Monday, December 15, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 42r2

Today at 8:34 AM
December 15, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 42
By Claude Hall

Dick Carr: “Claude ... I think the picture of us (Kluge, you, Dean Tyler and me) could have been taken at the WIP Anniversary Dinner Dance Party for clients held at the Cherry Hill Inn, Spring 1968. It was a spectacular night.  Count Basie and the band played for dancing and Tony Bennett came over from a break in shows at the Latin Casino.  When Kluge and I took a break from the dance to jump into John's limo to run down the road to the Latin to tell Tony about our party, he was in between shows. Tony threw on a sweater and drove back with us to the Cherry Hill Inn in John's limo.  When I asked Basie to take a break to say hello to Tony backstage, they hugged and the two worked up ‘head arrangements' quickly for Tony to sing some songs for WIP clients. Then I took the mic and intro'd Tony to the crowd as a surprise guest.  The crowd gasped.  Basie and Bennett did about four songs before we had to pile Tony back into Kluge's limo so he could get back in time for the second show at the Latin. Those were spectacular days for WIP.  I'm told some old-timers in Philly still remember that night.  A few months later I replaced George Duncan as GM at WNEW-FM.  The lineup in those days was Scott Muni, Alison Steele, Jonathan Schwartz, Rosko and John Zacherle.  Keep writing, Claude.”

Phenomenal tale, Dick … though, to be honest, I don’t recall anything.  However, what a great honor to be in the same photo, Dick, with you and Dean Tyler.  Kluge, too.   Your note reminded me of a cute Zacherle tale that I’ll probably spin in a week or two.  Good old weird John.

Roger Carroll:  “Claude, your mention of Don MacKinnon brings back many memories of my career.  I was an ABC staff announcer in Los Angeles.  We did network radio and TV and local KABC.  When ABC stopped using a live orchestra the suits in NYC said get a music talent.  They got Paul Whiteman.  At that time he was older then God.  It didn't work.  Dresser Dalhstead, chief announcer, told me … no, ordered me … to network radio and replace Whitman.  I told him I was a TV and network announcer not a DJ.  I did that when I was 15 at WFMD in Fredrick, MD.  Mr. D, a soft-spoken gentleman, replied ‘get your ass over and play those GD records or you are not going be a ABC TV network announcer’.  I had a three-hour ABC network DJ show.  Sales started selling 1/4 hours and I was earning network talent fees (lots of $$$).  Mr. D told me when I went to KMPC he tried to cross his toes so he would not break out laughing when I was told to play records.  Mr. D hired me when I was 18 years old to the ABC announcing staff.  Now about Don MacKinnon … when Don left KABC 3-6 p.m. going to KFWB, I was taken off staff and given a personal service contract doing KABC 3-6 p.m. and became a DJ -- all the above best thing that happened in my career.  I  became a DJ and really hit the BIG TIME when I was asked to join Gene Autry's KMPC.  I was also a vice president of Autry's Golden West Broadcasters.  Merry Christmas to you and your family.”  (Photo of Joe Smith, Roger Carroll and record producer Sonny Burke below, attached.  Roger won plaque for helping break a Don Ho disc.  Joe, a former Boston radio personality, was then in promotion at Warner Bros. Records.)

I’d mentioned in a Commentary about knowing a Pat Harrington and a Bob Curran and that developed into a note from Paul Cassidy.  Paul not only knew Pat’s son, but one of Bob’s kids.  “Bob is very much like his dad.  I managed WKBW TV 7 from 1991 till June of 95, very successfully, I might add.   5th-rated ABC affiliate in the country, that final year.  After I moved on the station was 4th in the market in two years time.  Bob live in Brooklyn or Long Island. Just missed the terrible Hurricane 2.5 years ago. His wife helped in the clean up effort. Has daughters graduating college, who are great athletes. Tell him my syndicated horse Salisbury Night won the 7th race at Aqueduct on Saturday.  I was great friends with his Dad.  Lunched a lot, wish I had known then.  Stay well and happy holidays to you and Barbara.  Paul and Marla Jean Cassidy.”

I spent two years working for Bob Curran on Cavalier Magazine, then owned by Fawcett.  It was a dream of mine.  Just received an email, courtesy of Paul Cassidy, from Bob’s son.  Lord, lord, lord!  I guess I sort of worshipped Bob Curran during those days.

M.R. Shane Gibson:  “If you knew what a joy it is just to read you!  It takes me back to so many memories, pressed between the pages of my mind.  One time, oh, round about a memory or a few ago, we actually sat down and had lunch.  Of course, you had to sit there and listen to my yammering about how I was supposed to have been started by the guys at KFWB out in Lompoc or Indio for a year or so and then, a weekend shift on the gawd station.  I was going to be the next great thing in LA.  Next thing you knew, you were paying me a couple of compliments from KUDI in Great Falls to KGA, that old giant out of Spokane, then Salt Lake City and on to Richmond's WLEE were we got lucky and won the Billboard.  Hell, I didn't even care it was a duet with Sonny Melendrez over in San Antonio.  Off to WKBW and then another Billboard for GR-55.  I laughed my butt off when in your column you said you wished you could write what Don Berns had said but that yours was a ‘family’ column.  Didn't mean to yammer, just wanted to wish you and your family Creator's Blessings through this High Holiday season.  I've had so very few heroes.  You give me the opportunity to send a wish, a prayer and a smile to one.  Thanks for the read, Vox Jox man. Thanks for still and always being, just, Claude.”

Shane, I always thought of you as the man who insisted on being a disc jockey.  And that was good.  Always enjoyed having you in the business.

“The Beatles Invade Milwaukee,’ 30-minute documentary on DVD.  $14.95, postage included.  Highlights, September 4-5, 1964, of their only visit to Milwaukee.  Proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Bob Barry, PO Box 151, Nashotah WI 53058
Bob Barry:  “It's a well-done video for a great cause.  A friend of mine has a son with CF.”

Mel Phillips:  “I just got official word from Amazon that my book can now be ordered directly.  ‘Mel Phillips Radio Views - The Book’, not a memoir but more of a journal for contemporary radio programmers has a new URL” Thank you, Mel Phillips”

Morris Diamond: “Dear Claude & Don Sundeen … in my notes I agreed with you that Peggy Lee's ‘Fever’ was the sexiest that we ever heard.   I then mentioned kudos to Gordon Jenkins as the arranger.  I was wrong.  I was thinking of ‘Lover’ as Peggy's best and Gordon Jenkins' best.   His arranging of strings on that record is extremely memorable.  Oddly enough, my lady, Alice, reminded me that her late husband, Joe Harnell, was Peggy's accompanist on ‘Fever’ and  it was his finger snapping that is prominently heard on Peggy's recording of ‘Fever’.   ‘Lover’ is in my top 5 of all-time favorites.  Gorgon Jenkins, # 1.  It's nice to see that Jim Ramsburg agrees with me.  I also sadly want to mention the passing of Albeth Paris Grass this past week.  Albeth was one of the Paris Sisters who had much success with Phil Spector's production of  ‘I Love How You Love Me’.  We had been close friends with Albeth and Clancy for 50 years.  We attended Alice's Celebration of Life yesterday here in Palm Springs.  Also at the event was Sherrill Paris, now the remaining of the three sisters.  Priscilla Paris died in Paris quite a few years ago.  Albeth passed away suddenly from a stroke.  She was very active doing PR for a number of charities in Palm Springs and her leaving us was actually unbelievable and a shock to all.  The merriest, happiest, and healthiest to you and Barbara … and to all those I read about weekly … thanks to you & Jack Roberts & Don Graham.”

Bob Sherwood:  “Hi Kindly Ol’ Uncle Claude.   I know Don (Sundeen) posed the question to you -- favorite Joni Mitchell song? -- but I can’t help myself.  Of all the fabulous things she’s written and recorded the one that I still can’t listen to without my eyes moistening is the dramatic re-make of her classic ‘A Case of You’ that she did on the orchestral album/CD in 2000, ‘Both Sides Now’.  Maybe it’s just because it was such a stunning difference from the original but whatever … for me it’s the emotional Mt. Everest of her vocal performances.  If you choose to use the following you might separate it so I don’t become more tedious to your readers.

“Our mutual friend Mel Phillips’ animal vignettes triggered a couple of memories possibly worth sharing with your group.  In severely edited form.
And if I’ve already related these to you, delete ‘em, please so advise and I’ll take my Meds and go have a lie-down.  In ’68 or so the greatest music retailer in history, Russ Solomon, decided to open the World’s first music Super Store in a former Safeway supermarket at Columbus and Bay in San Francisco.  As the time grew closer to the scheduled opening for a variety of reasons Russ understandably became somewhat concerned about the entire venture.  Among his concerns was ‘would it draw a significant crowd?’, ‘would it get appropriate press coverage?’, ‘would the press be positive?’.  He confided his concerns to the late Bud O’Shea, the then super-professional local promotion man for Capitol in The City.  As it turned out, The Band’s debut album ‘Music From Big Pink’ was about to be released on Capitol.  Bearing in mind that this was before Google, Bud managed to find a company in No. Calif. that would rent an elephant!  One layer of pink paint later and appropriate LP ID on each side, Bud arranged transport for the pachyderm to arrive in time for the official opening.  The media coverage was as one might expect, quite extraordinary.  For both Tower and The Band.

“Anecdotally, Russ was so thrilled at the reception for the elephant that he instructed Bud to bring it in the store for the press and TV to shoot while it was ‘shopping for The Big Pink album’.  Fortunately Bud noted that the elephant had eaten a few hours before and might not know how to get to the store’s rest room.  Pondering that visual, Russ left the pachyderm in the parking lot.
“I believe it was Summer of either 1970 or ’71 and another great SF local promotion man, Jack Campbell of Columbia, was coming to Sacramento with the previously mentioned Bud O’Shea to double-team me on all their hits.  And have another memorable lunch.  O’Shea was in my office when I got off the air at noon. No Campbell.  We found Jack in the station lobby by following the sound of our receptionist screaming for help as she stood atop the reception desk.  Jack was no help as he was trying to control a pig that he had rented someplace and brought up to Sacramento to promote the new Sweat Hog album.  The pig was busy threatening our receptionist and attacking a large palm tree.  We went outside for the requisite promo photos outside the studio window -- pig not thrilled with any of it.  Jack managed to get the porker back in the wooden crate in the rear of his new Porsche, put down the windows and off we went to lunch in my car.
We spent the usual and necessary time enjoying a couple of cocktails (or three), a few bottles of a great Italian wine and possibly a cognac or two.  At some point — it being August in Sacramento — Porky became, hot, bored, angry or all three and managed to kick his way out of the wooden container.  I’ll leave it to your imagination as to the damage a pissed-off porker might do to the interior of a new Porsche.  I rarely did ‘mercy adds’ but I did add the Sweat Hog record.  A)—I liked it; B)--KHJ added it the same day; C)—I never found out if they had the same inspiration.”

