April 14, 2014
By Claude Hall
Frank Jolley: “Thank you for including me in your original mailings and in your thoughts all these years. It's been both a privilege and a pleasure to have been known for my part in Top 40 Radio in the day of Top 40 Radio and to have been a 'has been' (as Sam Holman’s son called Sam, Jimmy Oneill and me when we worked for Tom Devany) who was noticed by you in both Vox Jox and your other commentaries. My radio career crossed paths with many of the greats in the business namely Bill Drake, Gene Chenault, Gordon McLendon, John Box, Jimmy Noe, Doug China, Kent Burkhart, George Wilson and John R. Even if I was fired by all but Drake. Drake was one of those who told me you meet people twice in this business: once on the way up and the other on the way down. When you named me Billboard’s Music Director of the Year in 1966 at KBOX, I, of course, never thought it would end and as all good things come to an end … I never want to give in to thinking it will end thus I'm opening another new radio venture it's ROCKHOUSE.mobi (online radio station) on July 4 with the ‘History of Rock and Roll’. It's designed to titillate the sensibilities of those of us that loved Top 40 radio. I'm off the Producers Guild Board of Directors now and am both putting my movie making ventures and other projects on hold for a year while we give birth to ROCKHOUSE. Hope you like it and hope to hear from many of my old friends and acquaintances who are still in or out of the business. Looking forward to your weekly Commentary.”
Frank, I hope you’ll notice the list at the end of this issue of Commentary.
Morris Diamond: “Many thanks for Commentary.5 – it's nice that you carry on Jack's tradition. Hollywood Hills contributed largely to enable all of us to keep in touch, which, I'm sure, was Jack Robert's goal. He sure worked on it and certainly succeeded. R I P. One of the latest benefits I got from HH was getting an email from Charlie Barrett. I live in Palm Desert and he lives in nearby Rancho Mirage – which we never knew until now. I invited Charlie to come to our Thursday Lunch Bunch, which is a menagerie of about 45 guys from all points of the entertainment industry. He showed up and by the time the lunch was over three hours later, Charlie became a huge favorite and was welcomed personally by all. I introduced him to the guys and he got up and spoke for a few minutes telling all what he is all about and was well received. Even Shecky Greene, who phones me every Thursday morning to make sure I reserve a seat for him, had a lovely conversation with Charlie.
“A few weeks ago I went to LA for a memorial for John Cacavas, who did the music for Kojak, Columbo and a number of other TV shows & Films. Later that evening, Alice and I went to Catalina's to catch Steve Tyrell. I co-managed Steve with Ken Fritz 15 years ago … and we're still friends!!! Steve's new love of his life is a beautiful lady, Janine Sharrell … yes, Jerry's daughter. We spent much time that evening and Jerry seems to be in good physical shape … he's coming along fine after his tedious event that almost cost him his life. He's still on the air Sunday mornings with his jazz show on KJZZ 88.1 FM. I spent more time last week with Steve and Janine when he played the McCallum Theatre here in Palm Desert. For those who are interested, he has a new DVD which you can check out on his website. It's one of the best-produced musical DVDs that I've seen and heard in a long long time. Claude, again thanks for keeping us all in touch … my love to you and Barbara.”
Heard from a great many music and radio people, including Chuck Blore and Russ Regan. I remember one day in the early 70s walking across some street in Los Angeles and Regan and I were talking about the Beatles. I said something about “Yesterday” earning probably two million bucks in airplay and Regan said, “Probably twice that, Claude, and easily half as much in overseas airplay.” Paul Ackerman, once music editor of Billboard, used to tell me: “Publishing’s where it’s at.” I was once sounded out about a job with Hill & Range and I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I’d gone with the music publishing firm.
New to my list – Bill Desing: “From Buffalo. Grew up listening to Frank Ward, the Hound (who I later worked for), and started at WNIA, with Big Jim Davis then on to the Army Signal Corps as an instructor working part time at WRLB Long Branch, NJ, then WYNS Lehighton, PA, WKBR Manchester, NH, and finally WBLK in Buffalo. Grew up with Joey Reynolds and all or most of the time reading your column in Billboard. It's great to be able to read your stuff again.” And it’s great to have you aboard, once again, Bill!
