March 31, 2014
By Claude Hall
Already added a few names to my Commentary mailing list. Some people forwarded the column on to friends. Good. I can probably handle two or three dozen more on my personal list. The copy to Hal Baby Moore bounced. And I’ve lost the email addresses of Jay West in Austin, TX, and his brother who was living in Mexico. Thus, I worry about them. Especially the brother living in Mexico. We’re also placing Commentary on Facebook and both Timmy Manocheo in California and George Pollard in Canada are placing each Commentary on their blogs. Great.
And I have some great news! I’ve asked a younger person who knows radio as well as I do – if not more so – and they have agreed to take over a radio blog. Maybe not exactly the one Jack Roberts operated … everyone is entitled to change and/or improve the blog, which will be theirs, as they wish. I’m excited about the project. Very much so. The only problem at the moment is that this person is up to their left toenails in work. Thus, I’m going to hold onto this “list” for a while. If and when they are prepared to take over the blog or start one or whatever, I will turn over my “list” to them as a place to start. Maybe they will let me write a column or article now and then for their Internet publication. That will be entirely up to them. But I think radio/music – and not just us for old varmints like me and Danny Davis and Morris Diamond and Gary Owens and Chuck Blore – needs its own Internet publication. A journal of what’s really going on. For all the years and radio and music men and women to come. And this person could do it. Much better than I could, in fact. So, if you people will put up with me and contribute emails when you have something to say, we’ll try to “make do” until the right time comes along.
I’d like to thank those who sent me a chain letter asking me to take over the Hollywood Hills … some of the greatest people in the music and radio businesses. I’m deeply honored. But I feel it would be inappropriate for me to tackle the blog just now as much as I like the idea. I’m 81 and not growing any younger.
Rob Moorhead, Los Angeles: “It's been nearly a year since George's (George Wilson) death. I'm only now starting to recover. Been hard. It's difficult whenever a loved one dies, however, it's doubly traumatic when one is also their caregiver in the final months of decline. I've been in that position a few times now, and while I can do whatever needs to be done at the time, I invariably crash and burn afterwards. Huge depression results. It's been a year now, and I'm still grieving, still missing the man every day. Even Terry handles it better than I. Go figure. His ashes remain sitting in an honored place in our living room. There's a handsome image, a tastefully black framed black-and-white photo, next a glazed ceramic urn. It's a beautifully intricate piece of Native American pottery, one designed, thrown, and fired by the famous Mata Ortiz pottery collective in Mexico. He would have liked that, something simple but elegant. While almost ordinary at first glance, it is actually beguilingly sophisticated, something valuable and rare. It seems so appropriate for the man. We are still waiting for an opportunity when all the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids are able to travel here at the same time for a proper memorial and scattering of his ashes. The logistics of coordinating a suitable date are daunting, as there are so many relatives to consider. I am now hoping we can arrange it for a small window of time, right after school lets out this summer. Hollywood Park recently closed so Santa Anita has extended their racing season later into the year. I believe they will still be open this year when school lets out. As you know, George wanted his ashes scattered onto the Santa Anita Racetrack, resting forever in the shadow of the towering San Gabriel Mountains, a place where he spent a great deal of his time and money. Happy memories. You also know that I always threatened to George that I would merely drop his ashes into the horses' feed bags, then let them do the scattering themselves, digestively speaking. He never failed to get a kick out of that rejoinder, so I continued using it for thirty-odd years, whenever the subject arose, as a means of changing the maudlin subject. Still, it was always clear to both me and Terry, that he was serious when entrusting us with this solemn last wish. He knew it was something we would honor religiously ... despite the minor illegalities involved. Rules? What rules? That's George. Much Love.”
Just had an email from Chuck Chellman in Nashville and he was planning to drop by Albuquerque on vacation to see George Wilson and I had to email him that George had changed addresses about a year ago.
Now listening to Bob Dylan with the Grateful Deal. “Heart of Mine.” On “The French Girl, No. 2” CD. Timmy Manocheo will be proud of me. He and my son John got me into the Grateful Dead. But John likes all kinds of music. Takes after his father. Of course, I wasn’t aware that Ernest Tubb was country until I arrived in New York City, circa early 1959. In my childhood days, there was only music and opera. Wish I’d heard Lyn Stanley way back when. Then I would have known the difference. You listen to “Change Partners” and you’ll know what I mean. More than a ton of years ago, I heard a unique trio perform during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. At one of the Krewe balls. Only members invited. Jane Russell and two other famous actresses performed. One time only and never again. Wouldn’t it be great for Steve Tyrell and Deana Martin and Lyn Stanley to do a CD together? In effect, the Highwaymen or the Three Tenors.
Woody Roberts, in the bluebonnets outside of Austin, sent me a note about an exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center on San Antonio Radio featuring Bruce Hathaway, billed as KTSA’s King of Rock.