Bob Sherwood, later:  “Thought you and your many associates ought to know of the departure of Jim Urie as chairman of Universal Music and Video Group.  He is, in my view, the last of the senior execs who were successful during the Golden Days of music distribution in the 70s and 80s — in his case very successful — and transited to the completely new paradigm that is distribution in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.  The leadership and success of UMVG is a lasting tribute to his flexibility and innovation.  And this while many in all areas of the music industry continue to fight and/or struggle with the new realities.  His voluntary departure is a significant loss to Vivendi and Universal and the music world as a whole.  He’s still relatively young so hopefully he’ll tire of having lunch with Russ Solomon, playing golf and lounging on the beach in Hawaii and return with his innovative mind.  Thought you’d want to know.”

We did want to know.  Thank you, Bob.  All of us wish the best for Jim Urie.

Larry Cohen:  “Claude:  Having always enjoyed the wit, intelligence & accuracy of the contributions made by one Bob Sherwood to your weekly, may I add to his list of last week’s Lest We Forget the following radio 'great one's' who have departed the radio waves, but not our memories:  Joe Niagara, Hy Lit, Art Roberts, Dick Clark (who was a staff announcer & DJ at WFIL before replacing Bob Horne on a local T.V. dance show called BANDSTAND.), Jim Nettleton (had the greatest set of pipes I personally have ever heard in my radio travels throughout the USA), The Real Don Steele, Dr. Don Rose, the iconic & powerful R&B jock Georgie Woods, (WDAS/Philly), considered by many industry greats to be one of the top 5 DJ's  in the USA in breaking new R&B artists), Paul ‘Fat Daddy’ Johnson, (WWIN/Baltimore} also in the Top 5 of R&B power jocks, Paul Drew who was a successful D.J. in Atlanta long before his rise as a programming Guru, Blain Harvey (Known as Dan Donavan @WFIL), Joel Dorn, A giant jazz jock at WWDB/Philly, which led to his rise to stardom as an independent record producer which includes Roberta Flack's classic ‘Last Time…’) & his discovery & recording of Bette Midler, Don McClean, etc., & who can ever forget from WCAU Radio, the immortal and instantly recognizable voice of NFL Films, the iconic John Facenda.  Having lived on the East Coast some 30 some years ago, I worked very closely with most of the departed named above although I may have spelled a name here & there incorrectly. But even with any spelling errors & passing of time, I will never forget them.”

Thank you, Larry.  The problem with naming the greats is that we had so very many outstanding personalities that it would take two or three rather large books.  For example – just one – I always thought Reggie LaVong had the best voice of anyone.  One of my great honors is that one day I got to tell him so.  Some guys were known for this or for that.  Frank Ward could blend music better than anyone I ever knew.  And the Magnificent Montague had that ability to make young people, black and white, think it was a rare privilege to be listening to him.  Tom Clay could tell a story.  I’ve had disc jockeys tell me they had to pull to the side of the road to hear the rest of his story.  Lee Baby Simms has that same ability.  The problem when I start listing disc jockeys is where and when to stop.  I can’t!  There are just too many and too many really great ones.  Paul Harvey, Bob Poole, Jack Gale, William B. Williams, Murray the K, J.P. McCarthey, Al ‘Jazzbo’ Collins, Bob Fass, Rocky G., Johnny Holliday.  Stop!  I said “stop” Hall!  And then there was Eddie Hill and Bob Van Camp and ….

John Long:  “Georgia radio icon Don Kennedy hosted ‘Big Band Jump’ which aired on stations worldwide for 27 years.   According to Don, every year he struggled to find a varied approach to Christmas music.  He experimented with some fictionalized scenes from his home town and listener reaction was highly positive.  A new version of ‘A Small Town Christmas’ with all BBJ reference and commercial breaks removed, but the original content intact is available at  Names and events may or may not be based on reality!  This radio special is a masterpiece of  ‘theater of the mind’.  It is as classic as ‘It's a Wonderful Life’.  Seasons Greetings to you, your family, and all fellow readers!

And thank you, John!  John Long is president of the Georgia Radio Museum and Hall of Fame.  Would you check on the wellbeing of Sam Hale for me, John?

Timmy Manocheo sent this:  “KMET air-personality Pat ‘Paraquat’ Kelley was a fixture on Southern California radio for over a decade. In 2003, Pat was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and he's currently battling advanced stages of the disease.  Award-winning musicians, KMET alumni and friends did a one-night special event at the Canyon Club, Agoura, Sunday, Dec. 14, in recognition of Pat's unstoppable spirit and courage.  Confirmed performers included George Thorogood, Janiva Magness, Kiki Ebsen, Dan Navarro, Michael Ann Azoulai, Paul Barrere. Bill Champlin, Prescott Niles, Peter Stroud, Christina La Rocca, Julian Sha-Tayler, Waddy Wachtel, Riley Biederer, Angeles Band and special guests.  KMET alumni Jim Ladd, Cynthia Fox and Jeff Gonzer were among the evening's emcees.

Great on all of you and great on Pat Kelley!  And thanks, Timmy.

I asked my poet/professor son Andy Hall to check this one out.  The show came courtesy of Don Graham.  Hall reports: “Dick Robinson's ‘American Standards by the Seas’ is a show specializing in the Great American Songbook, and Robinson is the warm friendly guide to this treasury of great music.  Whether it's Sinatra, Bennett, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr, or Bobby Caldwell, Robinson will give you some great personal tidbits about the artists and chooses his playlist from listener requests.  Think of Robinson as that favorite uncle who turned you on to the greats, and you get the picture.  Listening to this show will remind the seniors among us of the golden era of swing and vocal jazz music, while it will educate and entertain the kids and grandkids.  Among the artists Robinson features is Wendy Moten.  Wendy has the voice that can sing any genre she likes whether its country, pop, opera, or r&b, but here she takes on jazz singing ‘Miss Brown’ from her album ‘Timeless -- Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting.’  Hearing this track will remind you of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and other jazz legends -- a sultry sound that can go strong and sweet at the same time.  If Wendy is bringing ‘Miss Brown’ or any other number to your town, don't miss it!”

Timmy Manocheo has sent me an email that producer/manager Dana Miller has been found dead.  He was found dead Dec. 9 at his home in Pasadena.  He was 59.  Among the radio shows he created was “Hitline USA.”  He launched shows with Sam Riddle and Charlie Cook as well as Jim Ladd and William Shatner.

Ron Brandon:  “Hi, Claude ... recall you've touched on Mr. Imus of late and thought you might enjoy the attached article reprinted from Dec 10, 1979 Radio Music Report.”

My grateful thanks, Ron.

Dan Neaverth:  “How many jocks have hearing loss?  It’s one of the hazards of wearing those earphones in the studio and cranking the sound louder and louder to get the FEEL of  the music and the sound of your voice.  Soooo now I wear hearing aids to hear what Marie and the grandkids are saying.  Silence isn't golden.  It wasn't always so.  When starting out in Coudersport, PA, I received the recording ‘Poor People of Paris’.  When I put it on the turntable to audition it, I heard a strange paper sound during the break at the very beginning ... dah dah dah etc. ... pause ... Boing into the song.  During the pause I heard paper rustling, so I wrote to Capitol Records and mentioned what I had heard. They wrote back and said that one of the musicians had gotten behind on the music sheet and frantically flipped it over.  Lo and behold I made Billboard magazine with the headline ... SHARP EARED CAT hears etc.  I ain’t that sharp-eared cat anymore.   Another memorable record came while I was music director at WKBW, Buffalo.  It was an advance copy of Roger Miller’s song ‘Dang Me’.  On the intro it went something like this ... DUH duh doot doot ... one more time Mother F ER.  I still had decent hearing.  I called Smash Records and told them and they said Roger didn't think anyone would hear it and they were remastering it. They said destroy it.  I didn’t.  Somewhere in the bowels of my basement I have it but cant find it.  If any of your guys have that original DJ copy, I would love to have a copy of it.  Roger was one of the original wild men.”

My son John A. Hall, Esq, writes that several people are gone from WOAI in San Antonio, including newsperson Berit Mason, whom I’ve known since she was born in a New York hospital.  Casualties also include Craig “Crash” Chambers, Michael Main who’d been with the station 30 years, and Stephanie Narvaez.  Gah!  Berit, by the way, is the daughter of the late author William Molloy Mason, once of True Magazine, and a family friend.

Dex Allen:  “Claude, about two months ago I sent you an email responding to an ‘item’ you printed from one of your contributors that was very unflattering and borderline slanderous about me.  I wrote you back inquiring as to who you would print something so negative about me, or ANYONE.  I'm sure you remember that ‘contributor’ who you mention virtually every time you write your column.  I asked you why you would print anything like that and I never received a response from you other than the fact that I no longer receive your weekly offerings.  I always thought you were a stand up guy, but I must have been mistaken.  Sorry I don't have a column to respond with.”

Joey Reynolds: “This (below, attached) hangs on my wall in my bedroom.  With admiration for a Marine who joined the Air Force.  I served with IMUS in the airfarce at NBC.  Many folks don't remember that Dale Parsons programmed a station that lost Howard Stern but kept the audience.  Dale and John Hayes, the station manager at WNBC, invented the gang of five format which many are still using on TV these days -- the view, the talk, Kathy Lee, Bill Maher, etc. The gang bang was also on radio with the morning zoo, the no music morning shows, and most recently multi platforming, now that sports has taken over the political talk personality game.  Thank you Dale Parsons for putting me on the radio in New York, I had a gang at WOR for 15 years, mother Jewish hour, the gay hour, it was a Bible study for atheists, as Myra Chanin produced the show and called it a cocktail party without drinks.”

Merry Christmas!

Great be upon thee and yours
and your holidays be magnificent!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 41r2

Today at 7:55 AM
December 8, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 41
By Claude Hall

I’m over the hill and, according to my son Andy Hall, the poet/professor, so is Britney Spears and Madonna.  Taylor Swift is now the biggest thing in America and, I guess, the outskirts of Liverpool as well.

When you’re over the hill, you don’t know who’s hot.  Andy, noted songwriter of the underground hit “Sea of Vomit,” knows.  Just a day ago, he fetched home a copy of the Nov. 17, 2014 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.  Who’s almost on the cover but Taylor Swift.  Just the eyes, nose, very large, and mouth, very red.  To wit, we still don’t know what she looks like, but must presume she’s not a figment of our imagination such as Lady Gaga who I wouldn’t recognize if she walked in the front door.  But, then, neither would anyone else I assume.

The article in the magazine is “Me?” by Devin Leonard and it’s very well written.  Matter of fact, I like the entire magazine and if I were still around this is a magazine for which I would enjoy working.

I wasn’t really so much interested in Swift’s four homes (why would she want to live on Long Island?) or even the fact that the boss of Big Machine Records, Scott Borchetta, and Swift have pulled her songs from Spotify, which is really what the article is about.  I found it fascinating, however, that Scott is the son of Mike.  Everyone remembers Mike.  I hope that Scott has bought him a house in, if not Nashville, then Los Angeles.  A huge house.  And if Scott is driving a Ferrari, then I hope Mike is driving a Mercedes-Benz.  Hey, if they’re going to hit you up $3,086 for a second-row seat Aug. 25, 2015, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Scott should be able to buy his father a Mercedes.  And comp him on the ticket.  But, to tell the truth, if I accidentally landed a ticket, I’d trade it in on a cruise for me and Barbara.

