Monday, August 18, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 25r2

August 18, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 25
By Claude Hall

Bob Sherwood:  “Thanks for another entertaining and enlightening missive.  Some random thoughts regarding the photo from Delmonico’s at the end of your piece….
--tell Jerry Sharell he’s opening for Joey Bishop IV tonight at the Troubador.  It’s sold-out.
--tell Don Graham he looks 20 years younger (like he hadn’t even worked Gene Autry’s records before Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) since he dumped the UCLA sweatshirt.  With his eyes he’d look even better in USC Cardinal & Gold.  Also tell him that I re-added the Claudine Longet record
--Ed Rosenblatt still looks like he could go five sets with Roger Federer.  Pisses you off, doesn’t it?  Not fair!
--if Macey Lipman hasn’t left yet, tell him to stay in Armani’s penthouse suite in The Hassler at the top of The Spanish Steps.  One of the great hotels of the world and the view over Rome is worth a showing by itself.  Also, go to Villa Cimbrone in Ravello.  The views of the gardens and the belvedere (Terrazo dell’infinito) overlooking the Mediterranean are unequaled anywhere in the world.  Gore Vidal in answer to a question about the most beautiful spot in the world once responded that it was Villa Cimbrone when the view from the belvedere showed a sky and water so blue you couldn’t tell the difference.  Macey’ll begin painting and we may never see him again.  Nice day!
“You can reach Don Imus at WABC in NYC.  He hasn’t lost any of what’s made him great since the late ‘60s.  The curiosity, the intelligence, the humor, the quick mind and the famed prickliness.
“Finally, it occurs to me that after you name Vin Scully, there’s a very short list of those who can be spoken about in the same paragraph.  Johnny Holliday is among them.”
And, Bob, I would add another person who, at present, slips my mind.  Getting old.  Actually, I’m getting ancient.  ‘Old’ was yesterday.  But you’re right about Johnny.  Music.  Sports (not just announcing, but he used to play basketball as least as good as Gary Owens).  Commercials.  Acting.  Besides that, somewhere along the way he stumbled over the reputation of being a nice guy.
Don Sundeen: “Lee Baby’s comment about crossing over the bridge to Juarez on his way to San Antonio brought back a lot of memories.  We’ve been watching the TV series, ‘The Bridge’, showing the incredible violence and corruption that the Cartel’s have brought to that little town, and I flashed back to ’67 or ’68 when I was doing six to ten in the evening at KELP.  Many nights after the show I’d go over to Juarez to hear some music and drink quarter beers.  The streets were full of GIs from Fort Bliss who would soon be on their way to Vietnam, and really partying down.  Flash forward to sometime in the mid-70s.  I was sitting at a hotel bar in Little Rock waiting for some jocks, when I guy sat down next to me.  We struck up a conversation and he talked about flying helicopters in ‘Nam, and seeing unspeakable horrors.  I mentioned that I’d been a disc jockey in several markets including El Paso, and when he asked when I told him the years, and he asked what my name was.  I explained I was Don Sundeen, but at KELP I had used the name Donnie Dare.  ‘No shit’, he said. ‘The night we were packing to go to ‘Nam, you could walk up and down the halls in the barracks and hear your voice and music coming from every room; in fact, for a lot of guys you were the last disc jockey on American radio that they ever heard’.  I felt a chill, it hadn’t really registered with me at the time that part of my audience were soldiers passing through Ft. Bliss on their way to a war where many would die.  As he rose to leave, I took the tab and thanked him for telling me his story, and also sharing information that I’ve never forgotten. Claude, I was happy to receive the blog today, looks like the kink is worked out.”
Don, the only Congressional Medal of Honor winner I ever met was at Ft. Bliss.  A Mexican about 5’9”.  Nice guy.  Just back from Korea.  There’s ex-friend of mine and Raul Cardenas—Fernando Corral--who was overrun in Korea.  He stayed firing a Howitzer.  And was left for dead.  Unfortunately, there was no one left alive in his company to write him up.  When he left The University of Texas, he moved back to Mexico.
Rick Frio:  You may like this.
Norway?  Norway?  No way!
Bob Barry:  “Now I need help with my long-term memory. When was Herb Oscar Anderson at WOKY?  Was he hired by George Wilson?”
Maybe HOA can tell us.  I’d be interested in his early career.  The only thing I’ve heard about Herb is that he enjoys classical music.  This was during his WABC, New York days.  I think Rick Sklar told me..