Woody Roberts: “I know nothing about Fatherley and don't understand the outburst. His over reaction to Claude's comment would be like the Lee Baby getting upset with me for revealing his deep hillbilly roots and exposing his clandestinely fronted country trucker-music band that regularly gigs honky tonks, roadhouses, rodeos, Boerne ranch parties, and kicker dance halls of Helotes. Mr. Simms likes to pretend his roots are soulful and bluezie ... but no, Lee Baby is a Californiaized hillbilly. He even lives on a hill. Having said that, even though I don't know Fatherley I did have very limited but personal experiences with both Grahame Richards and Bill Stewart. Grahame was the consultant that Blair Radio had suggested Joe Amaturo hire for the WPOP transition from Sam Holman to his next PD. So he was directly involved in my hiring (along with Dave Klemm). I felt honored to just talk with Grahame because I knew this man was part of the format from its git-go and had been DJ, PD and then National PD for Storz. After I was hired he stayed on as a management buffer for the programming changes I wanted to make and I pumped him for insights and opinions. He was not a research-oriented programmer. He did like personalities and believed in the ‘hit is a hit 24 hours a day’ format rather than restricting ‘hards’ in mornings and daytime, etc. I like to daypart. We got along very well and I always knew my conversations with Grahame were precious; how many radio people got to do that? A few hundred?
“When I left WPOP and returned to San Antonio as GM at KTSA the departing manager was Bill and I again felt humbled. I knew and respected both these men's perspectives on the growth of modern radio. One day in tossing out a comment on the birth of hit music radio and the jukebox epiphany story he did not contradict me but added they had also gotten good results from a top hits program in New Orleans. At the time I didn't think to probe further, wish I had asked if the jukebox was in a coffee shop or bar. I had always heard coffee shop but now I see references to a bar, either way it's a great and believable story.”
Ernie Hopseker, veteran radio man, dropped by the Hall House during the recent NAB. Nice to see him; it was Hopseker who introduced me to the music of Tom Russell. He has his Internet radio station in stereo now (see Blogs list). Hopseker is still engineering. Hasn’t seen an antenna tower yet that he didn’t love. Personal note: It appears that a great many people didn’t come in for the NAB this year.
Ron Jacobs asks me to mention his new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous one isn’t forwarding.
Scott St. James: “WOW!!! When we get ready to read a new Claude Hall column, we are expecting the BEST!!! Claude? I think you might have outdone yourself with THIS column. Your first two paragraphs knocked our socks off. The essay written by Bobby Ocean? Perfect. When one reads all the contributions in this column, one has to recognize the fact that there isn't one lemon in the bunch. Just sayin'.”
Bobby Ocean: “Gratitude, Claude! Well, I love being part of this recent back and forth, as we bring to light our realizations about what has been happening, what IS taking place. We CAN just say right out loud: it is evident we all seem to like each others' company. And THAT's what will make the continuation of Whatever Happens Hill an assured success. We must have missed each other, too, Claude. Text after text -- evidence of the heart-felt admiration some of our other older-school members have for one another. When waxing nostalgic about the biz and those who helped along the way -- especially in the East -- something magic happens. Wrinkles disappear these old dawgs LOSE DECADES. You can feel it as the texts bounce back and forth. So -- yes, exercising truth in actualizing, one must not overlook the Key Component that held it all together in a powerfully irresistible way, kept it all compelling -- admiration. It's one of the essential ingredients in this recipe. We still have enough to cover everyone's back. Just throwin' in a pinch of magic.... My sympathies on your computer interruptus, Claude. We're now living in an age that is so busily re-writing itself, it often inadvertently neglects to attend the Present. To creative consequences. More and more -- and much more than just walking into a room and asking ourselves, "Why did I come here? For what did I come here? (a daily happenstance here at Camp Ocean) -- we've all had our share of digital mishaps. We anticipate further.”
Chuck Buell: “Yeah, Claude, you gotta keep an eye on those laptops! We left ours on the floor the other day when a friend came over. She thought it was a scale! We found out she weighs 495 dollars!”
Joey Reynolds: “You have the coodies. All the kudos are for you. Jack Roberts is up there with the Higher Power directing your moves. Please look at Facebook/joey reynolds now or you tube. I did a Reynolds Rap with the iPad which is mightier than the phone. Do you remember meeting Mickey Rooney's wife Jan Chamberlain, country singer? We stopped over at your house on the way to Nudie’s one day. I did a TV cooking show from Mickey's house in Westlake at the time … we remained friends and he was often on my show on WOR and earlier years at KOA in Denver.”
I remember the lady well, Joey. Nice person. Ah, Nudie’s. Lord, but I miss Nudie and I especially miss the Pal. Tommy Thomas once told me the story of Lash LaRue riding his horse into the Pal and doing a horse show on the stage. With whip. Wasn’t anybody about to try to tell him he couldn’t do his show.