Good article.  Fun to see what I’m missing.  Hey, I once shot the bull with Tex Ritter down in Nashville.  Guess the town has changed a bit, though.  Now I’ve got to track down Swift on Utube and see what she’s about.  I heard Swift.  Bring back Tex!

Larry Cohen:  “Claude:  In your No. 30m2 issue received today, 12-1-14, your closing paragraph of LEST WE FORGET, the name of Dean Tyler quickly caught my immediate attention which was listed amongst the group of past radio greats who have passed on.  Having a long time friendship of some 50 years with this iconic radio guru, I thought maybe I had gone through a 'senior moment' and with my cell phone (still) misplaced, I thought it was quite possible that I was informed but never picked up the message(s).  I just called Tom Kennedy in Penna. who still stays in close contact with Dean & I asked if Dean had passed away.  Tom told me he had dinner with Dean last night (Sunday) & from all indications, it appeared to Tom that Dean is still amongst the living as of Sunday evening. Claude, can you make a correction validating Dean's mortality so that he will receive Christmas cards instead of sympathy cards to his family.”

This, I’m glad to hear!  Always liked Dean Tyler.  Great radio man!  Friendly as a puppy.  Somewhere, I have a photo of me, Dean Tyler, Dick Carr, and John Kluge, the founder and owner of Metromedia.  I do not know where nor when the picture was taken.  Probably Philadelphia, probably mid-to-late 60s.  I’m grateful to have the photo.

Morris Diamond:  “Many thanks for your good wishes for Alice.   She's coming along fine and her therapy is working nicely … she's even driving.  I was delighted to see that Bob Levinson is one of your readers – he's an old friend and one heckuva publicist … I recall lthat he had a Rolls Royce and his license plate read 'GREED'.  Tell him 'hello' for me.   Don Sundeen - glad you think that Peggy Lee's ‘Fever” is the Sexiest you've ever heard and I heartily agree … also the kudos have to be handed to Gordon Jenkins – I used to call him ‘the Lone Arranger’ … to me he was the best – another great arrangements of Gordon's was Nat Cole's
‘Stardust'.   Wow!  Hey, it's music like that, along with Gordon's charts which keeps the pulse going at a good rate.  You were also talking about Elton John's parties … most of them for charity … did you know for quite a few years in Elton John's career, he gave all his Grammys and Record Company awards to Russ Regan?  That’s the man that signed Elton to a record contract and Elton has never forgotten Russ – shows that Elton sure has a lot of class.   Sorry I couldn't make the schlep from Palm Desert to Don' 80th birthday party … especially since I heard that Wink & Sandy Martindale and Tom Bonetti were going to be there … as well as many of your readers who I would've cherished spending time with.  But Alice had not fully recovered from her knee surgery and the long drive from the desert would've been harmful.   So … Next time.  Love to you and Barbara.”

Shadoe Stevens: “Simply the most magical, joyful, exciting, and perfect wedding I've ever attended.  It was the wedding of the gods.  Not just because it was my daughter, Amber, but because everything about it was extraordinary. The people were beautiful and entertaining, funny and filled with love, the attention to detail was simply spectacular in every way ... the venue, the lighting, the food, the music, the people who spoke, the ‘second line dancing with umbrellas’, the DJ, the portrait studio with professional lighting, top hats and furs, the getaway car ... one of the greatest experiences of our lives.”

Herb Oscar Anderson: “Lets not forget ...’they had to call it something so they called it Hadacol’ ... fun song.  Must say ... have enjoyed many of your stories.  Ask Imus if he remembers me introducing him to the NY area at the new Playboy Club in Great Gourge, NJ.  Don Waterman (yes, the pen people) was the sales manager for WNBC ... asked if I would and I was more than happy to do so.  It was brakeman Imus swinging his railroad lantern ... great fun times.  Bob Eastman came to ABC from Blair and could possibly be called the world’s greatest salesman.  Jack Thayer followed me on the air at 10 at WDGY (Storz) in Mpls and Steve Labunski was the GM.  Though we tried we could never re-connect.  And Jim Ramsburg, as you can see, was also a member of the illustrative group.  By the way, Bill Armstrong went on to the Senate and got the knickname Mr. Social Security ... and speaking of trains when I was sued by a major broadcaster riding the 20th Century of the New York Central almost as a commuter to and from ... how clearly I remember  the red carpet on the floor of Grand Central.  Oh ... and the rosebud vase at the dining car table ... try that at your local airport ... didn't we all have our group and we traveled that road together as friends.  Keep it coming, Claude ... thank you.  P.S. -- was going to send you the WDGY picture ... can't find ... Jim Ramsburg was on in the afternoon.”

Just FYI, Don Imus worked on the railroad in Arizona before radio.  And I think he’s irritated at me.  With me?  Whew!  I still recall the day Robert W. Morgan was irritated with me.  I ain’t done nuttin’.  Honest!

Danny Davis:  “Authorman, and those that 'member the great characters that still 'parley' and bring the 'dynamite doin's' of a 'to die for' industry to 'live' again!!  For me, Wally Roker unveils good times, great regards, and a 'savings plan' that aided a new marriage to breathe easier!  Just promoted from Philly to NYC, for the national spot at Colpix Records, and Columbia Pictures, necessitated 1/2 of the family duo NOT to be so 'thrilled'!  Train ride from 'Brotherly Love' city daily, gets a trifle expensive and DOES test the $$ 'upgrade' for the Nat'l Promo title! Enter the always affable, ever able to be of 'some kind of help', much like an 81mg for 'shingles', Wally Roker!  Somewhere, somehow, Wallace gets me an Employees Pass for The Pennsylvania Railroad! The $aved $$ comes in $weetly when the rent is due!  BUT, the pass identifies the 'user' as a 'baggage man'!  I'm sittin' in a club car wearin' the $piffy tailored suit, topped wit' de' mandatory cashmere topcoat, and trying to hide 'what a baggage man is going to/and where he was'!  Gets a little tuff when the conductor asks for 'ticket/pass'! You gotta' keep an' eye out for 'thems' that might 'undo' ya'!  Between buyin' a real ticket for unforeseen clashes with non-conforming conductors, and the stress of rail-thievery, and the ultimate loss of the ticket, New Years Eve (on the way home!), I tallied the stress factor, culled the pros and continuing 'cons', and Wally's monthly stipend, and minimized my Toots Shor luncheons, and remained friends, with due thanks to that smiling gent, Wally Roker, to this day (I would hope!).”

Bob Sherwood: “Hi, Claudius.  Your thoughtful Memorium motivated me to add the following to your list:
--Robert W. Morgan, Scott Muni, Alan Freed
--Don MacKinnon (anybody who heard him on-air would attest to the fact that he would’ve been on a very short list of the greatest jocks of all time had he not tragically died at age 31)
--Don Sherwood, Robert L. Collins, Jack Carney, Jay Cook
--Big Don Barksdale (one of the All-time Great R&B and Blues jocks), George Michael, B. Mitchel Reed (one ‘L’), Jocko, Dale Dorman, Tom Donahue
Just my opinion and obviously dominated by where I lived and what I heard.”

Your opinion is superb with me, Bob.  What a great list.

Lee Baby Simms, high in the hills above the bay:  “You wonder, Woody.  At home ... tasteful background as you puttz around and do whatever in your kitchen:

“I don`t do a hell of a lot up here on the hill, My Boy.  Especially in Winter (no tomatoes to fool with).  I have nothing much to report really.  Nothing much changes up here on the hill. I just putter around as the days melt into one another and pass soo quickly.  Every time I turn around its Sunday again and I only know its Sunday again cause Sunday is the day I put out the trash.  And then all of a sudden, its Sunday again.  Before I know it it will be time to put me out into the ….

“The high point of the week, every week, is 'Claude`s Commentary'.  (I see that you and I and George got a little mention this week.  Always reaffirming.)  I really enjoy hearing all those old stories about what once was from all of our OLD contemporaries.  Few are left.  When they are gone.  Which leads me to ... (somehow) My Health.  GOOD, more or less.  No real complaints.  (Don`t you hate a complainer?)  An ache here and a pain there ... from time to time, but most of them, are, for the most part Age Related.  Hey, I`m an old person.  I have to keep reminding my self that I`m not twenty-five anymore.  But. I have had every test and Xray and scan known to man and they can`t find anything really wrong with me.  (Except.)  I am delighted.

“Of course, I drink a lot and I smoke a lot and when I go to see the doctors, once in a while, and tell them how much their eyes grow wide and they say,  ‘MR. SIMMS ... You must stop all that, NOW!’  I tell em` to fuck off!  Ha-Ha ...  No, Wood, I don`t really tell them to do that, but that's what I think.  People have been telling me to stop all that, that what I do, for most of my life and most of them are dead and gone, I`m still here! Being Joyful.  Blood pressure is a little high.  Big Deal!  Everyone's Blood Pressure is a little high these days.  We live in a High Blood Pressure Age.  Too Much Information and 99% of it is not worth knowing!

“Oh!  Here is something.  I had a blood test done the other day and my PSA (prostate cancer) reading has gone up precipitously since I stopped the Lupron two years ago.  In an effort to get it back down to something reasonable I will start that treatment again for a little while.  I don`t look forward to it.  You know.  The sideeffects are not something that I enjoy but at least I know what to expect this time and will deal with them accordingly.  You know the old saying:  'Life is not about what life hands you but rather how you handle what life hands you'.

“Here is something to think about:  Come and see me.  My friend Don Robert will be here and we can all run up to Napa, to The Culinary Institute Of America for a lovely lunch.  Pop into Dean and Deluca for some yummy cheese and good bread, a bottle of wine.  Stop by Montclair, NJ, pick up Dr. Bob, then on to Las Vegas to get Claude.  Bring them both with you.  We`ll talk and laugh and dance and sing ... all hands waving free.  I have room for everyone … and I have papers.  Come.  I`m lonely for Y`all.  It`s Cool and Rainy today.  A nice bowl of soup (homemade) today for lunch.  wak.”

Later from Lee: You know what, guys?  The other day when I sent Y`all the update on my health it was not my intention to cause you concern or to elicit your sympathy or to have you comfort me.  I was not looking to concern or to elicit or for comfort.  I was merely giving you an update on 'The Moment' much as I do when I say.  ‘Here is what`s for lunch’.  Woody, you have sent encouraging emails.  Claude, you tell me: ‘Lee ... fight the good fight’.  Y`all are so kind ... But ... Y`all don`t have to do that.  I know alllllllllll about it.  I haven`t heard from Dr. Bob about my little 'Inconvenience' but then he never really loved me anyway.  He has always been jealous of my Education.  HA!  I make zee little joke, eh? I have always been a funny guy.  Really, Gentlemen, think nothing of it.  I`m fine.  FINE.  UPDATE!  A nice piece of line-caught Alaskan Halibut for lunch today.  Don`t be alarmed.  PS.  Hey! Want to see a picture of a naked girl?”

