April 28, 2014
By Claude Hall
I love music. But sometimes I’m in the other room and not paying attention.
Jumaane Smith and his beautiful trumpet will bring you back. “Georgia on My Mind” is soft and mellow, like a dream, and “Dream” with vocal will haunt you. This is music for the mind. Jazz has never had it so good, so pleasant. I want to use the word “charming,” but that doesn’t exactly fit either. That trumpet comes from the soundtrack of an old and favorite black and white movie with gangsters and pretty blondes or from a party held by Frank Sinatra for his personal friends or, yes, from a great CD … as this CD most definitely is.
Jumaane, you have done yourself proud with this album. My compliments … especially on “What a Wonderful World” (one of my favorites on this CD) and “Stardust,” a song that will live in the hearts of men as long as there are men. But fresh and inspiring! Superb trumpet technique, superb imagining. Takes you away. I’ve never enjoyed the trumpet so much outside of one played by a good Mexican in a good mariachi band in a bar in Juarez, a couple of shots of tequila under my belt. I would believe that there are musicians from the back alleys of New Orleans to the great music halls of Europe who are envious as hell when they hear this trumpet by Jumaane.
“Stardust” is a mellow masterpiece, but “What a Wonderful World” should be played maybe once a day by radio stations aiming for 30-plus demographics.
“Please Sent Me Someone to Love” is jazzy and upbeat. “La Vie en Rose” features a trumpet that penetrates the mind with vocals in English and French … nice! “Come Rain or Come Shine” has a funky barroom atmosphere. “I Only Have Eyes for You” is the push tune on this CD, but I frankly liked everything else much better. Jumaane Smith is a masterful musician. And he has phenomenal staying power.
Copout: I’d more than likely give any CD with which Don Graham is connected a good review. I owe him going back to my early days on Billboard when he introduced me to Bill Randle, later to become a good friend, and told me, as I recall, that Mitch Michaels was coming into New York to replace Ruth Meyer at WMCA. I’ve told that story/scoop and maybe I will someday again. But, in this particular case, all I have to tell about Jumaane Smith is just the truth. Great on you, Jumaane.
Joe Collins: “Claude, thank you for your commentary on ‘format jocks’ and Lee Baby Simms ... I worked with ‘the great’ Bobby Dale when I started in 1966 at KFRC in San Francisco. Bobby, doing the Drake format, was a ‘fish out of water’ and never sounded comfortable working a tight format. Bobby was a musical genius and was one of the great ad-lib guys on the air when he was at KFWB, KEWB in Oakland, and KRLA, Los Angeles. But, he never really felt right doing the Drake format, keeping his talk to around 7 seconds. I first met him in April of 1964, when he was doing 4p-8p at KEWB, and at times he was so good, it would almost make you cry hearing him try to do the tight format at KFRC. I'm grateful that I got to hear him at his best, and still to this day, count him and Mike Phillips as my true radio mentors.”
All of that bit about format jocks came from Lee Baby Simms and Woody Roberts, to whom I doff my hat. I consider both of these gentlemen great sages.
Johnny Holliday: “Can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy your Commentaries … just like the bygone days when you were the guy we all turned to for info on every aspect of the broadcast medium. I'm sure Jack Roberts is smiling down on you for carrying the torch. I'm sure that I echo the sentiments of every broadcast personality, especially the guys who made Radio what it was during its heyday, when I say ‘Thanks’."