“FYI -- Nobody in the biz is nicer than Bruce Hathaway, a gentleman. I worked with Bruce during three different periods at KTSA. First in 1961 when I was a fledgling DJ learning the McLendon format at KTSA, four years later when I was programming consultant to KTSA (when Lee Baby Simms and I were forced off the air), and two years later when I was GM at KTSA and putting 102.7 FM on the air. A total of 5 1/2 years over 11 years under stressful conditions of combat, I never heard any negativism about the job or expression of ill will toward anyone coming from Bruce. He worked at KTSA from late '50s until they went news-talk.” The exhibit features Bruce's long career beginning as a pioneering rock 'n’ roll DJ in the 50s, his many years at KTSA and continuing to the present day as a best-known name, face and voice to generations of South Texans. The Tex Pop Center is at 1017 E. Mulberry, just off Broadway by Good Time Charlie's.
Don Sundeen: “Well, Commentary #3 certainly confirms there’s a real need for some form of the Hollywood Hills to continue on, albeit without the beloved Jack Roberts who left way too soon. Woody Robert’s message mentioning Dick Starr, another wonderful man who died too young, and Buzz Bennett brought back a lot of memories. If Buzz is still out there and can understand, it would be wonderful if he came in out of the cold and told his incredible stories before it’s too late. I think the last time I saw Buzz was in New Orleans when he did his return stint at WNOE, Kevin Metheney still a young man, was there also, with a great compliment of jocks. My late friend and colleague Lee Arbuckle and I stopped by one day and invited Buzz to dinner, always a touchy situation, and he readily agreed. That night he showed up at the La Richellieu, New Orleans' notorious Rock and Roll hotel, wearing a cowboy hat, fringed vest and chaps, with a toy six shooter in a holster on his waist. The great thing about the Big Easy was that we could walk through the French Quarter with Buzzy in that outfit and few people even look twice. Later in conversation he said to Lee and me,
‘You remember when I invented call-out research?’ We concurred giving him credit for the invention, ‘Well, I made it all up and watched it spread through the business’, he
replied, with that evil twinkle and smile he’d have when revealing his secret … there was never anyone else quite like him.”
Arnold J. Smith of New York has donated his collection of 10,000 jazz records to the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center on the campus of UNLV, Las Vegas, according to the View of the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper. F. Andrew Taylor, Mar. 19, 2014, reported that Smith, a lecturer at the New School in NYC, has a collection going back to Benny Goodman’s LP “The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert” released in 1950. For the full story, tap into viewnews.com. Just FYI, many who read Commentary will remember Arnold Shaw, once a well-known NYC music publisher and author. He moved to Las Vegas and taught at UNLV for a few years. He has written many books dealing with music. The Smith collection includes rare taped interviews, posters, books. Director of the Shaw center is Ken Hanlon.
Ken Levine edits one of the best humor sites around. He just wrote about a trip to Hawaii. Great. Tap into Ken at
Chuck Dunaway after triple bypass is probably at home by the time you read this. Word is he’s doing great for a guy with emphysema.
Jim Ramsburg: “One of the directions of www.jimramsburg.com is finding little-known stories from Network Radio's Golden Age. A prime example is the new text and audio post, ‘Fibber McGee Minus Molly’. It deals with an 18-month period when Marian Jordan was hospitalized and Jim Jordan was forced to do the show without his wife as ‘Fibber McGee & Company’ . How he and his writer/partner Don Quinn managed to keep the program going and growing in popularity is a tribute to their comedic talents. Audio posts of the show before, during and after Marian's absence prove it.”
I’m on a mailing list for Robby Vee, son of, and it’s great. I’ve known Robby since he was a pumpkin kid and, would you believe, he now has his own band and is big in those mid-west casinos. Just played a week in the Grand Casino in Hinckley, MN. Does rockabilly mostly and, yes, his dad has been known to sit-in on special occasions. Robby’s two brothers – Tommy, bass, and Jeff, drums – not only perform backup nationwide to various major acts but operate a recording studio in St. Cloud, MN.
My especial appreciation to Don Sundeen and Rob Moorhead for the two tales this week. I figured out one of the claims of Lee Abrams was a bit south. Buzz? Who knew other than Don Sundeen and Lee Arbuckle? But that short story in the eBook “Radio Wars” makes more and more sense, now that I think about it. Interested in the eBook? It’s available via Amazon.com/Kindle Books. Cheap. I think the price is only $2.99
Other than “Radio Wars,” I have the eBook “I Love Radio” installed with Amazon.com/Kindle Books and it’s fairly cheap, too. I soon hope to install the “Disc Jockey Cookbook” with Amazon.com/Kindle Books. A must have. And, yes, there’s a recipe by the late Jack Roberts in the book. The recipe by Lee Baby Simms is great. “Red Beans and Rice.” I’m about due for another batch. What I do is cook up a whole bunch and freeze some of it. Now and then I prepare some rice and thaw some of the delightful mess that Lee Baby Simms invented (he actually spent a few days in New Orleans) and Barbara and I will have a feast! This recipe – and the article by the phenomenal Rollye James – is worth the price of the book, whatever price I decide to put on it. Just FYI, George Wienbarg just bought "I Love Radio" and says: "What a charming and fun book, Claude!"
May the Good Lord bless and keep you.