May 27, 2012
OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS I’VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT MY OLD FRIEND, SISSY SPACEK, AND HER NEW BOOK, “MY EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY LIFE” AND WONDERED HOW SHE WOULD TALK ABOUT HOW I DISCOVERED HER AND CHANGED HER NAME TO “RAINBO”!
“Back in 1968, I was recording an album under the name Shadow Mann for the legendary Morris Levy. During the recording of one of my tracks, a cute little girl with a giant guitar case, walked into the control room. Ron Haffkine ( Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show), who was producing my album, jumped up, introduced himself…and then he introduced me as Shadow Mann. He got our engineer, Brooks Arthur, to play the track back as I danced around the studio.
Sissy and I hung out over the next few months. She played me and Ronnie quite a few songs she had written, on a guitar that was almost as big as she was…but we didn’t hear that special song that could make her a star. Just before I left on a trip to California, a couple of free-lance writers Ron Dulka and John Marshall, brought a song to me that was a comment on the controversial John Lennon and Yoko naked LP album cover of “Two Virgins”. I suggested A few lyric changes and flew off to California for 10 days.
When I returned I was surprised that my partner, Kelli Ross, had signed Sissy to our record label and Ronnie Haffkine had started making plans to record her on the song, “John, You Went Too Far This Time!”, by the two writers who finished the song in my absence! After I heard her sing it, I knew why everyone was so excited!
When my album and Sissy’s single was finished, Morris Levy decided to send both of us out to promote our records at the same time…but not before one little thing. I convinced her to change her name to something more suitable for the times…a name that was opposite of “Shadow”. Sissy, bit her lip and agreed to let herself be known as, “Rainbo”.
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August 12, 2010
February 14, 2010
HE’S BACK…AND HE’S PROUD! AFTER LURKING IN THE BACKGROUND FOR YEARS, VOWING TO ONLY COME BACK WHEN THE WORLD NEEDED HIM. HERE HE IS…”SHADOW” MANN RIDES AGAIN!
WHO IS “SHADOW MANN”…HERE ARE THREE RECENT ARTICLES I’VE POSTED WHERE HE MAKES AN APPEARANCE! (JUST CLICK ONTO THE TITLES BELOW)
COMING ON TUESDAY FEBRUARY 16, 2010, IS THE FINAL INSTALLMENT OF MY EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH TOMMY JAMES AND MORE STORIES YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU’D NEVER HEAR!!!
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Photo at top of “Shadow” by Stephen Paley
Here is part two of my exclusive interview with Tommy James (“I Think We’re Alone Now” , “Mony, Mony”) about his controversial new book, “Me, the Mob, and the Music”…and the owner of Roulette Records Morris Levy! the story starts back in 1967.
“Although I was apprehensive about having a label with Morris and being an artist for the notorious Roulette records as “Shadow” Mann, I felt somewhat safe because my silent partner in my publishing company was Irving Green (who owned Mercury and Smash Records), who was not only my partner Kelli Ross’ father, but also Morris Levy’s best friend.
I always considered Tommy James, Roulette’s top artist, and his records to be ahead of their time, but I wonder how many people know that he was a major creative influence on the Beatles. How many people are aware that George Harrison even wrote a few songs for him (which were eventually passed on because they too much in the vein of “Mony, Mony”).
Now I had a chance not only to see how the infamous but charming, Morris Levy and Roulette promoted records, but also how Tommy James made them! One day I was up at the label walking past Morris’ office and I heard some great music coming out. I couldn’t help but stop and put my ear a little closer to the door. SUDDENLY…the door swings open and I’m a bit scared to see a startled, serious looking Morris less than a foot away from me!
Then a smile sweeps across his face as he grabs my arm and says, “Shadow…I want you to meet somebody.” Then he introduces me to Tommy James, who brought by a test pressing of his next single, “Crimson and Clover”. From the beginning it sounds like a hit, but when it reaches the end and goes into an electronic chant “Crimson and Clover…over and over”, it sounds like a classic!
(Here’s the original clip of “CRIMSON AND CLOVER” 1969) http://www.faniq.com/video/Tommy-James–the-Shondells-Crimson-in-Clover-YouTube-38590
When my pals at Spectropop and Forgotten Hits, the ‘60s and ‘70s music forums, heard I was interviewing Tommy they submitted six pages of questions. Two of those pages were filled with questions that basically asked, “How did you get that sound on “Crimson and Clover”?
