Today at 8:01 AM
January 15, 2015
Claude’s Commentary No. 46
By Claude Hall
Guess I’m getting too old for visitors, but I enjoyed the heck out of the appearance of Joey Reynolds, Art Vuolo, and Ray King at the door. There was great confusion. It follows Joey. I wanted to watch basketball – Texas against Oklahoma – and Art insisted I watch some videos he’d produced with Joey. They want to pitch CBS “Sunday Morning” with a new ending targeted for a younger audience. Good idea. Joey would be great for something like that.
Ray King is a WIXY fan. He has created a WIXY on the Internet in Cleveland. I didn’t bother telling him I knew Norman Wain, etc. Or how one program director got fired because I persuaded him to play a Jose Cuba record (I loved that damned thing; it never got out of NYC). People who read Vox Jox were not aware that I was also on the Billboard record review panel for both singles and albums.
Benefit of the Joey visit: Art fixed my DVD; Ray King kibitzed. That is, I hope it’s working. I haven’t tried it yet.
I didn’t get to watch the Texas v. Oklahoma game. Had to go to bed as soon as they left. I mean I was whipped! Just as well about the game, though. The Longhorns got stomped.
I’ve finished my western novel “La Tigre” and pre-rewrite copies have been sent to my son John, cover artist Bill Pearson and the Three Mesquiteers of Lee Baby Simms, Woody Roberts, and Bob Weisbuch. It occurred to me while he was here that I might do my next fiction about Joey Reynolds. I was originally thinking about writing something involving George Wilson. Both have been mentioned in much of the stuff I’ve written regarding radio. Both were mentioned in “I Love Radio.” And Lee Baby Simms and Jimmy Rabbitt and Chuck Blore were in “Radio Wars.” George wouldn’t mind if I lied a little in a novel about his life. Both George and Joey had a lot of fun in radio. So did, by the way, Jimmy Rabbitt and Lee Baby Simms. Jimmy Rabbitt once told me that no matter how outrageous I wrote about him and Lee Baby Simms, it was likely true.
Dick Summer: “Thank you for adding the Al Heacock story, Claude. The folks at the Rock Hall were kind enough to include some of my stuff, but for some reason they don't seem interested in including Al's story. Without him, lots of my stuff wouldn't have existed. And Don Elliot's edit of Linda and Elvis with "Love Me Tender" is a masterpiece. The testosterone in Elvis' voice made Linda sound like some kind of satin goddess. Wow. I've heard Don's name of course, but I never knew him. This is a real piece of art. Can you imagine anything like that being done today? Never mind. Stupid question. I sent your blog to Fred Masey, my best buddy. Fred was the production guy at WOR, and he knew how to use a blade and sticky tape as well as anybody. He will probably turn a light shade of green. Thanks, Claude. And please thank Don for me.”
Bob Walker: “Nick Bazoo (Ferrara) was killed last night in an automobile accident on the interstate in Gulfport, MS. Nick was an alum of WTIX, New Orleans, in the '70s and WEZB-97 and later a very well known PD and consultant. Nick also worked at WIXO in New Orleans; WTIX mid-70s, then WIXO, then B-97 PD. From there a national PD and consultant based in Pennsylvania. Born in New Orleans, he had just retired in PA and moved to Gulfport, MS, a little over a year ago.”
Bob, I sincerely appreciate the information.
Morris Diamond: “Hi, Brother Claude – Here I am with MMM (Monday Morning Must) -- your 45th Commentary and loving all the comments. I got a kick out of Don Eliot's schtick on Hearing Aids. I wish he would type a little bit louder. Yep, I've had hearing aids from the VA since they stopped me from being a flight radio operator in the Air Transport Command in 1945 and my hearing did fade some. I've been blessed in that the service I've had from the VA through the years have been faultless. It helped me in the years when I needed it most, holding national promo jobs with Joe Carlton, Mercury, Steve Allen, Bob Thiele and Acta (Dot) records; and certainly when I started my own Beverly Hills Records. A big hoorah to Kevin Gershon for bringing Bonnie and Eliot Tiegel into our midst. Eliot, aside from you, Claude, was my favorite entertainment scribes … gave me a few mentions in his Daily Variety days. And, Claude, the foto of John & Darryl Hall taken near the Glen Island Casino brought a flash of memory when, as a songplugger in the late 40s I used to schlep to the Casino to contact the various bands … and, did you know that Popsie, the photographer that shot that picture, was band boy with Bennie Goodman … the same time I was band boy with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the very early '40s. We do live in a small community, don't we? And I love it!”
