Monday, December 29, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 44r2

Today at 9:01 AM
December 29, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 44
By Claude Hall

Profound as a Thousand Nights.......
Who among We Mesquiteers will be the first to fall?
I do not wish to know.
I do know this ... Unus pro omnibus. Omnes pro uno.
That's enough to know right now.
Athos Baby.

This bit of tongue-in-cheek prose by Lee Baby Simms is apt.  Especially after viewing “Julius Caesar” featuring Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud (1953).  Good film.  “Hamlet,” too, was viewed over the weekend here by Barbara Hall and Darryl Hall.  Again.  Not me; I had a basketball game to watch.  The somewhat cynical John A. Hall, Esq., remarked Friday: “Isn’t it a pity Shakespeare didn’t write more-original stuff?”

The Mesquiteers refers to a Saturday afternoon western serial featuring a very young John Wayne, and, I believe, Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune.  Yes, there were also movies made in the series with different actors here and there.  But the reference here to the Three Mesquiteers regards Lee Baby Simms, Woody Roberts, Bob Weisbuch, and myself.  Sorta fits.  Translation of “wak”: with a kiss.

While we’re into poetry, here’s a video of Andy Hall, adjunct professor at UNLV, performing one of his poems.  He won $50 in competition in Las Vegas this past week or so (and donated it back).

Robert E. Richer: “Hi, Claude … Lee Baby Simms has it right.  Yours is a column of history, reminiscences and the passion of radio.  I cannot understand how anyone who has a history in this business can say anything derogatory about your musings.  What’s that old line:  ‘If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there?’  I came up on the management side and focused on the Beautiful Music part of the business, with Jim Schulke as my partner.  But that didn’t stop me from reading Vox Jox regularly.  Many of the stations that keep popping up in Claude’s Commentary were repped by me when I was a salesman.  And speaking of deaf, am I wrong, or isn’t Don Imus also hearing impaired?  All good wishes for a Merry Christmas, and may 2015 be the best year ever.”

Nancy (Nancy Plum) Kirkwood:  “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the bluegrass state!  I enjoy reading your commentaries!  I never dreamed my little radio career that began in January 1970 at WSDM, Chicago, would ever last this long!  I do a live show 3-6p on Passport Radio 1490 in Frankfort KY – yes, we have a smart phone app & we stream 24/7 online at I am also ‘Sunny Hurst’ on Star 103.7 7-9p -- it's really fun being a deejay again after all those years of news and traffic reports!  It's always been all about the music with me.   I visited the National Museum of Broadcasting in Chicago recently and they have a radio floor and a TV floor.  Only three ladies pictures up on the wall among all the deejays which I found a bit disappointing.  I thought for sure there should be more than that but hey I am not in charge there.  Hope you have a great holiday season!”

Dan Neaverth:  “Hi, Claude.  Hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas ... Don Berns mentioned that he, too, wears hearing aids because he cranked the earphones way up. The late great Jack Armstrong used to have his soooo loud that when he took them off and set them on the console they would actually vibrate across the surface. For those of you who have hearing problems, have a hearing test and get a pair of the new digital ones.  Don't, however, be like Berns and use those antique trumpet types. I thought he was just being Canadian when he kept saying eh? eh?”

Danny Davis: “When you gotta' guy thinx he's all shades of literary 'gold', and it fails to 'hit the Commentary classics', that's cause for massive 'pondering'!  And pauses to question the vaunted Editor making such 'question marks'! I gotta' have another look at the MLK tale, and the Powerball statistic, that turned a Monday breakfast read into a Monday broken rant! … OR is we stuck in some kinda' po-litical co-reckness!  I gotta' look again befoah I raise a ruckus!”