John Barger: “What ever happened to my friend and co-worker Lucky’ Pierre Gonneau? He and I were working under ‘The Bopping Bird’, Bob Robin at WFEC in Harrisburg, PA, for a moment in time in 1963, and were joined by some super talent (and later management kings), Burt Sherwood, Tom Bigby (‘Buddy Karr’), and the clown prince, Robert Leslie ‘Buzz’ Long. Prior to working with Pierre, I remember hearing him while sailing aboard the USS Benner D-866 out of Long Beach as we cruised around Catalina Island 11 times on a Saturday dependent's outing. It was 1961 and he was starring on KHJ, having been ‘discovered’ by PD Arnie Schorr. Last time I heard about ‘Lucky’, he was on KGFJ and doing work as an extra in gangster movies in Hollywood. ‘Pete’ as we called him, was an agricultural exchange student from France at Cornell University when he got the radio bug. Also that Summer of 1961 in So. Cal., while on Liberty (as the Navy called it), I walked up a flight of creaky stairs, pushed open a door, found myself in the control room of KDAY, and was greeted by a talkative guy in shorts, an old pizza-stained guayaberia, and flip-flops. He was trying to a PM drive oldies show which was being repeatedly interrupted much to his dismay by delayed broadcasts (which he had to pre-record) of five races from the horse track at Caliente Downs in Tijuana. His name was Art Laboe, and he gave me copies of his first three albums in a series known as ‘Oldies But Goodies’. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 went back in the bottom of my duffle bag back to KNOW, Austin, following my two-week Naval Reserve assignment at the Port of Long Beach. Thanks for helping all of us remember how it was in the era of false IDs, reverb, and Corvairs.”
I wonder if that’s the same Bob Robin down in New Orleans. Once promoted a rock concert at Lake Ponchartrain featuring, among many, Bobby Vee.
Random thought: I sometimes feel that Art Laboe is one of the major unknown heroes of the music/radio industries. Has a book been written about him yet?
Now and then a newspaper column pops up on my MacBook Pro desktop by the late Joe Delaney. Any of you guys remember him? Joe Smith should have a memory or two about Delaney. Maybe.
Another hero of mine is Don Barrett. A recent LARP.com had a note from Vanessa Larsh. She was seeking photos of her late father, Jack Armstrong. I quickly dropped her a note that while I had no photos of Jack Armstrong, I remembered him fondly and always considered him a great Top 40 personality. I told her a tale going back to the 60s. Vanessa Larsh: “Wow, Claude, that is hilarious! Haa. Yes, my father loved the Denver days. I'm sure you did meet. Did you ever work with Rollye James? Another great family friend.” So I blind-copied her note to Rollye James: “Yes, she's one of my favorite people. If you're talking about Rollye James Cornell. Right now, she and hubby live in Arizona. I'll copy her on this note.” And Vanessa responded: “She is in little words one of the best spirits that my family has ever met. What an unconditional person. My father loved her so much as a great friend.”
One of my sons – Andy – mentioned that Karen Velline has been granted a bed for a hospital in Phoenix. I think this means that Karen, the wife of performer Bobby Vee, may soon receive another lung transplant. Or something similar. She is also the mother of drummer Jeff Vee, rock musician Robby Vee, who has his own band and performs throughout the Midwest; bass player Tommy Vee, and art designer Jenny Vee. If you have an extra prayer this week, Karen is special people. The Vees lived up the street in Los Angeles and I think it could be said that Karen half raised my kids. As well as Barbara.
Jay Lawrence is one of the great Top 40 radio personalities who could tell us some great stories … if he’d remember them. Jay: “I enjoy your commentary. I get to hear names I haven't heard in years. Scotty Brink and I do communicate occasionally, I read a name Moorhead, any relation to David? He was really instrumental in my moves. To KFI from Buffalo, then to WNEW from KLAC. He once had me move to Indianapolis, WNDE … had a show idea, relive the Arthur Godfrey years. Gulf broadcast group, going network. Had a staff band, singers, etc. Did shows from shopping malls. David wanted to be Tony Marvin, he'd show up every day
wearing an ascot. This is just one story, there are many. One day he said I needed a vacation, Take a week and relax he'd do the show. He brought in acts from everywhere, cost was not in the way. I came back after a week, budget was gone. I wound up doing Salvation Army and Lt. Governor. I could do a David/Guy Williams book. So could you.”
