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Growing up in the turbulent 60’s in the Shadow of the Cold War, wasn’t easy! Growing up in New York of the 60’s, with all the drugs and violence, had an even harder edge. I was tired of writing formula pop songs about made-up experiences in a location that no longer held any fascination for me. My recording career had fizzled out and my marriage was winding down. Although my partner, Kelli Ross and I were running the publishing companies of Quincy Jones, Leslie Gore, Bobby Scott, Janis Ian, Joey Levine and Artie Resnick, my own creativity was suffering from a lack of positive stimulation.

I knew the next musical trend would be coming from the west coast, when I first heard, “Cherish” by the Association” and “California Dreaming”, by the Mamas and Papas…but when I heard “Macarthur Park” by Richard Harris I knew it had arrived!

Before I go on with my story, I’d like you listen to hear the song that kicked me into high gear. It’s Richard Harris singing his classic record, which Jimmy Webb, wrote and produced…”Macarthur Park”. This video is distracting, so personally I prefer to listen to the music and let my imagination create my own pictures. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0D-boeOCG0

Although “Macarthur Park” was seven minutes long, twice the length of any song on the radio at the time, it quickly became number one! The poetry of the lyric and beautiful, psychedelic labyrinth of music gave a shot in the arm to Pop music in general, and to me particular. I took my first trip to Hollywood in the summer of 1968 to get a better understanding of the new emerging music scene …and to get a quickie Mexican divorce.

Jackie DeShannon, took me on a tour of Hollywood and introduced me to the wonders of Malibu Beach. I hung out at the Troubadour and the Whiskey with Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys and Terry Kirkman of the Association. I went to parties up at Mike Love’s, down at Richard Baskin’s and over at Football Hall Of Famer, Jim Brown’s house. I reunited with my long time songwriting partner, Ben Raleigh ( “Love Is A Hurting Thing”, “Tell Laura I Love Her”) who had recently relocated to California. I also hooked up with my friend Bob Stone, who was once signed to me, as he celebrated his number one record with Cher, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves ” I also started writing with Gary Zekely and Mitch Bottler ( “Wait A Million Years”, “Sooner Or Later”), found time to go to a Phil Spector recording session…as well as fall in-and-out of love a couple of times!

It was quite an eventful two weeks, but I still hadn’t met Jimmy Webb, whose music brought me out here in the first place. As my plane took off for New York, “Up, Up and Away” kept running through my mind…I was disappointed, but I knew I’d be coming back.

Jimmy’s songs like, “Didn’t We?”,”The Worst That Can Happen”, “Wichita Lineman”, and “Galveston”, continued to inspire me as I spent my last dreary year in New York. It was two years after moving to the West Coast, however, before I finally met my inspiration!

I was working as General Professional Manager for Warner Brothers Music, when CEO, Ed Silvers, informed me that we now represented Jimmy Webb. I can’t tell you how excited I was to go out to his house in Encino with Warner Brothers Records President, Mo Ostin to hear the final mixes of his latest WB album, and finally meet my hero!

As we waited for Jimmy in his game room, I saw a Las Vegas slot machine in the corner. I put a quarter in and hit the jackpot. Mo smiled…as I hit the jackpot again…again and again! Mo, started glaring at me as I tried to push my winnings back into the machine. Now fully embarrassed, I started kicking hundreds of quarters underneath the living room rug, just as Jimmy walked in laughing…that’s when I realized I was the victim of a practical joke!

I knew I was gonna’ like working with this guy!

( To Be Continued )

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

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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/

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The Memphis sound intrigued me so much that Stax Records became the first stop on my publishing tour of the south. When I was general manager of Warner Brothers Music in 1970, my longtime friend and sometime collaborator, Steve Cropper, who co-wrote “In The Midnight Hour”, “Dock Of The Bay”, “Knock On Wood”, etc., took me around his town, winding up at the offices and studios of the legendary record and publishing organization, East-Memphis music

The company occupied an old movie theater in the ghetto, with a markee that simply said STAX.The reception area, was the place where refreshments were sold, and the recording studio was where the second run movies were once shown.

I was humbled to be in the same studio where Booker T. & The M.G.s, Otis Redding, The Mar-Keys, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, The Barkays, Eddie Floyd, Johnny Taylor and Isaac Hayes made all of those mega-hits!

I’ve always believed that every studio has its own flavor, due to the collective consciousness and spiritual vibrations from all those who have poured out their hearts and souls within its walls. This place was no exception. I walked around mesmerized with the sounds of the late Al Jackson, Jr.’s solid drumbeat from, “Hold On I’m Comin'” running through my head. I even had the urge to yell out, “Play it, Steve!”, but I restrained myself!