Bob Sherwood:  “Hope you and the Lovely Barbara had a wonderful Holiday.  I’ve been outraged for several days but not wanting to appear to be The Grinch I’ve been tamping it all down.  Now that we’re past Christmas … here goes.  I guess you and I and your close associates got out of direct involvement in the business just in time as it’s only when I learned of the passing of Joe Cocker that I discovered that he’s not been elected into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame!  The Voice of Woodstock … the Voice of a Generation.  A performer who put more gut-wrenching, flesh-tearing, soul-searing emotion into a song than more than 95% of the artists who ever set foot in front of a mike.  He took total ownership of a Beatle’s song, fer hevuns sake!  And he’s not in the R ‘n R Hall of Fame?  OK.  Let’s see who’s in there and who’s more Rock ‘n Roll.  Bobby Womack, DJ Fontana, Spooner Oldham, Percy Sledge, Buddy Guy, Randy Newman.  Worthy fellows all.  But more R ‘n R than Joe Cocker?
I don’t think so!  And then there’s Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys.  I have no further comment so I’ll just wish you and yours a Happy New Years.”

Long ago, I felt that the Hall of Fame was too Atlantic Records oriented.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But I became turned off on the Hall at some point.  It’s there.  Big deal!  But it’s not my rock museum.  It’s not my Rock Hall of Fame.  It’s just there.  Something else.  Merely a part of the whole.  An apt view, Bob.  Thank  you.

Jay Lawrence:  “Just a holiday wish to all, Marry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a wonderful, healthy new year.  I look forward to your column each week.  I read The names of those who have served, entertained communities all over his great country.  Many I know personally, many I know by reputation.  Please never let anyone discourage you.  One naysayer in The thousands who look forward to hearing about US should never be discouraging.  I remember managers reading me the complaints about my show.  (PLENTY)  They never seemed to mention the GOOD reviews.  Let this be one of many mentions of the GOOD you do.”

Paul Cassidy:  “Best moments with George Wilson were at Santa Anita. Gave him a wire to wire winner some 40 + years ago.  It paid over $20 bucks and he bet it heavily. Kept calling me to thank me.  Nice person to be around. Happiness to you and all your readers.”

Denny Foster:  “Please add my home email address to you weekly commentary mailings.  Next year I will be retiring after 38 years in the biz.  Thanks, and have a good holiday season.”

Jack Gale:  “First of all, in your column a few days back, you listed some of the greatest deejays.  I noticed my name was in there.  As Bobby Vee once said after you reviewed my book with a positive response, ‘Claude Hall must have bad eyes’.  Thanks so much for including me.  I guess my age warrants it.  I just celebrated my 90th birthday.  It's tough going on without Lovey after 67 years, but we keep keepin' on.  Bill Hennes called me about two months ago to tell me about a sensational female singer he heard.  I heard her and signed her.  I just finished her album in Nashville for Playback Records.  It will be released world-wide in February.  Now all I need is a promotion staff like:  Morris Diamond, Tony Richland, Augie Blume, Danny Davis, Juggy Gayles, etc., and I'll be on my way.  Happy Holidays to you and Barbara.  Keep the column going.  We all love it.  Like you always say … ‘Good on you, Claude’.  Your friend.”

Scott St. James:  “While we're all getting ready for Christmas and the New Year, I want to thank you for your Monday treats (your column) and I'm very much looking forward to reading a lot more of these in 2015.  At this end?   Like most actors who aren't stars, it's been slow on-camera wise, but I've been busy doing occasional voice work.  Mostly documentary voice stuff.   Just finished a 90-page narration that'll (eventually) show up somewhere.  Radio?   I thank my lucky stars that I had the opportunity for many years to do what I did when I did it.  Meanwhile, I hope that you (both) and your family have the best Merry Christmas EVER and that 2015 will be a great year for all of us.  ONWARD!”

Gary Smith:  “Claude, I enjoyed your last commentary (actually I enjoy them all), particularly the mention of Frank Ward and his ability to blend music.  I agree!  I started listening to Frank when he was doing ‘Spotlight Serenade’ on WKBW in the early 50s.  Then I worked with Frank at WWOL in Buffalo in '57 thru early '58.  Frank was Guy King & I was Tab Smith.  What a great time to be in radio!  Back to Rochester in 1958 for most of the rest of my 50-year career.  I have also enjoyed the mentions of the great promotion men like George Furness, Lucky Carle, Mickey Addy, Bob Kruger, Al Clark, et al.  Wonderful gentlemen!  Thanks for the great read each week, Claude, and best wishes for the holiday season.”

