In 1974, one of the first calls I receive after taking over as head of IRVING/ALMO music is from my friend, Olivia Newton-John who is looking for material. Except for their hits, I know very little about the catalog, so I hold my first casting meeting to take suggestions from everyone in publishing. The professional staff, secretaries and mailroom boys all pitch ideas to me.

After listening to quite a few songs, one catches my attention, “I HONESTLY LOVE YOU” by Jeff Barry (“TELL LAURA I LOVE HER”, “DA DOO-RUN-RUN”) and Peter Allen (“I GO TO RIO”). I’m late for an appointment so I only have a chance to hear one verse and barely scan the lyric. We ship it to London as quickly as we can along with an idea I have, Brian Wilsons “GOD ONLY KNOWS”, from our Beach Boys catalog.

When Olivia comes over to my office with her producer, John Farrar, and plays a dub for me, I‟m almost in tears. The first thing I say to them is, “This should be the Record of the Year!” You can imagine my surprise when MCA records doesn‟t even want to put it out as a single because, “It‟s too slow!” That‟s when Jerry Moss let me use Harold Childs, and his top A&M record promotion staff to break it out of the album.

Not only does “I HONESTLY LOVE YOU” become a multi-million platinum seller, it becomes the record of the year in 1974! 

 OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN TRIES TO SQUEEZE ANOTHER HIT OUT OF JEFF BARRY AND ARTIE.

EPILOGUE..I FLEW BACK TO NY FROM LONDON WITH A LETTER FROM OLIVIA AND JOHN FARRAR TELLING THE GRAMMY PRODUCERS THAT I WAS TO ACCEPT THE GRAMMY ON THEIR BEHALF IF THEY SHOULD WIN RECORD OF THE YEAR. JUST BEFORE THE TELECAST THE GRAMMY PEOPLE ASKED ME TO LET PAUL SIMON, ART GARFUNKLE, AND JOHN LENNON ACCEPT THE AWARD “BECAUSE IT WOULD HELP THE RATINGS.” I DID , OF COURSE, AND WAS LATER REWARDED AND MADE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF RECORDING ARTS AND SCIENTISTS.

I LEFT THE STUDIO T HAT NIGHT WITHOUT SEEING THE PRESENTATION AND HIDING THE TEARS IN MY EYES. TONIGHT I FOUND THE VIDEO OF ANDY WILLIAMS AND THE STAR PRESENTERS AND I STILL HAD A LUMP IN MY THROAT.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUlR8jWUKd8&feature=share

Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne

WHILE FIGHTING LARGE CORPORATIONS WHO ARE TRYING TO KEEP ROYALTIES AWAY ME AND THOUSANDS OF OTHER ARTISTS, SONGWRITERS AND PUBLISHERSMY ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME IS FROM THE SALE OF MY BOOK. ” I DID IT FOR A SONG”, WITH OVER 100 STORIES FROM THE MUSIC BUSINESS OF THE ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. I HOPE YOU’LL CONSIDER BUYING ONE DIRECTLY FROM ME THROUGH PAYPAL FOR ONLY $9.99 AT  artiewayne@gmail.com OR BY CHECK TO…ARTIE WAYNE  P.O. BOX 1105, DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA 92240

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BARRY WHITE  9/12/44 – 7/4/03

“The first time I met Barry White he was sitting behind my desk at A&M’s publishing company, Irving/Almo music, amused at the dance floor a 12 year old Michael Jackson convinced me to put in my office. I had been trying unsuccessfully to set up a meeting with Barry to play some songs, when one of my assistants, Gloria Sequoia, got her old friend to drop by the office. From then on he dropped in whenever he could. He even spoke at one of the writers meetings I used to hold on the sound stage at A+ M. He was truly a gentleman and the more successful he became the more humble he was.

I doubt if there was any other artist who assisted in more conceptions than Barry White….but what I admired most about him was the positive way he promoted love and devotion in his music during a time of rampant promiscuity. When he talked…you listened. When he sang… you knew he was for real!!”

From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne
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RICK JAMES  2/1/48 – 8/6/04

When I was running Irving/Almo music in the early 70s, a young Black man walked into my office, dressed from head to toe in a Psychedelic leather outfit and dreadlocks. His name was Rick James, I didn’t know him, but he had been so engaging on the phone that I agreed to listen to his music. He flashed a confident smile as he handed me a demo of a new song he had just recorded.

I put the needle on the steel acetate…and when the intro started I leaped out of my seat onto the dance floor, I had built in my office upon a 12 year old Michael Jackson’s suggestion. I’ve never been one to conceal my enthusiasm in front of a writer or singer. I was so excited by what I’d heard I could have danced on the ceiling!!

I thought the demo Rick made of “I Love my Mama” was good enough to be a master …and so did Kip Cohen, head of A+R at A+M, when I brought it in to him. They signed him to a record deal while I signed him to an exclusive songwriters contract for 5 years.

It was always a pleasure to hang out with him or see him working around
the A+M studios. He was still developing the fusion of Rock and Funk, he became famous for a few years down the line, and I would really look forward to everything he wanted to play me. He was hardworking and dedicated…the kind of a guy who would do anything it takes to make him a Rock star.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for Rick James at A+M. It took a few more years of development and the Power of Motown to put him up where he belonged. Through the years when I’d run into him, he’d tell whoever he was with that I was the guy who discovered him and gave him a chance. I’m proud to have played a small part in his career…but I’m even prouder to have been his friend.”

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


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