MICKIE MOST  6/20/38

Being an “anglophile” and a British Film aficionado, I was able to understand the thickest English of English accents, so when I first met The Animals in N.Y. 1964 we had no trouble communicating and I even occasionally became an interpreter for them with some of the American press, who had trouble understanding their thick Geordie accents. Before the English Invasion, blues had never been a big part of my life, but hanging with the Animals, who were taking their version of the blues to the top of the charts, changed that. Chas Chandler [bass player for the Animals] and I became pretty good friends and he turned me on to a lot of great blues records I’d never heard, and I went with he and his pals to clubs in Greenwich Village and Harlem that featured the blues. When I went to London for the first time, Chas reciprocated and took me on a tour of the local music scene. We jammed with Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson at Mike Jeffrey’s (the Animals manager) house. He also introduced me to Giorgio Gomelsky, who discovered the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. Giorgio in turn continued my education by taking me to see an act he was working with, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, featuring a teenage Eric Clapton. We have a lot of English artists to thank for putting the spotlight on a genre of music that might have remained “undernoticed.”

In 1964, also on my first trip to London, Chas Chandler introduced me to his producer, Mickey Most ( Hermans Hermits, Lulu, Nashville Teens), who invited me to the background vocal overdubbing session for “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. As a songwriter/producer, I was really excited to see one of the worlds top producers up close. Although he was a meticulous creator and knew how to bring the best out of his artists, I believe his greatest talent was his ability to pick hit songs.

Over the years ,as we became friends, he made me acutely aware of the importance of the song and helped hone my skills both as writer and publisher. Mickey always made sure that I was contacted every time he came to New York looking for material, which was flattering, considering that he never recorded any of my songs. Seeing him meant listening to his new product, which never failed to elicit hours of raves from me.

I remember when he came by my office at Scepter records and played “Sunshine Superman” and “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan before he delivered the masters to Epic…you can imagine how blown away I was!
The last time I saw him was in 1980, when I was producing a single on myself as an artist for Chrysalis Music [UK] and had gone horribly over budget. He listened to my tracks and gave me $10,000 in free studio time to finish it up. I couldn’t thank him enough, but my “chemically fueled” out of control ego wouldn’t allow me to complete the project…that’s when I came back to the U.S. broke and brokenhearted…and left the music business.

I’m glad to say I’ve learned from my mistakes. If I have any other regrets, it’s that I didn’t keep up a lot of relationships I made through the years. You don’t meet someone like Mickey Most very often but when you do….you should cherish them.”

From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne

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