Jonathan Fricke, Nashville:  “Hey, Claude -- Hope this finds you and Barbara doing well.  Nancy is going through a rather tough time fighting Lymphoma.  This is her second time with cancer, having won the battle against cervical cancer about 3 years ago.  Nancy went for her first chemo treatment for her lymphoma last Friday and did well.  I've enjoyed reading your commentaries.  Thanks for sending them.  In a couple you have mentioned Art Wander.  Also, in one of your emails to me, you mentioned that he had reached out and would like to hear from me.  I have sent him a few emails, but have never had a response.  Perhaps I have a wrong email address.  Could you let me know if my address is correct?  I worked with Art at WPOP in Hartford CT. He was also programming a station in Memphis when I was hired to take WMC country back in 1973 ... which, oddly enough, was the year I was given the Billboard Major Market PD of the Year award for WMC ... complete with your signature! Fond memories.”
Barbara and I are very sad to hear about Nancy.  Just FYI, Barbara is a double winner from cancer.  And somewhere in this house I have a b&w photo of a very young program director named Jonathan Fricke at a radio station in Lubbock with a very young Willie Nelson.  I ask for prayers for Nancy.  She and Jonathan are special friends.
Jim Slone:  “I was thinking, this is my 51st year in Tucson ... I rode into town in my 1956 Chevy ready to go as the morning man on the brand new K-HOS Radio (I was a little scared and apprehensive). It has been quite a ride … ups and downs ... hills and valleys ... good times and bad times … all in all I couldn’t have asked for better.  Glad I made Tucson my home.  I came here at age 26 and am now 77… healthy and glad to be alive.  K-HOS signed on the air 51 years ago tonight at 7 p.m.  I played the first record which was ‘Company's Comin' by Porter Wagoner.”
Good job, Steve, on “Dream a Little Dream of Me” on the new CD “When You Come Back to Me.”  Nothing as good as a Steve Lawrence song for mellowing out your day.
Jim Slone just mailed me a book called “Tucson Radio” by Russ Jackson and C.J. Brown, $21.99, from  No index, but I noticed that it mentioned Guy Williams and Pat McMahan.  Chuck Blore, too.  Does it mention Jay Lawrence and George Wilson?  I’ll let you know later.  The information about Guy Williams is a bit wrong.  But the book is mostly pictures, so…
Barbara Hall says that the events in Ferguson, MO, this past week make her Devon teeshirt good to go.  Whups!  Now we hear that Brown might have been just a thug.  Unfortunately, at the time the cop pulled the trigger just a few times too many, he probably didn’t know.  But now the two “witnesses” are going to have to come up with another story.  Sorry about the teeshirt, girl.
Bob Wolfson:  “On some of the older Hollywood treaties there are a number of great programmers, announcers, producers, etc. etc., listed.  Somehow David Moorhead’s name is nowhere to be seen.  I can vividly remember countless dinners around the US&A ... great nights spent in fantastic hotel bedrooms ... and meeting most of the folk who worked for David (and George) over those exciting years I spent in radio ... and that covers the period 1947 to 1991 from acting to announcing to ... well, just having a really great time with good friends (food and drink included).”
Bob, I wrote and published an eBook called “Radio Wars” and in there is a tale about L. David Moorhead.  Jimmy Rabbitt and Lee Baby Simms and others, too, of course.  Chuck Blore loved the tales.  George Wilson called right after he read the story about Moorhead to ask if it was all true.  I hated to tell him “yes.”  But George pointed out that L. David should mostly be remembered for creating one of the greatest icons – KMET-FM – in radio history.  And that, too, is true.  The book is available at Books for just a couple of bucks.
Larry Cohen:  “To Danny Davis:  Ur usage of Inglish & spelinng is atrocious. Hope dere's mor claritey in de long awaittedd Fill Spoector book uve been writtinng.  P.S.  And many thanx to Ken Dowe for opening the door for me to real Texas barbeque at Sam's 40 years ago (across the street from KLIF) while all the time (with a name like Sam's) I thought it was good old Yiddish roast beef.”
Larry, no picking on Danny Davis.  He’s a friend of mine.  Too, Marie Davis just might slap you upside the head with a dead taco.
