Monday, July 21, 2014

Claude's Commentary.21r2

July 21, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 21
By Claude Hall

Ed Silvers:  “Hi, Claude … I loved your description of Jerry Wexler -- I recall being thrown out of his office after playing a Van McCoy song for Barbara George.  He loved the song, but when I said that I thought Atlantic was a great R&B label, he yelled at me that this was not an R&B label, and to get out of his office!  I loved and respected him and years later, after I became part of the WB family, we were on the same wavelength with respect to all things MUSIC.  Your commentaries are such fun to read for a guy who remembers 1650, and The Brill Bldg ... and the guys and girls who made them famous!!”

Morris Diamond:  “Hello, Claude:  I've got to get a copy of the book Sam Hale sent to you written by Jerry Wexler, ‘Rhythm and the Blues’.  I'm particularly interested in what was written about Shelby Singleton getting a death threat while attending that Miami Convention.  I never heard about that and I attended that DJ convention representing Carlton Records.  I believe it was 1958 or '59.  I didn't know Shelby then, but we became fast friends when in 1962 I joined Mercury Records as National Promotion Director and he was our head of A&R in Nashville.  He never mentioned that to me.  Going back to the convention, Joe Carlton gave me a budget of $1,000 to get word around that Carlton Records is alive and well.  I brought Anita Bryant with me, whose record of 'Till There Was You’ was a block buster at about that time.  For the thousand bucks I was able to buy the poolside bar from noon to 5 pm for free drinks for all  - along with a huge banner that floated half-way over the pool area that said ‘Keep Cool With Carlton’.  Yes, we made a lot of friends.   One of the evenings, Columbia Records was hosting a cocktail reception in the pool area and wanted my banner taken down during the evening.  I refused their request…more PR for Carlton.  Todd Storz, whose radio empire included WQAM in Miami and who was an important host during the Miami DJ convention, felt the brunt of his competition when Miami's radio station-owned newspaper ran the headlines: ‘Booze and Broads at Disc Jockey convention’.  A hotel employee told Joe Carlton and I that a previous pharmacy convention at that hotel was so raucous that one attendee was killed when he tried to jump into the pool from his balcony many stories up … and missed.  And not a word in the newspapers.

‘While I'm in your space, I just want to say a big 'hello' to Johnny Long and his Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.   Doing a great job with it.  And a couple of memory stirrers that feel very good are Clark Weber and Gene Taylor.   Great friends at WLS Chicago during my reign as head of promotion for Mercury Records.   Claude, can't wait for our trip to Vegas mid-August and lunch with you and Barbara.”

The beating convention was a meeting of the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers, also in Miami.  It was Shelby who told me about his beating during the second convention.  On a phone call from Nashville.  The book by Jerry Wexler mentions that the record producer Marshall Sehorn was beaten.  Just FYI, Bill Stewart wasn’t beaten at the “Bribes” convention, but someone slung him up against the hallway wall, yelling about his band being slated to perform somewhere around 3 a.m. in the morning.  Bill never told me this … didn’t even know I knew.  It’s a great pity about the “Bribes” headline and subsequent payola fuss.  Probably set radio back about five or six years.  And, of course, my surmise is that it got Bill Stewart fired and kept Todd Storz from doing another convention.

At Don Elliot’s request, I connected him up with Bob Wolfson, who wrote:  “Thanks for the email.  I'm always glad to hear from one of the almost 100 jocks who entered the 'house of horrors' with me.  Many did not stay long ... one, from New Orleans I never met ... came in on a Friday ... left before Monday morning!  But then, he was arrested dancing up Omaha's main street on Saturday night wearing a pink leotard and somewhat befuddled by booze.”

Jay Lawrence:  “Cliffie Stone was a good friend of mine when I was at KLAC.  The only time he ever took issue with me was when I had the term Western voted out of the Academy of Country (and western) Music.  Anyway, I introduced a young lady to him who had written some songs.  Judy Lee was the drummer for Lynn Anderson.  Judy and I had become good friends.  Cliffie gave me half publishing on some of the songs Judy wrote for bringing him a new writer.  Many years went by and after Cliffie's death, Judy called me from her home in California about the publishing on one of her songs. I had no idea and had not even registered with BMI. (I have now).  I asked if she was ever in my area for any reason.  Judy told me she was recording in Prescott within a month or so.  I invited her to visit.  Two years later we were married (last May).   A little more about Judy.  She took her band on a USO tour to Vietnam after the Tet Offensive.  Later, she and her daughters were a lounge act in Las Vegas for a number of years, The Paxtons.  I think it's interesting that it was Cliffie who brought us together all these years later.”

Don Elliot:  “Really enjoy the names that come up in many of your stories… I go back to the Green & Stone and Pat Pippolo days as well, Russ Regan, and the Capitol days with Carol Musa.”

I lament what’s being done to Casey Kasem.  What the devil is Jean trying to do?  Something fishy here.

Just FYI, now and then I check up on an old friend. Art Holt says:  “Thanks for touching base!  I’m OK, still doing station appraisals and brokerage to keep my hand in the game.  Me ... 83 and halfway around the track toward 84.  Amazing to me, as you say, to make it so far.”

Art goes back to Gordon McLendon days.  Been involved in more radio than this world knows.  A great, great radio man.  He went to The University of Texas.

Clark Weber:  “Burt Sherwood's reminiscing concerning Sam Holman was spot on.  A huge talent who could bring out the best in his air staff.  Sam also loved both beautiful women and the sauce and eventually they both did him in.  His last act as the PD at WLS was stunning.  I was doing the overnight ‘East of Midnight’ show.  Sam had married I believe his 4th wife (I may have lost count!) and before leaving town and heading for New York and WABC he and his new bride stopped in at the studio that night to say goodbye to me.  While I was on the air Sam turned off the lights in the studio, had the engineer play Buddy Morrow's ‘Night Train’ while his nubile new bride danced and stripped right down to her high heels.  With the last note of the song, she bowed, mooned me and they left.  Thanks, Sam!”

Ah, radio!

Mel Phillips:  “Not all interviews go well.  Some click and some die a quick death.  These are two of the latter.  I made an appointment to interview Clive Davis at his Arista office on 57th Street.  It was for a Barry Manilow special, one of the many pieces I did for Tom Rounds at Watermark.  Clive comes down the spiral staircase of his triplex office looking like he just walked off the cover of GQ.  Designer suit, tie and he even had a vest pocket square.  He wasn't amused when I mentioned it wasn't necessary to get that dressed up for a radio interview.  It went downhill from there.  It's not like we hadn't met before.  We had met in Boston shortly after he was named head of Columbia Records.  He was entirely different back then.  Maybe because I was programming a major market station (WRKO) he wanted to make friends with -- not to mention -- get airplay on...

“I kept all my notes on large index cards like James Lipton does.  Clive answered my questions about Barry's signing, his success, etc., by getting to the point quickly and showing no humor.  He didn't offer much as most people being interviewed do when they feel comfortable with your line of questioning.  Then he got rude.  When I did a follow-up to a two-part question he said, ‘I just answered that schmuck!’  I immediately tried to explain that it wasn't the same question but a follow up.  With a straight face he says ‘go ahead’.  That was the end of the interview for me but since it was only about half of what I wanted. I don't know how, but I kept going...

“Although he wasn't rude, Yogi Berra was the toughest interview I ever got.  I did the interview in the Yankee dugout at the Stadium before a night game.  Yogi is a sweetheart but he didn't offer anything.  Most of my questions were answered with a grunt or by his repeating each question and agreeing with me.  The interview was for a ‘Soundtrack of the Sixties’ Watermark Special.  Since Yogi managed both the Yankees and Mets I thought I had a goldmine of an interview but it didn't turn out that way.  I thought I had a door-opener when I got into all of the funny Yogi statements he was credited with making throughout his life.  He replied that "They say I made all those sayings but I don't remember if I did or not."  Interview over.  Although he was polite I didn't get much more. Here's an example.  ‘Yogi, you were called too soft when you managed players but at other times too tough. Which were you?’ Yogi: ‘Sometimes they said I was too soft, sometimes they said I was too tough. I don't know. You can't win’.  At least I met and talked to Willie Randolph, Reggie Jackson and the rest of the Yankees during batting practice.  If I think of any more memorable (for one reason or another) interviews, I will share them with you and everyone. I do have a first-person story about the early days of WABC which I'll prepare for next week.”

David Martin:  “Your email made my day -- as ever. Thought you would enjoy a piece written 10 years ago by Bob Henabery.  It's about Bill Drake, Rick Sklar and the history of Top 40 Radio.  Bob's keen intellect, storytelling and writing skills shine through. FYI -- folks can reach Bob via email.  His email addy and a link to his writing follows.  All the best.”

Personal friends wishing to reach Bob Henabery can email me for his address.  Just FYI: I read Bob’s article.  Good work, Bob!  And my sincere appreciation to Mel Phillips for his interesting contributions.  Furthermore, I’m still ticked off about what they’re doing to Ricky Irwin’s ReelRadio.  Someone ought to be ashamed of themselves!

Larry Cohen, Los Angeles:  “Hey, Claude: I was a very late addition to Hollywood Hills.  I was introduced to it by Don Graham.  I was a recipient of H/H for only the last 6 weeks before Jack Roberts passed.  He passed the evening of the day I spent some time with him.  It was a hard day’s night when Don Graham informed us that Jack had died.  When I was informed that you would be doing a weekly, I took it for granted that with my name being on the email blast, I would receive your column.  But so far I have not received your weekly.  I would greatly appreciate being added to your email blast.

“I don't know if you remember me but I basically ran Harold Lipsius's (formely Phil Spector's national distributor of Philles Records & business associate) Jamie/Guyden Records.  (I was recruited by Harold and joined his company in 1968.)  You may or may not recall that I designed along with George Wilson the Phil-L.A. of Soul label logo (with the fishbone) which I created & it was Jamie/Guyden's first R&B label that J/G owned outright.  I don't recall if you were at Billboard at the time but ‘The Horse’ instrumental on Phil-L.A. of Soul crossed over to pop & MOR and reached #2 on Billboard's Top 100 Pop chart, but failed to unseat the #1 record at the top of your chart, Herb Alpert's, ‘This Guy's in Love With You’. (Hey, When You’re Only #2 You Try Harder.) In this time period, I also had another R&B crossover on Phil-L.A. that went TOP 10 on your Billboard TOP 100 POP chart, ‘Boogaloo Down Broudway’.  We sold close to 3 million records just between these 2 releases.  I had free reign to pick and chose any of the masters that were submitted to the company and I happened to get lucky with these two records, not withstanding the fact that I had to promote them first R&B and pray for some retail sales indication that would show crossover demographics in the markets where the record(s) were breaking with big r&b sales.  I handled all of this singlehanded but had great help from several key distributor promotion people.  I recall Howard Bedno in Chicago, Jack Millman in Detroit, Abe Guard in Baltimore-Washington, Jerry Brenner in Boston, Joe Stanzione in Miami, Ray Anderson and Jack Hakim in Pittsburgh, Denny Zeitler in S.F., Tom Kennedy in Philly, the Love Brothers in NYC and Larry King in Atlanta always ‘being there’.  Several of the team later garnered big positions in the industry.  In the early 70's, Bob Skaff, VP of United Artists Records asked me to rejoin UA where I had originally started in Philly (1960) as their Local Promo rep'.  Bob was an old industry friend.