Chuck Chellman:  “Can you believe his body was buried six months after his death in Oslo, Norway?  I remember Casey Kasem well at WJW, Cleveland. Good, loveable guy. He bought a stereo set from me at Decca in Cleveland … cash money.  This guy, in his later life, lived hell on earth, and hell after death.  Frank, you were pumping out the hits at KYW, Johnny Holliday and jocks were pumping out the hits at WHK and Casey was doing well at WJW.  We all need to pray for the spirit of Casey Kasem.”

Several others remarked about Casey Kasem.  I think I’ll try to remember him as he once was.  I liked his laughter.

Morris Diamond: “Good morning, Claude:  Hope you and Barbara are having a Happy & Healthy Christmas holiday and extend it for a year so we can do this again next December 2015.  I cherish Don Sundeen's mentioning the passing of Albeth Paris Grass and the playing of The Paris Sisters' big hit ‘I Love How You Love Me’ at his hops.  I forwarded this week's Claude Hall letter to Albeth's husband, Clancy Grass, who, way back when, was a professional Canadian hockey player when he first met Albeth and got himself locked into our music biz.  Among his many tasks was producing a series of Tom Jones and Paul Anka musicals for Canadian TV, producing films and TV, working with BJ Thomas on projects, and many more.  My 50 years of friendship with both of them included a lot of tennis, European travel and so much more to have as cherished memories.  Woody Roberts' mentioning of Epic Records and the staff from 1982 brought back some names from even many years before, such as John Hammond and Bill Bennett.  I feel it is worth mentioning the first president of Epic is a gent from Rochester, NY, who was Columbia Records' sales manager that  was upped to running Epic Records.
Len is retired and lives not too far from me in Rancho Mirage.   His wife, Flo Levy, was WINS – New York City – assistant to program director, Mel Leeds, and had strong influence in the selection of their DJ's play list.   I'm happy to see that our friendship is still a priority and Alice and I see them quite often.  Charlie Barrett … the pictures you took of Danny and I at the Lunch Bunch Xmas party were OK.  Sorry about the sun glasses.  I left my regular glasses in the car and had no idea that I was wearing sun glasses when you snapped the foto.  You would have been better off coming back to my table where we had, among others, actors Hal Linden and Jed Allan and Clancy Grass and my lady, Alice Harnell.  But I love you anyway and thanks for the effort.  The entertainers, all from our lunch bunch, were the top attractions in the Palm Springs area.  Our weekly lunches, likewise, are a show unto themselves.”