Dex Allan:  “Some items in your blog are refreshing, and interesting.  One constructive suggestion:  include more often dialogue about DIFFERENT people ... there is a consistency of mentioning the same people every week, but there are many OTHER great people you could write about ... example...John Rook, Ted Atkins, Buzz Bennett, Pat O'Day, etc.  Just a thought.”
Dex, I’ve been editing Commentary for more than 10 years.  I don’t actually write much of it.  Though now and then I’ll sound off about something.  We did a big thing about trying to find Buzz years and years ago.  Traced a ‘Buzz Bennett’ to a Florida TV where he did a blog about movies; he denied he was the one.  A tale about him is in “I Love Radio” for a couple of bucks at Books.  Just FYI, the last radio buddy to see him put him on a plane to Florida out of Dallas and he was very sick at the time.  Ted and Pat have written in to Commentary.  Ted, of course, is gone now.  I think Pat gets Commentary; he’s on my mailing list.  I know Pat fairly well.  Great PD and great GM.  Wish I could contact another Pat … Pat McMahon, a great PD who probably still lives in Phoenix.  Now there is a story!  If and when Pat O’Day or Pat McMahon wish to say something, I suppose they will write.  I print most of everything I get.  Incidentally, I don’t do phone anymore.
One more thing, Dex:  I couldn’t do Commentary without the folks who write me.  I’m grateful for each and every cottonpicking one of them!  And I’m not the only person who likes people such as Lee Baby Simms and Don Whittemore.
Don Imus:  “Don Whittemore and I are friends … going back to his record promo days ... every once in awhile he emails me and he watches the show.  I always liked him.  Anyway ... he sent me a blog you had written that included some comments by a PD I worked with at NBC.  Mel Phillips, I think ... very nice guy.  I have fond memories of you and always remember how good you were to me.  I am happy you're not dead.  I miss a lot of the old guys Wolf and Robert W and Don Steele ... still a lot of fun to talk on the radio.  I am at our ranch in New Mexico ... just bought a ranch in Brenham, Texas ... back to New York in September.  My very best.”
The first rodeo was in Pecos, but I sort of believe that the cattle industry, per se, originated in or around Brenham.  Don’t know for sure.  Anyway, I thought I’d drop a note to Imus and Whittemore; I was really grateful to hear from Imus.  I told Whittemore that I still had a copy of “12,000 Hamburgers to Go” and remembered, quite fondly, Imus’ promotion of a “Cleaver lookalike contest” when he was at Palmdale.  Anyway, I wrote Don and Don a joint email.
“Thank you, Don Whittemore!  I've felt lost over the years ... not being able to contact Don Imus.  Like having an arm missing.  I still remember, quite fondly, his ‘Cleaver lookalike contest’.
“Don Imus, great to hear from you.  I immediately read your email to Barbara, who's sitting on the couch watching Rachel Maddow.  She said, ‘How great.  Say hi’.  Yeah, still alive.  Sort of amazing.  I'm glad to hear that you're okay and doing well.  I'm still writing.  Commentary once a week.  And a novel now and then.  I've got about 15 eBooks with Kindle Books.  None selling, unfortunately.  Sad about Robin Williams and Lauren Becall.  Part of me seems to be disappearing.  Thanks for your note.  Made my year!”
Don Imus from horseback: “Thanks for your note.  Our website is ... you can pretty much catch up on all the bullshit.  Give my best to Barbara.  I'll be delighted to promote any book you'd like. Our office in New York is Imus 75 Central Park West 10023. 212 595 IMUS. Meghan Hurlbut runs the New York office.”
George Nicholaw has gone on.  Former renown GM at KNX, Los Angeles.  Don Barrett covered the man with an excellent feature this past week.  We come, we do, we go.
Thank God for Don Barrett and
Mel Phillips:  “I owe a great deal of my programming success to the people I've listed.  Asterisks are used for both on-air and real names.  Chris Bailey, Jerry Butler, Jim Carnegie, Joel Cash, Jeff Christie* (Rush Limbaugh III), Larry Clark, Bob DeCarlo, Michael Meyer Dineen, Johnny Donovan, Dale Dorman, Tommy Edwards, (Big) Bob Evans* (Jim Davis), Charlie Fox, Al Gates, Arnie Ginsburg, Chip Hobart, Don Imus, J.J. Jeffrey, J.J. Jordan, Tom Kennedy, Jimmy King, Chuck Knapp, Marcia Kniceley, Anderson Little, Jim Lloyd, Walt "Baby" Love, Perry Marshall, Gary Martin, Danny Martinez, Joe McCoy, Johnny Michaels, Bobby Mitchell* (Frank Kingston Smith), Jerry Morgan, Bruce Morrow, Jon Powers, Oogie Pringle, Mark Rivers* (Mark Driscoll), Bill Rock, John Rode, Jay Shannon, Rick Shaw* (Hugh Silvas), Shadoe Stevens, Dick Summer, Bob Vernon (with a V) & Johnny Williams" (Bill Todd).  Many thanks.”