Jim Ramsburg: “I just saw this week's Commentary and was delighted to find your kind words about and my book with the awkward title.  Many thanks.  Anyone who thinks Peggy Lee's ‘Fever’ is sexy should listen to her earlier Decca recording of “Lover’.  That was orgasmic!  Holiday hugs to you and Barb.”

Diane Kirkland:  “Claude, one of my favorite parties was during the Radio Programming Forum in New Orleans – aboard the giant paddleboat with Cleveland and Clifton Chenier entertaining on board ... remember that one?  It was great.”

Mel Phillips:  “I am thrilled to announce that Mel Phillips Radio Views - The Book has been published by Amazon. To pre-order, click the following URL
Thanks for the help you gave me to make it all possible.”

Scott St. James: “Hi, Claude, just now got back from seeing a new film and the first thing I saw when I walked into my home office was the ‘Monday Treat’ I always look forward to.   Thanks much for sending.”

Don Sundeen: “This story really rang an old bell with me.  Sometime in the late 90s I was shooting a commercial with a semi-prominent Brit director/cameraman.  I knew that in Swinging London in the 60s he had been one of the leading still photographers taking pictures of the music groups, models, and even a royal or two.  We were at dinner one night and I said it must have really been cool to be in London then, and he replied that it wasn’t as cool as being in the ‘Caves' a few years later.  I asked what ‘Caves' he was talking about, and he gave me that look folks gave you when they were thinking you weren’t as hip as you thought you were.  Anyway, it turns out the Caves of Matala were on a beach in Greece not far from Crete.  For a time it was the place to go after dropping out of society and going off to ‘do your own thing.’  He said the climate was perfect  and clothing was optional, virtually every drug known at that time was available and people could live well for pennies compared to the US.  Anyway, I think that Joni Mitchell went there to get away from LA after separating from Graham Nash, a wonderful man, and stopped at the Caves for a while on her way to Paris.  That’s where she met Cary Raditz, and later wrote the song ‘Carey' (misspelled) about their relationship.  The song is available above this paragraph and there are some small shots of the Caves below the picture.  Like everything in the hippy era, the area’s been gentrified now and has hotels and condos surrounding the beach.  Were you a fan of Joni’s music, if so what tune was your favorite?

I wrote that “Carey” was one of four tunes by Joni that I had on laptop at the moment.  And mentioned the Newport Folk Festival where I first heard her in the 60s.

More Don Sundeen:  “Great story and a common occurrence, remember all the labels that passed on the Beatles? I thought the blog was very good today, all you have to do is mention Imus’ name and folks come out of the walls. Don Graham was one of my mentors and it’s been wonderful to see him get the recognition from his peers about his great career, at 80 I think he’s probably the last man standing.  Here’s the one Joni wrote about David Geffen before he came out:”

Paul Cassidy:  “Assume your Pat Harrington was senior.  Jr. was near us on Linda Flora in Bel Air.  Pat Jr. Is fighting Alzheimers, last we heard in October. Plus Charles Champlin of the LA Times left us last week, another Linda Flora resident. Stay well.”

Not sure these Pats were related.  The guy I knew was with Patton and both he and Bob Curren, then editor of Cavalier, worshiped Patton.  Pat could busted a full beer can (the old kind) with a judo chop.  Nice, but tough, hombre.  He was then dating an opera singer in Manhattan.  He’d been a louie and Curren a sergeant in that jaunt through Germany.  I enjoyed my two years working with Curren.  When he left the magazine to do the Gotham Bowl, he offered to get me a position on True.  I turned it down and Barbara and I went first to Austin, TX, then to New Orleans.  Some days, I think I may have made a mistake.  But, quien sabe?

Larry White:  “Could you possibly be thinking of George Michael (ex of WFIL and WABC) rather than George Martin in your Lest We Forget section this week?  I know Michael had quite a TV career including a syndicated sports show after leaving radio.  Love your weekly Commentary and recognize so many of the names of folks who were such an important part of the radio and record businesses when both were so much more fun.  Best to you and Barbara.”

You caught me in a goof, Larry.  George Michael was the person that I was thinking of.  You and Bob Sherwood … ah, but I do appreciate you guys!

Don Whittemore:  “Dearest Claude, you are so gracious to me that I gotta beg you to be nice to someone other than me.  The readers will think I'm paying you for all the superlatives.  When John A. Hall does his Christmas visit he will bring PeppBrnie and Pumpkin Praline.  Only one spoonful for you from each Pint.”

That’s not payola?  But what great payola, eh?

Mel Phillips:  “Joe Maimone was a jolly old elf when ‘Jingle Bells’ by the Singing Dogs, originally done in the 50s, was re-released in the early 70s.  Joe would dress up as Santa Claus to promote the record at radio (I'm sure he paid you a visit at Billboard, too). Although he had that thick black mustache, Joe was a jolly old beefy guy, tall and beefy enough to play Santa. About '72 or '73 I was at WOR-FM having replaced Sebastian Stone as PD when Joe came in accompanied not by the original Singing Dogs but whatever incarnation replaced them. Joe was one of the friendliest NYC promo people and even revered by his competitors.  And anyway there was no cover of would-be Singing Dogs to be competitive about.  Joe entertains us with the obviously, not talented version of the dogs that wouldn't stop yapping.  Since Joe visited all the pop music stations in NYC, he also doubled as a dog walker and he was running late on this trip. As he and the dogs are leaving 1440 Broadway, he walks by our 'Wall of Fame' where we had artists sign a section of the wall. The signatures were on a wall post and yes, one of the dogs urinated on the post. In that area we had promotion, sales and continuity people sitting just feet away from the aroma, a remnant of the Singing Dogs. To the best of my knowledge, the dogs were the only artist that urinated on the wall.  A nice Christmas memory to share.”

Personal Opinion:  The college football playoff series selection ended up a farce.  Just another mess.  Turns out TCU never had a chance.  Too Christian, I suppose.  Well, back to the drawing board, pundits.

Don Sundeen and Ira Lipson are wrapping up seven years and more than 500 award-winning radio shows for the blind.  Sundeen:  “We had a great run and a lot of fun, plus the satisfaction that comes from serving others.  The older one gets, the more one understands that nothing lives for ever, especially in these times of rapid technological change and tight money.”  To make sure I didn’t miss the news, Don Graham wrote:  “We are certain that you have been aware of the remarkable broadcasts that Don Sundeen and Ira Lipson have been doing as ‘The Strecher Brothers” out of KERA-FM, Dallas, entertaining for the blind.  A commendable public service.”

Great on you, Don Sundeen and Ira Lipson!  And thanks, Don.

Not too early, I guess, to wish each and
all a very wonderful holiday season!  Be kind,
be thoughtful, be helpful.  Barbara and I
love each and everyone one of you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 40r2

Dec 1 at 8:06 AM
December 1, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 40
By Claude Hall

I loved the parties.  The music industry was replete with parties, many also involving entertainment.  Elton John threw a party and a half at Universal Studios back in the 70s and for a later party hired a circus.  I was at the party at Universal Studios.  Took my wife Barbara with me.  It was on the western street.  There was a wagonload of iced down Coors at the beginning of the street.  The storefronts and the bars wore names such as Rick Frio’s Saloon.  At the end of the street, which was lined with places to drink and places to eat and all named for executives at MCA Records ranging from Mike Maitland to Pat Pipolo and Vince Cosgrave, Elton performed on the platform at the “railroad station.”  Dusty Springfield was one of the background singers.  The street was a wonderland for adults.  Someone said that Elton had invited 3,000 of his closest friends.

I met my wife Barbara at a private party in New York thrown by Claudia Mahola-Nagy.  Claudia’s parents owned an art gallery or two.  The first date with Barbara, I took her to a Kentucky Derby party tossed by Pat Harrington, who was with Patton in World War II.  At some party, I shot the bull with a guy who did publicity for the Hadacol trains, which were coast-to-coast parties with entertainment.

So I knew a little bit about the “trains” that went coast-to-coast.  One was country, another was MOR and I suppose there was one devoted to rock music.  And they featured stars.  Eddy Arnold, etc.  I found some more information about the trains from Jim Ramsburg’s blog.  According to Jim, the 1950’s trains were the brainchild of Louisiana State Senator Dudley LeBlanc to promote Hadacol (had a cold; it contained 12% alcohol).  Radio stations in 31 states were bombarded with copy.  Trains featured entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Burns & Allen and Lucile Ball.  Supposedly, LeBlanc sold the company and left hot checks around the nation.  Check out Jim’s blog for more details.  His book “Network Radio Ratings” is a great research tool as well as interesting reading.  Invaluable!  Checkout

Just FYI, Slim Willet, better known for “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” also wrote and sung a song called “Hadacol Boogie.”  There’s probably a book potential in Hadacol.

The guy I met at a New York party detailed how after performing for an audience, the troupe would pour Hadacol in a tub and party all night and dip their cups.  Sidebit:  Chuck Blore hired the LeBlanc guy to do spots promoting his Formula 63 (discussed in detail in “This Business of Radio Programming” by Claude & Barbara Hall;

Don Whittemore, the ice cream king of Los Angeles: “Claude, we do appreciate your work.  Can you feel the love?  Thanks for mentioning me in such November company.  Keeping history relevant is work and this student of yours occasionally marvels at your weekly input/output.  Just for the record and my own joke … you wrote a Commentary and didn’t mention George Wilson.  You surprised some people who couldn’t get George to play their push record.  Irony is everywhere.  Even after all these decades.”

And I’m also writing a few hundred words a day on my western novel “La Tigre.”  This particular La Tigre is young and beautiful and, yes, a bandit.  The villain in my western “Huecos” was also a beautiful Mexican bandit, but not too young.  Just FYI, there actually was a Mexican bandit named La Tigre roaming around El Paso in the early 1900s.  Vicious lady!  Nailed the hides of former boyfriends on the door of a barn down near the Rio Grande.  Woody Roberts says that my “La Tigre” is off to a real good start.  I feel good about it.  I already have 26,000 words written.  About George Wilson:  Lee Baby Simms told George that he loved him.  And George told him, “So does Claude Hall.”  And that’s true.  I was very close to Bill Stewart and George Wilson.  Another FYI:  Don used to deliver free ice cream to the late Jack Roberts.  What a very noble thing to do.  My opinion of Don Whittemore was always high.  Great on you, Don!  I go back a mile and a half with Don Whittemore.  Always loved him and he and Jan Basham were among my favorite people in the old days.  He has one problem:  He makes phenomenal ice cream.  But I’ve gotten old and now have a diabetes problem.  None of that stuff!  But Jack Roberts loved it!

Rich Robbin, referring to my wishes for everyone to have a good Thanksgiving:  “We're ALL blessed to still be on this side of the ground, amigo!  You can quote me:  ‘retirement is the greatest thing on earth that doesn't involve actual physical contact with another human being’.  Still doin' the website, ... (50s/60s and an occasional tasty 70s tune w/a  bunch of old jingles and other stuff thrown in) … but the site's a hobby; finally having radio in the rearview is a huge relief, especially considering what the business has become ... only good thing left from the old days is all the great radio pros still with us!  Bless ya, my friend … have a great Thanksgiving week!”

