There has been much discussion about who should replace Simon Cowell on “American Idol” when his contract expires. The two names that keep coming up are Ron Fair (CEO of  Geffen Records ) and indie producer Joel Diamond. My pals from the past have sold millions of units, have an excellent ear for a song, and aren’t afraid to express their opinions.

I first met Ron Fair when he was a second engineer at radio spot maker Joe Klein’s LA recording studio in the mid-seventies. He knew the board and he was fast. I was doing some piano voice demos In between takes he showed me he was a musician and a writer, who was relentless in learning how to become a producer. We were always talking about records and music that we’d hear on the radio…and figure out how they did this or how they did that. But most of all we’d talk about the importance of the song

I’m not surprised that he rose to the top of the business with his discovery and development of some of the biggest stars in the business, which include Christina Aguilera, The Black Eyed Peas, and Keisha Cole, pioneering as well as financing a larger than life video presence for each of these iconic artists

I asked my friend Producer/ manager Barry Oslander who’s worked with both Ron Fair and Joel Diamond which one should replace Simon Cowell , and he responded, When I was heading up RCA West Coast A&R as VP I was looking to expand the A&R Department by two. I called a number of people to come into my office for a chance at the job. All had to have some experience in music publishing since I felt songs make act, acts do not make songs… One of the 8 was Ron Fair, whom I knew from working with him a year before when I was at a music publishing company. I asked each of the 8 to please go find 10 songs which he or she thought could be a charted records/singles. Giving them all a week to ten days. Ron came back to the second meeting with the best and the most songs which won him the job. “

Oslander ponders for a moment then continues, “When Joel Diamond and I worked together at April-Blackwood music, (Columbia Records publishing Company). Our very first week there, we spent hours going over thousands of songs which the company owned to find the songs which we both thought could be hits. It turned out that Joel and I agreed, 99 per cent of the time, and found many under exploited songs in the catalog that eventually charted all over the world!”

I told Barry that I worked with Joel briefly when I was General Professional Manager of Warner Brothers Music and Joel was in our New York office. I was impressed when he went over to April-Blackwood and signed Laura Nyro to a million dollar songwriting contract, and was a bit jealous when he took my former producer, Ron Haffkine and his new group, Dr. Hook to Columbia Records, where they had an incredible run of #1 hits including “Sylvia’s Mother”, and “Cover Of The Rolling Stone”.

Over the years Grammy Award Winning Joel Diamond, as a producer/ songwriter has had 36 gold and platinum records with diverse artists like Englebert Humperdink, Gloria Gaynor, Ray J, and producing and managing The 5 Browns who have literally dominated Billboard Magazine’s Classical Charts for 3 years running with their 3 consecutive #1 CD’s, at one point holding down both the #1 & #2 positions in Billboard.

Both Ron Fair and Joel Diamond have the qualifications to judge on “American Idol”, but which one has “The It Factor” (ironically the title of Cowell’s new show) that will propel them to reality TV stardom?


Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne

Special thanks to Barry Oslander for his help on this article.

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