! As I sheepishly told Richard what I thought, his engineer, Bill Schnee, jumped up and said, “I told you Richard……You can’t hear the lyrics !!” Richard looking a little stunned, smiled, thanked me for coming down and started re-mixing again.

The already overdue album was finally released a month later. My friend Allan Rinde, who was the Columbia Records’ West Coast Contemporary A+R director, told me that I’d be banned from the company forever if I ever interfered with any of their producers again!

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