Gary Allyn: “Claudius, Well, it's the end of another year. Time for reflection. As I look back over the recent months at the loss of many of our contemporaries, I think how special they were. How special those times from which they all emanated were. When one compares it today's World, it becomes clear how truly wonderful the World of our youth was. Perhaps all generations feel this way, but the World of Radio and Records has certainly changed by comparison.  Radio is supposed to reflect the community it serves. This observer sees an overall ‘homogination’ of our society in general.  Those in my generation grew up in an era of individualistic difference. You could immediately tell the difference between a Ford and a Chevrolet, a Cadillac from a Lincoln. Today, from just a short distance, it's hard to discern a Toyota or Hyundai from a Buick or a Lincoln. There was a time when ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ workmanship was #1 and goods made in Japan were regarded as ‘cheap’ and found mostly in ‘Five and Dime’ stores.  Few even knew where Korea was.  When I grew up, I knew what my house looked like, it was different from all the rest.  Our streets all had custom-individual looking houses.  The suburbs of today all have that ‘cookie cutout’ sameness.  In our World of entertainment, you knew right away the voice differential of Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn, Doris Day and Patti Page, Billy Eckstine and Louis Armstrong.  Rock era's Elvis and Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry and Little Richard -- all were instantaneously recognizable.  Today, my ears have difficulty distinguishing between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, Christina Aguilara and Gwen Stefani, or any male rapper for that matter.  The same can be said of the top radio personalities of the past. Right away you knew who Dick Biondi, ‘Wolfman’ Jack, The Real Don Steele, Casey Kasem, Murray The K and Lee Babi Simms were. Today, it's the banality of voice trackers. We've gone from Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Paul Harvey and Top 40 newsmen Lee Marshall, J. Paul Huddleston, and Richard Mock, to the shrill ‘Talking Heads’ of today. It was all individually communicated without the need of dozens of cell phone companies. The need was filled with only monopolistic Ma Bell and a typewriter.  I miss those ‘signature’ record labels, too.  A DJ knew quickly the look of a Capitol, Columbia, Motown or RCA record label. Currently there's no distinction on a ‘Download’.  Somehow creative individualism has faded into a vast sea of mediocrity. Now, before you accuse me of living in the past, or being a bit old fashioned, let me say that today's ‘Brave New World’ has it's good points ... just a bit misguided in it's usage, or by the people who avail themselves of it. In conclusion, Claude, I thank God that you give us a platform to hang our collective memories on. The irony is that we need today's technology of the internet to remember and reconnect with our simpler past, thanks to you.  So I wish you, Barbara and all the Halls be decked with good health and a very Happy New Year.  May 2015 be filled with the innovative individualism which helped make Radio's 2nd Golden Era great, including all of those=past and present-who made it an era to remember.  I lift my cup o' kindness to you one and all.”

Scotty Brink: “Hey, Claude, I wanted to wish you and Ms. Barbara a joyful Yuletide and a fabulous 2015.  I hope we'll have an opportunity to see you in the coming year.  In case you didn't already know ...  Bobby and Karen have made the trip to Tucson for the winter.  They chose to fly this time rather than do the motorcade, as in past years.  I'm grateful that they are both up for it and can be where they want to be, and out of the frozen north.  You also should know how much I enjoy your commentary.  You always were, and still are, the best writer in the radio/music biz.  It's great reading tidbits from old friends and acquaintances.”

Dave Anthony: “Note to Larry Irons: I saw your blurb about the Wolfman Jack song, ‘There’s an Old Man in Our Town’.  I actually have a copy in mint condition on my Amazon page (which I’m NOT plugging).  After raiding the 45 rpm libraries of each of the stations I worked at in the 70s and 80s when they moved to tape (then CD and digital), I find myself with over 20,000 singles that I’ve barely started to go through.  Both Wolfman Jack singles – the other was ‘I Ain’t Never Seen a White Man’ – appeared when I dug through the box starting with ‘W’.  CLAUDE: You can post the link only if you want to, or you could pass along my e-mail address below to Larry.  Again, please forgive.  Your newsletter is blissfully noncommercial and I’m not trying to change that.  Just let Larry know I have a copy of the 45 he’s looking for.”

Mel Phillips:  “Happy New Year. I've gone to a weekly Mel Phillips Radio Views but hope you will continue to read it day-by-day. While I've had some technical glitches, the first 3 days of my weekly post are complete with video links. I hope to have the rest of the week completed by tomorrow. In the meantime, thank you for reading my posts. I will continue to post daily updates on Twitter and Facebook. My URL remains:
'Mel Phillips Radio Views - The Book' continues to be on sale at Amazon with a sample of the book available for an advance taste. You can access the book at”

Also heard from Chuck Blore, Timmy Manocheo, and Ron Jacobs and a few others.  My thanks.  Also received a Christmas Card featuring a nice painting by Bobby Vee.  Going to scan it in a day or two.  And Karen Velline invited Barbara and I down to Tucson … but I don’t think I can do the trip.  Sad on me.  Don Whittemore and Don Graham, you’re awesome!  And Chuck Buell sent me an ecard that was cuter than old billy heck.  I love you guys!

Don Barrett had an item out of the NY Times that six stations in Chicago featured Christmas music over the holidays.  Jingle, jingle.