True, Jay, about the book. But I’d much rather read the book you’d write than the one I would write. I wrote a longish short story about L. David “Guy Williams” Moorhead for the eBook “Radio Wars” which is now being sold via Amazon.com/Kindle Books and George Wilson called as soon as the book came out and asked it it was really true and I said, “Yes, George, I’m afraid so” and George said, “Okay,” and hung up. I’ve been thinking about doing a story about George, but I haven’t been able to do it yet. The Rob Moorhead featured in the past three or so Commentaries is L. David’s son. A very bright, very knowledgeable person who is married to Terry, one of George’s daughters, who is also very bright and very knowledgeable. I would suppose that Rob loved George Wilson as much as I did. But, unfortunately, neither Rob nor his sister, appreciated L. David Moorhead as much as I did. Rob’s sister ended up with a law degree and has three daughters. The day he died, L. David knew nothing about the law degree nor his three grand daughters. She brought them to his funeral service in Las Vegas, but David’s body wasn’t even there … just me and Mikel Hunter and an engineer named Brown and a musician from down around San Diego. Can’t remember his name. Later, Mikel and his friend wanted me to establish contact for them with someone at Billboard and I did. They sought to market No 1 rings to anyone who’d made No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Danny Davis, California: “Hey'y dere. Authorman! Sure didn't take you long to fit into The Robertsman's shoes! I ain't a true 'religiouso', but I do believe in 'that Big Fella' up there, and to my way of thought, HE's knockin' down a few, with Jack Roberts, close at hand, and Jack peppered up with the same enthusiasm he seized the day Don Graham voiced over the idea of Hollywood Hills. . .and 'their' comments, laudatory as they must be, carve new respect for the newest entry on Claude Halls resume! Whatta' send-up for The Robertsman! Quote-in' you, Mr. Hall, "good on you"! Whatta' kick, all the names indigenous to the 'grandest bizness that useta' was' ... looking to live it all over again, from the mighty Authorman! And about my gambling 'fetish' (my wife's word? ain't so!) I wouldn't push you for my habit! Maybe just an 'ace' ($1) on the 17-20 split, when ya' gotta' get to the commode, on those 'research rounds' for your next tome! Goes without saying, with the numbers abounding for Mr. Smith, I gotta' take a look at Joesy's telephone book and see if Lois Lerner gets a mention! (Only kidding, Joe!) Claude, if I had the capability to really identify what makes the games of chance so-o appealing, you'd understand 'where I'm coming from'! At the Riviera, on a road trip with Cap'n and Tennille, I take the Cap'n to the crap table! Try teaching him the game with no result! But the laughs we enjoyed, the crowd we attracted, the fall-down hysterics we were in, brings Tony Orlando to the table, who says "Danny, if you can make him laugh, you can open for me!" See, Claude, if only Marie would wanna' live in Branson ... I wouldn't have a chance to tell that tale! And there are no casinos in Branson ... and Bob Sherwood and I would still be friends! (Story put on hold!)
“Yes-siree, Claude! Lay my e-mail out, and wouldn't I be grateful? I ain't been getting those treasured words, unless my friend Whittemore is taking the credit for lookin' out for me … and wants me in his permanent debt ... which I already am, and can't get a 'smidgen' of the 'flavor of the week'! firstname.lastname@example.org! (Incidentally, the oconologist tells him he's 'much improved'! Don's a Dandy!)”
You know one of the major physical ailments of Vegas craps dealers? Back. So very, very many suffer from back problems. Including one of my sons, Darryl, who spent a few years trying to make a living on the Strip in Vegas.
My son John Alexander Hall, Esq., has done the Pasadena Swapmeet with such as the late Jack Robert and Timmy Manocheo. Investing on used CDs. Via Timmy and John, I just heard of a “Legends of Music Industry Reunion” April 23 by Jon Scott at the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas. Last year’s meeting was in October and drew a few dozen people. Joey Reynolds once lived in that area. Chuck Blore and Gary Owens live not too far away. Jon’s event was sort of a BYOB and buy your own food event. Jon has done promotion for MCA Records, etc. Once was a disc jockey. Maybe he’ll give the world a little advance notice next year. On the other hand, maybe he doesn’t want anyone there other than just a few close friends. email@example.com.