“Finally made the move west permanently in November 1976.  My first merchandising project was the ‘Rocky’ soundtrack which sold more than a million!  The ‘Rocky’ project garnered me a V.P. title, a company car, a trip to MIDEM in Cannes and London with a first class round-trip ticket and all expenses paid.

“By the way, Dick Clark once told me that he was disappointed in the two seconds he was shown in the film.  Insisted on a remake with Seacrest portraying him or HE would never play a Four Season's record again!

“About the late Jack Roberts:  One day I drove in from Long Beach (where I now live), stopped at Greenblatt's and got Jack Roberts 2 quarts of chicken noodle soup.  Went to his gate and he let me in.  Claude, he looked terrible.  That evening he died in the hospital.  I probably was the last industry person to see him before he expired other then Don Graham who was his long time friend, Priest, Rabbi and Savior.

“Although I have not seen her in years, Julie Lipsius (I do not know her marriage name) from what I understand has had her own music publishing company in NYC for years and has done quite well financially.  Frank now runs Jamie/Guyden.  Doesn't release new product but works the catalogue and does one major package a year.  He contacted me in 2011 to write what he called ‘liner notes’ for a Phil-L.A. of Soul package. The L/Notes turned out to be 10-page history of which I am the only one in the world who is most informed (I started the label).”

Just FYI, Julie and Frank are the children of Harold Lipsius, who I considered a good friend.  Frank was a closet writer.  Later, after last week’s Commentary, Larry Cohen emailed:  “Re. Jerry Wexler.  Back then in Philly we distributed Atlantic.  Wexler was a big help in my development before I joined Harold Lipsius. He was even a bigger help when I worked for and with Mr, ‘L’ as Harold was the distributor of Atco.  I attended that convention where several renown record people were beaten badly.  It was a scary scene.”

Art Wander:  “The mention of Joe Galkin in your latest commentary stirred the memory bank of my association – or lack thereof when I became program director of WPLO after I left WMGM New York.  Naturally, when in the Big Apple at that time, the Peter Tripp situation had every PD being very sensitive to the people in the record industry.  I certainly was very careful in my relationship the rest of my career.  In any event, when at WPLO (battling WQXI) this record promotion man simply came in, didn’t wait for any announcement, and came directly into my office.  I told him that the policy was that he was to sit in the lobby until I was ready for him.  He told me, ‘Change the policy’.  I hastened his exit.  Galkin came in every day and we had some good exchanges on protocol.  Then came the biggie.  Joe came into the station … went past the reception person … came into my office and threw a 45 on my desk saying, ‘Wander … you’re going to play this or your ratings will go down the toilet’.  I was furious and again led him to the exit.  As it turned out it was Otis Redding’s ‘Sittin on the Dock of the Bay’.  I was more angry that Galkin was right about the record than his antics in visiting the station.  We resolved our approaches and (without every telling him) considered him to be a great promotion man.  What made him stand out from the rest of the promo people was that he always came in with 1 or 2  45s, rather than a stack of 10-20.  And those 1 or 2 records usually became hits.  My then biggest surprise came when I was leaving Atlanta to return to New York and Joe Galkin attended my going away party.  I wonder if that was his way of making sure I was leaving.”

Bill Helmer, once an editor of Playboy and now writer of crime books:  “You bein' into radio and phonograph records and god knows what, I have the tapes that Neal Spelce gave me from his on-the-spot coverage the Whitman shooting, plus a couple of his interviews with others, and two mariachi (or is it ranchero) tunes celebrating Martinez and produced there in Austin.  Had an Austin friend put 'em on disc, in case they'd be of interest to you.  Back when I was collecting 78s, before many got lost, and I now can't find an old wind-up player that doesn't pick up every scratch, and blah, blah, blah, Vernon Dalhart was one of my all-time favorites -- must of done a song on everything from Floyd Collins to various gangsters to the Monkey Trial and ... I forget.  Had some old-dance dandies from the Twenties, and a couple that went back to pre-Prohibition, like ‘The Brewers Big Horses Can't Run Over Me’.  The good ol' days.  (First 78 I ever actually bought was Roy Acuff's ‘Wreck on the Highway’, as the rest were worn-outs from the jukebox at my dad's Hub Cafe truckstop.  He must have gone thru 20 of ‘Lovesick Blues’.  I still have a lot of that stuff on audio tapes if you'd want to put 'em on disc.  Also the teen-ager death songs like Leader of the Pack’, and the nifty black-dude stuff like ‘Work With Me Annie’ and ‘Sexy Ways’.)”

Bill, I probably have more than 2,000 LPs in the house, including the last LP of Bob Wills produced by Vince Cosgrave, but I’m not a collector.  I just checked and, yes, I have “Toolpusher” by Slim Willet on this laptop.  And “The Prisoner’s Song” by Vernon Dalhart, otherwise known as Guy Massey, among probably four or five dozen other names.  Just FYI, Bill Helmer and Neal Spelce and I were in college together at The University of Texas.

Mel Phillips:  “Great commentary, Claude. This has to be the most insightful (especially the Jerry Wexler & Shelby Singleton stories).  Great, great stuff.  And thanks for using my items, too.”

Robert E. Richer:  “This could be a story about how underpaid radio morning hosts really are or one man's inability to let go of something he loves.  WNDD-FM (Ocala) morning show co-host Barry Michaels was featured in the Ocala Star Banner not because of his high ratings, but because of his high motoring mileage.  Michaels has 40 years in the radio business, he's switched radio jobs 17 times, cris-crossing the country five times and he's owned one car, a light blue Volkswagen Sport Model Beetle, which he purchased in 1973 for $3,000. It has over 540,000 miles on it.”

Man, but Barbara and I loved the two Beetles we owned over a little more than 11 years.  I doubt there has ever been a better-made car.

I sent Kent Kotal the last Commentary:  “Some interesting stuff in here ... may quote from this from time to time in our online newsletter, Forgotten Hits.  (You might enjoy what we do as well ... quite a bit of deejay participation ... but we're ALWAYS looking for more!)  Check out the links below and let me know what you think ... would be happy to add you to the list and offer you another forum to share some of your great memories."

Go To This Link:
Go To This Link:

 Here's wishing you well! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Claude's Commentary.20r2

July 14, 2014
Claude’s Commentary
By Claude Hall

Sam Hale just sent me a copy of a book.  I wrote Sam Hale:  “‘Rhythm and the Blues’ by Jerry Wexler and David Ritz is an amazing book.  I read it just as I read the first book I ever read: ‘Yank in the RAF’ by someone named Cook.  I checked this particular book out of the public library in Sonora, TX, when I was 8 or 9 years old and the day or two before it was due, I glanced at the ending.  I was hooked.  I read it, a few pages at a time, back to front.  That was the only time I’ve done that with a book until now.  I read the ending of Jerry’s book and then, at random, a few pages here and there before putting the book on the shelf to read later.  Then, curious, I took the book and put it on the footstool at my side where several magazines that I wish to read have gathered in a stack.

“A few hours later and I’d read a few more scattered pages.  The Miami convention incident I’d heard differently.  A couple of days after I got back to New York, Shelby Singleton phoned me.  He’d received a phone call in his suite.  Someone was coming up to kill him.  He told them, ‘You’d better bring a big bullet’.  In spite of a couple of friends with him, he was beaten and spent a day in the hospital.  That’s what I remember him telling me.  He said Jerry Wexler was selected by the black power groups as an example.  They were going to kill him.  The rumor was that Henry Allen, a go-fer for the label, had rescued Jerry and got him out of the state.

“Jerry says a couple of friends got him out of the convention and he hid out in his Miami Beach home for a few days.  Paul Ackerman (Jerry named his son after Paul) and I once spent a pleasant afternoon at that place; Joe Galkin drove us over in a huge Mercedes he said he’d just bought from Jerry.  In the book, Jerry says Marshal Sehorn, a record producer, was beaten up.

“Stories!  I’ve told earlier how Novella Smith, now an evangelist in Memphis, sent me with the ‘script’ for comedian, Dick Gregory, to a hotel on Miami Beach and I got back to the ballroom just in time to see a black power cat in swirling robes go on stage, take over the mike, and announce: ‘If you haven’t done anything wrong, you won’t get hurt’.  I’m sitting across the table from a black executive at NBC and his wife, talking.  Then Coretta King goes on stage to the same mike and pleads for calm.  She says her late husband wouldn’t want anything to happen.  The black executive and his wife decide to leave.  So did I.  With a great number of others.  I went back to my room and the next day went back to New York and never knew anything had happened, I swear, until Shelby Singleton phoned me a couple of days later.

“Anyway, I go back earlier in the book.  I skip his childhood stuff … I’d read all of that before … I don’t know when or where.  I find where he joined Billboard and start from there.  He talks about Paul Ackerman, who becomes music editor when Joe Carlton leaves to join a record company.  Joe Carlton is the person who launched the column Vox Jox.  I’ve read a few of the columns as written by Jerry Wexler, who evidently spent four years with the magazine.  All of this is fascinating stuff!  I pick up a business card from Jack Gale and use it as a bookmark and read a few pages as the urge hits me.  Great book!  History.  From Jerry’s viewpoint, which is his viewpoint, but that’s okay.  He was there.  He did this, he did that.  I don’t think Jerry would lie to me.  I’m also quite positive that Jerry, genius without question, didn’t remember all of this.  My compliments to his collaborator David Ritz.  Hell of a research job on the facts, David!  Great on you!  An invaluable source of information!

“Jerry speaks of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Darin, Otis Redding and others, Miami, Muscles Shoals, Memphis, and Great Neck … the history of Atlantic Records … and his view of given hits and non-hits is not necessarily the view of the rest of the world.  Jerry loved music.  R&b, without question.  Vernon Dalhart is the proverbial anomaly here.  So is ‘Pistol Packin’ Moma’ (I interviewed Al Dexter once by phone while I was with Billboard; the first time I heard the tune was on a jukebox at the swimming pool in Sonora, TX … a 78 rpm Rockola, no doubt … I was about 9.)

“I am in love with this book, Sam.  Before his death, Jerry said he was going to send me all of his books.  He never got around to the task.

“Jerry invited me to the Polo Lounge one day.  He and his wife were both steaming.  This was just about the time he broke up completely with wife Shirley.  I later saw the girl, I believe, that Jerry spoke of as having ‘a body that won't quit’.  I guess he'd lost his touch by this point.  Too much pot.  She was young.  She wasn't exactly pretty.  If she had a body, I didn’t see it.  Perhaps Jerry was imaging things.

“I'm nearing the end.

“Thank you, Sam!”