Lest We Forget:  WIXY, Cleveland, appreciation day with Buffy St. Marie and Chuck Dunaway in teeshirt at right.  Unknown DJ at left.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 43r2

Today at 8:30 AM
December 22, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 43
By Claude Hall

In the mid-to-late 60s, Cash Box was the No. 1 music trade magazine.  The owner/editor was George Albert, a friendly fellow with many years in the music business.  He once told me of the days when he’d travel from town to town for RCA, rent a storefront, set up his phonograph and some benches, and play records and sell them on the spot before loading up the remaining records and heading on down the road.  Billboard had just lost its staff shortly before I joined the magazine.  I met a couple of them.  Bob Austin, I remember.  They’d started a magazine called Music Business.  They seemed like pretty nice guys.

The first story I wrote for Billboard was about a gumball machine.  But we soon moved all of that –and the traditional carney business -- into a new magazine located in Nashville called Amusement Business.  Billboard began to concentrate on records and, naturally, radio.  We experimented from time to time.  I recall interviewing the man who coined the term “You Can Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star.”  And, for a while, I hung out in the recording studios.  All of this “in addition to” my radio section and covering several labels, including Bell, for news.

Once, Felix Pappalardi invited me to a studio to hear a group, can’t remember who now, and who was there but John Zacherle.  He’s was between jobs at the time, I think, but more or less famous.  He’d grown to notoriety with intercuts in late-night movies on TV.  For instance, Tarzan would be swinging from tree to tree and suddenly it would be Zacherle swinging on that grape vine.  Progressive rock radio was made for Zacherle in those days and he was soon on FM radio.

He asked me if I’d like a map of Transylvania.  I said, “Sure.”  I was a fantasy buff.  I’d frame it and put it on my wall.  He picked up a stenobook and quickly drew a blob in pencil and handed it to me.

I said, “Thanks,” of course.  And, no, I did not frame it.

Spider Harrison:  “Happy Holidays to you. Just wanted to share some good news that came my way this month. On my way to Nashville for the station Christmas Party. The ceremony is in May.”

Spider will be inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame May 2, 2015, at the 4th annual banquet at the Murfreesboro Embassy Suites.  Also inducted will be Bill Barry, Lowell Blanchard, Bobby Denton, Jill Green, John McDonald, and Nat D. Williams.  Previously announced Career Inductees include Keith Bilbrey, Spider Harrison, Jack Parnell, Al Voecks, Johnny Dark/Dude Walker (John Dougherty), John Young, and Stacy Mott.

Don Berns:  “I, too, suffer hearing loss as a result of cranked earphones.  But one of the first things I learned (most likely at WKBW) was that you can't hear your voice properly unless it is LOUD in the cans.  In fact after I started listening loudly, I realized that there were many things I could do with mic technique that I had never realized.  Over time I truly believe this increased knowledge helped my presentation on air.  Like Dan Neaverth, I, too, wear hearing aids these days. The only time I ever turn them off is when I'm talking to him.”

Don Sundeen:  “When I was on the road and working the St. Louis market in the late 70s KSHE was one of my favorite radio stations to hang with.  Like her sister WMMS in Cleveland, KSHE rocked hard (think REO Speedwagon), and was one of the hippest stations in the nation.  I worked and partied some with the P.D., Teddy Habeck, who had a real handle on his audience and the music that would play well in the market.  He went on several records for me quite early and the power of KSHE showed up in the sales of the product.  Obviously, the station had changed quite a bit by 1984 when the incident J.C.Corcoran writes about in this piece occurred.  But, I think a lot of the old radio programmers and music directors will identify with the problem he faced or worse, (We’re Going Disco). Thanks to the great Scooter B. Seagraves for passing this on to me.  I imagine my old promo bud and concert promoter, Greg Hagglund, now retired in the St. Louis burbs, will remember our good times there as well … or at least partially.”

It appears as if Don did not receive his Commentary (he got a copy from a friend).  I don’t know why.  If you do not receive this email each Monday, please let me know.  Don’t know if I can solve the problem, but I’ll try.