Woody Roberts, writing to Bob Weisbuck, who’d spent vacation on a primitive island (note: Woody’s AT&T was down for a week), copies to Lee Baby Simms and D’Artegan:  “Was an interesting ‘vacation’ with no web, phone, TV, radio, stereo, visitors, like being hermit on a mountain top.  Like Dr. Bob's annual retreat to the island.  Much time walking the shrinking forest and fields plus read a lot and watched some low quality but historic Armadillo World Headquarters/TYNA TACI [our consultancy] black and white video circa '72-'76.  Had no idea if the world was surviving or continuing its descent into a SciFi 1984 distopia.  Nice.  Now a hundred emails to check out.”
Claude:  “Woody, Glad to see you're back in the land of the living!”
Lee Baby Simms:  “Ah!  Woodrow ... There you are!  I second Claude`s sentiment.  Glad.  Welcome back from the 'Land Of The Dead.'  Well, that's debatable.  Living in Land of the Dead.  Just because one`s Internet service has gone down?  YES!  I know exactly what you guys are talking about.  Hi, Kim.  Comcast has a problem.  I have a problem.  I`m all like, ‘Hey, where did all of That go?’  A part of me, a small part of me, is so invested with the Internet that when it’s not there it`s as if a part of me has gone on some kind of sabbatical.  A sabbatical that I did not want to go on.  I spend so much time here at my little desk, at this machine, when it, all of a sudden betrays me. And abandons me, if only for a few minutes.  I don`t necessarily freak out.  But I will confess a brief anxiety attack sweeps over my being.  What do I do now?  Then I remember, I look out the big picture window in front of me and I think ... Wow!  Look at aalllllllll of that.  Then I step out into Allllllllll of that.  The Internet cannot compare with allllll of that out there.  One more thing....  I use to have a job!  No Internet needed.  Here`s the deal ... I`ll trade you four Internets for one job, Afternoon Drive in a Resort Area or a Major Market only.  Close to the Ocean is a must.  Please Contact my agent.  Lunch!  Just there.  The possibilities are endless.  Y`all comin` over?  Do.  We will explore them together.”
Bob Sherwood again:  “I follow the talented Mr. Chuck Buell with a couple of books that you’ve probably already read but if not, you should!  ‘Making Records’ by Phil Ramone is a fascinating ride from the ‘60s through ‘90s music culture since he is the producer of Pavarotti and Streisand classical recordings and at the other end, Sinatra’s classic duets.  Along the way were Loggins & Messina, Billy Joel, Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’, Sting, Madonna, Paul Simon’s ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’, Elton John and a plethora of other marvelous pop and jazz artists.  The tales he tells are worth your time.  And then there’s ‘Making Rumours’.   One would think there’s only so much one could tell about the making of one album and it shouldn’t take an entire book.  But this one does and does it very well.  It’s somewhat amazing that such an amazing recording could survive the emotional volcanos that occurred on a frighteningly regular basis.
Certainly the passion of ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘Dreams’ is better understood after the book.
Once again, worth a read.”
Our success usually, if not always, depends on others.  In big things and little things.  I’ve been very blessed.  So many have contributed in one way or another to whatever it is that I am … I could not name them all.  Paul Ackerman, music editor of Billboard comes to mind.  Harvey Glascock when he managed WNEW in New York.  Rick Sklar.  Don Graham.  George Wilson.  David Moorhead.  George Furness.  And the list is years and memories long!  I sit here wrapped in thoughts.  Thank all of you who still exist.  And to those who’ve gone on: Paz.
I’ve just about finished my great American novel.  Bill Pearson has completed a cover.  My son John is going to read the last three chapters for me for typos and common sense.  Backup.  More news in about two or three weeks.
Been a tough week. 
Recover!  March on!

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