Before I had to leave for my next stop, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Steve invited me into the control room to hear some remixes he was doing on the late Otis Redding. It was a spectacular ending to a day I’ll never forget.

Since I became interested in music, I always believed that more than just music is captured in the recording process. Primitive tribes correctly believed that a photographic image of them takes a piece of their soul forever…I believe a recording essentially does the same thing. More than sound and musical content are recorded, retained and reproduced…so are the inaudible vibrations, thoughts, emotions and energy of the lead performer as well as every participant in the studio.

I accepted the psychic fact years ago, that each of us carries with us spirits of our family, friends and ancestors…who carry with them the spirits of their family, their friends and their ancestors. Some of these entities that surround the artists, musicians, and other contributors to the process, mingle with other entities they encounter there. Some like their new environment so much, they stick around and become part the studio’s collective creative consciousness.

As a songwriter/ singer/ producer and publisher, I’ve had the chance to visit recording facilities all over the world where historic sessions have taken place…including Allegro, Associated, Bell sound, Olmstead, Sound factory, Mirasound, A+ R and Atlantic studios in New York, The Sound Factory, A+M, Gold Star, American, M-G-M studios and Cherokee studios in Hollywood, Apple, Trident, Rak studios, EMI studios in Abbey Road, London, the legendary Motown studios, The Record Plant in New York and L.A., Stax, Hi and Sun studios in Memphis, RCA and Columbia recording studios in Nashville, London, New York, and San Francisco to name a few.

Although most studios are routinely cleaned, few, if any are spiritually cleansed. Like a well – used grill at a restaurant, there is a spirit buildup over time that gives each studios end product a distinct flavor.

I’ve been asking artists, musicians, producers and engineers, if they ever experienced any paranormal phenomena in the studios where they worked. If you have any first hand experience please let me know about it.

Thanks and regards, Artie

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

For another article about the paranormal click onto
https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/07/13/michael-piller-from-the-other-side/

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After returning to New York from my first trip to the UK in 1965, where I was pushing my songs and traveling on a promotion tour with the Beatles, I went to work for April-Blackwood music as a song plugger. Unfortunately, the people who hired me were fired two weeks after I started, leaving me to fend for myself. The new regime wanted to give me a chance and rushed me through all the red tape at CBS (which owned April-Blackwood).

After a routine insurance examination, the doctors asked me how long I had known about my heart condition? I had no idea what the hell they were talking about, but after getting a second opinion, I was told that I had an extra vein pumping impure blood back into my heart and possibly two years to live! That’s when I became one of the first Americans to have open heart surgery, which CBS paid for. I was grateful for their generosity…but I hated the corporate bullshit I was expected to deal with…so I never went back!

After that I formed my own publishing companies, had a few hundred of my own songs recorded and produced records for dozens of companies. Although I had little success with my own creative output, I went to work as a writer/ producer for Scepter records. When they sold their publishing company, I went into buisness with Kelli Ross and ran the publishing companies of Quincy Jones, Janis Ian, Bobby Scott, Leslie Gore, Joey Levine and Artie Resnick.

After I failing to become another JImi Hendrix, under the name Shadow Mann, I moved to Hollywood and had success after success when I headed up “The Warner Raiders”, my crack team of songpluggers for Warner Brothers music, and when I ran A&M’s publishing companies. When I started dealing more with politics than I was with music I went into buisness for myself, producing and selling dance records around the world. I was also an agent for a radio spot producer, winning a “Clio” myself for co-writing a Kenny Rogers spot. I also named and hosted my friend, Allan Rinde’s restaurant, Genghis Cohen, where I also established myself as a “Wearable Artist to the Stars”

After surviving open heart surgery, eleven engagements, two marriages, several attempts on my life and all of these careers…I thought it all was coming to an end 10 years ago when I inexplicably started falling down in the street! I had a spinal operation, which left me partially paralyzed, and only able to control one finger with which I type.

When Allan sold Geghis Cohen, he gave me a computer and an introduction to Spectropop, a 60’s music forum which stroked my ego and helped develop my writing and typing skills. 6 months ago I started my own blog, Artie Wayne On The Web, and I’m proud to say that I’ve had over 200,000 hits! Now every morning I wake up excited to express myself in ways I never could before, while finding new and creative ways to promote my music!

I want to thank everyone who’s come along on this crazy ride and hope you’ll continue to stop by whenever you can! I promise to keep giving you the best of “The Truth, Entertainment and Bullshit!” I wish I had a guest book that each of you can sign, but you can leave a comment or two at the end of this article which will be on display forever!