Don Sundeen later: “Hi, Claude, once again for some reason, the Commentary didn’t show up in my email, luckily, good old Ken Dowe forwarded it on.  Anyway, I wanted to comment on Morris Diamond’s message about the passing of Albeth Paris, and the remembrance of the great hit Phil cut with them, “I Love How You Love Me.”  I was just a baby disc jockey then making minimum wage, but the saving grace was record hops.  I could make as much in one night doing a hop for a buck a head as I took in a month after taxes.  I remember one morning the old man looked into a paper bag on my dresser and found it full of dollar bills: ‘I hope you’re paying taxes on this’, he said, and I replied, ‘Taxes?’  Anyway back to the Paris sisters, although the kids loved to dance to the rock and roll, at a certain point you had to slow it down for romance.  The magic words were: ‘This will be a ladies choice’, and as the strains of ‘I Love How You Love Me’ filled the room, the slow dancers would join together, limbs entwined and sometimes grinding together, especially if there were no chaparones.  I think we’re really lucky to have Morris’ memories of the early days going back to the band boys and song pluggers, and hope he’ll continue to send them in.  I also wanted to agree with Morris about the loss of Radio Jack Roberts this year. Very sick and bored at home, he was inspired by Don Graham to start a website for former radio and record folks that he called The Hollywood Hills.  Starting with a handful of readers by the time of his passing the mail list approached 10,000.”

Me, too.

Bob Hamilton, Palm Springs: “May I take a moment to wish you and Barbara a very Happy Holiday!  Thank you for always being the cool one who understands the value of talent!  It is a real blessing!  Again, my very best!”

Chuck Buell: “Here's something from Back in the Day I just wanted to share with you this Holiday Season just for fun!  Hope you like it, and if you're inspired to post a favorable comment or send an email, that'd be cool, too!”
WLS Facebook Page - Buell Posting

Lee Baby Simms:  “Good Day Claude Baby.  et al.  Dear Boy ... Dex Allen ("Once of radio") is a jerk!  And once a jerk always a jerk.  Pay no attention to him.  First.  He accuses you of mentioning the same few people every week in your Commentary.  Why, this week alone I saw the names of at least 15 or 20 of our fellow Radio and Record people.  Second.  He takes it upon himself to tell you what you should and should not include in your weekly musings. The very nerve of that Son Of A Bitch!  Who the hell does he think he is?  I didn`t even know who he is until you told me.  I`m almost sorry that you did, he just pisses me off.  Third.  He implies that You and your contributors are not worth reading.  (We are boring and redundant.)  And when you delete him (almost at his request)  from your email list, he faults you again for doing so and for not sending him Commentary.  I swear to God, Claude.  Some people!  You know?  Enough already, about that asshole.  

“I second Woody`s opinion about  'La Tigre'.   He says,  ‘From what I've read ‘La Tigre’ may be your best western novel yet’.  I spent a few minutes with it the other day and was very intrigued.  I look forward to its completion.  Please send me a copy, if you will, as soon as the last i is dotted.  One more thing, you most certainly have not fallen on low times. You have my highest admiration. And I`m not the only one by far. You are one of my few Heroes and you always will be!  In closing, in the future, let us refer to  (if we ever do again)  Dex Allen as ... let us  'Mexicanize' his name. From this moment on he will be known as  'El Gilipollas' because that's what he is.  It has been a wonderful December.  Blessed Rain almost every day.  I am beside myself with Joy.  It`s getting late in the day ... lunch time.  Let me go see about it.  Please give my best to Ms. Barbara.  I am and will remain, your devoted reader and your friend.”

Later, Lee Baby Simms: “Yesterday when I dropped you that little missive concerning ... The Cretin ... 'El Gilipollas'.  I mentioned, off the top of my head, that I had seen the names of 15 or 20 of our fellows in Monday`s Commentary. I was way wrong!  I just re-read it and stopped counting at 50.  It seems that Everyone who was ever Anyone in our industry (in one way or another) takes part, at least part of the time, in our conversation.  I was struck, once again, by the deep love and/or sincere affection that you are given by all.  I feel the same way about you.  'Claude`s Commentary'.  The Masthead upon which We Raise Our Flag.  (Is that corny?  It`s true.)  You know, Claude, one day you will die, if you do so before I do, I will really, really be bummed out.  A Bright White Sun
in the Sky today for the first time in some time.  A chance to dry out a little bit before the next Rain.  More Rain on the way.  Hooray!  There is a little Sushi restaurant a couple of miles away, down by the Bay. It`s quite good, I get tired of my own cooking so I think I`ll run over for lunch. Wish you were here, we would go together.  We could talk about George … my other Hero.  Wak.”