Woody Roberts: “Fellow Mesquiteers, this is the week all of us are exposed to endless recap lists. But for Woody, looking back and picking his top story of 2014 was an easy task. So I will take this New Year opportunity to hardily congratulate Lee Baby Simms upon completion of my special Australopithecus raw food cleansing diet. Way to go, Mr. Baby! And while I am at it, let me step forward and brag that Mesquiteer Woody continues to ride ahead of the pop culture wave, and in fact surfed atop of all last year's major pop lifestyle tsunamis. The afore mentioned diet being a perfect example: You see, in 2014 while Lee Baby was foraging and hunting for raw food around Vallejo both the New Yorker and National Geographic chose to do feature stories on the Caveman Diet and the Paleolithic Diet. Plus, Lee was out in front of the latest emerging foodie fad, eating Diatomaceous Earth. [Speaking of ‘Caveman’, that is obviously a sexist phrase and is not one I would ever use.] But anyway, my point is the paliocavers had fire.
“Fact is, the earliest human use of fire -- fires started by nature -- did not happen until 500,000 years after Lee's species went extinct! And our controlled use of fire started just 300,00 years ago. But we have one-upped them, Lee's special Australopithecine diet of 2-4 million years ago was far more pure and back to our roots than sissy fire cooked cuisine from the Paleolithic era. Also, during Lee's 2014 diet it was discovered the Australopithecus peoples' foot-bones indicated they were arboreal as well as land dwellers. That fits Lee. (Woody included a photo of him and Lee Baby Simms climbing in a tree.) We at various radio stations knew Lee Simms had a thing for trees, all kinds, birch, redwoods, peach, baobab, all kinds. As time went on I learned that just as Tom Waits and Salman Rushdie admired the Lee Baby, so did the great poetic fabulist Italo Cavino; and the man rededicated his 1957 masterpiece ‘The Baron in the Trees’ in honor of his favorite radio deejay. Unfortunately the Italian writer passed on and his publisher never added the requested text.
“I'm afraid I embarrassed the Lee Baby with all my praise so he is doing the ah shucks and skuffin' a boot while kinda saying ‘T'wern't nothin'.’ But really it was quite an accomplishment. Below is the set I sent to liven up the Lee Baby's NYE, figuring he might dance around the room a bit while celebrating the completion of his avante garde ahead-of-the-trend Australopithecus diet. And, just maybe, bring back a few memories of the Crescent City. Used to see this band throughout the 1970s at Soap Creek Saloon (an outskirts of town nightclub dive set ‘next door’ to Doug Sham's house, he used to hang out and shoot pool daytime and play occasional gigs at night. When Clifton played Soap Creek you could be sure Doug would be there to groove on that Cajun sound. And, too, I would see this band at Antone's nightclub (Austin's Home of the Blues) where owner Clifford booked Clifton on opening night and wrapped the downtown crowd around the block (1975). Might mention here that in '95 Clifford put out a Doug Sahm album on his Antone's record label and it was nominated for a Grammy. Now it's 2015 and the clubs are gone, the record company gone, Clifton, Doug, and Clifford are gone ... just the memories and the music ...
Lee Baby Simms: “Dear Boys … HAPPY NEW YEAR! I trust that Y`all welcomed The New Year in with a flourish as befits a True Mesquiteer (thank you, Claude, for coming up with that appellation for us … it gives me a sense of belonging). Please don`t tell Woody I asked, but do y`all ever get the feeling that he is a most unusual person? (see his email) sometimes I just don`t know what the hell he`s talkin` about. Nothing! NOTHING he says in his email has anything to do with reality. He is sooo goddamned weird. (He always has been.) After corresponding with him for the last couple of years I have begun to know, again, that he is just as nutty as a fuckin` Fruit Cake! Don`t get me wrong, I do love me a little slice of Grandma`s Fruit Cake (candied cherries and walnuts and all). And I do love Woody ... like a school boy loves pie. But I must say ... you know what I`m sayin’? … I just sayin` Woody is ….
“Last night he sent me a bunch of Cajun music and said.
‘Lee, I`m loading up my shotgun’. It seems that he was going to shoot it off at midnight for some reason. (A Texas thang?) My point with this missive is that when you get an email from Himself expect the unexpected (and the unbelievable) and cut him a little slack. Take him like you would with a shot of Tequila. A little slice of lime and a few grains of salt. He means no harm, and he means The World to me. Cajun music. Here is favorite.