It used to astonish me: The entourage that followed some radio personalities. Like that of a bullfighter. Several people. Joey had – and still does to some extent – an entourage. You saw Joey, there were these people around him. Quite obviously, they fed his ego. Often, I would presume, they performed chores ranging from menial to vast. Thus, they were usually necessary. I wonder if Gary Mack had an entourage during his heyday. Or you, Scotty Brink? Chuck Buell? I know that Chuck Blore had a following. Some record producers had followings like that, too. That guy who’s still in jail.
Jeff Vee, St. Joseph, MN, reports that the CD featuring his father Bobby Vee is out officially just about the time you’re reading this. Said he’s sending me a copy. Which, of course, I’m going to review for the next column.
James Maddox: As one who ‘hates’ Facebook I must admit that without it connecting with old friends is a lot more difficult. I've got three kids, too -- and four Grands. I'm semi retired now and looking for a new challenge or two. After Memphis I went back to LA and managed KJLH for Stevie Wonder and ran Willie Davis' radio group before going into business for myself. The business struggled as a result of the LA Riots so I went back to programming as VP of Programming for a satellite music service company where I oversaw development for over 120 music channels -- in all music genres -- for homes and businesses on four continents. The company is called DMX and it's heard in major stores and shopping malls and restaurants etc. After DMX I consulted it and businesses similar to It using the Internet and push technology rather than satellite when possible. Still doing a little of that today. I wondered, from time-to-time, how you were and how you were doing. So it's great to have you on my radar.”
Bob Walker, WTIX alum 1967-89: “Hi Claude. I just added you to our WTIX Facebook group. There are many of us on there as members who worked at WTIX through the years and there's a lot of history to be learned right there from the members in that group. Check out the members list on that group. Welcome.”
I helped Walt Pinto make contact with Dick Summer. Walt Pinto: “Thanks again. Got a nice note from Dick. What a talent. I got interrupted replying before, and forgot to add one thing to the WMEX story ... Carl DeSuze's daughter, Samantha was doing overnight tracks for the station. She was on that cruise also, so got a chance to meet her. Only saw Carl once, when he did one of his travel slide shows in Portsmouth. I bought a ticket and enjoyed his presentation.”
Jack Gale: “So great to get your Commentary each week again. It's the only place to get news about the guys we worked with and knew. Old friends never seem to forget. In the last month, I've had nothing but great joy renewing old friendships. In early March, Long John Silver, Ron Brandon and J.J. Jeffries drove down here to Florida to visit with me. Ron and Long John live in Carolina, and J.J., drove from Maine to Carolina, met up with Long John and Ron, and they all drove here to visit for one day. What special memories we all had sharing pictures and stories. A week later, Terry McSwain, my all night guy at BIG WAYS in Charlotte drove down with his wife for two days. The following week, Ray Mack drove down from Jacksonville to stay overnight. With you're Commentary, I get to read about all the other pioneers. Life is good for this old guy of 88. Thanks, Claude, for keeping us all together. Keep the Commentaries coming, and stay well. Love to Barbara.”
I’ve heard some great Long John stories, but I heard them so long ago, I can’t recall who told them to me or what they were about. Much. As I remember, he took an overnight job at one radio station on a tryout and as soon as the program director got to work the next morning, Long John resigned. Just as the PD was just about to offer him the position full time.
Danny Davis: “G'd Mornin' Authorman! You know how proud I am to have run that hot piece 'bout Joesy, right to ya? Rightly proudful! Claudie, do you remember Marty Burden, useta' run for Earl Wilson's column? I did a lotta' running for him, when I was with Eddie Fisher's entourage!! Also 'ran' for John Jay Miller, when he wrote for The Nat'l Enquire ... and when I was friendly with Sandy Lansky (Meyer's daughter!). Here's one you can use, Claude, unless I use it first! I set up Marvin Deane to take 'her' to the movies. (My Marie knew about me and my friendship with 'her', but WE were busy and couldn't take Sandy.) Marvy RIP, comes to call on her, in a limo, places her firmly in the back seat, and says to 'little Marvin', "Danny told you who I am? If you make a move on me, I'll have ya' killed!" (I can't remember the pix they went to, but I remember the laundry Marvin and the limo stopped at!). Claude Hall (who's bound to be bound to the 'writers most respected by thems what was in the music industry' Hall Of Fame'!: I'm 'hip' (ol' folks still use that phrase!) answering your inquiry about Morris, didn't get done yesterday's email! Fact is, Claude, he scared me shitless, but from a distance, thank you Jehovah!! He also was 'one of dem' that I useta' wanted to be like! Consider this, Authorman! I was a 'bookmaker' in High school, (the numbers racket), shot pool at Willie Mosconi's place, under the tutelage of Moxie Fleishman, who fixed the Warriors BB game, years ago, (I shot one-handed and hadda' great rep!), loved Pat Pipolo's Uncle Frank Costello, became a Jackpot Rep for Int'l Game Tech when I was busted out, after the biz blew, was ready to join the gaming industry, courtesy of Carl Thomas, VP of Gaming at Tropicana, who did 18 months in Sofford State and was whacked after he got out. A great friend who was part of a $27 million 'skim', at the Flamingo! And the coup de gra', my uncle Phil, so said my Mom RIP, was a gun-runner for the Chinese! (Uncle Ernie told any, in the family, I was destined to become a bum! … and so it happened! I found a place equal to crime in the music biz and Morris Levy! For all intents and purposes, you ol' Author, as long as I saw and talked wit' Moishe infrequently, I never had a problem! For me, and the beginnings of what 'could've been, before I 'sung as part of the choir, Morris was 'my kinda' guy! (Of course, you ain't gonna' get that evaluation from too many people!) Oh, before I close. Mike Roshkind did his week-end 'hoosegow handle' while I was there! (Yeah, Claude, you can ask, anything that doesn't get either one of us killed!!)”