I hope the ladies Alice Harnell and Lyn Stanley are up and doing the Twist again by now.  Go get ‘em, ladies!  By the way, I remember when there was this storefront not far from the Billboard office … and then there was a neon sign and a doorman who stuck out his hand for a $20 just because of this fellow named Cubby.

Bob Levinson, once Bill Gavin’s PR expert:  “Hi, Claude … wishing you and yours a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving … Just received and can't resist sharing this lift from an advance review by BOOKLIST of my thirteenth crime novel, ‘The Evil Deeds We Do’, which has a January 21, 2015 pub date.  Most of it is set in the music business and filled with characters easily recognizable by others who were around when it was more music than business: ‘The writing is crisp and hard-boiled, reminiscent of the golden age of Chandler and Hammett but with a modern twist.  Levinson’s first career was in the music business, lending much credence to the story.  Elmore Leonard and Lawrence Block fans will find plenty to like in Levinson’s latest’.  Words to smile about ... best.”

Great on you, Bob!  You do have a deft touch when it comes to writing.  I still remember one phenomenal scene from one of your novels.  Really happy for you!

Frank Boyle:  “Hey, Claude: You still are a treasure with words. Here's my first exposure to another treasure -- Don Imus.  Bob Eastman sent me to KXOA, Sacramento, to persuade the GM, Jack Thayer, to fire Blair and hire the Eastman Tigers.  Jack let me buy dinner.  At the end of Dinner and my impassioned sales pitch -- Jack said confidentially  that KXOA was being sold.  That the new owner should make that  National Rep decision.  Jack said, ‘Please tell your boss you couldn't get the order.  Station sale preempted you.  But so this trip shouldn't be a total loss -- tomorrow AM when you leave your motel and drive that boring ride to San Francisco -- turn on KXOA. You'll hear my new morning man -- Don Imus.  I got him from a Modesto station. I think he'll become one of America's most popular DJ's. You travel the country, Frank, call me after Bob beats you up in NYC -- tell me what you think’.  Next morning I turned on KXOA -- this gravelly voice Morning Man said, ‘I married a girl who had the map of the United States painted all over her body, by the time I got to Phoenix -- I had to marry her!’ and segued into ‘The Wichita Lineman’.  Don made me laugh all the way to San Francisco.  I later called Jack to tell him I agreed with his prediction.  When Jack brought Don to Cleveland, we, Eastman repped WIXY --the Mighty 1260 -- owned by Norm Wain, Bob Weiss and Joe Zingale.  In Cleveland. WIXY was a big Top 40 Rating Winner.  The three of them came to New York in the 3rd month after Don got to Cleveland. They demanded we play tapes of Imus to New York, Detroit, Chicago key timebuyers to prove that Imus was Potty Mouth -- early Shock Jock -- would turn off Advertisers.  After hearing the Imus tapes and laughing our asses off.  We said, ‘No, that's a bad idea ... all we'd be doing would be to giving this Don Imus identity and competitive recognition’.  We couldn't admit this exposure would actually sell Imus -- not be a negative.  But The Client is always right.  In next three days we played Imus tapes to 45 of NYC biggest Time Buyers. Result: Buyers loved him -- Imus was a ‘Made Man’ -- we helped expose Imus' humor to the biggest Buyers in the business.  We confirmed his strength by our playing Defense.  Jack Thayer called me to thank us for the free Imus advertising. Agreed he'd have probably done same thing -- if situations were reversed.  Later Eastman was privileged to rep WNBC when Don Imus was its Morning Man.  Proving The Good Lord works in strange and wondrous ways.”

Bob Sherwood:  “Dear Kindly Ol’ Uncle Claude:  You should advise your friend/associate Burt Sherwood (no relation) that anyone who trifles with Don Imus does so at his (or her) own peril.  Besides being an interviewer in the same league as Tim Russert and among the brightest and funniest people ever to crack a mike, Don is reportedly right up there in the ‘Never Forget, Never Forgive’ stratosphere with David Geffen.  A hazardous place, indeed.  On a happier note … besides his ‘radio reporting’, Mel Phillips was also among the great contemporary radio Program Directors.  The WRKO he and associates put on the air that dominated Boston was certainly not his only one but it’s the one that sits comfortably with a small number of the All-Time, All-Timers.”

And then this note from Bob Sherwood to David Krebs and Rupert Perry, with copy to me:  “David -- and Hi, Rupert! -- I'm convinced that the last two or three decades of compressed, portable music have dramatically 'lowered the bar' for consumer expectation of quality audio.  At the same time, while the film/TV/video  industry and the consumer electronics companies were combining to extol the obvious value of enhanced visual reproduction and therefore increasing viewer expectation, the record companies and CE companies and their industry groups were engaged in a relentless series of losing format battles and pissing contests over copy-protection and recordability that genuinely confused and irritated two generations of music buyers who were already used to free exchange of 'information'.  Add the fact that the industry did nothing to alter the inevitable conclusion that the consumer reached when the enormous success of iPod included selling tracks at $ .99, conclusively establishing that music had been over-priced and it became a severely de-valued commodity.  Finally, there's the overwhelming fact that two generations of the most passionate music buyers happily, albeit unknowingly, made a trade-off of the wonder of quality audio for portability, convenience and hipness/coolness.  Not to mention only having to purchase a single song that they liked rather than the total artist work.  And Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine's ‘Beats’ earphones are only going to capture the 'street' crowd and those who posture and treasure Rap and hip-hop-dominated overwhelmingly Bass driven audio.  The high-def, high-end audio market is worth chasing but only if one understands that it will never be more than a tightly-focused, economically-centric niche market.  That's my view.”

Chuck Chellman, once a record promotion person, “The night before Thanksgiving … listening to WSM.  I heard Ernest Tubb’s ‘Thanks a Lot’ ... It brought a wonderful memory.  I took my dad backstage to the Opry and introduced him to Ernest Tubb.  Ernest gave my dad a big handshake and told him, ‘Mr. Chellman, you’ve got a good boy here.  Don’t worry about him because we’ll take good care of him.  Mr. Chellman, you’re welcome here at any time.  You’re among friends’.  What a wonderful man was Ernest.  We all have Thanksgiving memories. This is just one of mine.”

Dick Summer:  “And happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Claude. Your blog is, if possible, even better than your Billboard column.  I was interested to see the note from Don Imus.  I was overnights when he was at WNBC the first time.  He was late lots of mornings, and some mornings didn't make it in at all.  We were not on friendly terms.  He of course was fighting demons at the time, and I was just tired.  When we were all fired in the ‘Pittman Purge’ Don got a syndicated TV show.  He invited me to guest on it to promo my Hypnotherapy practice.  (I was a hypnotherapist for about 18 years.) I think it was Don's way of making up for the stuff at WNBC.  I salute anybody who can defeat the demons, and Don not only did that, but he came back to be the biggest force in AM radio.  Don's a MAN.”

Danny Davis:  “Phone rings Sunday PM!  Late!  My friend, The Gramcracker, on the unit to wish me well, seeking answers for Monday’s meet wit' da' Neuro-surgeon!  In the terms of a 'longtime' gamblin' hoss player, the 'field' races some pretty fair 'runners'!  I always thought I was equal to any one in the 'musical promotion field', until you evaluate length, passion, work ethic, and general success of one 'still goin' promo gent! Don Graham!!  The CLASS of The Field!  Birthdays be damned, Grammer, 'You've always been my 'hoss', even IF you never win a race!'  (. . .and if Neil, over at the Grammy Awards, had any 'real smarts', you'd be staring, at least, at an 'honorarium'!)  Thanx for all the years of friendship, DG ... and the lessons I 'stole' from you!”

Be nice, in my opinion, if they gave a Grammy for promotion.  It’s skill as well as a body of knowledge.  And Don Graham has always been at the very top.  Great on you, Don Graham!

Donald Sundeen:  “To Morris Diamond -- Thanks for your comments on Peggy Lee, in my opinion ‘Fever’ was one of the sexiest tunes ever played on the radio.  I, too, regret missing Don Graham's birthday party, especially since I've learned that Dandy Don's incredible ice cream was served.”

Frank Jolley: “Claude, Happy Thanksgiving to you and the whole family.  Thanks for your commentary it unblocks my MIND, if I ever had one in the first place.  I took note of what was written about Danny Neavereth recently and as for one who worked with him at WKBW I can attest to the fact he is a Prince of a Gentleman.  He personally talked me back toward sanity when I was fired at WKBW in January 68.  PS: I just read the next day’s column regarding Jimmy Rabbitt’s comment and his advice was sound, he said, ‘It'll all come out in the wash’.  I've asked Jimmy to join on Friday nights, and here it is nearly fifty years later.  We'll more than likely sound like a Dallas radio station of the sixties.”

You get you and Jimmy on a CD in a show like that, I would love to have a copy.  CD or email.  Just FYI, Jimmy and Frank competed against each other back in Dallas at one point.  A long, long time ago!

Mel Phillips:  “Just a note for you to pass along (if you would, Sir). My new URL is my original one, and Monday's story about Pandora will surprise many of the millions of Pandora junkies. The piece is titled 'Is Pandora Playing Favorites?' Thanks.”

Lest We Forget:  Frank Mancini, Bill Gavin, William B. Williams, George Martin (who became an outstanding sports personality after his music director/DJ days), Dean Tyler, Bob Van Camp, Eddie Hill, Slim Willet, Al Dexter, Larry Shaw, Dan Daniels, Ruth Meyer, Don Burden.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 39r2

Today at 8:51 AM
November 24, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 39
By Claude Hall

Don Imus:  “I sent you an email requesting your phone number so I could put an end to this nonsense from Burt Sherwood ... whoever he is. You may inform Mr. Sherwood if he continues to malign me I will sue him and I don't make idle, empty threats. He doesn't know what the heck he's talking about. You would think you would take my word for what happened and not continue to print this idiocy from someone.  I got fired from KJOY in Stockton for conducting an Eldridge Cleaver look a like contest and saying ‘hell’ on the air.  Herb Caen the legendary columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle had been using material I sent him in his famous Sunday Column ... when I was fired he wrote an article about it.  Jack Thayer had just become the general manager of KXOA in Sacramento ... he read Caen's column ... called me, interviewed me and hired me to do mornings at KXOA ... a few months later he was offered a job at WGAR in Cleveland. He asked me if I wanted to go along with pd John Lund ... who was brilliant. I did ... I was then offered a job at WNBC in New York (after winning the Billboard Major Market DJ of the year award) by Perry Bascom and the pd Pat Whitley ... I went to NBC in December of 1971. Thayer became the president of NBC radio in 1974 (Google might help you).  So he hardly took me to New York.  I was fired by Charlie Warner in 1977.... Thayer was not talking to me and had not for some time.  I did meet with him shortly after I was fired in which we discussed my coming back as the Pittman experiment with his girlfriend was a disaster.  It did not pan out and I returned to Cleveland.  After less than a year I received a call from Bob Sherman.  He wanted to know if I was interested in coming back to New York.  I told him I had already been contacted by WABC (which was NOT true) and that if he was really interested they needed to make me an offer. He told me he was going to send Bob Pittman, who was still the pd, out to Cleveland to listen to me.  Pittman did ... called me from the airport ... we met ... I watched him eat breakfast and Michael Lynne, the former head of New Line Cinema ... ‘Lord of the Rings’ and all those other great movies, represented me (I met him shortly after I arrived in New York when he was an entertainment lawyer before his movie career and he represents me to this day) anyway ... Mr. Lynne met with Bob Sherman and made the deal for me to return.  He did not meet with Jack Thayer.  I had no conversation with Thayer about any aspect of my coming back.  Pittman remained the PD till he went to MTV and John Lund was named to replace Pittman.  I had known Lund since Sacramento and thought and still think he was brilliant.  Mel Phillips, by the way, is an honorable guy and knows what he's talking about.  I clearly understand this is not a big deal, but I don't need a Burt Sherwood running his mouth about what he thinks I remember.