Thanks and regards, Artie Wayne

Website  https://artiewayne.wordpress.com

For Spectropop http://spectropop.com

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As a long time lover of pop music I’ve always been curious about the story behind the song. Knowing that many of you feel the same way, I’d like to share the story behind “I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”, A new song that I wrote with Toni Wine (”Groovy Kind of Love”, “Candida”) which is on the Tony Orlando and Dawn “Reunion” album.

In 1995, after 20 years of being in the music buisness as a singer, songwriter, producer, being an exec at April-Blackwood, Warner Brothers music, and running Irving/ Almo, I had become too weak to even hold a guitar. Finally, I could no longer work at Allan Rinde’s legendary Chinese restaurant in Hollywood, Genghis Cohen, (which I named and hosted off and on for ten years)

When I kept falling down in the street, I knew that something was seriously wrong with me! I was uninsured, and was facing this crisis all alone. My two closest friends, Allan Rinde, was spending more and more time in Nashville with his fiance, Toni Wine…and Patti Dahlstrom, had moved back to Houston, to teach music and critical thinking at the Art Institute of Houston. I had taken to wearing all black, as I stumbled around the back streets of Hollywood, hoping I wouldn’t see anybody that I knew. I felt, for the first time in my life, that I had reached the end of the road.

Fortunately, Patti was in town for a conference, and came over to visit. I didn’t want her to see me broke and broken…but now I’m glad I did. She convinced me to swallow my pride and seek help from social services…which saved my life! I went to the USC medical center for 2 days of tests, and they kept me for 3 weeks.

It was a few days before Christmas, I was in a ward with many who were far worse off than me…and we did our best to keep each others’ spirits up. Somehow, I lost my phone book, and the only numbers that I could remember was my Mothers’, who had moved to West Virginia, and that my long time friend Alan O’Day, who was on his way out of town.

It’s a policy of most hospitals to send as many patients home for the holidays to be with their family and friends. Soon, I was the only one left in the ward, since I had nowhere else to go. One lonely night, as I sat feeling sorry for myself, I heard a group down the hall, singing Christmas carols. I followed the voices to the the children’s ward…where I heard the joyous sounds of “Jingle Bells”. It was the Salvation Army, passing out toys and candy, and singing to the kids, who wereconfined to their beds. I joined in on “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, and “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”, but when they started singing “White Christmas”…tears started running down my face, and I had to sit in another room to compose myself. This song, written by Irving Berlin, always brings back memories of family and friends in a snow covered New York City…flooding me with emotions.

10 years later, I told Toni Wine (whom I’ve known since she was 14), and showed her some lyrics I had written that fateful night “I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”.

She loved it, but wanted to make the story more universal. Over two writing sessions, which we started on Irving Berlin’s piano, which was given to Toni many years ago, we came up with….

“I LOSE IT WHEN THEY HEAR “WHITE CHRISTMAS”
words and music by Toni Wine and Artie Wayne

They can play “Jingle Bells” all day
talk about Santa’s Sleigh
I’m alright on a very “Silent Night”
But then my tears begin
when they sing I can’t join in
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”

Bein’ without you just ain’t no fun
What kind of thrill is cookin’ for one?
Can’t deny I wanna’ cry myself out
Here’s to Holiday spirit
don’t wanna’ be anywhere near it
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”

And Baby I know…You needed to go
But why did you have to leave me now?

[instumental]

Don’t feel like spreading good cheer
Just wanna’ sleep in the New Year
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”
‘Cause I Lose it When I Hear “White Christmas”

Copyright 2005-CasmoTwine

If you want to hear the Tony Orlando and Dawn recording click http://artiewayne.com/I_Lose_It.html

If you like it, please feel to share it with a friend…if you love it, however, feel free to share it with your entire address book!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka and best of holidays, from Artie Wayne On The Web…and Whoppy and Streaker on the couch! Enjoy to the world!

Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne

If you’d like to see “Whoppy and Streaker Presents The Top Christmas Music Videos Of All Time!” Bing, Elvis, Band-Aid, Singing Reindeer, Bowie, Destiny’s Child, more! https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/12/15/whoppy-and-streaker-present-the-top-christmas-videos-of-all-time/

For “Nookie’s Top Christmas And Hanukka Videos!” Adam Sandler, “Hanukkah Song”, Neil Diamond, Jingle Cats, Mariah Carey, Charlie Brown Christmas, more! https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/nookies-top-holiday-video-picks/

If you’d like to see my custom pet paint sculptures called PETZROCK, created on quartz just click on http://artiewayne.com/petz1.html