And I received this response from Sam Hale: “It pleases me ‘no end’ that you had this escape to yesteryear as, from your comments to me
in the past, I thought you would.  As I think I mentioned to you a long while ago, the eulogy that Jerry spoke at Joe Galkin's memorial service in Joe's hometown of Macon, GA, was the most remarkable I've every experienced.  Joe was a very complex man, but with an overriding generous heart that gained him many friends.  Jerry's words captured that persona incredibly well.  It was simply brilliant, as was Jerry himself.  I later asked Jerry for a copy of his remarks and he had not saved them.  As you so well know, his remarks about Mr. Ackerman were saved -- and widely appreciated.

“I was doing Saturday nights at WQXI for a while as I could personally select the ‘oldies’ which generated enormous audience ratings.  One night, with no pre-planning, Joe Galkin walked in with Otis Redding for a long visit.  I'm sure you know that Joe was a catalyst in the connection of Otis and Phil Walden, as well as having played a part in several others'
obtaining recording contracts.  In spite of Otis' stardom, when I walked them to that Mercedes of which you wrote, I saw that Otis was acting as Joe's driver!  I had first met Joe a few years earlier in Birmingham when he first began as an independent record promoter and had ‘Lavender Blue’ by Sammy Turner.  It didn't take much convincing for me to add the record which, as you will remember, quickly became an enormous hit.

“ANOTHER MATTER:  As you are a ‘leader of the pack’ of those making efforts to preserve memories of the accomplishments of outstanding radio people, I wanted to ask you to do a big salute to John Long.  He has devoted enormous time and talent by originating the GA Radio Hall of Fame and initiated the registration of the TN Radio Hall of Fame, the latter which others have developed into a viable form.  John hasn't stopped by gathering and publishing the history of numerous radio professionals but stages an annual awards banquet with outstanding a success.  He didn't stop there, either. He has been collecting memorabilia and now has recently completed a museum with this material by negotiating space with the city officials of St. Mary's, GA.  It's another fantastic accomplishment.
“John often gives me credit as co-founder which is a huge overstatement.  To assist him in the formation I agreed to serve as treasurer and vice president.  I was only in this role until it was going strongly.  In the meantime, there are other board members who have helped him, but it is John Long who has done the planning and 95% of the work, which continues.  I know no ONE who has selflessly done so much to honor and preserve these histories.”

Okay, I finished Jerry’s book.  My opinion hasn’t changed.  Great book.  A valuable sight into the music business.  I felt a little sorry for Jerry by the end.  The price he paid for success was just too enormous.  I enjoyed my time in the radio and music businesses.  Made many friends.  Didn’t make much money (made better bucks as a college professor), but I had a phenomenal time.  I don’t think I would have traded my life, however, for Jerry’s life for any amount of money.  Nor a single friend of mine for any of the people Jerry knew and talks about in his book.

As for John Long:  Great on you, John!

Woody Roberts, amidst the quails near Austin:  “Claude, I only knew Bill Randle as a Cleveland radio legend, never met.  Did work with Wes Hopkins who got caught at Westinghouse during payola scandal.  Scroll down check video for young Bill's intro for dynamic Elvis performance at his peak.
Lee Baby Simms, a mountaintop above the San Francisco Bay, to the Three Mesquiteers:  “Good Day Dear Lads.  Here's My Elvis connection.   On April 3, 1956, the swivel hipped one appeared on ‘The Milton Berle Show’, live, from the deck of the Aircraft Carrier, USS Hancock, then stationed in San Diego. The Captain at the time of that Mighty Warship was my father in law, Dean Black, and a bigger son of a bitch never lived!  He was a Navy Pilot.  World War Two.  336 (he said) takeoffs and landings at sea on the deck of a rolling, heaving, tossing aircraft carrier, sometimes in storms, sometimes under fire from the Japanese Suicide Kamikaze (Divine Wind) pilots.  All of em` comin` in fast and low, fully loaded with 5,000-pound bombs. One Mission, sink American ships, kill American seamen!  Sounds VERY dangerous.  Captain Black (later Admiral Black) was a war-time hero, a real one, because of that fact, he was, after the war, given command of The Hancock.  Enter Elvis, shaking, rattling and rolling.  I can imagine that the Admiral was not amused.  But he had to host Milton`s show, good PR for The Navy.  After EL`s appearance he was introduced to Captain Black and gave him an autographed picture.

“The autograph, written on the left side, reads: ‘To Captain Black, many thanks Sir. Elvis Presley’.  The Captain gave it to his daughter, Celia.  When she died it came to me.  It hangs on the wall upstairs, I pass by it every night on my way to bed.  And that's my Elvis connection.

“I`m feeling good today. The Maters are gangbusters, hundreds of them, hanging heavy on the vines.  I`m going to have a few for lunch.  You guys comin` over?”

John Long:  “Sam Hale mentioned he had told you about the new Georgia Radio Museum. Here is the web address:”

Bob “Wilson” Wolfson: “Claude, you're driving me crazy ... Gary Owens, L. David, Ernie Ford, that station in Pasadena, there are many other names ... and then my great, great uncle Sid Bernstein!  I never knew him, of course, as he was the generation before my father whose mother’s maiden name was Bernstein (a sister to Sid) ... I can only assume that my father 'Sid' was named after him.  As for Ernie Ford ... my cousin was a featured dancer in 1950's movies ... directed the dancers in a Broadway play and danced in a review headed up by Spike Jones (musical depreciation review).  He also met Ernie after dancing with a Donald O’Connor Vegas show, who made him choreographer for Ernie’s TV show ... featured him with a 10-minute solo at Xmas time.  Somewhere in that group is Mickey Katz (Joel Grey) ... and my mentor, Tom Cafferty, known as 'Cactus' on KXLA radio with an hour show just prior to Ernie’s daily show ... Tom talked as if he was about 70 years old ... Ernie did, too ... that's why Cliffie Stone was surprised to hear Ernie singing in the hallway and put him on the air with Herman's Hermits as background.  Mule train was that result and Ernie was on the rise to becoming a country icon and later to employ the cousin of the teenager (me) who used to hang around the station with Tom and talk to the stars who in those days sold their own airtime, paying Loyal King, the owner, whatever he charged for the opportunity!  Tom was a best friend from Chicago of yet another cousin as both were vets of WWII. Now David ... we often talked about 'entertainment' and David always looked for jocks that has that little bit extra.  David would write 10-second narrations before playing a commercial ... that would end with the first few words from the spot.  Usually hilarious! And often amazing.  I told you once that I performed David’s last two newscasts on Saturday so he could catch a flight from Omaha to Chicago where he had a CBS shift.  That act paid me back over the next 20 years in friendship, a great dinner companion, a great drinking companion and long discussions on trying to entertain the rock audience.  He tried to bring me everywhere, just to do the news voicers, etc.  And as luck would have it, two weeks after signing a 3-year contract with Cecil Heftel, David offered me a news director position in LA.  Later the marriage went sour and David called and said ‘....get down to Austin ... n o w!  That produced a remarkable experience.  I think we were number one before the next month concluded!  David almost had the radio Disney approach put together where i would be like 'big Bob the story teller’ ... I had written two children’s records doing all the voices, as spec but never went any further.  David found a young couple with money who were about to enter into buying five stations that David found compatible. Then Dallas fell apart and I returned to Pennsylvania and my growing family of about 35 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren ... and following the stroke, I cannot remember all their names!!!”

I knew Cliffie Stone fairly well.  Still have a record that I was supposed to return … but Cliffie died on me.  Me and Ken Griffis helped him on what I presume was the last album by the Sons of the Pioneers that Cliffie produced on Granite Records for Sam Trust.  He told me that Tennessee Ernie Ford was doing extremely well.  Huge on TV.  Then one day he told Cliffie that he had enough money to go fishing the rest of his life and that was what he was going to do.  Sorry about the memory, Bob.  Glad you recalled the stuff above, though!  Thanks!

Clark Weber:  “I so enjoy going back in radio time to reminisce about the folly and the fortunes of radio past.  Your mention of Hal Neal brought back a flood of memories.  Hal was running WXYZ sales when his fortunes took him to NYC.  I recall that Neal was said to have very sharp elbows and tongue to match plus a low tolerance for disagreement.  I witnessed that when WLS GM Ralph Boudin was promoted to ABC New York over Neal, Gene Taylor was made WLS GM and he in turn made me the PD.  Those promotions were said to stick in Neal's craw, he was furious and made life difficult for all concerned.  Allegedly his fall from ABC grace a few years later was swift and justice was served.”

I thought the best man at ABC was Wally Schwartz and some of his “second louies” were phenomenal, including a man named Alexander.  Barbara and I were close to him and his wife for a while.  They came out to visit us in Los Angeles.  Too, I really liked Wally.  He and Tex Ritter had total recall on names and faces.  Wally once saw me at a radio meeting in Oklahoma City (I was studying for a master’s at Phillips University in Enid, OK) and yelled and came over to shake my hand … after years and years!  Tex once did the same at the Palisades Amusement Park.  No wonder both of these men were huge in their fields.  Huge!

Burt Sherwood:  “It is hard to let ‘sleeping dogs lie’.  I see a boatload of misinformation … most all of the people have departed the earth so some of what went on will still never be told.  WABC ... Hal Neal was difficult -- to say the least -- to love.  Jack G. Thayer tried to get me to talk to him many years later when I was running WMAQ … and rather than do that I left the room ... I will never forget he let me hang out to dry!  However, be that as it may, here is what I recall about who was programming WABC.  Why do I not hear or see the name of Mike Joseph?  He was the consultant who brought in Sam Holman.  Rick Sklar was working for Murray the K then at WINS and somehow got into WABC when Sam got out.  I am going to alert your blog Claude, to HOA ... I know he will find the last one interesting and if he responds you can put him on your list.  Sam Holman and I got reacquainted many years later and became friends.  He died as I recall in a hotel room (in Vegas I think) and no one found him for days ... Sam sent me the great Tom Kennedy for our station in New Haven ... who ultimately went to Boston.  He was a nice guy and really knew talent ... his terrible ending still shakes me.

“WABC was a programmer’s nightmare when Hal Neal took it over and he got the right guys in there to straighten it ou ... as to the sound ... it sounds like the late Bobby Kanner (chief Eng at WMCA, and good friend) was on a milking chore ... sound was not a problem at WMCA ... it was signal ...we ‘owned‘ Brooklyn, but our signal had no strength beyond the NYC metro and WABC could be heard all up and down the East Coast.  I ‘broke’ Bobby Kanner in on my show and we were life-long friends.  He died on the West Coast and was an engineer's engineer ... he got that 5kw WMCA signal out further  than anyone before him ... and I knew them all.  I think he worked for Drake Chenault at the end of his career and life ... not so sure on that.  Peace be with them all!

John Rosica:  “When I moved to NYC in '61 Mike Joseph was WABC PD and HOA already doing mornings.  Sam Holman followed Joseph and Rick was community relations.”

