Today at 7:32 AM
March 30, 2015
Claude’s Commentary No. 57
By Claude Hall
Ken Dowe: “I've been reading your columns for 50 years, and nothing before rivals this straight from the heart confession of the soul. I was moved by the candor and deep appreciation you have for a lone cowboy singer who somehow was hiding in plain sight. From me, anyway. Dottie was none too pleased that I was still playing Tom's songs at 2 a.m. into my Blue Tooth JBL. The house on Beverly was rocking like a Texas honky tonk. My mother's dad was a Texas cattleman. He left Texas. I returned. Tom Russell's songs refreshed my history, and returned fading memories. Next, I will spend a couple hours selecting ‘Tom Songs’ to add to my eclectic and rather quirky iPhone collection. Thanks, Claude. You gave this friend a wonderful gift without knowing. I think I'll turn the AC down to about 60, brew some black coffee, throw a few logs on the fire, get out my Commemorative Winchester ‘Buffalo Bill’ 30-30 for an oil down and good cleaning ... then I will while away the afternoon here at the homemade camp fire ... listening to a range riding wordsmith. Starting with...
‘Tonight We Ride’
HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU (look out for rattlesnakes)!”
I forward Ken Dowe’s emails to Tom Russell and mentioned that Ken was a Dallas legend on the air.
Tom Russell: Very cool! Claude, I'm blown away and sent to my publicist in NYC (where I am now). Thanks so much for taking the time! Glad you like the record and thanks for spreading the word … how many folks does your blog go out to? Mostly radio folks? It's a great blog and I always look forward to it! Thanks again!”
Currently, I’m mailing to about 400 in radio and around 100 music industry veterans. A few of the people on my radio list are media people, i.e., writers and reporters who write about music and/or radio. Some have written major books. Some of the music people on my list formerly worked in radio; the greatest of these might be Joe Smith, a legendary disc jockey in Boston who became a multimillionaire in the music industry with Warner Bros. and later as head of Elektra Records. I like to believe, however, that all people who read Commentary each week are quite extraordinary and/or outstanding in their craft and, indeed, some are brilliant. I know quite a few readers personally – some have been welcome at the Hall House -- and I suppose I admire just about everyone on the list. I’ve eliminated from my list those I do not admire. Lee Baby Simms, who loved George Wilson, accused me of also loving the gentle radio giant and I confess that this was true. But Jack G. Thayer, George Wilson, David Moorhead and others were – and many such as Joey Reynolds and Bobby and Karen Vee still are -- literally members of this family. Some people have even brought their children by; I consider this an honor. I was especially honored when Sharon Sharpe brought her son and daughter by so that I could tell them about their grandfather, the legendary Bill Stewart. Would I like a greater number of readers? I’ve had readers around the world in years past. So, it’s narrowed down to these … all good men and women and true … left after a hacker attack who had the audacity and villainy to taunt me. None the less, I’m presently comfortable. I feel like I’m conversing with friends.
Ken Dowe later: “I have downloaded my first dozen songs. Have to stop listening to these over and over before I can get back to iTunes for more. Best from out of the west ... since a well-groomed fella with a fresh haircut ... wearing a modest suit with tie showed up in the KLIF, Dallas control room one day in the '60s: ‘Hello, Mr. Dowe. My name is Willie Nelson’ ... must go. “Claude Dallas’ plays next.”
Mike Regenstreif to Tom Russell: “My review of ’The Rose of Roscrae: A Ballad of the West’ by Tom Russell has been posted on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches blog:”
Sandy Bainum: “Thank you, Claude ... and Andy! Thank you for including a mention of me and my music in this week's most recent Commentary. Don Graham forwarded it on to me and I am most grateful to you and your son Andy, for his review of ‘Simply'. A girl needs all the help she can get in this industry, and such kind support is most appreciated!
Wishing you the very best.”
Probably everyone who reads this blog wishes you the very best, Sandy. All of us love good music! My sons Andy and John included. One act recently paid Andy to introduce them in an appearance on the Strip. We, of course, have our differences when it comes to music. I have trouble trying to convince Andy and John that I was “there,” so to speak.
Bob Sherwood: “I was just in a conversation with a former on-air associate who’s now a successful song and screen-play music writer and we got into ‘originals v. covers’ conversation relating to a new version of The Left Banke’s ‘Walk Away Renee’. I thought you might like to see my knee-jerk, hardly complete list of songs never to be ‘covered’. Although I will acknowledge that Levi Stubbs did his usual superb work when The Four Tops ‘covered’ ‘Walk Away Renee’. Thank you (directed to my associate) for forwarding the LaFave version. As you’re a writer and creator of songs I can understand why you’d like it. The original has been a ‘fave’ of mine -- sorry, couldn’t resist -- since I was flogging it on-air lo these many decades ago. I remain a hard-core ‘traditionalist’ and are very resistant to anybody but:
--Frank Sinatra doing ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’
--Teddy Pendergrass doing ‘The Love I Lost’
--Ronstadt doing ‘Long, Long Time’
--Roy Orbison doing ‘Cryin’
--David Ruffin doing ‘Walk Away From Love’
--Elton doing ‘Your Song’
--Jackie Wilson doing ‘Doggin’ Around’
--Vic Damone doing ‘The Pleasure of Her Company’
--Jim Morrison doing ‘Light My Fire’
--Michael Whatshisname doing ‘I Could Never Leave You’
--Mark Knopfler doing ‘Sultan’s of Swing’
--Gladys Knight doing ‘Neither One of Us’
--The Eagles doing “Hotel California”
--James Taylor doing ‘Your Smiling Face’
--Fleetwood Mac doing ‘Go Your Own Way’
--Carly Simon doing ‘You’re So Vain’
--Jesse Belvin doing ‘Goodnight My Love’
--Mr. Mick doing ‘Sympathy for the Devil’
--P,P & M doing ‘Don’t Think Twice’
I think you’ve made your point, Bob. It’s time for a lie-down. Say Goodnight. Goodnight, Gracie.”