I think John was going, but had to chicken out.
Just FYI, the late Larry Shannon wished to have an annual get together of some radio/music legends. Focus was to be on a panel session featuring a few legends. And the late Jack Roberts had the same idea in the back of his mind. If ….
Michael Cleary wrote Don Graham: “Don, you may not remember me, but in the mid-60s, I was at KYA for a year plus and we got a chance to know one another. In fact, I flew to LA with you one time to visit the A&M studios and we ended up having Tacos with Herb Alpert across the street from his offices. It was quite an experience. I have fond and vivid memories of you and Bud, Lou, Jack, Pete Marino, et al. I went on to spend 28 years at KNBR, most of it doing the morning show with Frank Dill. We had quite a nice run. Truthfully, it's nice being out of radio which just isn't the same business it was. I turned to writing and just published my first novel. It's called ‘Spiritual Mischief’. I don't know if LA bookstores carry it but all e-tailers do and Amazon has a Kindle edition. How are you? I do hope well. At our age, we're often in need of repair but so far so good on this end. I wish the same for you. The reason for this email is Ben Fong-Torres wrote about you today in his Sunday Pink Section column. I'm sure it's online. Check it out. Thanks for giving me some wonderful memories.”
Don Graham, Los Angeles, immediately responded to Michael Cleary and a few others.
“Hi ya, Michael! Of course, I remember those tacos across the street from A&M Records. Some of the best on the planet! … that taco place is now a strip club! I, too, have some terrific memories of those very special days in the SF bay area ... and good of you to mention the Ben Fong-Torres story in the SF Chronicle ... I tried to access it, and got to his byline. However, then it stated I had to be a Chronicle subscriber to get the entire story! So I called Dick Forster in Fairfax who gets the paper and he read it to me! Congratulations on the publication of your novel ‘Spiritual Mischief’ and I intend to go to a local popular book store called Book Soup and see if I can buy it. (By the way Book Soup is the last time I saw Ben, he was doing a book signing with Gary Owens!) And if you are getting the weekly online Commentary by Claude Hall you, too, are enjoying reading some of his very popular writing … if not, send Claude an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org ... it’s good stuff, Michael. And many thanks for the good wishes … all is well here, and we wish the same for you ... good health!”
Bob Sherwood, one of the “others,” came back with a note to Don, Michael, Ben, Dave Sholin, and Tom LiPuma.
“Don, I'm going to use your email to say ‘Hello’ to Mike Cleary. I've been a fan since I first heard him in Sacramento (KXOA?), where I also worked now and then in The City. To be somewhat trite, he was 'as smooth as a baby's bottom'. His one-on-one communication was up there with Arthur Godfrey and Jack Carney. Whatever he was sellin', you were buyin'. In my view it's quite sad that de-regulated radio has devolved to the point
that such a talent has no desire to be part of it. Mike, I hope your book is a big success. Since true book stores have joined true music retail, locally-programmed radio (except Sholin's station in Bend) and Pterodactyls -- and are nowhere to be found in No. Westchester Co., NY, I'll order it through Amazon. And even pay retail!”
The probability is quite high that when Lucy felt from that proverbial “tree,” she was caught by others like her … but in reality we, the masses, came initially from a very few. We are alike. Thus, nothing else matters. Skin, eyes, hands. Whether you believe in the big bang theory or the little bang theory, we are all the same. True, not all of us are quite human yet. This includes a guy named Donald Sterling who owns the Clippers basketball team. What a total idiot! He has placed a terrible taste in my mouth. And Barbara and I love the Clippers. Needless to say, we no longer love all of the Clippers. Sterling should be sent to Hooker or Enid, OK, and his money taken away. Give him a job of some kind. Picking up garbage, perhaps. Not that I mean to insult garbage men of America. Too, it is difficult to wish ill upon a human being. The exception, perhaps, is someone like Hitler where the crimes are too many and too vast to permit mercy of thought. Yet, Barbara says she will pray for Donald Sterling. I’m not sure that I wish to make the effort.