Art Wander:  “Reading about the WABC/WMCA competition, I will agree with Claude Hall that the person responsible for the great success of WABC was Rick Sklar.  No offense to Sam Holman, who couldn’t fight the suits upstairs, Rick was able to convince Hal Neal to do away with ‘Breakfast Club’, giving 77/WABC the consistency in programming necessary to achieve such success.  YET, I wonder what would have happened if the Tisch brothers did not sell WMGM.  In 1961, I was hired as program director of WMGM by Art Tolchin, the director of the station.  A couple of weeks after my arrival, Tolchin told me that Rick Sklar was available since WINS was going to be sold.  He asked my opinion.  I quickly suggested hiring him since he knew so much more about the market.  I became Tolchin’s assistant and Rick the program director.  Rick and I meshed very well and worked together very well in preparing WMGM to go after WMCA and WABC.  Naturally, ‘Breakfast Club’ was the vulnerable attack point.  We began listing DJs for WMGM.  First hire was Bob Lewis (later nights at ABC.)  Bob and I used to play chess in my office.  Rick scheduled meetings with Bill Meeks of PAMS and we were ready to get Series 18 (sonovox).   Then disaster struck.  WMGM was being sold to Storer.  Art Tolchin gave myself and Rick an iron clad one-year contract but it was known that WMGM would go good music instead of gearing up with Top 40 programming.  After WMGM became WHN, Rick wanted to get out of his contract while I was already making plans to go to another market.  Rick wound up at WABC and subsequently replaced Sam Holman as program director.  Then came the big change, saying: ‘bye bye’ to ‘Breakfast Club’ in favor of programming consistency.  The rest is history.  Rick and I maintained a closeness through the years until his untimely death.  His great kids, Holly and Scott are doing well on the west coast.  Finally, Claude, continue these great commentaries.  It lets us know that many friends of the great era are still with us.  And genius Chuck Blore IS NOT the oldest radio person around.  Stay well everyone.”  Then:  “Claude, I forgot to ask if you would be so kind to put me on the list for your commentaries, I would appreciate it.  Thanks much – they are great.”

I wrote Art Wander that I had been emailing Claude’s Commentary to him all along.  If you do not receive Commentary, mailed each Monday, please let me know and I’ll try to solve the problem.

Then a note from Burt Sherwood about his personal philosophy:  “The things that make you ‘stronger’ take a toll on you ... it is hard to forget … no, let me say impossible.  I hear from people who get your weekly all the time, who say they more or less stayed under the ‘radar’ ...  which I did for most of my management career ... I let what we did speak for itself.  As I told you when I went into a city or town to operate a station the people never knew I was a ‘former’ talent ... sometimes it leaked out, but I was already doing what I loved doing best -- running stations that were totally in the ‘dumper’ and bringing them back to a spot they had never imagined ... unfortunately in those days I made little money ... but made a lot of rich people richer ... so be it.  You and I went down separate paths, same result … we love people ... the scars show in early morning and late at night.  I can give you more names ... but WE ARE STILL HERE.  I followed your moves very carefully over the years, and knew you had a hard life getting back to a good one ... you have a ton of friends out there ... we old guys can attest to that.  Be well.”

Danny Davis:  “Authorman: Knowing that 'all peoples' ain't alike, but may be interested in what really makes 'em tick!  Lemme tout you to a good, variation of what YOU usually would place on the night stand!  My category, for a long time, was/and still is, 'hard guys like Morris Levy and 'their compatriots'! When I was 'woikin' for Milt Blackstone and Eddie Fisher, I cultivated the sincere friendship of Sandra Lansky (yes, daughter of the 'gent' who owned your town a while ago!  Meyer Lansky!!)  She's written a book!  You'll like it, I think!  Called ‘Daughter of the King’! Best to every Hall in the house!”

Joey Reynolds informed me of the changes at WDRC, Hartford, where he and many other disc jockeys of great renown temporarily hung their Stetsons.  Here’s a comment from Lee Baby Simms to the Three Mesquiteers, Robert Weisbuch and Woody Roberts: “And a very good day to you Dr. Bob.  I trust that you and your posse are well on this lovely day.  I see that you have received Claude`s missive of this morning.  Woody sure got it right when he said:  ‘an old-fashioned radio blood letting occurred July 5th’.   How many times?  Let me break out my abacus to see if it can help me count that high.  THERE IS NO TENURE IN THE RADIO BUSINESS, MY BOY.  The quick and the dead work in the radio business.  Dick Robinson was very kind to remember me favorably.  Should you speak with him again please give him my best.  I think I`ll have a cold one, sit outside on the deck in the Sunshine and Wonder at The Wonder.  Wonder how it is that it has been so good to me for so long.  I, who has never known ... Tenure.  Wak.”

Mel Phillips:  “When I first started doing interviews I wanted to impress my interviewee with how much homework I had done on my subject.  I learned pretty quickly that the interview is about the subject, not me.  The best interview is done by triggering a memory that the interviewee can discuss candidly and then just let them fly.  From there you just steer them in the direction that will give you some meat that opens up the personality and raw emotions of the person being interviewed.  There are 2 interviews I consider my best: Ronnie Spector & Ellie Greenwich. Ellie was better because I was able to use everything she gave me. Ronnie was so candid that she told me a lot of things (mostly about Phil Spector) that were so personal I couldn't use them for fear of some ear-shattering phone calls from Phil and a possible lawsuit. Phil and I got fairly close and knowing how wired he was I didn't dare risk the wrath of Spector. A lot of the info Ronnie supplied was great and usable, like she & the Ronettes only needing one take on "Walking in the Rain". Ellie Greenwich was just great in supplying the reasoning behind almost all the hits she, Jeff Barry (and sometimes Phil) collaborated on. I did a title memory Q&A with Ellie. I would mention a title and she was off. ‘Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry’ (about falling in love quickly with Jeff at a family Thanksgiving dinner arranged by members of the family). ‘Be My Baby’ (was based on Ellie & Jeff playing, if you be my baby, I'll be your baby silliness). Then there were the nonsense songs (‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’) that were about nothing -- it was just time for another hit single (and just about all of them were.)  More interview memories will be coming along soon, including the tough ones.

“Claude, please let everyone know that I have a new URL for Mel Phillips Radio Views: and should anyone want an advance copy of my most current radio view, they can request it by emailing me at  Thanks. Keep writing and we'll keep reading.”

My compliments, Mel.  The interview stuff is priceless!

The 2014 induction celebration for the Texas Radio Hall of Fame will be November 1 at the Hotel Galvez in Galvestion.  Admission is $50.  There will be a special tribute to Bill Young.  Try: or

Barbara used to know a widow lady, now passed on, whose husband was one of the big honchos at Caesar’s Palace.  Back in my Billboard days, I interviewed the guy who founded the casino.  Kicked out.  Accused by the IRS of skimming, as I recall.  Don’t remember his name just now.  But the old-timers around here are sort of revered.  Like minor gods.  Mafia or not.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Claude's Commentary.10r2

July 7, 2014
 Claude’s Commentary
By Claude Hall

Larry White, now in Charlotte, NC:  “I remember that Four Seasons show in Buffalo years ago very well.  After the show, you and Barbara, Joey and his guest (his wife at the time, as I recall) and Jay Meyers (WBUF's PD) and his wife joined us at our home for a while before you returned to Brockport.  It was a great visit since I was always a big Joey Reynolds fan from the time I first got into the business. And like everyone else from the era never missed your weekly Vox Jox column in Billboard.  Claude, when I attended a few of the Billboard radio programming conferences in NYC, I never would have guessed that, years later, I would have you and Joey as guests in our home.  It was quite an honor.  Best to you and Barbara.”

Don Whittemore defended the quality of the movie.  “Saw ‘Jersey Boys’ Sunday.  Joey Reynolds's four-hour Four Seasons non-stop was a vital bit in the movie, but alas no name credit and the DJ didn't look at all like Joey.  Great Movie, too.  So nice I'll see it twice.”

Burt Sherwood: “Claude:  As we age brevity is a word that someone else uses when writing a note.  The death knell (if you will) of WMCA was sounded by Hal Neal the then GM of WABC.  He finally got rid of the ‘Breakfast Club’.  Steve Labunski, our manager at WMCA, was always afraid this would happen … what ensued was Herb Oscar jumping over to WABC to fill the ‘void’ of the Breakfast Club and leaving WMCA with his great ratings, and no HOA.  Why wouldn't WABC sound good?  They had Herb and Scott from WMCA.  HOA and Scott and I were very close ... Herb got us to move up to Connecticut to be with his family and Scott's as well ... we all lived within 15 minutes of each other ... our wives and kids all were very friendly. HOA and I still talk all the time...Scott as you know passed away.  HOA , Scott Muni and I along with our families would get together almost every weekend for a bar b que..cook out etc. ... we were very close ... when we were at WMCA we three were on the air longer (air time wise) than most of the rest of the station ... I would see them both daily as I was on the end and the beginning of their shifts.  I was doing overnights and was sponsored by Texaco ... and that story is another one left alone..suffice to say I was the ‘last’ one to leave WMCA and Texaco went off the overnights.  I was scheduled to join the guys ... but the WABC overnight man Big Joe had a no cut contract ... and I still had a lot of time left my WMCA contract as well.

“To shorten this ... I was let go at WMCA, and could not get a job in NYC ... I struggled for a year or so and finally got two NYC  lawyers (Bob Price, he became Deputy Mayor of NYC and Ted Kupferman, he became a congressman)  and then Congressman John Lindsay's money to begin my journey in management.  That is a shortcut to a very trying time and a story that will do no one any good.  I did 11 pm Sunday news on WOR as well as the Million Dollar Movie on WOR-TV (for a while), went to Daytona Beach and Harrisburg then to Albany where I honed my management skills ... suffice to say it was the turning point of my life ... and many people were very kind to me as I began the long journey wearing the ‘suit’.  The first station I ran was in Brattleboro, Vermont.  We paid $80,000 for WTSA.  As I tell my son, you gain no knowledge of management from a good is too good to be picked apart ... so you learn from the guys you worked for that were not so good ... no names ... management is a trickey business ... John Barger wrote kindly of me and Buddy Carr ... AND we all had to learn!

“Once again...Ruth Meyer was a friend and we connected again years later when I was GM at WMAQ radio and she and Chuck Renwick were programming NBC Radio Network ... she was a great gal and a pal ... she loved France and got there as often as she could, and Chuck and I once in a while chat about those days , she ended up with terminal cancer and living in Kansas City (her home), and we talked and talked via the phone she could tell history beautifully and was a fine writer ... so much goes by in time ... I thought about a book ... but so has everyone else.  She had a very good private life and talked to me about it all the time ... she made a lot of friends  (including my wife Anne) and was deeply religious!  Enough Claude ... most of this stuff predated your arrival at Billboard and our getting to know each other, and I think I am boring you.  Give Barbara a hug ... from me still standing.”

Ah, yes.  Hal Neal.  When he became head of ABC Radio, I received a news release about their Brother John syndicated program.  I wrote the typical news story and printed it in Billboard.  He sent a PR firm to “demand” a larger story.  A feature.  I listened to the program.  Didn’t think much about it.  I said “nope.”  Neal called me.  Again, “nope.”  The PR firm approached again and the guy said he knew Hal Cook, my publisher.  I said, “Good.  I know him, too.”  Neal got revenge a couple of years later.  I was asked to do some consulting for the NAB and Neal threw the proverbial monkey’s wrench into the deal.

