LOU RAWLS 12/1/33 – 1/6/06

I was aware of the impact that Lou Rawls had on his own generation, Frank Sinatra in particular, I never felt a personal connection with his music until, “Love is a Hurtin’ Thing” [Raleigh/Lindley]. To understand why this was a pivotal point, not only in his career, but to the evolution of pop music in general, we have to examine the times during which the music was created.

It came in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, when “Negroes” were “allowed” to voice a political opinion in music…a time when complacency, turned into, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!. Lou Rawls, obviously wanted to express himself too, but was restrained by his label, Capitol records, who still referred their R and B recordings as “race records”.

Capitol A+ R men made it clear to me, as a songwriter/publisher they were only looking for material that was entertaining, not a song that made a political statement of any kind.

Lou, obviously, jumped at a chance to combine his streetwise eloquence with a song Ben Raleigh and David Linden brought to him, “Love is a Hurtin’ Thing”. Lou’s talking at the beginning of the record was as revolutionary, from a personal and emotional standpoint,
as any music connected with the Civil Rights movement. He even got R and B radio play…a rarity for Capitol records during this time.

For the next few years, he was the only one making records like these that were successful. Then a couple of artists came along a few years later, and added longer talking
segments, liberally sprinkled with sexual references…and a “New” genre was born, with it’s new stars, Isaac Hayes and Barry White.

It was when he signed with Philadelphia International, that he actually sold the most albums, I believe. Gamble and Huff were looking for artists who could be successfully
marketed by their distribution company, Columbia records, and Lou fit the Bill perfectly. He not only was one of the best interpreters of Gamble and Huff’s songs, he had a history of being able to sell albums.

It was around this time that I met Lou. Margo Matthews, who was Ed Silvers secretary at Warner Brothers music, had been his personal assistant for years…and he dropped by to see her one day. As I walked by her office, she called me in, and introduced us. I sat talking with him for a few minutes…and felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend. I
left a few minutes later, to let them talk, but I felt special all day long…not to mention every time I heard one of his recordings from that day on.”

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




top l-r Ed Silvers, Tony Byrne, Mel Bly… bottom l-r Artie Wayne and Stephen – Craig Aristei

Back in 1972, I moved to Hollywood, became General Professional Manager and Director of Creative Services at Warner Brothers Music. I headed up a group of seven relentless songpluggers, I named “The Warner Raiders”, who would go to any lengths to get one of our companies songs recorded.

There was a kid in the mailroom that had the same fire in his eye as David Geffen had, when he was in a similar position at the William Morris agency. Stephen Craig Aristei would work hard, ask questions of everybody and stay late in the office listening to songs in the vast catalog. Ed Silvers, president of the company, and I welcomed him to our staff meetings where he would make astute casting suggestions and be treated like one of the “Warner Raiders”.

We all knew that he had the potential, but I didn’t have the budget, to hire another “Raider”. One day, Ed called me into his office and told me that we had to get cover records from the show that was just revived on Broadway, “No, No Nanette”. I looked at him like he was crazy … and asked if that meant I should try to get Michael Jackson to cut “Tea For Two”? He glare and said, “You’re the Director of Creative Services … be creative!”
Craig and I listened to the score over and over, and we decided that I should update the song “I Want To Be Happy” and submit it to Motown. I gave my piano voice demo to the late Hal Davis at Motown, who cut the track for Michael Jackson.

A week later, when I went to Mowest studios, found him putting an unknown Lionel Ritchie on the track!! Hal, an imposing bear of a man, saw that I was freaking out over the “switch”, grabbed me and threw me across the recording console, warned me that if I got anyone else to record the song, I would have to answer to him!!

I quietly got up, brushed myself off and went back and locked myself in my office. That night, Craig and I sent out dozens of copies of “I Want To Be Happy” to everyone I could possibly think of!! Nobody Fucks with the Warner Raiders!!


A few days later, I hired a dancer, the actress Teri Garr, to join Tony, Craig (who would carry a boombox, playing “Tea For Two” and “Happy”), a limo and a camera-bearing limo driver, who would capture us promoting “No, No Nanette” in the offices of Mo Ostin, Joe Smith, Jerry Moss, Artie Vallando, Mike Curb and Jimmy Bowen. 

On the morning of the promotion, Teri Garr, the dancer, is a no-show, at which point Stephen Craig Aristei jumps in and says, “I can dance!!”. I got down from the window ledge and said, “If you dance today …you’ll be a “Warner Raider” tomorrow!!

Well, Craig became a “Warner Raider”…and “I Want To Be Happy” was cut by Sammy Davis, Jr. and wound up on the b-side of his million selling, “Candy Man”! Over the years Craig has become one of “Unsung Heroes” of our business, and one of the best song men I’ve ever known! 


Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne

To reach  Stephen -Craig  Aristei