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There is nothing that destroys a memory faster than a performance by a favorite artist from the past that sucks! In the last 2 weeks I’ve seen Diana Ross embarrass herself on “American Idol”, on PBS’ “The British Beat”, I saw Wayne Fontana, as well as Peter and Gordon, reduced to barroom band versions of their former selves! On, “Dancin’ With The Stars”, Dionne Warwick sang “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?”, with odd notes replacing Burt Bacharach’s brilliant melody, that she was barely able to hit!

And isn’t it time that Madonna go sit down? She’s like a old drunken Aunt at a reunion who won’t shut up! It’s true that age diminishes our capacities and no one ever wants to admit they’re over the hill, but I certainly don’t want to watch one of my faves go over the hill…right before my eyes!

I’ll never forget seeing Elvis Presley for the first time on his final tour, at the Forum in L.A. His incredible voice was mostly intact, but his spirit and ability to inspire had all but disappeared. Now, 30 years later, when I think of the King of Rock and Roll I don’t remember him as he was during his prime when he recorded, “Heartbreak Hotel” or “All Shook Up”, but as a parody of what he once was and represented. Sometimes I wish I never saw that show.

There are only a handful of singers whose current performances equal any of their past triumphs, Aretha Franklyn, Elton John, Gladys Knight, Tony Orlando, Brian Wilson…

I wonder if any of my singles or albums on Liberty, Coed, Scepter, Columbia, Diamond, Cameo, Smash, Mercury, Fontana, Decca, Big Tree, United Artists, Pye, Roulette, or Casablanca had become hits, would I be bitching like this or be would I be putting on my make-up for my next “Oldies” show? Shit…I’d probably be out there like a mother fucker, squeezing out my last 15 minutes of fame…or at least adopting a baby in Africa, just like everybody else!

When do you know that it’s time…to hang up your Rock and Roll shoes?

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

Have you seen writer and director Sebastian Prooth’s brilliant video of Alan O’Day’s updated classic,”Rock and Roll Heaven 2007 ” ( O’Day/ Stevenson )? It’s a tribute to our fallen heroes who’ve hung up their Rock and Roll shoes…forever! https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/20/rock-and-roll-heaven/

Photo at top of Artie Wayne on Liberty Records 1963 by James Kreigsman

Artie Wayne discography http://artiewayne.com

To reach Sebastian Prooth http://sebrt.com

For Alan O’Day http://alanoday.com

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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

IRVING GREEN  2/6/16 – 7/1/06

What do Sarah Vaughn, The Platters, Brook Benton, Patti Page,
The Diamonds, Del Vikings, James Brown, Dinah Washington,
Roger Miller, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Laine, The Troggs,
Wayne Fontana, the Mindbenders, the Troggs, Leslie Gore, Blue
Cheer, Manfred Mann, Steam, Freddie and the Dreamers, Dusty
Springfield, Keith, Paul Mauriat, Jay and the Techniques,
David Bowie, The Blues Magoos, Spanky and Our Gang, Crispian
St. Peters, Jerry Butler, Bobby Hebb, Louie Armstrong. and
Rod Stewart all have in common?

They all recorded for Irving Green, who owned Mercury Records,
a little indie who could… and did… become a major label!
He also owned Smash and distributed Phillips records and all
of their subsidiaries. He was one of the first champions of
Rock and Roll and Mercury was the first major company to
promote Black artists to crossover into the Pop mainstream.
It also was the first to have an African-American as Vice-
President of A+R, Quincy Jones.

Although he repeatedly asked me to call him Irv, I always
called him Mr. Green, out of respect for his daughter Kelli
Ross, who was my partner in Alouette Productions. Not many
people knew that Mr. Green was a silent partner in our
publishing and administration firm.

He was one of the few CEOS I’ve ever known who an artist
could talk to. Although he wasn’t a producer, I remember
when James Brown recorded briefly for Smash, he wouldn’t go
into the recording studio without Mr. Green being there.

From time to time he’d ask me to go “undercover” for him. In
the last days of Cameo-Parkway records, he asked me to
introduce him to my friends Neil Bogart, who was running the
label and Bob Reno, who was with the publishing company. He
wanted to get them to come over to Mercury, but Neil and Bob
wound up going to Buddah Records instead. A few years later,
Bob Reno did have a successful stint at Mercury, as head of
MRC publishing and later as head of A+R.

When the Lovin’ Spoonful were about to re-sign with Kama-Sutra,
Mr.Green sent me to Wilkes-Barre to meet up with my old pals
and offer them a check for a million dollars to defect to
Mercury! When I mentioned to him that he hadn’t signed it, he
said, “When they sign a contract…I’ll sign the check!”

The last time I saw him it was 35 years ago hanging out at
Quincy’s house. He said he would leave the music business
when it stopped being fun. I guess it stopped being fun when
a big conglomerate bought him out. A few years later he went
into semi-retirement and moved to Palm Springs.

Although I’d heard he had become a top land developer, I will
always remember him as one of the greatest developers of pop
music and the human potential. Thank you for believing in me
and helping me to believe in myself.

Rest-in-Peace, Mr.Green.

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/

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