John Rosica:  “In fact it was Sam Holman who established WABC’s sound and format.  Rick Sklar was just the keeper of the Holman format.”

I think that would be shortchanging Rick, John.  True, the format was set by Sam Holman and I more than likely failed to give Sam his just due (I believe I apologized at one point; I sure hope I did).  But Rick constantly made improvements.  I believe that the real success of the station was because of Rick.  Regardless, as Burt Sherwood indicates, WABC did not fully overcome WMCA until “Breakfast Club” was removed from the air and credit for that probably goes to Rick.  He lamented the program to me a few times.  Not that it was bad.  Just that it didn’t fit a Top 40 station.

Larry Woodside, in a follow-up to the Ken Roberts obit:  “Sadly, yes, last month in NYC. There was an obituary in the LA Times yesterday (guess they were a little late getting the word), and then there's this: Ken Roberts, the Other "Jersey Boy," Remembered at the Friars Club.”

Freddy Snakeskin, JACK-FM/KROQ, Los Angeles:  “The LA Times is doing a story on the late Ken Roberts. They already did a lengthy interview with me, but after reading Joey Reynolds' comments in your blog, I was thinking he might be a good source for them to talk to as well. I don't know how far along the reporter, Elaine Woo, is with her story, but since you are in contact with him, would you mind passing this message along? Elaine can be reached at”

But Elaine Woo responded: “Thanks, Freddy, but I already filed the story.  Sounds like there's a book here!”

Jay Lawrence in regards to Chuck Blore’s statement about today’s radio lacking entertainment:  “I read the comments about L David Moorhead.  He talked about the entertainment station a lot. Wanted me to work for him.  David hired me or had me hired on 3 different stations.  We met at KTKT Tucson.  He brought me to KFI, next helped move me to WNEW, then to an Arthur Godfrey type show in WNDE, Indianapolis. He hoped to get it on all stations in Gulf Broadcast Group.  Let's write a book about David, there are million stories in the L. David (Guy Williams) City.”

You were always huge with David Moorhead, Jay.  Talked about you often.  And, yes, he intended to hire you for the new station he was planning to put on the air in Las Vegas, the first of a chain.  He also intended to hire Mikel Hunter and a couple of others whom I can’t remember after all this time.

Al Herskovitz, Bradenton, FL:  “Wow! Talk about going way back in time.  I worked with Dan Ingram when his name was Ray Taylor and mine was Al Harper.  He and i worked weekend nights at WICC in Bridgeport, CT.  He did the music and I did the news.  He even had to co-host a Sunday night classical music show. We were so broke then that we had to pool our change in order to buy one sub sandwich to split for dinner.”

Bob Skurzewski:  “I found Casey Kasem to be a neat guy to talk to. He was secretive about things, thus he did not get many pages in our book. He did explain all the thoughts on what would eventually be ‘American Top 40’.  Eddie Chase was mentioned by him as a person who amazed him with a count down of top records when Casey was a teen. He did not have to credit anybody. But he did!  I also tried to get him to write the preface for our book. He politely said no.  As to the news, our book title was never in the body of the article. I did sign off to the gal in charge of these types of views, that we did author the book and gave her info on it. She inserted in the body. That blew me away because the Bflo. News has done little to help local authors get some press.  I understand that the Kasem battles continue with Jean trying to wrestle away the kids trust funds Casey set up for them.  For now lets call that a nasty rumor.  Stay well.”

I liked Casey.  Don’t know anyone that didn’t like him.

Don Berns:  “I was always proud to call Bob Lewis (Bob-A-Lou) a friend, since we had both graduated from WBRU at Brown and hit it off well enough that we remained friends through the rest of his life.  Bob arranged for me to sit in with Dan Ingram for a few breaks one day -- one of the thrills of my young life, since for me Dan was one of the all-time greats as well.  But the WABC story that Bob told me that sticks with me today is about the engineer who was having drinks with a fellow 1st ticket holder from WMCA who tried to pry the settings from him for WABC's reverb, which WMCA had tried to copy for years but had never gotten right.  After a few drinks, this WMCA guy thought his buddy was lubricated enough to spill the beans, and sure enough got what he thought was the settings from him. What he didn't know was how loyal the WABC engineer was to his company, and the next day when the WMCA engineer tweaked his station's sound, the jocks all sounded like they were talking from the back of a cave.”

I complained that the temperature in Las Vegas was currently around 110 during the day and Woody Roberts responded:  “Hot?  Get back to where you once belonged; only 95 this week.  To help forget LV temp here's some good 'ol Texas radio coming outta cool Dripping Springs -- home of Hamilton's Pool -- to mix with your daily streams and Youtube tunes.
“PS --  Watch out for that Diet Pepsi, what you need is a cold bottle of Diet Cana Cola.”

Oh, sure.  Funny thing is that someone sent me some hot cocoa from Starbucks; don’t know who.

Roger Carroll, Los Angeles:  “Claude, I enjoy your Commentary ... re: Joey Reynolds he has to be kidding about the movie. Some time I will tell you my experience with him.”

Roger, don’t wait.  I would indeed love to print something scandalous about Joey.  The first thing I ever wrote about him was for a special magazine Billboard published called SoundMaker.  Circa 1967.  I thought he would sue.  But the first time I met him, he thanked me.  So, you tell me your scandalous story and I’ll tell you two or three of mine!  Maybe four.  Or, heck, let’s do a book!  Did you read “I Love Radio” at Books?  Some Joey stuff in there.

Lee Baby Simms, who has never (ask Woody Roberts) done anything scandalous in his life other than raise tomatos, sent me an old newspaper item about Billy Joe Shaver being arrested for aggravated assault regarding an incident outside Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon in Lorena, TX, on March 31, 2007.   I remarked that it sounded like a typical Texas bar tale.  Just FYI, Billy Joe was acquitted in a Waco court on April 9, 2010.  Self-defense.  Dale Watson wrote a song about the incident – “Where Do You Want It?” recorded by Whitey Morgan and the 78s.  It’s on the group’s second album on Bloodshot Records!
Ah, them Texas bars!

Jim Slone:  “My remarks will be a little too old for your readers but probably not for you ... lol  I went to the museum at San Juan Capistrano last week ... on one of the plaques outside was a picture of the sheet music to ‘When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano’ featuring Tony Martin.  There were a lot of different versions of that song but the most popular was by the ink Spots in 1940 … have always loved that song ... I was able to find Tony Martin's recording and it is good, too ... The swallows weren't there last week, but there were hoards of people ... and the gift shop was filled with regular folks buying mementos.”

Beautiful place!  Barbara and I and kids have been there.  More than once or twice, I think.  I even have some photos I took.  This, of course, was more than 30-40 years ago.

Bobby Ocean:  “Regarding that statement, ‘all Art is a funny business’, you're right, Claude.  It was Kurt Vonnegut who once said, ‘to work at any art, whether done well or badly, is to grow the soul.  So, do it’."

Bobby, in my opinion, you’re a tremendous artist!  Takes a gift.  Back in the day of magazines, you’d probably have been famous.  Well, that is even more famous than you are now.  Because, to me, you’re famous.  And great!  A great radio treasure!

I hope everyone’s past week was good and that next week will be sensational for you and yours.  At the moment, I’m reading “Rhythm and the Blues.”  A comment maybe next week.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Claude's Commentary.r2

June 30, 2014
Claude’s Commentary
By Claude Hall

Joey Reynolds, a personal family friend, is raising hell because he wasn’t mentioned in “Jersey Boys,” the new film directed by Clint Eastwood.  I don’t know Joey’s legal rights.  Moral rights?  Yeah, if history is to be served, Joey should have been mentioned.  He played “Sherry,” their record produced by Bob Crewe, for four hours in 1962 at WPOP in Hartford and it became a hit.  Would it have been a hit otherwise?  Good question.  But Joey was, without doubt, closely connected to the Four Seasons, the group on which the play and the movie was based.  One day when I was teaching at the State University of New York, Joey came by and Barbara and I drove him and a friend over to Buffalo.  We thus supped on one of his sister’s amazing salads and later caught Frankie Valli at a theater in Buffalo.  Joey emceed the show.  As I recall, we chatted with Frankie backstage.  You know the biz.  Joey wasn’t just close to the group.  They recorded a theme song for his radio show back in the day when Joey was Peck’s bad boy of radio.
Well, if I know the movie business – and I don’t – Clint Eastwood is not even going to sweat remaking the film to include Joey.  Tough luck, Joey.  Continue to yell … but to little avail.  I doubt that Clint will even bother to apologize.
Who did Clint have as his radio advisor?  Anyone?  Geez  … I could have recommended a couple of people!  One would have been Joey.
Ah, movies!  Great line from Ron Fraiser, who was in “Close Encounters of a Third Kind” and in “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”  When they remade “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” he complained to me that at least for the original film they’d given him a bicycle.
No apology, Joey.  Not even a bicycle.  But, just incidentally, word is spreading among Barbara’s friends that the movie isn’t very great.  On the other hand they all – including three members of my family -- liked the play, both in Manhattan and in Las Vegas.  That was your major problem, Joey: no mention in the play.  Ah, Clint … you wish to make a movie about music and/or radio, you’ve got to talk with Don Graham or Morris Diamond or Danny Davis.  Maybe all three.  And then ….

Bob Piava:  “This week's Commentary brought with it some memories of people who helped me.   First story:  Ruth Meyers.  I found myself at a party in New York, at Nate and Al’s with the owner of WPOP radio, Joe Amaturo.  Ruth Meyers came over, complimented me on the great job I was doing.  Joe Amaturo was impressed ... I was flabbergasted.  Later I found out that one of the promo men had set Ruth up to do it.  I don't know whether she knew me from Adam but she impressed my boss and helped me greatly.  Second:  Pete Bennett.  Pete came to me in Hartford and asked me for some help breaking a Bobby Vinton record.  I liked the record, I liked Pete and we got the record off the ground.  In return, Peter surprised me by helping me get ‘exclusives’ on Beatle records ahead of Bertha Porter at WDRC.  I never told anybody the ‘secret’ to getting Beatle records ... but it was Bobby Vinton and Pete Bennett.  Later on my brother John ran into Pete Bennett when John was a member of the Four Seasons.  The last name that struck a bell was Mickey Addy of Billboard Magazine.  Mickey took me to dinner several times at Vesuvio in New York City.  One of those times we had dinner with a very funny lady he introduced as ‘Mrs. Mills’.  Mrs. Mills turned out to be Edie Adams and dinner was delightful. Mickey also taught me a trick.  When eating heavy Italian or other dinners, drink carbonated mineral water (Pelligrini) and you won't feel stuffed.  It acts like an antacid.  I have followed that advice to this day.  Thanks for kicking off some good memories with the column.”