Tommy said, “We had done the record with tremolo on the guitar. It’s just a built-in sound on guitar amplifiers. When I played the guitar, we recorded it with tremolo pretty much in synch with the music. In other words, we tried to make it so that it was vibrating at the same speed that the drums were playing. So we made the whole record that way. And then at the end, it was like one of those whimsical ideas, we said, “Why don’t we put it on the voice?” So that’s what we did, we ran the vocal mike through an Ampeg guitar amp, turned on the tremolo and miked it, and ran it back through the board. It was just that simple. What was so amazing, back then, if you wanted to make a sound wiggle, you had to basically do it yourself. There was no button you could push on a synthesizer, you basically had to build the circuits yourself and everything else. So that’s what we did, we just ran the vocal mike through the guitar amp, and then miked the amp and ran it back through the board.”
“Crimson and Clover” was not only a major point in their career turning them overnight from AM singles artists into FM album artists; it was also the first of the hits that Tommy James and the Shondells created themselves. After working with producers Ritchie Cordell and Bo Gentry on his earlier records, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, and “Mony, Mony”. ” Tommy says, “Those guys were the best and we learned a lot about producing and getting new sounds from them!”
I then I told him that Forgotten Hit’s Kent Kotal, wanted to know if there are any stories about “Crystal Blue Persuasion”. Tommy said, “That’s from the Crimson and Cover” album. At that point we had drastically changed our style. It was a difficult record to make. We completely over produced it, so gradually we started pulling instruments out, guitars, congas, percussion, etc. until it became as you know it.”
Artie – “So basically you let it breathe”
Tommy – “Yeah, we let it breathe…and it came to life!”
Artie- “There has been a lot of speculation about the meaning of “Crystal Blue Persuasion”. I always thought you were writing about Crystal Meth.”
Tommy – (smiles) “No. It’s about my conversion to Christianity…just listen to the lyric.”
The more time I spend up at Roulette I start to believe more and more of the stories I’ve heard about Morris. One day I see him and Nate McCalla, his friend and partner in Calla Records getting off the back elevator with a dozen hot TV sets…giving me the pick of the litter!
Although I was honored to sit in on some of Morris’ meetings there were times when I’d leave the room for fear of hearing too much…especially when the conversation would turn to Morris’ favorite forms of promotion…payola and intimidation.
Tommy told me about his first day up at Roulette, when he overheard Morris and some of his pals, talking about beating up some guy for bootlegging his records, then resumed the conversation as if nothing happened.
Tommy actually tells dozens of compelling stories in his book, “Me, the Mob, and the Music”, which made my hair stand on end…or laugh, sometimes both at the same time!
I told him how my producer Ron Haffkine and I would sit in Morris’ office while he was on the phone “encouraging” disc jockeys to play my records. “You play the Shadow’s records…or I’ll break your legs!”… Then Tommy told me something that made my mouth drop open!
(To Be Continued)
From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song” Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/
YOU CAN ORDER TOMMY JAMES’ “ME, THE MOB, AND THE MUSIC” ON HIS WEBSITE http://www.tommyjames.com/
Thanks to members of Spectropop , Forgotten hits, Alan O’Day, “Country” Paul Payton, Brooks Arthur, Ed Salamon, Alan Karr, Jim Cassidy, Kent Kotal, Dee Trane, Patti Dahlstrom, Ayrton Mugnaini, Robby Leff, Art Munson, AJC, and Matthew David, for the questions this article is based on..
IF YOU MISSED PART ONE AND PART THREE CLICK ONTO
To reach Spectropop http://spectropop.com
Forgotten Hits http://forgottenhits.com
Special Thanks to Carol Ross – Durborow and Ed Osborne for their assistance in putting this article together.
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November 15, 2008
When my new pal, Kent Kotal, at “Forgotten Hits” http://forgottenhits.com, said he he was putting together a tribute to the Beatles “White Album”, I was eager to take part. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years since “The White Album” was released. Like many singers, songwriters and producers of my generation, I was influenced by the Beatles. In 1962 Jerry Landis, who later becomes known as Paul Simon, is the first one to turn me on to them. About a year before their first single is released in the US, Jerry (Paul) who just got back from a folk club tour of the UK tells me about me the band, the look, and the sound that’s sweeping Europe.
He plays me a few Beatle records, and shows me their pictures in an English newspaper. Aquarian that I am, I identify with them immediately and it isn’t long before their influence starts creeping into my songs. I even started dressing “Mod” and wearing my hair like Paul McCartney (which is odd at the time for an American, not to mention an African-American!).