For Toni Wine http://toniwine.com

For the Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn.nsf

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Jerry Wexler, Neshui Ertegun, Bobby Darin, and Ahmet Ertegun

AHMET ERTEGUN  7/3/23 – 12/14/06

When I started in the music business in 1960, Ahmet Ertegun was a already a mythical figure. In 1947, he and Herb Abramson, founded Atlantic Records and soon became a threat to all the Major labels. He built a roster of African-American artists including Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, the Clovers, Ray Charles, the Drifters, and the Coasters. As the company, grew he signed white pop artists, Bobby Darin, Vanilla Fudge, The Rascals, disco artists Archie Bell and the Drells, Chic, Sister Sledge as well as rock artists J. Geils band, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Jerry Wexler, who as a Billboard magazine writer changed the name of the genre from “Race Records” to the more respectable Rhythm and Blues, became a partner with Ahmet and his brother Neshui. Together they turned their little record company into one of the major forces of the 20th Century! When they brought, the Muscle Shoals Sound and Stax distribution deal into the equation, Memphis Soul dominated the charts. During this period the combined the talents of Atlantic artist Wilson Pickett and Stax writer and producer Steve Cropper co-wrote and produced hits, “In The Midnight Hour” and”634-5789″. Steve also co-wrote some and produced most of the recordings of another Atlantic artist, Otis Redding, including,”(Sitting’ on the) Dock of the Bay”. Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd produced classic records by Aretha Franklyn and Dusty Springfield at Stax studios in Memphis Muscle Shoals studios using their musicians and songs in each location.

I had a lot of respect for Ahmet because he not only was head of a successful record company, he was a songwriter, “Don’t Play That Song” by Ben E. King and a producer, “Mack the Knife” by my mentor, Bobby Darin. He also had the unique ability, not only to actually listen to what a person was saying…but to make you feel like you were the only person in the world, at that particular moment. I remember being introduced to him by Quincy Jones at a party for Duke Ellington. Although he was surrounded by people all night and we only talked for a few minutes, at the the end of the evening he shook my hand and said, “Nice meeting you, Artie”. Wow! I met my personal hero and was validated…all in the same night!

I saw him again when he sold Atlantic to WEA, the same company that owned Warner Brothers Music, whom I worked for. I had the pleasure of being in charge of getting cover records on Progressive Music titles, which Atlantic owned, and Ahmet was more than happy to turn me onto his favorites, which included, Ray Charles’, “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”, which he also happened to produce!

Quincy was overbooked to score films, and asked me to help him get someone to do the music for “Come Back, Charleston Blue”, which was the sequel to Sam Goldwyn, Juniors’ highly successful Blaxploitation film, “Cotton Comes To Harlem”. He got me the job and screen credit of musical consultant. The first composer to come to mind was Atlanic artist Donny Hathaway, who was riding high with his first album and single, “The Ghetto”. So Donny, in his Kongol Cap and me in my “Superfly” hat, “bop” into a screening of the film and had a commitment from both Sam, Jr. and Donny as soon as the lights came back on!

I also suggested to Sam that I go to Atlantic Records in New York and find two or three singles by other top artists on the label that were about to be released and include them in the film, as well as the soundtrack album. Sam loved the idea, but not as much as Ahmet and Jerry! Ahmet played me product they were about to release and took me to sessions in progress, including Aretha Franklyn, as she recorded,”Angel”. This was an obvious hit to me and one of my first choices! It made me feel good that Aretha remembered me as the co-writer of “Here’s Where I Came In” (Raleigh/ Wayne), which was recorded on her first session at Columbia! Then producer Joel Dorn, invited me to hear the new sides he was mixing with Chart Topper, Roberta Flack and newcomer Bette Midler. Now I had a few more contenders!

When the film was finished, score done and all the songs I found were inserted into the soundtrack. As the tapes were being mastered, Donny Hathaway, who was prone to severe mood swings, had a sudden change of heart and insisted that only his music be used on the soundtrack! I was disappointed, but encouraged at the same time, when Ahmet called me to tell me how much he appreciated what I tried to do…and how he was looking forward to working with me again.

Although It never happened, I’ll never forget the kindness and encouragement he gave me when I needed it most.

Until we meet again, R.I.P. Rock In Perpetuity!

Respectfully, Artie Wayne

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

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

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Diana Ross As Billie Holiday

The following is Part III of Breaking The Motown Sound Barrier Series. If you haven’t read Part I, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, click on to https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/14/breaking-the-motown-sound-barrier-aint-no-mountain-high-enough/

If you haven’t read Part II, “What’s Goin’ On?”, click on to https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/09/23/breaking-the-motown-sound-barrier-part-two-in-the-series-whats-goin-on/

Part III

In 1972, Ed Silvers, President of Warner Brothers music was losing his patience with me because he thought I was spending far too much time at Motown. Although I was getting our songs covered by some of their biggest artists, they were only album cuts. Ed was convinced that I would never get a single released by them. I didn’t say much, but I had spent over a year infiltrating the company, and I knew it was just a matter of time before I scored big with them!