Another Mickey Addy tale:  Before going to bed after an evening of partying he would down a piece of apple pie with a glass of milk.  No hangover!  For those who never met Mickey, he was something else!  He made the record business fascinating.  For one country music bash in Nashville, he dressed as a “baron” with monocle, fancy costume, and all.  Fooled everyone!  Huge articles in the newspapers, photos.  Ah, Mickey.  You and I were born in different generations.  A pity.  I would, indeed, have liked to have known you better and longer.

Shadoe Stevens:  “Hey, Claude, did Ken Roberts die? I just got a note from Joey Reynolds through Timmy Manocheo that would leave me to believe it's true.”
Joey Reynolds wrote a week or so ago about the Ken Robertts memorial at the Friars in New York City:   “Ken was a quiet man, understated and an honest regular guy….”  I wrote Shadoe and copied Joey: “I didn't know Ken Roberts personally, so I don't know.  I printed Joey's note this week.  So maybe Joey will get back to us whether Ken Roberts was just honored ... or has passed on.”
Shadoe Stevens:  “I knew him from back in the KROQ beginnings and Gary Bookasta ... nice enough guy ... a little strange ... I remember him eating nothing but hamburgers, though.  We used to call him Whimpy.  Good business man, clearly, and had a lot of luck on his side, too.”
Yep.  We checked.  Ken had bought it.  Don Barrett printed up a nice story.  I sent it to Shadoe just in case he hadn’t seen it.
Shadoe Stevens:  “Thanks, Claude.  Yes, I did.  Sorry to hear it.  I appreciate your note.  Hope all is well in your world.  Did you see the picture of the legendary - and my personal favorite - the Obscene Steven Clean with Dr. Demento?  It's recent.  But no one knows how to contact him. Do you?”
Hacker got my files about two years ago.  Lost all but about 500 people.  Then the hacker taunted me from, he said, Spain.  As you can imagine, I don’t feel very good about hackers these days.  I have Dr. Demento on file, not Clean.  Anyone know how to reach Clean?  Also, Jay West.

Morris Diamond:  “Hello, Claude.   Thanks a million for keeping me in the loop.   I was devastated to read in your current mailing the writings of my dear friend, Joey Reynolds, when he wrote about the passing of Kenny Roberts.  I was shocked and very sad at the same time.  During the years between 1980 and 2001, I was retained by Tino Barzie, Pia Zadora's manager, and her husband, Mishulam Ricklis, to work with Tino on the music for Pia's LPs and films.  I was given office space and carried on my regular activities of music consulting (supervision) for films and TV.  Tino knew a ton of people, basically from his days of managing Sinatra Jr.   There wasn't a week that Tommy Lasorda would miss coming up to our office and having a lunch with Tino on his way to the ballpark.  Another of Tino's buddies was Kenny Roberts.  Kenny had a few buddies that he would have lunch and dinner with every day ... Tino was one of them, as was Frankie Valli who Kenny managed at one time along with Sly Stone.  This was after he sold his radio station in Pasadena.  Kenny at one point decided he'd like to have an office in Beverly Hills as opposed to his office that he had on his ex-Robert Taylor estate, which also contained a few cottages for guests.   Mr. Riklis had built penthouse offices on Wilshire and Camden and there was always an extra room for a guest.  Tino and Mr. Riklis invited Kenny to move into that office, which he did.  Kenny reciprocated and was very appreciative.  Whether it be lunch or dinner, if I happened to walk into a restaurant where he was dining with his buddies, he made it a point to invite me to join them.  For a number of years, Kenny threw the best Christmas party in town in his palatial estate on top of Mandeville Canyon.  He would tent his tennis court, big orchestra, and I felt very privileged to be invited to this gala affair, dining with Frankie Valli, Paul Anka, etc.  Thanks, Joey, for doing your piece on Kenny and giving me the incentive to remember a true gentleman ... R I P, Kenny.”

Last week, I remarked that at one point WMCA sounded better than WABC across the street in Manhattan (actually, they weren’t all that far apart in the Big Apple).  I should have also written “in my opinion.”

Ken Levine:  “Let me spark some controversy by saying although I, too, had enormous respect for Ruth Meyer (her accomplishments are especially phenomenal considering she’s a woman and it was the MAD MEN era) but I do not agree that WMCA was a better-sounding radio station than Rick Sklar’s WABC.  WABC had those spectacular jingles and maybe the greatest single disc jockey in the history of Top 40 radio — Dan Ingram.  And ultimately won out in the ratings.  Granted it’s a close race between two superb thoroughbreds, but I’d have to give it to WABC by a nose.  Now prepare yourself for all the emails defending WMCA and the counter arguments by the WABC faithful.  I feel like a hockey referee who just dropped the puck.  :)”

I wrote Ken Levine back, of course.  I think Ken Levine is one of the best things that ever happened to radio.  And probably TV, too.   “Thank you for the note.  About Dan, you're absolutely right.  He may have been the greatest Top 40 radio personality ever.  He certainly was for a while.  More in the next Commentary.  WABC, though, had other woes.  I knew Rick Sklar fairly well and was privy to some of these.  I think Rick trusted me.  Knew I would keep quiet about some of the things.  I've been in his home/apartment.  Can't remember why.  But I still kick myself about not interviewing Ruth.  Burt Sherwood knew her well, but doesn't want to talk about the things she told him.  I'll see if I can send you a picture.  From the 60s.  I don't remember if I took it.  But I was on the boat.  So was Howard Kester, one of the greatest characters in radio.”

Ken Levine:  “I’m sure Rick had to deal with ABC corporate, just a floor or two above him.  That could not have been fun.  I worked at KYA for Howard Kester and to say he was a character is putting it mildly.  Our relationship did not end well.   I think I’d have to go to Bill Watson to find a bigger asshole in radio than Howard Kester.”

I get the last word, for the moment, but not to disagree with Ken Levine … just to explain a few things.  WABC sounded great.  No question.  But the station had to carry such things as a speech by the president; Rick fought and got permission to chop it to 30 minutes, as I recall.  He couldn’t complain about station politics outside.  Just lump it.  And “The Breakfast Club” drove him batty.  When he was finally able to dump it, the station finally beat WMCA in ratings.  WABC had a much better signal and also a better dial position.  I loved WABC’s Dan Ingram.  I still have an aircheck of him the day that I did an interview on cassette.  Just incidentally, someone typed that interview up (it ran in Billboard) and now and then I run into it on the Internet.  Time and time again, before we moved the headquarters of Billboard to Los Angeles in May 1970, I was told by visiting radio personalities that they’d come to New York to listen to Dan Ingram.  No one, to my knowledge, was ever this popular with other radio personalities.  But WMCA had a better total sound throughout the day and Gary Stevens and Dan Daniels drew an audience, the Woolybooger to the contrary.  The music list was broader, longer, better.  I’m sorry, Ken, but this is true.  You walked into the studio at WABC and you wondered where the music went (on carts, of course, and the rack didn’t hold enough for a party).  Then, when WMCA effectively bit the dust or was on the way, along came Murray the K on WOR-FM with not only a gob of records, but musicians dropping by.  And radio got exciting again … for a while.

Art Wander:  “While I’m still able to go into Hollywood Hills, though there is nothing new since the passing of a great guy, I enjoy going through all your articles that are available on the site.  I sure miss Jack and HH.  It was a great endeavor and I’m humbled to have played a small part with my contributions.  In Buffalo, there was a reunion of some great WKBW jocks including Joey Reynolds; Dan Neaverth; Shane; and others.  It was great going back into the events of that great era from the mid-50s to the early 70s.  I received some fine emails from Rick Sklar’s children, Scott and Holly whom I knew quite well when Rick and I worked together at WMGM (later WHN).  I hope all is well with you and yours.”

Judith Burns-Allen: Claude, the report of my demise is premature.  I expect a retraction.

My apology to Judith and her husband John.  Kent Burkhart had mentioned to me some while back that George Burns and his new wife had dropped by.  I made the assumption that Judith had died.  My wife Barbara and I were fairly close to George and Judy back in our Los Angeles days.  Then I left the business to study for a master’s in Oklahoma and lost touch with a whole bunch of friends.  I wrote Judy that I hope the kids are doing well.  Of course, they’re all grown adults by now.

Chuck Blore had a phenomenal article in Don Barrett’s about putting entertainment into radio once again.  I’m a huge Chuck Blore fan.   I wrote Chuck a note of praise.

Chuck Blore:  “Thank you, Claude ... coming from you it means a lot.   What Don left out was why I wrote to him in the first place.  I'd like you to see it ... so here it is ... I think you'll agree with most of what I said.

“Don … in your column of the last few days there are so many comments about talk radio, about music, about ratings, etc., etc., etc.   What is radio today and thoughts on how to fix it.   Well, what good is all this talk when basically nothing gets changed, you certainly can't fix it by complaining.  I've been thinking about it, too, and except for a few of the morning shows there's very little that would entice me to tune in again tomorrow.  With that in mind, I'd like to share with you a programming concept I've been working on for about three years.   Not talk, not music, not news, not easy listening, but it is entertaining  and to me that is the most captivating  of all.  Imagine, entertaining radio!  Wow, what a concept!  The attached is my idea of a fascinating radio station, I call it Entertainment Radio, see what you think.”

Chuck, of course, has been arguing for entertainment in radio for many whiles.  And, probably rightly so.  Too many of the younger crowd fail to realize that Top 40 had many elements.  It was never just music.  Shortly before his death, L. David Moorhead was planning to buy a radio station with backing out of Texas.  That station he discussed with me would have been highly entertaining.  Pipe dream?  Maybe.  We’ll never know.  But I used to shoot the bull with Bill Stewart and he always talked about the entertainment features of the radio stations on which he labored.  Top 40 was always a conglomerate of things.  You eliminate entertainment values and you have something else.

Don Eliot:  “Did you know Ken Griffis, a friend of Bill Ward and former manager of the diners club? He actually did write a book on the sons of the pioneers… I have a copy. Ken commissioned me to archive country music for the John Edwards Memorial foundation at UCLA … Wonder whatever happened to him?  Did you ever interview Al Schmitt? Besides being Sinatra's Engineer, he is behind many of the greats.  I met him in the 60s when I wanted to get hired by RCA as a recording engineer. They didn't hire me but did let me sit in on all of the Rolling Stones sessions with Co-engineer, Dave Hassinger.  Wow -- talk about learning how to do it right!  Through the years his other artists, to name just a few have been Barry Manilow, Natalie Cole, (coincidentally they did "Unforgettable" where she sang with her deceased dad, modeled after the fake duet that I put together as an edit for KIIS FM of Elvis and Linda Ronstadt singing "Love Me Tender", Diana Krall and now Barbra Streisand at Capitol.  Might be worth the interview, Claude!  PS/ How about Bob Dylan?  Did you ever interview him?  My real estate partner sold him three homes in Malibu last year.”

Too old to do an interview now with anything other than a dead turtle, Don.  Would have been fun, though.  As for Ken Griffis, I knew him well.  Take another gander at the book about “The Sons of the Pioneers.”  He migrated to Denver at some point.  In poor health.  This was years ago.  I imagine he has passed on by now.  Great guy.  Great music buff.  Would have loved listening to the Elvis/Ronstadt tune.  I’ll bet it was great!

