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SHELBY SINGLETON 12/16/31 – 10/7/09

This morning I was talking to my friend “Country Paul Payton”, about some “Classic Hits” radio promos we’re working on, when he asked me if I knew that Shelby Singleton had passed away. I was taken aback and nearly dropped the phone; I told Paul I’d call him back, then spent the rest of the morning reflecting on one of the pioneers of the Modern Music Business…a man I was proud to call my friend

“The first time I met Shelby Singleton was in the mid-sixties, when he was head of Mercury records A&R department. I was a small publisher always trying to get a song cut. Fortunately, my new wife Sheilah is working at Mercury, one of her closest friends is Carol, Shelby’s secretary. It isn’t long before I’m able to go in and out of the inner offices whenever I want. One day as I’m talking to Carol at her desk, Shelby rushes in from the studio, with a record he just produced and he invites us in to listen to it. It’s a cut from the next Brook Benton album, and although it doesn’t sound like a hit single, it’s a cut an artist can be proud of.

This is the first time I have a chance to sit down with Shelby. We talk for a bit about music, and he plays me a new band he’s signed, The Blues Magoos, and describes them with a word I never heard before, “Psychedelic”,

Shelby remembers, “The Blues Magoos were the first Psychedelic group I ever heard-My thought was this was so different it had a shot in the market- We decided to call The album “Psychedelic Lollypop” as the stories of the day in all the news was hippies putting LSD on lollipops to get high. The first single from the album was “Tobacco Road It was a immediate success. Mercury wanted me to find more groups like the Blues Magoos, but I said no, let’s work on this group!”

Shelby always kept his door open and encouraged me to do more producing, in fact when he left Mercury and started his own record company, I produced the first record he released by 9 year old Dewey Jones, “Please Mr. Johnson (Send My Brother Home) protest against the Viet Nam War.”

Over the years we lost touch, but reconnected on Facebook. I talked to him a few months ago and asked him for a few paragraphs to include in my book. True to his generous nature, he gave me pages more than I asked for, including a few hilarious stories that are some of the highlights of my book!

I was fortunate to have known Shelby and shared some of those stories. Perhaps legendary singer/songwriter Ray Stevens, himself one of the most unique souls to smack boot heels on a Music City sidewalk, says it best, “Shelby Singleton was absolutely one of a kind.”

Shelby Singleton R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

Respectfully, Artie Wayne  https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne from his book “I Did It For A song” https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/thank-you-for-one-million-hits/


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