Danny, who’s around young enough to lift a gun? It’s difficult to believe that I once lugged around an M-1. I probably couldn't lift the thing these days.
More Danny Davis: “Thursday, always a day to look forward to, Claude! Thought you'd like the following … we've got a gent formerly a 'bad man' (dope, liquor, etc.), now clean some 40 years! Sweetest guy you'll EVER meet! Found 'his way' in the music biz! Has a publishing firm and has written some mighty good tunes! Has a couple of hits, he called by name today, but I can 't recall 'em right now! His name is Arnie Capitanelli. Spoke at lunch, touched all kinds of personal subjects, marriage, divorce, re-marriage to the same lady, his personal demons, the folks familiar to you and me (Larry Utall, Steve Barri, and people of that era if you will!) Every lunch he hands out a Tip Of The Week. He's really a 'mench' of True Faith! Today's Tip follows for your vaunted perusal: Having a resentment, is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die! (It's a great lunch-bunch, Authorman!)”
Burt Sherwood: “Thanks for sending me the fact that you are writing again ... I know you did not quit, but a lot of us were worried that you might stop. I saw your comment on history... and the opening word Sad. It is sad ... when I get a but depressed … I go into my computer and read my bio ... and though it is only me reading, it reminds me how lucky I have been. Still feel that way ... it is a long way from Peoria, Illinois. Hope all is good with you and Barbara, and, no, this year I did not go to
NAB ... still here ... and glad to be! Bests.”
You’re absolutely right, Burt! Great to still be around. And just for reminders, there’s a picture that comes up now and then on my desktop of a two-room shack in Brady, TX. We used to live there when I was about 8 years old. Me and my two younger brothers and my sister and, of course, Mom and Dad. It was an old shack even then. Bathed in a galvanized tub. All of the kids ran barefooted in the summer. Someone painted the house blue and still lives in it. I thank the Good Lord when I see that picture that I’m not still in Brady, TX.
Red Jones: “Just read your # 5. Thanks for keeping me on your list. A must-read each week. Having retired almost 2 years ago and having lost 2 great ladies to cancer within a 6-year period, I have the time to read more. Before my first special lady passed away, she had put all clippings and stories re/me from Billboard (Vox Jox), newspapers, etc., from the start, 1948, filling some 13 scrapbooks. I was looking through some of them lately and thought of you with all that Billboard publicity. RIP ... Vox Jox. The highlight of my career was going into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in 2008. Memorial Day weekend, the GRHOF will be the first state radio hof to have its own stand alone building in the costal resort area of St. Mary’s. The website has it all. John Long has done a great job. And I get my radio fix each Saturday in February doing remotes from our Golden K Kiwanis fundraiser where in 20 years we have raised right at a half million $$$$ for youth in our county. And, the beat goes on. There's a lil bit of ham left in all of us.”
Robert E. Richer: “Two things, Claude:Sundeen looks a lot better today than he did in that picture. In spite of Dick Summer’s statement: ‘And then FM killed the AM King’, four of the top ten billing radio stations in the US today are on AM. No more music, sadly, but still major forces in the world of radio. Keep ‘em coming, Claude.”
Copout: Yes, I know you’ve sent me your blog address and/or Internet radio address, but I’ve just decided to start these lists and I’m not about to go through more than 10 years of emails to track the information down. Thus, if you’d like to be added to this list, send me your data at email@example.com. Everyone is welcome as long as it concerns music and/or radio. Thanks!
George J. Weinbarg
Robert E. Richerhttp://www.937therock.com/about/