Mel Phillips:  “Of all the radio interviews I've conducted over the years, the one that stands out for being the strangest was the one I did for a Watermark Special (R.I.P. Tom Rounds) on Chuck Mangione.  Chuck was on the road so they asked me to get Dizzy Gillespie, who was Chuck's mentor. Both Rob and Lynn Phillips had gone to many artist parties, concerts, etc., thanks to dad and I decided to take 12-year-old Rob with me on the interview. I wanted him to see his dad in action. The interview was held in a Broadway office that was the size of one of those old payphone booths.  And being on the Saturday of a holiday weekend, the building cut off the A/C to conserve energy.  I took Rob into the room where I introduced him to Dizzy, who was very cordial. He smiled a lot. I must have been into the interview for about 30 seconds when Dizzy takes out a hash pipe, loads it up and lights up.  Rob is in the room with me.  The room was stifling, and Dizzy is the only one in the room with a big smile on his face as he answers all my questions about Mangione.  I was a bit embarrassed to show Rob the seamier side of the entertainment business and vetted all the other interviews I took him on from that day on.  Dizzy (we all were) was properly named.  Next up and coming soon: my favorite and least-favorite interviews.”

Now and then, I touch bases with Sam Hale, who goes back to interesting radio times in Nashville and has been kind enough to provide me valuable radio information from time to time.  Just FYI, I have several books by and about radio and music people that I consider valuable.  I offered them to UNLV (I helped in the construction of the library on campus via the University Library Society) and they refused because they only collect books about gambling.  I have, however, asked my son John Alexander Hall, Esq., to place them with some decent university.  The book Sam mentions below will go in that collection as well as several others, including “Super Jock,” “From Rock to Jock,” and “This Business of Radio Programming.”

Sam Hale: “I'm always grateful to hear from you as it stirs my memories of your previous comments about fellow Nashvillians and the music icons we've known, and about whom you've written.  It's so sad that most of my Nashville music ties are now deceased, but they remain alive in my mind.  As I'm not ‘good company’ while suffering medically, I intentionally ‘lie low’ with no phone calls and few emails.  It's quite lonely.  Therefore, your commentaries are always a welcome sight. Likewise, I truly miss Jack Robert's commentaries and am thankful that he was able to re-open lines of communications among many old acquaintances before his time ran out.  You have an early birthday present en route as I have finally located an (advertised as new) first edition of Jerry Wexler's ‘Rhythm and the Blues’, priced well above the original publisher's price.  You will recall I offered to loan you my copy, which was personally inscribed by Jerry, and you WISELY declined my offer; fearful it would be damaged in shipment back and forth.  I'm so glad that I'm now able to reward your thoughtfulness.  I mentioned the cost in order that your sons know that it is a special book that should not be discarded upon your passing.”

Ed Salamon:  “I know you can't publish them in your weekly column, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a photo of Jack Gale and me taken Monday at the release party for the ‘The World's Out Dancin'’ CD by Jody Lynn on Jack's Playback Nashville label. Jack hosted a great party in the Country Music Association lobby.  The invite, which quotes your column, is below.”

I wrote both Ed and Jack a note of thanks.

Danny Davis:  “Real quiet this week, Authorman. But the Sainted Don Graham never fails to make the grade for me! And you know, Claude, when I was cooking with all the 'schtick' Screen Gems brought to the 'dial', I viewed me right along with Saint Gramcracker! And at 50, he still goes, he continually comes up with names like Eddy Fatootsie, or Dward Farquard, or Sammy Needlemon! God Bless The Saint! I ain't heard of these guys, yet, but it's a 'given' we will ... and soon! I ain't never heered of Wendy Moten, until Gramcracker spoke his 'pleas' for More Moten', or words like that, that made Moten move majestically! I told Neil Portnow, the Grammys should make available an award for DG that honors 'the Saint in our midst'! Remember who made Jack Roberts into the soul that sold the music business back to all of us! I, for one, acknowledge the Saint as having turned Promotion into a real art form! I'm personally delighted! My resume is rife with what I gleaned and thieved from DG. Believe me Don doesn't need any more kudos, but what got to me, this time, is what he's done with a 'no name' (as far as I was concerned) and how the 'name' garners similar expletives in every regard! Lawrence and Moten! Saint Gramcracker! Hear my plea ... Stand by me for about 20 minutes! 5-2 for 'the little Jew', at the crap table and we'll never have to worry about anything ever again! I got at least 14 numbers in the right hand alone! God knows what the left is good for!”

Don Sundeen: “I’ve been told by many successful songwriters that the music and lyrics in songs they wrote often just came to them, usually in the twilight between waking and sleep or when meditating or high on drugs.  I’ve also read and been told second-hand, that both McCartney and Dylan have described the same phenomena, not even to mention Mozart.  Could it be that everything, including art, already exists somewhere in the Cosmos, and certain humans have the antenna to receive and transcribe the various musical, visual, dances and stories that are out there?  I was also interested to see that High IQ doesn’t necessarily go along with the term ‘Genius’, which is thrown around quite freely these days, and many of those considered geniuses suffer from mental disorders including schizophrenia and bi-polar disease.  Am I the crazy one to ask these questions? I'll be interested in your comments, especially the artists.”

Don’t know, Don.  I’ve dreamed entire stories.  As well as written stories while cold and alone drinking only Diet Pepsi.  And there’s a scene in my Great American Novel that I wrote under the influence of my favor drug – Coors.  I’m afraid that readers … if anyone ever reads it … will need three or four Coors under their belts in order to grasp the full importance of this particular sensational passage.  Art – all art – is a funny game.  I’ve been rereading “The White Cliffs” by Alice Miller.  It’s on the Internet.  And it’s just as great as I thought it was some 55-plus years ago!  Yeah, on Diet Pepsi.

And I thank you, good readers, for cheering up my week.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Claude’s Commentary.17

June 23, 2014

Claude’s Commentary.17
By Claude Hall

Everyone makes mistakes and I’ve made quite a few in my life.  Thank God for luck.  Or just God.  Saved me from many a boo-boo.

One of my biggest mistakes in my Billboard days was in not interviewing Ruth Meyer.  My excuse?  I just didn’t know enough radio at the time.  She was program director of WMCA and I had already learned respect for her and the personalities on the Top 40 radio station which was a much better station than WABC at the time and Rick Sklar, program director of WABC, knew it.  I think I’d interviewed WMCA’s Dan Daniels … probably on the phone.  And WMCA’s evening jock Gary Stevens.  Like when he persuaded the cleaning maid to let him into the office of the general manager and read his memos so he knew when he was going to get fired and was able to resign instead and go cool off in France.  Good ol’ Gary.  He was a wildtracker on the air and the use of wild tracks was slowly disappearing.  Not with Jack Gale, of course, at WAYS.  Jack was king of wild tracks.  He used them and his audience ate them up long after most radio personalities coast-to-coast had sighed and said “No mas.”  George Wilson, bless ‘em, used some of Jack’s wild tracks to get his first job in radio.  He was never ashamed of it.  He named Jack Gale godfather of two of his children.

Ruth Meyer worked for Todd Storz in Kansas City.  She knew radio, thus, from the proverbial horse’s mouth and I should have taken advantage of all of that knowledge and I didn’t and I’ve regretted that mistake now for more than fifty years.  You see, almost everything I know is because of who I know.  Or, as is the case increasingly: Who I used to know.  Anyway, Burt Sherwood, bless ‘em, stayed in touch with Ruth long after she’d returned to Kansas City and developed short-term memory loss.

And I wish I’d interviewed Johnny Bond, the singer/songwriter/actor.  He worked with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers and others and was fundamental in their escape from Oklahoma.  I hear “Sick, Sober and Sorry” and I think of Johnny Bond.  Same with the song “Cimarron.”  One of my kids played with one of Bond’s kids or his grandson.  I had opportunity.  I’d interviewed such as Gene Autry and Jimmy Wakely.  I interviewed Bob Nolan.  Tim Spencer, too.  And Burl Ives.  Tommy Thomas, who owned the Palomino in the valley, and told tales of when Lankersheim was a dirt road and cowboys taking a break rode up and tied their horses to the rail outside; once Lash LaRue rode his horse into the Palomino and performed his whip act without anyone asking.  Others.  Tennessee Ernie Ford was handy, as were several others.  And I knew Cliffie Stone, once a country disc jockey who became manager of Tennessee Ernie Ford until the day Ford walked in and told him he had enough money to go fishing the rest of his life.  I helped Cliffie a little bit when he produced the last LP by the Sons of the Pioneers.  Great fun!  The possibility of doing a book about the singing cowboys of the movies was always there and I didn’t take advantage of it.  I could have done it.  I should have done it.

One of the men I should have interviewed for the book “This Business of Radio Programming” was Bill Taylor.  He had moved to the Los Angeles area in the 70s to be near his children.  He was in my office many times.  It’s just that I didn’t know much about him in those days.  He was on the phone several times, mostly in regards to a game he developed and syndicated to country music radio stations.  Before he died, George Wilson and wife Jackie were by the house several times – I think George considered the Hall House a way station -- and several times when he was talking about him and Lee Baby Simms in New Orleans, Lee’s only programming job, he mentioned Bill Taylor.  These discussions led to a short story about their radio experiences that I wrote for the eBook “Radio Wars.”  The discussions were usually about Bill Taylor fixing the engineering at the radio station or Bill Taylor trading out something for the radio station.  Little things that George dropped in conversation, but which rang old proverbial bell.  After a while, I saw a pretty good picture of Bill – better than I’d ever seen before – and realized that Bill Taylor had been extremely instrumental in early Top 40 radio.  Truly an unsung hero.  Oh, George talked about Lee Baby Simms, too.  He was extremely proud of Lee.  This is probably one of the reasons that I, too, became pleased and proud to know Lee Baby Simms.  And proud to know Bill Taylor, too.

Songwriter Gerry Goffin, partner with Carole King of some of the world’s greatest hits of the 60s and 70s, died at his home in Los Angeles Thursday, June 19.  He was 75.  Among the hits he wrote or helped write were “Take Good Care of My Baby” by Bobby Vee, “Up on the Roof,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman.” He leaves a wife Michelle and five children.  We come, we write, we go.

Ed Salamon writes to let me know Nick Cenci has passed on.  Two of the biggest hitmakers of Pittsburgh in the 1960s were Lou Christie and the Vogues. The man behind both was Nick Cenci.  We come, we manage, we go.

Listening to “Spanish Key” by Miles Davis from his “Bitches Brew” CD.  Weirdly harmonic.  You can’t think when you’re listening to this 17:35-minute jazz masterpiece.  You have to pay attention.  It would be even better with a couple of Anchor Steams.  Unfortunately, I gave up drinking more then 34 years ago.  Maybe “fortunately,” because if I hadn’t, I certainly wouldn’t be around today to hear this.  What great music, Mr. Davis.  My compliments.  Wonderful horn.  Magnificent percussion.  And thank you, too, Jack G. Thayer and Ernie Farrell who convinced me that life was better sober.