Translation: Lee Baby Simms and Woody Roberts were discussing, among other things such as Cajun music (they’re both too young to remember the phenomenal “The Mosquiter That Ate My Sweetheart”), firing off a shotgun to celebrate the New Year, and diets.
Danny Davis: “Claude-de' 'Main Man of de' fending 'dose' Musical Men of de' Microphones, befoah dey 'is no moah'! Just got off the old wire ‘telephone’ (remember?) with Cris Crist (remember?) and let me in on his natal day, tomorrow, 80, and the newest Doctor attending his newest ailment … CRS. Posted on front of his refrigerator, CRS, 'Can't Remember Shit'! Most of the Commentary folks will sooner, or later, wanna' know what instrument it was that Bono played! Happy New Year!! Whatta' town YOU live in! Thankfully I put the notes up on my refrigerator, about the nite I killed 'em at The Luxor, and the Shift Boss asked ‘Who taught you this game?’ They hadn't heard how you mesh, music and larceny into 'money management'! Thanx to Billboard!”
Paul Coladarci, 69, died Jan. 5 in Las Vegas of complications from cancer. A retired newspaperman who became a banker, he loved jazz and did a weekly show on public radio in Las Vegas. He is survived by his wife Sue and several children and grand children. We come, we do, we go.
Jim Gabbert: “Claude, first off I want to wish you and Barbara a very happy New Year! I don't know if you remember this, but I believe it was at an NRBA convention in New Orleans and we were talking about the big success we had with K-101 in San Francisco where we had double digit ratings and dominated the FM band. You said at the time ‘just wait till the big guys get there!’ They being Bill Drake and Paul Drew with RKO’s KFRC-FM, and KGO-FM with Rick Sklar with the power of ABC behind them. They did arrive, KFRC-FM became KFMS and they tried a Top 40 format as did KGO-FM, which became KSFX. They tried and tried and never got close to us. Ultimately both companies sold their FM's stating that San Francisco was too sophisticated for top.... Hello, remember KYA, KEWB, and of course KFRC. What they did not understand was that FM travels line of sight and we did have lots of hills that blocked the signal. We were the first FM to do circular polarization which helped somewhat. The big problem was that on any format that has high repetition needs a high cume which was physically impossible in SF. The FM stations had to build a longer listening span as the cume would be lower. Even when Tom Donahue did the KSAN thing they never got close to us in 18-34, 18-49 men and women. We always had twice their total audience in all day parts. I remember Bill Gavin writing about K-101 and his comment was Jim Gabbert's station was all over the road but somehow never hit the telephone poles! By the way, before ARB existed we came out # 5 in total radio in Pulse in 1958 with what was then KPEN, later I changed the call letters to K-101 (KIOI).”
Jim, I believe that at one time you were the King of FM.
M.R. Shane Gibson: “Thanks, Big Fella. And thanks for your last notice. Reading today, am brought back to every voice saying, ‘You've got to write that book!’ Trouble is I could tell it. Couldn't write it (be to kind to myself). So it stays just a title in the mind until a friendly ghost is found and, ‘Legends Die Hard’ (Confessions of ‘The Jock’) is written. But, trust me, pardner, this one would be straight up off the streets, heh, heh, heh. Who said Rock & Roll wasn't sexy?”
Ron Jacobs: “This is THE site for all KHJ graphics and non-audio memorabilia. Done by my personal archivist of Boss Radio stuff, Ray Randolph, as big a fan as I have encountered since 1953. Check it out, please list the website listed atop my current Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ron.jacobs.1272
“I produced Dick Summer’s album in 1970, favor to Mac Richman, who was in first group to pick up AE40.”
John Lund: “Claude: I am sure Imus will correct the Sherwood comment. It was not an ‘Angela Davis Look-a-Like’ promotion that Donald did in Stockton … but Eldridge Cleaver. Stockton’s loss, KXOA’s win. KXOA was owned then by an Indiana company, perhaps Fuqua Communications. Their main business was making motor homes. Their radio president flew out west to meet with Mr. Thayer about Imus’ shock jock antics in Sacramento that summer of 1970. You may ask Don to recall what happened to that radio executive while spending the weekend in San Francisco just prior to his plan to drive over to Sacramento for a ‘fateful’ meeting. That didn’t happen. RIP.”