Ah, Lee!  With you and Don Whittemore to defend me, what need have I of fear?  This, I will tell you true:  When George Wilson died, I asked of all the gods:  How dare he?  How could George do this to me?  Sadly, his death was more about me than about him.  There are some people it is difficult to do without.

Erie Hopseker:  “Please let me wish you and Barbara the best of the Holiday Season. I was in sort of a holiday funk, until I saw your tome from the One And Only Original Shane.  Along with some of his old cronies, I have been searching to make contact with him for some time. He has old friends who love him, and would like to connect.  He hired me under the name Ernie Roberts at KUDI where my old college buddy Joe Fiala was working.  Joe and I both went to see Uncle Sam, and after all that, he had resurfaced at KGA, where Joe went to work for him. I went out to the hinterlands to wait for an opening, and the whole thing blew up before it opened.  A few years ago, at the urging of Joe, Derek Shannon, and Randy Pugsley,  I attempted to make contact.  The guy who runs the blog in Buffalo knew where he was, but refused much cooperation. I was too late for the 'KBW reunion a few years ago, and the Entercom people called him Ron Shane, so obviously they didn't have a clue.  I will say, the Shane character was fabulous, and he knew how to work it. He was a terribly intense guy, who was absolutely tireless and innately knew how to seize the moment.  He danced the line as well as anybody I ever knew.  That can make or break you, and he won a lot of the time.  So, if you can get me in touch with him, I would appreciate it. The three of us left coasters are getting old, and The One And Original is on our bucket list.”

I sent Ernie’s note to Shane and got this back.  Shane Gibson:  “It's amazing who reads Commentary.”

Woody Roberts to the Three Mesquiteers:  “Lee, finally:
Seems like yesterday ... in the beginning ... still clean shaven, inspired and hungry, still a trio ...
Texas Flood
Here's the entire first album Epic Records ... thanks to legendary producer John Hammond (he's the reason I signed on to the project in '82, a year before the album release) A&R Gregg Geller, record promotion man Bill Bennett, and particularly Epic's promotion chief Al DeMarino where ever he may be.  His first is my favorite because it's lean and mean and unaffected, then he started adding instruments and thickening his band's sound letting him lay back, not have play rhythm and fills.”

Larry Irons: “Dear Claude, I am loving all the stories about when radio/record promotion was so much fun. The ‘pig in the Porsche’ story … I am still laughing!  I wanted to also say that after you mentioned my new book and your son Andy wrote those really nice things about it, something happened. The hits to my website increased DRAMATICALLY, and I passed the 100 books sold threshold!  Now it could’ve just been a coincidence, but I don’t believe in coincidences.  So may I say a HUGE thank you for the mention!  Also, as a collector of hard-to-find songs, I’ve been looking for a copy (vinyl, mp3 or any other format) of a Wolfman Jack song, I think the title is ‘There’s an Old Man in Our Town’.  If anyone knows where a copy of this could be purchased I’d be very grateful.  Merry Christmas to all and a happy, healthy and joyous new year!”

Dr. Demento will have a copy.  Maybe more than one.  But I don’t know if he ever sells any.

Mel Phillips:  “Chanukah and Christmas are a special time of the year for just about all of us.  Whichever holiday you celebrate, enjoy it with family and friends.  Even if you don't celebrate anything save the end of another hectic year of living and look forward to another page in your life, I hope you can celebrate that.  I watched what I thought was a very pleasant, well-done Christmas special - The Michael Buble Christmas Special which featured the quirky Canadian singer who was enjoyable. Buble had some great guests, including a rising star (Ariana Grande) and a classic one (Barbra Streisand.) The Rockettes added an appropriate measure of good cheer, especially since the show was taped at Radio City Music Hall. Oh, and there was another less appropriate guest - Miss Piggy. who was part of the Jim Henson cast of Muppet characters.

