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”
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QNY32M0?ref_=pe_870760_118561140 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 www.bigbandjump.com. 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.”
Great be upon thee and yours
and your holidays be magnificent!