MY FRIEND KELLI ROSS

May 1, 2010

“In 1966, Sandy and Kelli Ross had just moved to New York from Chicago. Sandy was the in-house lawyer for Mercury/ Smash/ Phillips Records and Kelli was the daughter of Irving Green who owned those labels, .

At the time Sandy and Kelli administered the publishing companies of Quincy Jones, Lesley Gore, The Cowsills, Janis Ian, and Bobby Scott, and I was working for Scepter Records.

When the owner of Scepter, Florence Greenberg, sold her publishing company, without warning or severance pay,  Ed Silvers, Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Joshie Armstead, and I were unceremoniously let go.

My wife Sheilah, who worked as a secretary at Mercury, and I had become good friends with Sandy and Kelli, who offered me a partnership in their company which I happily took.

Songwriter/ producer Artie Kornfeld, “The Father of Woodstock”, remembers. “My wife Linda and I were also friends with Sandy and Kelli, as well as being close to one of the groups Alouette represented, the Cowsills.”

When Artie made a deal to produce the Cowsills for M-G-M, the group asked for their publishing back, which Kelli gave them without batting an eye. I freaked out and tried to explain that you can’t just give the publishing back to someone when you’ve been working with them all these years, hoping their copyrights would become valuable…but Kelli always put friendship above business.

When Artie and the group hit #1 with their first single “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things”, they recorded one of our copyrights, “Ask The Children” (Wonderling, Budnik, Goldfluss), which helped to ease my pain…a little.

Lesley Gore (“It’s My Party”, “You Don’t Own Me”) recalls, “Mercury Records at the time seemed more like a mom and pop business than a flourishing record company.  I came to know Irving Green, the president of Mercury.  What a wonderful man.  His daughter, Kelli, and son-in-law, Sandy, were also in the music business and ran my publishing company.

Irving and his family became part of the extended Gore family.  We all celebrated the progress of a new single as well as birthdays, anniversaries and graduations.”

Everyone loved Kelli and anytime you’d walk into our offices you find Janis Ian or Michael Gore playing a new song, or Quincy Jones and Bobby Scott just hanging out.

When the urge hit me to become a recording artist again, Kelli supported me 100% and got us a label deal with the legendary Morris Levy, with Ron Haffkine (Dr. Hook, Shel Silverstein) producing me under the name
”Shadow” Mann, and my protégé Sissy Spacek, whose name I changed to Rainbo.

Producer Ron Haffkine adds, “I recall Kelli as a warm, sweet, smiling young woman who was helpful to me at the beginning of my career. Kelli’s office, at Alouette, would overflow with writers, singers, producers, and a lot of noise. I and my friend Shel Silverstein (lucky for me) would drift from time to time between the offices of my friend Joel Diamond (also lucky for me ) who ran MRC Music and Kelli. Some wonderful stories are waiting to be told about events that transpired in both the offices by the many talented and often broke hopefuls who were allowed to spend many days and often nights in those offices thanks to the indulgence of Kelli Ross and Joel Diamond which I’m sure was not always easy.”

During the next few years Alouette represented Artie Resnick and Joey Levine (“Chewy, Chewy”, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”), Motherlode (“When I Die”), as well as producers Ron Haffkine, and Bo Gentry.

Sunny Monday remembers when she was cutting her first single with Ron Haffkine for Decca. “I was still a teenager when I met Kelli. She made me feel comfortable, a little bit groovy, and right at home. I came from the Mid-West and all of a sudden I was a New Yorker hangin’ with the people who were “making it happen”.

Although she wasn’t a singer/ songwriter, or producer Kelli Ross had a musical sense second to none. I remember I was backstage at the bitter end one night and I heard this guy named Jerry Jeff Walker play a song he wrote, “Mr. Bojangles”. It was one of those times that I knew it was a smash halfway through and told him I’d like to publish his song. My heart sank when he told me his producer Dan Elliot made a deal for his whole songwriting catalog that afternoon…then I was elated when I found out he had made the deal with my partner Kelli!

A few months later Dan Elliot came to his friend Kelli and asked for the publishing back, so he could make a recording deal for Jerry Jeff Walker with Atlantic Records, which demanded half of the publishing. I went f#@kin’ ballistic when Kelli gave it to him…I tried to reason with her, but she always put friendship above business.

Producer/ engineer Brooks Arthur fondly remembers,“My wife Marilyn, our children, Jill and Jacqueline, were invited to Sandy and Kelli’s Amaganset summer home. We swam, BBQ’d and purchased and boiled fresh lobsters on the beach. We talked music but the emphasis was on family! Then Kelli, Marilyn and Carol Geld created a BIG & LITTLE DAY in Central Park. All our musician friends, their wives and kids … The women & the men prepared and brought food and blankets, stretched out on the sheep meadow for the time of our lives. Talked music, shared studio & songwriting stories but put the emphasis on friendships and families. Wonderful days!”

A year later I got divorced and also said goodbye to Sandy, Kelli and New York, When I moved to California to join Warner Brothers Music. Sandy made me give up my interest in Alouette productions and our co-owned company Tattersall music which published all of my songs.

The next time I saw Kelli was after she divorced Sandy and was running the international division RCA publishing. She gave me a $10,000 advance for the sub-publishing of my new catalog in Australia, where I was enjoying a top ten record, “From The Inside”, by Marcia Hines. I didn’t see Kelli again until bout seven years ago when she was selling real estate in Palm Springs California.

I figured I had nothing to lose so I asked her for my publishing back, which she gave me without blinking an eye… because Kelli always put friendship above business.

I wish everyone a friend like Kelli Ross.

Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

picture at top of Kelli Ross and Artie Wayne by Popsie

Special thanks to Lesley Gore, Artie Kornfeld, Ron Haffkine, Sunny Monday, and Brooks Arthur for helping to put this article together.

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These are personal tributes to my friends or major influences in my life who have passed away. R.I.P. May they ROCK IN PERPETUITY! Just click onto the name.

REMEMBERING OTIS REDDING WITH MY FRIEND STEVE CROPPEr

JOHN BARRY R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

BERT BERNS R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY

FREDDY BIENSTOCK R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

NEIL BOGART R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

JOHN BRAHANEY R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

MARLON BRANDO And His Influence On Pop Music

JOHNNY CASH R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

RAY CHARLES R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

HERB COHEN R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

CLAY COLE R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

JIM CROCE R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

JIMMY DEAN R.I.P. “ROCK IN PERPETUITY”

BO DIDDLEY R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

DENNY DOHERTY R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

AHMET ERTEGUN R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

DOUG FIEGER R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

CHARLIE FACH R.I.P.ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

REDD FOXX R.I.P. RAUNCH IN PERPETUITY!

ALAN FREED R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

AL GALLICO R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

ALAN GORDON R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

IRVING GREEN R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

A TRIBUTE TO FLORENCE GREENBERG!

ELLIE GREENWICH R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

JIMI HENDRIX R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

BUDDY HOLLY R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

LENA HORNE R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

MICHAEL JACKSON…THE GRAND FINALE!

RICK JAMES R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

REVEREND MARTIN LUTHER KING R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

SHEILAH KENT R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

DON KIRSHNER R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETITUITY!

LARRY KNECHTEL R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

SYLVIA KRISTEL R.I.P. ROMP IN PERPETUITY!

STEVEN KURTZ R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

VAN MCCOY R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

JOHNNY MAESTRO R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

HUEY MEAUX R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

BOB MARLEY R.I.P. RASTAMAN IN PERPETUITY!

JACKIE MILLS R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

WILLIE MITCHELL R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

JIM MORRISON IN 2011

MICKIE MOST R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

MARTY OSTROW R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

STEVE PAUL R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

FREDDIE PERREN R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

IRWIN PINCUS R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

GENE PITNEY R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

ELVIS PRESLEY R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

BILLY PRESTON R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

BEN RALEIGH R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

LOU RAWLS R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

BOB RENO R.I.P.”ROCK IN PERPETUITY”!

ALLAN RINDE R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

SOUPY SALES R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

AARON SCHROEDER R. I. P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

SIDNEY SHELDON R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

SHEL SILVERSTEIN R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

SHELBY SINGLETON R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

LEVI STUBBS R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

ELIZABETH TAYLOR R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

LUTHER VANDROSS R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

RANDY WOOD R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

JERRY WEXLER R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

BARRY WHITE R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

NORMAN WHITFIELD R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY

WARREN ZEVON R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

I feel honored to have known most of the people I’ve written about, and shared some of the moments with you…In the words of my friends, Alan O’Day and the late, Johnny Stevenson, in their classic hit

“If you believe in forever, then life is just a one night stand,
If there’s a Rock and Roll Heaven, You know they’ve got a hell of a band!”

Here is “Rock And Roll Heaven-2008” Performed by Ronnie Kimball Directed by Sebastian Prooth


R.I.P. ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

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

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne

Special Thanks to Sharon Link for her help in creating this compilation.

To reach Alan O’Day  http://alanoday.com

Sebastian Prooth  http://tektrekgamer.wordpress.com

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