I started to notice a change at the company when CEO Berry Gordy, Jr. became interested in producing movies. When production costs soared, record production budgets were cut and fewer records were released. I remember hanging out at Motown one day when I ran into producer and song writer, Michael Masser. He played me a song he had written with Ron Miller and produced on Diana Ross, that was being canned again! When he played me “Touch Me In The Morning”, my mouth dropped open! I couldn’t believe such a phenomonal record could be in the can for over a year, but Berry had his own plans for Diana. He and Paramount pictures had started production on “Lady Sings The Blues” and he was determined to make Diana a movie star!

For the first time, I heard complaints from usually loyal employees about all the money that was being wasted on Diana’s film. I heard that Berry had shot a scene for the film using an integrated chorus line at the Cotton Club, which had to be reshot with only Blacks to maintain historical accuracy. This mistake cost $50,000! Athough the record company was still on top, it couldn’t keep absorbing such costs without suffering in the process.

The only new artists who were given the “Motown Push” were the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson who now was having hits as a single artist. I knew at this point that the only way I could have a chance for a hit with this company was to get a cover by the Jacksons or Michael. There was only one staff writer at Warner Brothers music who could write in a classic R+B style, George Clinton, Jr. ( not the lead singer of Parlement, but the one who later scored the three Austin Powers movies.) The two producers who loved Georges writing the most were Jerry Marcellino and Mel Larson, who just had big hits with 12 year old Michael on “Rockin’ Robin” and “Little Bitty Pretty One”. “Ben”, from the movie of the same name was racing up the charts and Berry Gordy asked each of his producers to start recording new sides with him.

I sat with Jerry and Mel and we talked about what kind of song they should record with Michael. I suggested A Christmas song…one so commercial that it could be the follow up to, “Ben”. When I saw their eyes light up, I told them that George Clinton, Jr. and I had started such a song! When they asked to hear it, I told them we were still working on it ( when in fact we hadn’t even started! ) I couldn’t tell them the title (’cause there wasn’t any!) I did tell them, however, that it was a true story of how my girlfriend left me out in the cold like the last tree in a lot which was left unsold on Christmas eve. They freaked out and said they had to have the finished song by Monday. I said, “No problem”

I called George, who knew nothing about any of this as soon as I got back to my office. He couldn’t believe I’d told them we’d have a finished song to them by monday, when it was friday and we hadn’t even started it! Saturday morning we met at my office, which was on Hollywood Boulevard across from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was the middle of summer, about 90 degrees, but we had to get in a Christmas Mood. As I told George my sad story, I started throwing Ivory Snowflakes around the room…and after a few hours we had the verse and chorus of, “Little Christmas Tree”

Little Christmas Tree

words and music by George Clinton, Jr. and Artie Wayne

I watch the snowflakes fall against my window pane

and wonder if you are watching snowflakes too?

I take a walk downtown to where you used to meet me

There’s joy everywhere but all that’s waiting there…is just a

Little Christmas Tree..Lookin’ sorta’ sad and lonely just like me

No one seems to care… They just went away and left him standing there

All alone on Christmas Eve!

Copyright 1972/ 2006 by Warner Brothers Music

On Monday morning George did a piano voice demo, and I got it to Jerry and Mel that afternoon. They loved it so much that they knocked one of their own songs off the date and cut ours on thursday! I was almost in tears when I heard the finished record the following week with the news that it was being considered for the follow-up to “Ben”, which had just hit number one! You can imagine how I felt a few weeks later when Berry decided not put out any follow up to Oscar nominated “Ben”, until the Academy Awards were given out…after Christmas! A few days later I came up with a plan and presented it to Motown. Put 2 albums worth of previously recorded Christmas songs by all of their hit artists along with a new song that Marvin Gaye recorded and of course, Michael Jackson’s, “Little Christmas Tree”. I’m proud to say that “A Motown Christmas” has sold many times platinum over the years…but there was a dark cloud  loomng on the horizon!

( To Be Continued)

Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne

To hear a sample of Michael Jackson’s, “Little Christmas Tree” from “A Motown Christmas”, just click on to http://www.amazon.com/Motown-Christmas-Various-Artists/dp/B00000JPBZ/sr=1-1/qid=1165772884/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-5725259-3053219?ie=UTF8&s=music