I wrote Don Imus and discussed some of the things he’d done on my behalf.  I mentioned that the interview I did with Imus and Robert W. Morgan was more than likely one of the funniest things I’ve ever written.

“Thanks for your very nice note.  You probably don't realize what you did for my career.  When I won the medium market Billboard DJ award in Sacramento that was huge ‘cause I had just been fired at KJOY. And then I won the Major Market award at WGAR in Cleveland and everyone wondered who the hell was this guy in Cleveland.  That's when the NBC offer came ... also KSFO in San Francisco.  I picked New York cause that was the biggest market on the planet.  Somebody asked me what made me think I could make it in New York.  I said I didn't think there was any chance I wouldn't.  You were there for me from day one.  Morgan and I both loved the great times we had with you.”

Just FYI, I’d rather not print any more negative stuff.  Answering for it creates a pain in my whatis.  The truth is I love all of you.  My personal apology to Don Imus for any distress.  We go back a ton of years.  But I suppose I must be getting old … I thought the Eldridge Cleaver promotion was when Don was on the air in Palmdale/Lancaster.  Look at it this way, Don … you’ve got to be extremely huge in an industry to have your career analyzed all of the way back to Palmdale.  Regardless, I’ve enjoyed Don’s life.  Not as much as he has, but he put a great deal of fun in my years.  Once, I asked him to write Vox Jox for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever let anyone touch the column during the 14 years I was with Billboard.  It was, needless to say, a very humorous column.  Great!  And the interview that I did with Don Imus and Robert W. Morgan was a comedy classic.  Imus also mentioned me in his blog this week.  And Don Whittemore made sure I got to see it.  I wrote them both that if this kind of publicity kept up, I was bound to get rich and famous.  I’ve also learned that Whittemore provided the ice cream for Don Graham’s 80th birthday party.  You know those dons, they stick together.

Bob (Bobaloo) Craig:  “Claude ... that harmonica/guitarist player you couldn't think of for Peggy Lee is Toots Thielemans.  He also composed ‘Bluesette’ and recently retired ... at the age of 91!  Thanks for the weekly commentaries and the resurfacing of names from my 51 years in ‘The Biz’.  (WDRC, WPOP, WMGK) WRTI Philadelphia).”

Toots.  That’s him!  Good on you, Bob!  Toots and Hal Blaine were like gods among sidemen in Los Angeles.  It’s not too well known, but Glen Campbell started as a sideman.  And I think Hal doubled in Bread.  Last time I saw Hal, he was in a recording session with Neil Diamond.  A sideman.

Frank Boyle, Shelton, CT: “Dick Rakovan sent me a copy of your Nov. 14 Commentary.  Never saw it before.  What a hoot to read -- so many old household names -- most are PDs and music guys whom I didn't know.  I'm trying to write three books on Radio.  One will be named ‘When Radio Was Fun!’  You'll be in it.  I've got a few pages from your old publication with pix from some of your memorable NYC Conferences.  You were ahead of your time -- we couldn't wait to read your weekly Walter Winchell dirt.  You were kind enough to let me be a speaker to make bodacious predictions about formats of the future.  You'll recall I had to wear a suit of Knight's Armor to protect myself from Bill Drake, George Wilson and Stan Kaplan's spears. Pls email me a a few pages from a few copies of your old  weeklies. You were a Treasure -- Cowboy hat and boots -- and still are.  Those were the Golden Years -- The Hall report, Sponsor, Broadcasting, TV Radio Age, Gallagher Report, Kissinger report -- 4, repeat 4 National Research companies. Nielsen, Pulse. Hooper and Conlan. Now just one.  Frank Boyle -- once The Eastman Rep guy, now a Station Broker like Burt Sherwood and Gary Stevens.  Stay well!”

Ah, Frank … I could never forget that suit of armor.  Not only did you gain attention, I’ll bêt everyone remembers you!  I’ve certainly had a place for you in my heart since that day!  I was tickled to hear from you and Bob Aloo.  Made my day!  Always admired you, Frank.

Lyn Stanley:  “Hi, Claude.  I had surgery today, and it was so nice to wake up to your review of my new album.  Many thanks, Claude.  I am so glad you saw all the effort my team and I went into to create an audiophile/music lover’s dream album.  I wish you had a turntable!  It is so wonderful and rich coming out of vinyl.  Bernie Grundman worked so hard to get it just right and match Al Schmitt's fine engineering.  If you like it, that means Jack would have liked it!!  Thank you again for your kindness and words.  I am grateful for your help with my career.  Even as a latecomer to the arena, I am ever amazed at the support I have received.  God bless you, Claude.  You're a hero to me.”

A speedy recovery, Lyn!

Russ Regan: “Love getting your Commentary every week, it’s like the old days on Billboard magazine.  You’re still a great writer.  You were very kind to me, and I will never forget that.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.”

Russ, I considered you one of the best record men in the business.  For some reason, you and Bud Prager and Mike Maitland (and staff) and Joe Smith would talk to me and were open and honest.  I always liked the head of Casablanca Records, too.  Neil Bogart.  He was a character, but fun.  Hated it when he died.  I can remember some of the things he did.  Last time I saw him was when he invited me and my kids to see a KISS concert and who do I run into?  The head of Casablanca and his kids, Neil Bogart!

Burt Sherwood:  “Claude...thanks for the kind words and the comments on Thayer.  Sure, I forgive anyone who reads this.  I do not say this lightly.
I saw the Mel Phillips blog on this following my ‘rant’.  All I can is what I did, I do not know Mel and visa versa ... only heard from Perry Ury that he
is one of the best.  The top of the mountain is hard to get to ... the bottom is a hard fall.  Jack Thayer went both ways ... I know no one personally who did not like him.  I miss him, my family misses him ... and, Claude, you do as well.  It was a lot of years ago ... let the man rest in peace ... and for us to have peace as well.  Just so you don't think we are all a bunch of idiots ... the story of Imus and Thayer is a shame.  Imus had no greater champion than Jack ... it will do no one any good to continue this ... as the old Bavarian saying goes ‘an Ox has a big tongue and cannot talk ... a human being has a small tongue and dasn't talk’.  What a pity all this really is ... forgive and forget.”

I personally like Mel Phillips and consider him one of the best radio reporters currently on the scene.

Roger Carroll:  “Don's (Don Graham) 80th birthday party outstanding.  Robin did a great job making the party a big time success.  Lots of old farts there including myself.”

David Carroll, Chattanooga:  “Ok, I enjoy reading yours … so now you have to read mine, too.”

Bill Hatch:  “Just got to this week's Commentary and haven't yet read it all but wanted to respond to Lani's inquiry about ‘Aircheck: The Story of Top 40 Radio in San Diego’.  It can be purchased from Dave Leonard at the following URL. I obtained my copy only last summer (2013) from -- and signed by -- the singularly magnificent Bobby Ocean.  I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Lani (that I can recall) but I was at KCBQ when the Gary Allyn era ended and the tidal wave that was the season of Buzz Bennett began.  For a young radio guy less than three years out of Idaho, it was a wonder to behold.'s the link:”

Timmy Manocheo:  “Claude, Lani Bennett wanted to know where to get a copy of the book ‘Aircheck’. Here's a link for it on Amazon:”

Morris Diamond:  “Hi, Claude – I envy those who were able to get to Don Graham's birthday party last Saturday.  Because of Alice's recent knee surgery, it would have been difficult to make the schlep from Palm Desert to LA.  Charlie Barrett, who lives here in Palm Springs, did tell us he would drive us to the party, but unfortunately, business took him to Tucson for the weekend and we were left with our thoughts of Don and Robin all day Saturday.  To Don Sundeen -- My significant other, Alice Harnell's late husband, Joe, was Peggy Lee's pianist/Music Director for a couple of years – and during my years as an indy record promoter, Peggy was my client for three of those years.  As Don Graham would attest, when you're promoting a record you're off the payroll once the record peters out … Peggy had me on the payroll throughout the three years I represented her.  I recall pitching Peggy's ‘Fever’ to Bill Randle and he sort of liked it – that day was Peggy's birthday and I told him so – he asked me to get her on the phone – I did and all he said to her was ‘Happy Birthday, Peggy, I will start playing ‘Fever’ tomorrow’.  You talk about her great recording of 'Is That All There Is’ written by Lieber & Stoller – I'm working with the Palm Springs City of Hope Music & Entertainment Chapter and we're having a gala next March and our honoree is MIKE STOLLER.   Jim Gavin is the author of  ‘Is That All There Is’ and has volunteered to speak at our Gala in March if schedule permits.  Jim, a good friend of Alice's, always calls us for lunch when he's in the desert.  To Freddy Cannon – Freddy, glad to see you as a participant of Claude's letter … been quite a while since we and our wives attended the private music screenings at the Universal Studios.  I pray for a speedy recovery from your heart surgery and COPD.  C'mon out to Palm Desert and stretch out on our patio for lunch.  Get well and stay well.”

Bob Walker, WTIX, New Orleans:  “Hey, Claude, any idea of ‘whatever happened to’ former Philadelphia Eagle and MGM promo enforcer Ben Scotti and his brother Tony Scotti?  Any idea if they still with us?

What I heard, Bob, is that the three Scotti brothers owned the entertainment firm that had “Baywatch.”  They sold it for $300 million and each took a third and didn’t have to do much of anything afterwards.

Bob Sherwood:  “Don Graham, because you’re a National Treasure I’m advised that the regional damage caused by your birthday party allows for Federal Gov’t. Disaster Aid for the immediate area.  However, the fact that the 80 candles on your cake led to leveling of half the nearby neighborhood will almost certainly negatively affect your insurance policy.  Please add my congratulations to Macey for his exhibition and ask him if the large painting at the bottom of those you’ve shown is in fact a walkway in Positano overlooking the Terranean Sea?  Also, is the Marcy Lipman Toronto, whose print I saw in a doctor’s office last week, a relative?  Anxious to hear the Manilow CD.”