Michael C. Gwynne: “Ron Jacobs first sent me this wonderful blog some time ago and I read it faithfully but today I like to respond if I could. Is this the address I use and what requirements are in order here?
No requirements, Michael, other than a good heart. Hope you now receive the Commentary. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to add to my email list.
Charlie Barrett, www.thebarrettco.com: “Enjoyed reading the Dick Summer book excerpt/passage in your No. 45. I used to listen to Dick often when I was driving back to Connecticut from Boston when I was a reporter for The Hartford Times newspaper circa 1965/66. WBZ was always playing on my '55 Ford convertible am radio back then. Dick and WBZ had the vision and cojones to play material that was, in its time -- alive and reflective of what was going on in our shifting culture. Always enjoyed Dick spinning ‘Mole's Moan’ by folkie Tom Rush on Elektra back then ... can still hear it. I can now go to YOU TUBE and find it fast if I want, although it is still in my vinyl library. Thank you, Claude, for your priceless and special column for us all. Cheers to you.”
Ron Brandon: “Claude, is this (attachment) the Bill Taylor you refer to? This was 1963 or so … after WNOE know he went out to Arizona or NM and got into ownership ... but have not spoken with him in many years.”
Bill Taylor migrated to Los Angeles area to be close to his children. There, he created and marketed a radio game for country music stations. Later, he got into management and ownership. Good man.
Jack Casey: “Hi, Claude -- Happy New Year 2015 to you and your family. Thanks for keeping the memories alive. I read the recent postings about Frank Ward and wanted to honor his memory with a few reminiscences of my own: In 1968 Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler purchased WAAB/WAAF in Worcester, Massachusetts, and they hired Frank Ward to run it. Frank had recently left the employ of Egmont Sonderling at WWRL in New York and he hired David Paul McNamee as PD and together they set off to redefine Worcester radio. They forgot to inform Bob Breyer, owner of cross-town WORC, and his programmer John H. Garabedian of their plan and WORC never lost its dominance, but that’s another story called ‘live and local wins every time’. But Frank and David did bring a major market sensibility and open checkbook to the stations … brand new equipment, jingles, and a mostly brand new air staff for ‘The Brand New Worcester’ (they also forgot to inform this tired old mill town that it was now brand new Worcester). Frank was a true character and he stood out in his bespoke suits, cufflinks, and carefully manicured silver hair. Our buddy Roger Lifeset was hired for afternoons (as Sebastian Tripp … very fitting at that time in his life). Roger barely survived his first day on the air because, when Frank returned to the station after several ‘happy hours’ at the watering hole across the street, he found the door unlocked. He fired Roger on the spot but McNamee hired him back the next day. The late Steven Capen (later at KSAN) did mornings and I was hired for nights and later moved to mornings with a lot of tutoring from Frank for which I will be forever grateful. I was given the air name Sean Michael Devlin because Devlin was Frank’s mother’s maiden name (and there was already a jingle). One night Frank got into a dust-up with several locals at another establishment and Worcester police put him in the lock-up for the night. He looked quite chagrined the next morning but his energy and love for radio were boundless. The man was unstoppable. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan and the first ‘book’ (I think it was Pulse) for the new format at WAAB (WAAF was automated beautiful music at the time) wasn’t encouraging, Frank was not happy, but Mac was in Honolulu on his honeymoon. Frank couldn’t wait for him to return so he sent a telegram to every hotel on the island saying ‘David Paul McNamee: Don’t bother coming back. You’re fired’. Frank was eventually replaced by Gordon Hastings and the owners of Atlantic Records decided radio wasn’t the business for them and they sold the stations shortly thereafter.”
Don Berns: “LOL -- My comments make no sense without the pictures I sent. That's OK, I make no sense to a lot of people on a regular basis.”
Don, I love your stuff. You’re great! But I have trouble using photos. I’ve been trying to persuade a gifted radio person to take Commentary over. If and when, they will do it more than likely as a blog and, viola, photos and all that good stuff. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll hang with me until I hang it up or cough it up.
Ken Dowe: “I was happy to see that you and I have a favorite in ‘Moonlight in Vermont’. I still have Brook Benton's (my favorite) and Willie's version on my iPhone playlist. Hear 'em daily. Used to fall asleep to ole Brook when I worked for Bernie Dittman at WABB, Mobile, back in '60-'61.”
The photo below features, from left, Joey Reynolds, Barbara Hall, Claude Hall. Take Jan. 5, 2015 at the Hall House, Las Vegas.