Danny Davis:  “Whatta' select group of 'music mavens' are still out there, Authorman!  The Thursday lunch-bunch has a small case of 'the shorts', ya' know, Claudie, the resort season closes out by May 30, and the snow-birds  … (Washingtonians, Oregonians and their 'frail weather' cuzzins!) don't crowd the traffic lanes until next 'tishabuv'!  A member of the tribe will translate that for you!  Along with our area, I hear about lunches, gatherings and a whole mess of goodwill being circulated by way of I-friends!  (Can I get away with that useage, ol' friend?) Tom Kennedy in Philly says the 'soiree', recently held at the Sagebrush Cantina (usually the luncheon 'meet' for Hulk Hogan and his 'posse') featured Pat Pipolo AND Russ Regan and a whole lotta' guys, even Saint Gramcracker wouldn't recognize!  But, you should pay homage to Jack Roberts, Authorman.  Not only did he provide the resuscitation of a morgue-bound industry, but made it easier for your 'obvious well noted reputation' and 'English usage, to honor the 'legacy' Jack insisted on!  Many thanks to 'every Hall' in 'the grandest city of them all! DD A/K/A 'Gamblin' Man'!

“Answering Mel Phillips, also in the unopposed Top Ten 'Mench-um'!  First, Mel, ‘1/2 ifes on a baby’ was a Red Schwartz promo line, that took him straight from radio promotion, particularly when uttered to the likes of Gertie Katzman or Bertha Porter, to the best Chevy sales man in Philly!  My own intonations would havta' be ‘Make the little Jew, heppe'! … or lookin' for chart position ‘Twenty two for the little Jew’ … (also works well at the crap table!) … promised and didn't get to air … ’Son-of-a-bitch, turned left on me!’  Same SOB, same promise … ‘Made a wide turn on me’! …. promised goodness from the promo guy … ‘You're my horse, if you never win a race’! Best I can think of, Mel!  (Claude runs a clean sheet!)”

Later from Danny:  “If only I had the words I think I have, Mr. Hall … When I was privileged to be a 'mike man' at WHAT, my gospel show featured a tune (I recollect) 'Ain't no friend, like the friend I have in Jesus'! Your kind note, today, grabbed me in the same way, Authorman! And if I have been hesitant, or lazy, or procrastinating about 'my book', your 'note' kicked me right in the ass! Truth is absolutely abundant, when I write that Danny Dummy actually has a bulk of the book written, but has been impeded by the stupidest of mistakes!  While I was being mentored by the prof at Princeton, I failed to number the pages! Marie, the cleanest caretaker in the Coachella valley, and purveyor of the ever-ready vacuum cleaner, insisted I remove those 'piled-up-high-sheets-of-a-best-seller'! (Needless to write on from this point, Claude!) The move, the daily turn of positioning, and all other manner of 'what can happen to those completed 'pearls' of a dynamite career, now must be collated by a dummy, who until your written admonition, was just too frustrated to go through the ordeal!  Not so, from this date on!  I promise you, Marie and myself, to put the 'piled paper pearls' in proper order, and pursue, what has to be, that private room at B of A, where they count those pound$ of per$onal tale$! (Tough making that last 'type', Authorman!) I will continue this diatribe at another time!”

Just FYI, Danny has mentioned “a book” several times in notes.  Thinking back about Mickey Addy’s “missing” book, I suggested Danny give a copy on CD to his wife Marie … or send a copy to me.  For posterity.  Now?  Huge questionmark.  Best recommendation is to get the pages in order, Xerox a couple of copies for safety.  Get someone to scan them onto CD (there’s a program that will do this).  I will always wonder what Mickey Addy wrote.

Don Whittemore mentioned in a note that he almost made Mensa.  I pointed out to him that the old cliché “birds of a feather…” was precisely true and he hung around people such as Chuck Blore, Don Graham and some other intelligent people.  And I mentioned an experience I had when I went for my master’s.  He replied:  “Claude, your humour (English version) is right up and down my alley.  You showed those guys and only missed one test.  Plus you got your master's besides.  You're right about hanging around bright people.  I advise new hires at Dandy Don's only smart people can work here.  They either stick or slide away soon enough.  Mensa is okay, but I get more laffs and satisfaction knowing I'm smarter in my chosen areas and not so smart in algebra and higher math to be in the Mensa Society as Clive.  Our health must be fine or we'd
be with Gerry Goffin tonight.  I saw him on a TV special with his ex wife, by then, and he remarked after ‘Boardwalk’ was published he never had to work a day in his life again.  I still revel in our possibilities of living a good or better life if you catch the brass ring.  Now, there's an old timer for your reminiscing slogans.  Bye Barbara and Claude.”

Joey Reynolds wrote a week or so ago about the Ken Robertts memorial at the Friars in New York City:   “Ken was a quiet man, understated and an honest regular guy.
He sold KROQ to Mel Karmazin for $80 million and did not want to go to the closing cause he did not like Mel, but Mel pushed for him to be there.  Ken said what are you going to use for towers.  He said what do yo’nope’.  That cost Mel another 2 million.

“Ken, Gary Smith, producer of the Academy Awards, and Michael King (King World) raised the money for  the defense of President Bill Clinton's indiscretion with Santa Monica (Lewinsky).  Ken lived sumptuously in the Robert Taylor estate where many friends going through divorce wound up in one of the guest houses, they were sometimes more popular than the Beverly Hills Hotel bungalows,

“Ken managed the Jersey Boys from the beginning with his partner Pete Bennett who still handles Frankie Valli.  The radio and records roost are deep with Ken, he also managed Sly Stone until he made a financial killing combining 2 radio stations on the same frequency up the road from each other in Malibu at 103.5 FM.  The money was borrowed from the Bank of Finland … when the bank went under the loan never had to be satisfied.  He was lucky that way, but not always.  Ken had a partnership with Kirk Kerkorian and to '07 they marginalized 100 million on the market and lost.  Kerkorian built the MGM in Vegas and I believe Danny Davis underwrote the cost of it.  The West Coast guys and gals remember Ken from Matteo's, his long time childhood friend?  Matty was also from Hoboken, NJ.

“Ken and his mom were neighbors and friends with Frank Sinatra's mother who was a midwife and an abortionist, which is probably the reason Frank didn't know whether he was coming or going.  Our boy Ken was an East Coast guy who lived also in the Trump Towers on Fifth Avenue and was a regular at the Friars around the corner from his home.  Unfortunately his diet consisted of nothing but French fries and pizza, once In a while ravioli from Patsy's.  It was not uncommon for Ken to have dinner at a 5-star restaurant and order the fries.  Made the chefs crazy.

“We were great pals -- Ken, the late great Sid Bernstein , and myself.  Believe me when I tell you he was impressed by the fact that I was 40 years sober, my daughter is growing medical marijuana and I never went back to smoking weed.  I told him it just gave me the munchies and would get fat from the fries and pizza.  By the way, Don King was also a good friend, he was very generous and financed Sid' s book.  Here are some photos from the celebration, his friends were ordinary and big shots, it made no difference to Ken.”

My apology for not running this sooner, Joey.  Just one of those things.  I wish I could run the pictures, but right now they’re sort of a hassle to do.  I appreciate them, though, and will keep them on file.  Love you, Joey!  My best to your kids.

Jim Ramsburg publishes a blog about old radio.  “This past weekend, however, was a bit different - it was posted from Fairview Southdale Hospital in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina.  Patty and I came north for our grandson's high school graduation.   The weeklong getaway we had planned will turn out to be three weeks of heart surgery and recovery.   The prognosis is good and my surgeon is considered tops in his field in Minnesota.   If he's as good in the operating room as he is in his field in Minnesota, I've got nothing to worry about.  (Rimshot and thank you, Ed Wynn).  So, the beat goes on - pun intended.  I'll keep writing and inviting your comments.  As always, it you have any friends interested in broadcasting history, please tell them to check out “

Ed Salamon:  “My old country radio friend Don Nelson's comment about Dex Allen mentoring his son, reminded me how Dex was an early mentor of mine as well.  In the mid-60s, when Dex was a nighttime DJ at KQV, he would book my high school garage band to play live sets at his record hops (as did fellow KQV DJ Chuck Brinkman - who was Pittsburgh's king of the teens at that time). That was my first exposure to the behind the scenes of radio. Meanwhile subconsciously, I was absorbing KQV PD John Rook's formatics by listening to that station.  Dex always had time for me, Chuck and his other old friends even when he was the big deal CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting.”

Jim Gabbert:  “Claude, as we have been moving our offices I keep running across these things.  It may be boring to you but somebody should write a book.  We broke so many rules in both radio and TV and obviously succeeded!  Even in 1986 when I bought KOFY a one-kilowatt daytimer at 1050 (when I sold it to Susquehanna it was 50 KW fulltime!).  Today it is KCTC . See the article dated in 1986 about the kilowatt AM that beat it's FM competitor KYA-FM.”

I remarked that I would love to have those old files because the radio business has changed and Jim replied:  “Not like it used to. After we sold the company in 1998 I went to work at KGO as a talk show host for 14 years. Then Cumulus ruined one of the top-rated talk stations in the country. For 35 years the station was number one in all 4 books per year in almost all demos which is why Mickey Lukoff, the GM, was inducted into the National Hall of Fame. Cumulus's bankers thought the overhead was too high ... $ 15 million a year, but the gross was $30. Go figure. Than I quit and went over to Clear Channel Newstalk 910.  They decided that they did not want phone calls and we had to talk for 3 hours. They failed to understand the psychology of people listening to people. It tanked real fast as have KFI, KFBK, and most of their talk stations.  Most stations today are run by investment bankers and do not have a clue. The original Golden Years may have been before TV but far and away the most exciting years were the late 50s, 60s and 70s. The 95 Comm act killed competitive radio!”

We lament together, good buddy!

I made contact with Doc Devon through the late Jack Roberts.  For which I’ve been ever grateful.  I consider Doc, a professional musician, one of the very best writers on jazz and blues.

Doc Devon writes that he “loves the blog and I cannot thank you enough for including my work. I just got done covering the Playboy ‘Jazz’ Festival at The Bowl.  Here are my highlights.”

And later:  “The great pianist Horace Silver passed away today. I thought I'd write an appreciation since he was such a big influence on my music.”

When I was young, I knew everything.  Now that I am old, I know less.  And, sadly, realize that I didn’t know everything when I was younger, I only thought that I did.  Well, I’m not really old, I guess.  I think I passed “old” some while back.

I had great sport this past week from random messages between the Three Mesquiteers, to wit Bob Weisbuch, Woody Roberts, and Lee Baby Simms.  Bob’s remark about a Roman saying gave me a good chuckle.  Still laughing, Bob!  You’ve been taking humor lessons from Gary Owens, I presume.

Still working on the final edit of the Great American Novel.  Up around page 292 at the moment.  Huge book.  A bit filthy here and there.  I’m going to put a price tag of $49.95 on it.  People probably won’t understand the purpose of this book and hate me.