When they come to the US for the first time in 1964, I’m in the third row at Carnegie Hall to see them. When the Beatles come back to tour, I become friendly with Bess Coleman, who’s one of their press officers.
It’s when I travel to the UK for the first time, and go on part of “The Beatles For Sale” promotion tour that I find out that John and Paul haven’t collaborated on writing songs for some time, and are starting to develop their own individual styles. George is also starting to come into his own as a writer. This evolves into quite a competition when it’s time to choose songs for a new album.
By the time the “White Album” comes out, the transition is complete. The album is exploding with so much individual creativity, going in so many directions; it takes on a life of its own. The first time I hear cuts from the album is at Freddie Gershon’s (“Sweetie, Baby, Cookie, Honey”), apartment. Freddie’s throwing a party to celebrate Apple Record’s, “Those Were The Days” by Mary Hopkin, hitting #1 on the charts!
This is the first time I go out in public as Shadow Mann, my new alter ego. I had just finished recording my first album for my own label, distributed by the legendary, Morris Levy (Roulette Records). Not only did my producer Ronnie Haffkine (Shel Silverstein, Doctor Hook), produce a great record, we created a unique, look and persona for my mysterious character.
I had a black suede jacket made for me with a giant red eagle on the back, whose wing opened every time I lifted my arm. I also have a big black floppy hat, black leather pants and boots.
But when it comes time to get ready for the Apple party, I put on my brown mohair suit and Ronnie gets pissed off at me! He wants me to wear my new Shadow outfit, but I tell him that I know a lot of lawyers and publishers who are going to be there, and I don’t want to look like a fool. Haffkine says, “This Shadow thing, is your idea, you’ve got a chance to make a big impression tonight, but you’ve got to pull it off with confidence and flair.”
He continues, “No buts, if you can’t do it tonight, you’re just wasting your time,. But worse than that, you’re just wasting mine!”
I reluctantly change into my black suede jacket, tilt my floppy hat at a jaunty angle and off we go to the party. As we walk in, “Back in the USSR” from an advance copy of the Beatles White album is playing.
Mary Hopkins seems like a sweet unaffected girl and makes us feel very comfortable. Very few of the people I know recognize me in my attire and pretty strangers keep coming over to talk to me. Now I start to think it’s a good idea that I had to wear my Shadow outfit tonight!
Ronnie and I stand at the bar and talk to producer Peter Schekeryk, who married his artist Melanie (“Candles In The Wind”, “Brand New Key”) that afternoon. Everyone in the room seems to be half-listening to own their conversations and grooving to the new incredible tracks that surrealistically float around the room. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “Rocky Raccoon”, unleashes a whimsical feeling in all of us. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”, makes us smile and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” gives us all new respect for George Harrison.
After a while, I notice that they keep playing the same songs over and over, and I say to Nat Weiss, the head of the Beatles American company, “I thought there were two albums worth of material”. He explains that George is expected any minute with the rest of the tracks.
Before he arrives, however, the latest darling of the gossip columns sweeps into the room surrounded by her “Jet Set” entourage. This Rock and Roll Goddess is wearing an outfit that’s similar to mine, including a floppy black hat. Although I’ll miss saying hello to George Harrison, when this beautiful stranger puts her arm around me and asks me to come with her, I can’t resist. I’m sure George will understand. Ronnie Haffkine, on the other hand, doesn’t look very happy when I wave goodbye.”
From the forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
“If you don’t like the music of the ’60s, ‘70s and ’80s…you can kiss my past”
Copyright 2008 by Artie Wayne
Here are the best videos by the Beatles, individually and collectively…in no particular order.
“BACK IN THE USSR” Paul McCartney Video
“WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS” George Harrison Video
“HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN” John Lennon Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE2Vdcv9Q_o
“OBLA DI OBLA DA (LIFE GOES ON)” BEATLES Video
“BLACKBIRD” Paul McCartney solo accoustic 1975
“ROCKY RACOON” Paul McCartney Video
“HELTER SKELTER” BEATLES Video
“REVOLOUTION #9” BEATLES Video
“BIRTHDAY” BEATLES Video
“GOODNIGHT” BEATLES Video
For more of the story LEGENDARY MUSIC MAN MORRIS LEVY MEETS SHADOW MANN, A LEGEND IN HIS OWN MIND!
To hear “Come and Live With Me” by Shadow Mann