Although Artie Kornfeld “The Father Of Woodstock” and I have been friends since the ’60s, until recently I never asked him about the story behind some of his biggest hits as a songwriter. In 1966, he had “The Pied Piper” which made it to  number four on Billboard’s Charts, which was one the most optimistic protest songs of the era…now here’s the story behind it.

“The song, “The Pied Piper” was the result of my being an avid reader since pre-natal period.”, says songwriter / producer Artie Kornfeld (“Dead Man’s Curve, “The Rain The Park, and Other Things”).

“I remember Paul Simon telling me how he wrote the “59th St. Bridge Song (“Feelin’ Groovy)” while driving into the city. I was heading into Manhattan to write with my dear friend and co-writer Steve Duboff. I was the Director of A and R at Mercury and had a 3 hour demo session booked for a young folk rocker named Jonathan.  We were scheduled to cut 3 songs.

I made my way to the city in my “Dead Mans Curve” Corvette that Donny Kirshner gave me an advance to buy, when DMC  went top 5.  I kept a tape recorder in the car.  As I drove towards the 59th Street Bridge I thought of the Fable about a mythical Pied piper who through music, rid his Nation of the Bad Rats that had the children living in fear. There were no freedoms and no expression allowed.  The lyric and skeleton song came 1, 2, 3, so fast.

By the time I reached the office-studio Duboff had a dynamo melody on the way.  We sat, as my production session was an hour away. I turned the lyric almost anarchistic saying follow me as I promise to rid the earth of The Rats that had us going into Viet Nam.  I had the sort of vision I knew the way out.

The Pied Piper by playing his flute had the bad guys (the RATS) follow him into the Sea and freed the land. Music and the right to free expression were returned!

The only reason the song was recorded, as you Artie Wayne know, we were masters at recording.   I finished the three demos for Jonathan in two and a half hours and took out chord sheet and 3 hour old lyric, handed it to Hugh McCracken.  Then I had Artie Kaplan get his flute out and in 1 hour had cut the demo to complete record status.

At the time, I did not realize this was premonition of the role I would play seven years later creating Woodstock and really freeing the children.

Charles Koppelman and Don Rubin, professional managers at Screen-Gems Columbia music, had without my knowledge been approached by Phillips Records, and had put out the Pied Piper we cut, and called us The Changing Times.  I knew nothing about it until it hit the charts and Steve and I were booked for the 1st Sonny and Cher Tour.

I disliked the Crispian St. Peter version since it knocked us off the charts.  Recently I heard a Del Shannon version on YouTube, the song had become the motto for my political and musical agenda free the kids and bring back to this cold world the right to express yourself.

The Pipers Wail is still working it’s magic in all my projects including my book, “The Pied Piper of Woodstock”.  It tells about the life of us who are chosen to bring the music to the World. The Book could have been called “THE PIED PIPER”, without Woodstock in the title since the message has always been in the song. Free the children to create music.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my late Dear Friend and writing Partner, Steven Duboff. The two of us, based on a bond of love and pure fun, writing together and even touring for 20 cities doing the original version as The Changing Times.  We stayed great pals until his death in the late 90s..We had an incredible over 60 songs released as a team.

I often wish my buddy Steve was here today as I miss him and the way we collaborated very much.”

Artie Kornfeld

Photo at top…L to R Steve Duboff, Artie Kornfeld, Sonny and Cher

To reach Artie Kornfeld

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne


big artie

When my longtime friend and sometime collaborator, Artie Kornfeld the Father Of Woodstock, invited me to the festival in 1969, I thought it was going to be a great picnic, I wasn’t expecting a life changing experience!

Back in 1967 my wife Sheilah was working at Mercury records as a secretary to the songwriter/ producer (“Pied Piper”, “Dead Man’s Curve”, “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things”) we hung out a lot with Artie and his wife Linda. Artie was always concerned about social issues and making the world a better place, but none of the gang at the Brill Building or from 1650 B’way ever expected that one of our own could make such a powerful impact on our culture!

A few weeks ago right after the world wide celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock, I spoke to Artie who filled me in on everything going on in his life, his book, his radio show, etc.

“My memories of my most wonderful days were after three recording deals and managers while attending Queens College at night that, as I tell in my book “The Pied Piper of Woodstock” that I met Charles Koppelman and Don Rubin. With a 25$ demo I took the subway into Nevins Kirchner a/k/a Aldon Music and left with a 75$ a week advance against royalties and a $ 500 advance from BMI.The bread meant nothing as I was now a writer for what soon became Screen-Gems Music. I was accepted in a world of Goffin and King, Mann and Weil, Barry and Greenwich, Leiber and Stoller, Artie Kaplan, Artie Wayne, and so many others who I had only read about and got to learn with the whole Brill Building gang and was lucky enough to have hit songs with Toni Wine my first collaborator and then Steve Duboff and Jan Berry and Brian Wilson. Even my idol Steve Allan, I thought I was in heaven and I was. That is why when I got into position my door was always open. Although we all competed we all were happy at our friends successes.. It is this love of making music and affecting others through song that the seeds for Woodstock 69 were born, I used all my knowledge of music, I actually made a living out of while learning.

Those days in the rooms writing and the friendships that remain almost sacred to me are as clear in my soul as anything in my life.Those incredible days with brooks Arthur in the studio and others and the incredible Hugh McCracken. I am proud to carry on that message we all were sending out of NYC. It remains all about giving all you have for others. As Jerry Wexler told me when he backed out of a label deal in front of my attorney, the incredible Paul Marshall, who is back in my life again. Jerry said, “Artie “, d.” I am backing out because you said we are going to make a lot of money and I wanted you to say we will make great music”. Those  were the most important words I have heard . Since then I have carried the sword of our groundbreaking music in three buildings and the incredible world of super talented and wonderful friends. I am so happy I took a breath and through Artie Wayne’s work and others to be back home in my heart where I started, still carrying our message.

I tried to tell it all in my memoirs, scratching the surface in MY GIVE BOOK “The Pied Piper of Woodstock”, a writer is always a writer.

Peace and Love through Music.- Artie Kornfeld




Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne