I’VE GOTCHA’ COVERED!

November 9, 2011

When I was a song plugger back in the ‘60s for Warner Brothers Music, in addition to getting new songs recorded by the hottest artists on the charts, we had to get songs from our catalog cut as well as songs from current films to help promote the movie every time it was played on the radio.

I remember the Warner Raiders (which I nicknamed my professional staff) got over 100 cover records on “The Summer Knows- theme from “Summer of ‘42”, in a three month period, which earned us a lot respect. We also had unexpected hits from the catalog when I updated songs like “You’re 16” for Ringo Starr or super creative casting ideas like getting Al Green to cover, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”.

Today artists and managers realize that song writing and  publishing royalties are sometimes the only source of income from their “Multi-Platinum” CDs, since the  artist is usually charged with everything a company can get away with, including the making of million dollar videos.

When I think back, I remember hearing stories about Beatle manager, Brian Epstein sitting down with Lennon and McCartney and forcing them to write more original songs for economic reasons…Andrew Loog Oldham convinced Jagger and Richards to do the same, which changed the musical direction of two of the greatest “cover” groups of all time!

And speaking of covers, I was there with “Papa” Joe Jackson, the day that Michael and the Jackson 5 left Motown. They were weary of being forced to do “covers” on their albums and “other peoples songs” on their singles. I was able to help Joe get a $25,000 dollar advance, within 48 hours for their sub-publishing around from Freddie Bienstock, for world rights to  songs that were yet to be written by unproven writers (Michael, Randy, and Jackie). The deal ultimately included “Beat it” and most of the compositions on the “Thriller” album!!.

Okay…Okay, The world’s a better place because of these self-generating artists…but how many artists
today are capable of really writing “Great” songs all the time? I’d be happy as a music lover and consumer to have a couple of familiar songs on every CD that I buy. Maybe even one I could sing along with.

I’d like to hear Bruno Mars sing, “Wonderful, Wonderful”, Katy Perry do “MacArthur Park”, Bono and Mary J. Blige kill, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for starters.

WHAT SONG FROM THE PAST WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR REMADE TODAY AND BY WHOM? (YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR SUGGESTIONS AND COMMENTS BELOW THE ARTICLE)

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

EXTRA! EXTRA! NOW YOU CAN BUY MY NEW BOOK ,“I DID IT FOR A SONG” AT AMAZON or Barnes & Noble or from Smashwords

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RAIDERS

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!!

NANA

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! 

CRAIG

Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne

To reach  Stephen -Craig  Aristei https://www.facebook.com/stephencraig.aristei?fref=ts#

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