“Henson gave us Miss Piggy in 1974 which would make the character 40 years old. Someone who was 5 years old when the pig with lipstick debuted - using 5 as an age when kids start remembering, would be 45 and those older than 5 could be 50 and older or too old to matter demographically. So what is Miss Piggy doing on a Michael Buble special?  Buble, 39, didn't become known outside Canada until sometime after 2000.  His popularity has grown over the last decade.  My guess is that not too many viewers watched the Buble special just to see Miss Piggy... Happy Holidays.”

Great on you, Mel… and Very Great on You, Nancy and Robert Richer!

Jim Ramsburg:  “Friends, the holiday season is the time for traditions.  It was true during Network Radio's Golden Age when favorite Christmas broadcasts were repeated year after year.  And we're continuing the tradition at by repeating a few classic Christmas shows this week only at our post Christmas Stars.   We've also added a two new treats for your yuletide listening.  We hope you enjoy these shows and the stories behind them.  Merry Christmas!”

Robert S. Levinson sent me his new book “The Evil Deeds We Do.”  Autographed.  Which means it’s a collector’s item.  A special treasure for me.  I’m thankful.  Bob, just FYI, wrote the speech that George Wilson presented at a Bill Gavin conference.  George always thought it was the best speech he’d ever heard, read, or presented.  Pity that no copy presently exists.  Thank you for the book, Bob.  Best speech I ever heard George deliver was quickly written by Mardi Neirbass or Rochelle Staab.  On a scrap of paper.  George was one of five radio presidents delivering talks at a Chicago NAB convention.  More than 1,300 men and women in the audience.  The introducer mentioned that George rose from the programming ranks and would usually be found wearing blue jeans and sandals and it was unusual to find him today wearing a suit and tie.  George leaned on the podium and casually announced, “Yeah, but I’m not wearing any shorts” and the house erupted.  From there on, he had everyone in the audience in his palm.

Danny Davis:  “The Sage of Claudius!  Thursday came and went with the 'lunch bunch' and 'a grand time' had by all!  A PARTY in all the entertainment senses!  A select 'many' of the 'song-men' doing their thing for the crowd! Last notes rang out with ‘Lovin' Feelin’!  A classic, y'all agree!  Tops the copyrights for performance, play and sales receipts every year! (If only Phil Spector gets those figures from the warden!)  Brings up my first impression, about what Phil immediately gave me to carry it, where to take it, how he utilized 'the wall of sound', how much of himself, and his dream of perfection was in that 'piece of wax!  The 'bossman' (genius that he was/probably still is) points me to Hartford, wants Bertha Porter, at WDRC, to hear it!  I go!  I do!  Hand it to Ms. Porter with a 'jewelers grin'!  Can't wait for her verdict!  And traveled back to retell a tale that, quite probably, impacted this 'promo guy' and the legendary loopyness of Phil, for evermore!  Bertha, who was also legendary, says to me and all around, ‘Why'd  You bring me this?  It's nothing but a bunch of noise!’ Please remember: ‘YOU'VE LOST THAT LOVIN' ‘EELIN’!  (I wonder if the warden has the 'gidarum' to bring that title up when Visitors Day comes 'round? (One from the up-comin' book, Claude!)”

Great story, Danny!

Charlie Barrett:  “Hope you are well.  I took these fotos today at ‘the biz lunch bunch’ holiday party near Palm Springs (actually held at Palm Desert's Desert Falls Country Club) ... here is renowned music man Mr. Danny Davis and his lovely wife Marie Davis.  Also, see another foto attached of Danny with our friend, Mo Diamond enjoying the event, also attended by actors Hal Liden and Jed Allen, etc.   Feel free to place in your column if you would like.  Have a wonderful HOLIDAY.”

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.