Kent Kotal, “Forgotten Hits”:  “We ran a world exclusive on Freddy Cannon recently ... and have also been monitoring his recovery after his heart surgery.  (In fact, we may have been the one to break that story to the world as well!)  Some of the deejays on your list who know and/or helped market Freddy's music in its heyday might enjoy the following features that ran exclusively in Forgotten Hits:”

Bob Wilson:  “Claude … Paul Oscar Anderson, a name given to Paul Brown when he worked at KOIL in Omaha where I was learning Top 40 radio.  He also worked at WIFE and KISN, two other Don Burden Star Stations.  Paul at one time taught radio at a commercial school in Iowa and told me his first class was failed ... all of them!  When the owner of the school complained to Paul, Brown replied, ‘Boss, none of them will ever make it in radio’ ... whereupon the boss informed Paul, ‘maybe, but they all paid their tuition and none of them will get failing grades’.  Paul worked at most of the Don Burden Star Stations (I don't think KICN in Denver).  He was in Omaha working with George Crowell Wilson during one of my periods of imitating a PD.  And I think David hired him in Milwaukee or Indy.  David used me twice in Milwaukee to do the stagers ... at two different stations!  So until David's competition realized they were using my old recordings and WOKY had a brand new set (written by David) announced by the same guy ... much fun.  I think Dick Casper was a honcho at WOKY also. Oops, 7:30 a.m., time for breakfast ... my best to you.”

Good to hear from you, Bob!

Adam White:  “This column tipped me to the passing of Jimmy Schwartz, and I got in touch with a former colleague at Billboard to suggest an obit.  With luck, that will be happening soon.  Jimmy deserves it.  I know Schwartz Bros. was a major contributor to the success of Motown (among many others) over the years.”

Good move, Adam.  If we don’t honor our own, who will?

Neal Barton, Tyler, TX:  “Friend of the late Larry Shannon here.
Feels weird to say that.  Imus gave you a nice shout this morning.”

Larry Irons:  “I was in radio for 30 years and worked San Diego, Reno, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Lansing, MI; and Brownsville, TX.  I left radio in 1997, got married, and moved to Las Vegas.  My book took me about two years to write.  Thanks to Steve Resnick at RAMP, Dave ‘the Duke’ Sholin, Guy Zapoleon, Jon Zellner from IHeartMedia, Sean Ross, and Jonathan Little.  I even got an endorsement from former Governor Mike Huckabee!”

Andy Hall:  “In ‘Number One Songs: The First Twenty Years: 1956-1975’, Larry Irons, a venerable disc jockey, program director, and all around veteran of radio gives us a poem that delights in pop music lore.  Here is a poem that points to the follies, whimsies and tragedies surrounding pop music and their personalities.  More to the point, the poem and the poet reflects our lives.   One could misread this as nostalgia, but the words give an autobiographical account of the horrific truths and splendiferous vistas of this era.  Irons provides us a history of the turbulent Sixties and catalogs the tumultuous yet mostly beneficial changes we have gone through in American culture.  Each of the 20 years accounts for a whole section or chapter, and at the beginning he lists the number one songs as compiled by Billboard Magazine for that year.  This book would serve as a great companion to any history or rock and roll course, as younger generations could learn a tome of wisdom from the historical triumphs and pitfalls of our pop pioneers.  In the 1972 chapter, Irons reflects on Billy Paul’s 1972 hit about adultery, ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ and he considers regrets of his own life.   Lest anyone shy away from the serious content, Irons’ poem is full of humor.  Take this excerpt from the 1974 chapter for instance:

About Barbra Streisand, now let me be clear,
She’s one of those singers, that so many revere.
She has perfect pitch, her voice has no flaws,
At her concerts between songs, all you hear is applause.

“The Way We Were” topped the charts three weeks in a row,
From her same titled movie, which helped it I know.
The movie did well, it was a box office smash,
To say I didn’t see it, would I get lots of backlash?

“Larry’s book proves a gem that any historian, musicologist, fan, or student should take great pleasure in.  And dare I say it: somebody should put these fine words to music!”

Just FYI, Andy is a poet and honored with his name on a park “bridge” in downtown Las Vegas.  He currently teaches English at UNLV.

Ah, Don Graham … undoubtedly a sneaky genius.  He’s now promoting for radio a CD by Isabel Rose for Christmas.  The trick is that the CD only has two songs – “Hanukkah! Oh, Hanukkah” for radio to play for the holidays and the single that Rose is really promoting “Never Satisfied.”  And both tunes are bright and catchy and you’ll love them and listeners will love them.  Good job, Isabel!  I loved “Never Satisfied.”  Should do well for you.

Mel Phillips:  “Good Saturday Morning, Claude.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and Barbara and to everyone in your vast web of worshipers.  I was 18 when I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home (Brooklyn, NY).  This was my first job in radio and it was as far away from home as I'd ever been.  WJBB Haleyville, AL, was in the northwest part of the state about 90 miles from Birmingham -- 40 from Muscle Shoals. Population was barely over 3,000.  But -- a big but -- I was on the radio for the first time in my life.  I was working that Thanksgiving and, of course, I just had to tell everyone that I was.  An hour later Bert Nichols and his girlfriend Davene knocked on the station door loud enough to hear despite the station monitor blaring Jerry Lee Lewis ('You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain').  My Thanksgiving dinner was still hot and had all the trimmings -- just delicious.  Bert's dad, Red Nichols, ran the only funeral home/ambulance service in town.  I lived upstairs in a tiny make-shift bedroom for free.  State law made it mandatory for someone to be on the premises but I didn't have to do anything -- just be there.  Happy Thanksgiving.”

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mel, and everyone else.  Personally, I feel blessed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 38r2

Today at 7:44 AM
November 17, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 38
By Claude Hall

Lyn Stanley’s “Potions – From the 50s” CD is beautiful and superb and the acoustic quality will startle you.  It’s like listening to music for the very first time in your life!

I go back to early stereo.  Long before I joined Billboard and got involved in promoting/forcing stereo radio and later quad records and quad broadcasting, I bought one of the first stereo LPs.  Louis Armstrong on Audio Fidelity.  At Colony Records on Broadway in Manhattan.   I still have it.  In fact, I probably also have the second largest collection of quadrasonic in the world.  Still have my demodulator.  I used to invite people up to the house just to hear quad.  I had quad in my study and in my bedroom – both discrete and matrix – and stereo out over the swimming pool.

This is just to let you know that if you like quality audio, you’re going to love this CD by Lyn Stanley.  The difference is magnificent!  Even on this laptop.
You can hear everything!  The lilt of her voice, which you’ll love on “Lullaby of Birdland.”  Every nuance of her singing is there.  Superb phrasing.  Bright, sophisticated.  Wonderful to listen to!  I believe you’ll enjoy every song on this CD.  I liked “Cry Me a River,” “Hey There,” “I’m Walkin’,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “After the Lights Go Down Low.”  Difficult to find a tune that isn’t tremendous.  Call it jazz. Call it adult contemporary.  I’ve listed all of the songs as ballads, the same as Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Annie Lennox, and Glen Campbell and Frank Sinatra.

Lord, but you’re great, lady!

Lyn Stanley: “Just in from my performance in L.A. this past weekend.  Thought you might like to read this:

“It’s Lani Bennett here... just to let you know how much i enjoy your Commentary!  I am now FB friends with three powerful radio/music guys from my past... Gil Bateman, Bob Hamilton, Mark Driscoll and, lucky me, Bobby Ocean has never left my life.  Or my heart!  Please let me know where i can order the book Aircheck?  Thank you for all that you do  for the world of Radio & Music ... certainly now and ‘then’.  Still no news regarding Buzz.  Did hear from a close former friend of his. That his disease of addiction took him all the way down. That was in 1997 this person saw Buzz ... said it was a super bad situation ... sad to hear.  But my early recovery days... all I heard over’n’over again in the AA rooms ... addiction ends 3 ways... jails... institutions and death.  Kinda beginning to think he has passed on from this world... but ... you never know?  Anyway best to you alway ... Cheers!”

Can’t help you about “Aircheck,” Lani, but perhaps someone reading this has information that I could pass along to you.  Thanks for the email.

Art Wander:  “Having read all your columns, and also the items in Hollywood Hills, I finally saw the name of one of the great air personalities in the glory years of Top 40 radio.  That’s Danny Neaverth, a person who I consider a friend and who I wanted to hire at both WMGM and then WOR-FM.  In Buffalo and the Eastern Seabord, Danny is a legend.  Danny always refers to one time during our time together at WKBW in Buffalo.  Before I left to join McLendon in the late 50s, WKBW had 15-minute newscasts.   Though Danny was a jock, he read his own news.  I wrote the news for him and then I noticed a mis-pronunciation of a word I wrote.  The next 15 newscasts I wrote for him, he was shocked that I typed every work phonetically.  The became thuh.  Person was typed pehrson.   Buffalo was Buhfahlow.  I was eye … and so on.  Instead of 3 or 4 pages of news, he had a stack in the form of a large book.  To this day, in recalling that event, Danny mentions it.  As for his contributions to the industry, no one was more fondly accepted by the Buffalo audience than Danny Neaverth.  Now, I’ll probably get a reply from Don Berns for not mentioning him.”

I, too, think of Dan Neaverth as a legend.  You think of Buffalo, you think of Dan Neaverth.  He was/is Buffalo.

Robert E. Richer:  “Took HOA’s advice and tuned into his program.  Wonderful!  Not the kind of radio available anywhere else on the planet.  Just warm, heartfelt and great fun!
Give it a listen.”

His ratings are pretty nice, too.  Good on you, HOA!

Bob Fead:  “Simple thanks, just makes the day so rewarding!”

I like Don Imus.  Since the day he did an Eldridge Cleaver “Look a Like” contest in Palmdale, CA.  One of the funniest things I ever wrote was the interview of Imus and Robert W. Morgan.  Imus is great.  I know for a fact that Jack G. Thayer, once head of NBC Radio, was proud of him.  So I was a little upset that Imus thought Thayer had done him dirt, so to speak.  And if it was true, I was upset about that, too.  At this stage in my tender young life, I hope all that is “under the bridge,” to use an old cliché.  At least, I hope so.  Burt Sherwood, as everyone who knows him knows, is a damned nice guy.  Salt of the earth.  All of those clichés.  I like Burt Sherwood.  If Jack hurt Don in any way, I hope that Don forgives him.  And that Burt forgives us all.  Basically, I don’t want any of my friends teed off at each other.  It’s late in the game, folks.

Burt Sherwood received Commentary a little late and replied:  “Thanks I got it and read it first on my cell phone then re-read it this morning.  I was glad that I got it late as the stomach was churning from the comments about Thayer.  In the scheme of things I have forgotten about Perry Bascom.  I met him when we were at a meeting in Bahamas... I was in Philly then.  He was a very nice man.  The comment about Jack wanting Imus to be fired and Sherman to bring him back is crazy... Jack found Imus when he was working in Sacramento, and heard Imus on the air at another station... Imus got fired there and Jack thought so much of him that he took him to Cleveland with him... and then to WNNNNNBC New York.  Over most of that period I was in weekly conversations on the phone with Jack.  I know Pittman was sent to bring him back... if Imus still thinks it was Sherman and Pittman ... that is OK ... I do not think he remembered much from all that at that time in his life... and I leave it there.  All I know is that Imus never showed at Jack's Memorial in New York as I was one of the eulogizers for Jack. I looked up and commented that there are some people missing here who have short memories ... the house that Jack built wherever he was ... was always trying to be the  best ... ask Frank Boyle about the Thayer days in NYC... he repped both NBC stations, Chicago and New York... I worked for a lot stations as first as anannoucer/dejay ... then as a manager... the 8 AM calls from Jack on the inside line were legendary.  My management days were never better or more supported than they were with Thayer ... we did well for him ... I asked him one day ... if we had not done so well would he have canned me!  The big blue eyes opened wide and he laughed and he said ‘certainly’.  When Jack was terminated I called him and said I wanted to quit... he said he’d pound me to the floor if I did.  He yelled at me and made me stay ... and I guess it got back to Silverman as I got a terrific raise to be on board ... my wife Anne liked that very much.  There was no one like Thayer ... and the memories I see written are in 3/4 time ... almost all the facts are almost there to get it to 4/4, but a lot is missing and not true ... and if it were not for Thayer most of your bloggers on this subject would have never gotten as far as they did... and I cleaned that up a lot... I am pissed!”

Jimmy rabbitt, a couple of years ago, offered me this great old cliché in regards of a ratings disagreement between him and a competitor, Frank Jolley, in Dallas:  “It’ll all come out in the wash.”  First time I heard that line was when I was a kid.  From my grandmother Pearl Gilmore Smith.  Mel, Don, Burt and you others: let’s cool it until the final wash.

David Carroll:  “Thanks again … what a nice pick-me-up each Monday!  And it’s great to see a mention of Ron Brandon.  We were lucky he passed through Chattanooga a few times.”

I listen to music a great deal.  The person who introduced me to Little Feat was Rob Moorhead, once music director of K100-FM in Los Angeles.  Great group.  Now and then, I have to hear “Jamaica Will Break Your Heart” on the “Rooster Rag” CD.  Great music is great music.

Just FYI, Frankie Avalon performed at the South Point here in Las Vegas on Nov. 14-16.  Tickets from $45.  And a show “Ricky Nelson Remembered” is at South Point Nov. 21-23 featuring Matthew and Gunnar Nelson.  As I recall, a couple of Bobby Vee’s sons were performing in the band, including Tommy and Jeff Velline.

Larry Cohen sent me information that Jim Schwartz, president of Schwartz Brothers Dist., died last Wednesday at 91.  The news spread like wildfire in the music industry.  He was a great music man.  Everyone knew him.  A major contributor to the entire music industry not only in the states, but around the world.  Schwartz Brothers was one of the great independent record distributors.  A sign of the time(s).  We come, we do, we go.

I asked Danny Davis for some information regarding Rudy Maugeri, who I believe was once music director at KFI in Los Angeles and prior to that a member of the Crewcuts.  “Authorman: Right on both counts!  Youse' ain't lost it kid!  Lemme let ya' in on what's wit me!  Got an appointment wit' da' neuro-surgeon on the 24th!  Gonna' adjust the shunt in my head!  Ain't had it done since I went in for NPH years ago!  Writing that piece for you wuz 'sumpin' else!  When the shunt need 'tweaking', you're a LOT 'loopy'!  Trying to stay good till the 24th.  Give a shout out for a cancellation, from anybody, so's I can get it done sooner!  Best to ya', once again!”

Good luck on the medical stuff, Danny.  I’ll say a prayer for you.

Danny Davis:  “Claudius!  Leavin' this email same as it came to me!  I wuz trying to help another friend get Freddy Cannon to do a show at Sun City!  This shocker came this AM!  I know Freddy wouldn't wanna' spoil The Gramcrackers birthdate!  Freddy IS a GOOD GUY!”

From Freddy Cannon to Danny Davis:  “Danny, you’re a good friend, but I had open heart surgery on Sept. 26.  Also have COPD.  Trying to recover.  It’s been rough.”

Prayers are in order for Freddy Cannon.  We wish you a speedy recovery, Freddy.  You’re a valuable part of American musical history.  Come to think of it, so’s Danny Davis!

Scott “Scooter” Segraves:  “Claude, read Commentary with great enjoyment every week but usually don’t have anything to add.  Sadly, today I’ve just seen this on Facebook’s “Pop Jocks” page:  Joe Knight, a giant among Baltimore radio greats, has died.  Never got to hear his show, since he'd migrated to Baltimor e by the time I started at Tulsa University in fall '58. But listening at night to KRMG (BTW, a primary reason for my college choice), I frequently heard 'Young' John Chick or 'Doc' Hull refer to afternoons with ‘the Knights of the spinning turntable’."

Good to hear from you, Scooter!

Don Sundeen: “My only real memory of Peggy Lee was at the time of ‘Is That All There Is’, promotion man Sammy Alfano presented her with a $5,000 cake to celebrate the record's golden success.  She loved it, and he got away with it.  I imagine that knowing that she was the inspiration for Miss Piggy resonated with her need for love and attention in a very interesting way.  After reading this, I was glad I never had to work with her, because I had plenty of ‘Problem Children’ as it was,  speaking of which; I'm trying to get my head around a Jerry Lee Lewis piece, there’s only room for so much craziness.  If that sounds like something you might like let me know, ditto if you’d prefer these to stop.”

Sundeen sent an item on Peggy Lee by Michelle Dean reviewing a new book on Peggy Lee titled “Is That All There Is? The Strange Life of Peggy Lee.”  Barbara and I caught Peggy Lee’s act in Las Vegas about 30 or 40 years ago.  She was great.  She demanded the best, when it came to music.  I recall that she flew in a musician from Los Angeles, an almost legendary harmonica player who doubled on guitar.  Can’t recall his name at the moment.  But she wanted him in her band and he sat front and center.  One of the great pities in life is that Dave Dexter, a veteran writer and record producer, never did his intended book with her.  He knew her well.  He wrote several penetrating and fascinating books about music.  I have a couple of them in my study that he autographed and gave to me.  One is called “Playback.”  I treasure these.  I’ve often wondered what he might have said about her.  This new book by James Gavin published by Atrium probably paints a cruddy picture of her.  From the review.  I shall not read Gavin’s book.  I thought she was sensational and my memory will keep that view of her.  “Fever,” to me, is a classic.  God bless Peggy Lee!

Jonathan Little: “Dave ‘Duke’ Sholin recently turned me on to a new book that’s a poetic history of pop music number ones.  I think you’d love a new book called – ‘Number One Songs – The First Twenty Years’, a poem by Larry Irons.

Larry was a jock for years, stopping along the way in Vegas, Sacramento, and San Diego.  He creatively weaves song histories, snippets of artist bios and his reflections on life and radio into a totally cool book that is so much fun!   I just spoke with Larry and he’d like to send you a copy.  Just email him where to send it.”

Claude Hall, 2563 Paradise Village Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120

Ron Jacobs: “Aloha, Claude. The Longhorns kicked ass and we await the sunrise. Monday is Commentary Day, hooray!  Most of our written correspondence has been private, between the two of us.  Man, goin’ back decades, can you believe?  I do have something I wish to share with your readers, even if they possibly may not be old Jewish and Italian men, most of whom worked in radio and records on the East Coast when they and Top 40 were young. Hey, I kid you, in yellow highlight letters!  I have been into computers since 1972 and have decided as my final shot to merge into one lane on the info highway.  My blog of seven years in its current form, and my Facebook postings, have now been merged to unify things.  As we both realize, we never know what word will be our last to type.  We pay, we cum, we split.  Please include the following URL among all the boss favors you’ve done to encourage, yay, support, my bipolarized ego. I will awaken in the dark out here in Lava Land to see if you were able to include this.  Hello to anyone I know.  Where I’m at is:”

My apology to Ron Jacobs.  I got this too late for last week’s Commentary.  Just FYI, Ron presently lives in Hawaii, his native land.  He sent me some photos of the volcano the other day.  Fascinating!

I was a few hours late in sending out the last Commentary, thus this note:

Mel Phillips:  “Well worth the wait, Claude. It was brilliant. And how in the world did you get Imus to comment? I loved that. I know Jack Thayer did a lot of great things and you were a big fan. Everything I mentioned about him in connection with his feelings about Imus and the conversations he had with Perry Bascom are absolutely true.  And yes, I might be a bit biased about Jack because he fired me, brought in Warner and Pittman, who put his girl friend (at the time) Ellie Dylan on morning drive replacing Imus. Not his best move.  Finally, it's all ancient history.  Let's live in the present.  I try to do that about 99.9% of the time.  Best.”

Bob Barry, referring to a previous request for into:  “My error, Claude, in asking about Herb Oscar Anderson.  It was POA, Paul Oscar Anderson, that was hired at WOKY in 1970.  I think George Wilson brought him in. Do you know anything about him?  Great voice.”

No information at the moment, Bob.  I know the name, but ….

Latest promotional gem from Don Graham is a four-tune CD by smooth-voiced Matt Forbes featuring Christmas songs, including a sassy big band version of “White Christmas.”  From F3 Records.  Damon Tedesco did the recording.  You’ll also like “Mele Kalikimaka.”  I was thinking as I listened to this package that it’s nice when the old generation fades away a new and very excellent singer like Matt comes along.  He may not be a replacement for Frank Sinatra, but he certainly fills the vacuum left by those great singers of yore.

News from Don Sundeen:  “John Sebastian recently returned to Phoenix where he’s starting a voice-over business.  Who better to chat about that with than the great Charlie Van Dyke?”

Charlie Van Dyke and John Sebastian, November 2014, below.

Two of my sons are hip when it comes to music, John A. Hall, Esq., and Andy Hall, English college professor at UNLV, Las Vegas (Bobby Vee gave Andy a guitar lesson).  This review of “My Dream Duets” featuring Barry Manilow and others on Verve Records is by Andy Hall.

“The album will speak to ‘Fanilows’ and even casual listeners as it is well done and showcases Manilow's voice quite well.  Highlights are the Whitney Houston track – “I Believe in You and Me” -- which deserves a few Grammy nods as it blends Barry's and Whitney's pipes so well it seems natural and revelatory.  Potentially a bigger hit than Whitney's late-90s rendition.  The song was originally written for Levi Stubbs Jr. of the Four Tops.  Also trading verses and harmonizing with John Denver, Manilow's crisp, pop could-be-operatic voice provides a nice contrast with Denver's light twang.  Manilow shows on this album he can do anything he wants, and as Durante suggests, following the heart is what matters.  If Manilow wanted hipsters, he could work with Rick Rubin, if he wanted to do opera or country, he could do it.  Give this album a spin and you will see Marilyn Monroe swinging with Manilow in your dreams.”

Thank you, Andy.  I should point out that Manilow’s duets also include Mama Cass, Sammy Davis Jr., and others.

Scott St. James: “From my view, this was the birthday party of ALL birthday parties.  Two tremendous Hawaiian singers who were also big time musicians, great turnout, great food and a very happy Don Graham.  I could go on and on, but.....WOW!!!!!”

Among those at the birthday party and shown here with Don Graham is singer Lyn Stanley.