Doc Wendell: “Since jazz has taken a beating in Hollywood with the negative and untruthful portrayal of jazz education in the film ‘Whiplash’, I thought I'd stick it to the ‘man’ by dedicating more time to jazz reviews that only fellow nerdy musicians like myself will read. Here's my latest, which is a review of guitarist Dave Stryker's upcoming tribute to the late great Stanley Turrentine. I hope it gets the attention of some of the great fellow contributors on your terrific blog.”
Jon Scott: “A couple of things- I'm not sure if you remember or have a copy of the book called Trendsetters-1979 by Johnny Cougar -- of course who is now John Mellencamp. I was fortunate enough to also be included in the book as well, basically for my promo work at MCA Records and ABC Records. In case you don't have a copy, I thought I would send you this picture of you from the book. You were definitely a Trendsetter. The books are hard to find and fortunately I saved a copy of mine.
“Secondly, I'm not sure if you have heard but we are holding our 3rd Music Industry Reunion on April 29th at The Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas. At the urging of my New York friends, we held one there last year, too, and like Los Angeles, it was a who's who of music industry vets. Our first Reunion here In LA drew about 75 people, the second one doubled to 150, and now just a more than a month out we already have over 175 RSVP's. Here's a short list of those who attended, including Russ Regan, Rick Frio, Pat Pipolo, Jerry Sharrell and many more. At the New York Reunion people like Ron Alexenburg, Johnny Barbis, and many more music business legends attended. It was really unbelievable. Would be great if you can make it. I also help you will please help us spread the word. We are mostly using Facebook to help promote (Music Industry Los Angeles) but we know that a lot of people don't use Facebook and those are the one's we are trying to get the word out to. Most of us have just opened our phonebook list and reached out to those who don't use social media. Attached is the press release we sent out, and the picture of you from Trendsetters. Stay well -- I enjoy your emails.”
Great on you, Jon, regarding the conferences. Wish I could come over, but …. As for that booklet about John Cougar Mellencamp, you bet I have my copy. That photographer was a nice guy to trim off 20-30 pounds. I eventually trimmed off the extra weight myself. Hanging around 210 lbs. now. In my mind, I fancy that I look like a Mexican bandido. Chuck Blore’s drawing in the 70s still holds true.
Dick Summer: “Remember Tom Rush? Not too many people do. 60s Folk Scene mostly in Boston. Saw him in concert just now. Tuneful, funny, warm ... what a performer. Never understood why he didn't do like Dylan.”
One of the upbeat, but truly sad songs by Tom Russell is “The Extra Mile” about catching Mitch Ryder in Montana playing to a small audience. I once caught an act I won’t name performing to a tiny group in Enid, OK … playing guitar and singing to a drum machine. He told me that he’d sent his band “on ahead.”
Don Sundeen, www.thedonrocks.com: “Eye Lipson sent this on, most of us who were on the air at one time broke up over a funny story, but this is the benchmark. If you haven’t looked at our new blog/website, please check it out, there’s all kinds of stuff, some funny, some pure nostalgia, some weird like this.”
Don Sundeen is a fine writer. I’m rooting for him. Don and Eye Lipson are, indeed, one heck of a team. I understand Eye was famous at one time.
Bob Barry: “Milwaukee has lost another popular radio personality. Joe Dorsey died at age 90. He was talented, extremely funny and a friend on and off the air. Joe spent his final days in hospice, without pain and died peacefully. I saw him last month and he was in high spirits and still joking to the end. He told me, when walking his dog down the hall in the assisted-living facility, one of the elderly ladies said; ‘isn't he cute?’ Joe said, “Yes, and what do you think about my dog’?"
Thank you for the note, Bob. We come, we do, we go.
Don Graham reports that funeral service for Dick Forester was at 11 a.m. March 31 in Monte’s Chapel of the Hills, San Anselmo, CA. He was interred in Olema Cemetary.
This note was from Jim Davis to Joey Reynolds. Yep, I’m a notorious wordthief when it comes to something cute. “Joey, I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your book ‘Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella’. It reminded me of many times hearing you say that on my 6 transistor GE radio. So many of my friends are writing books these days, and I try to read as many as I can since we truly did work and live in an exciting era and soon the memories will fade. But, having grown up in the same hometown as you, and listening to your work for almost 50 years now, has given me great appreciation for the gifts that you were given. I loved the stories and could relate to so many of them. As you know, my mother started with WKBW back in 1934 singing with the Vocalettes. Bob Schmidt (Smith) was their composer/arranger. I always hoped that some day, I would work for WKBW, but such was not to be. However, it’s been a great ride over a long period of time and I am grateful to still be enjoying my work and to have friends like yourself who have been such an inspiration over these many years. The second part of the book was truly philosophical and gave me a great perspective from a high level of what has transpired in our business and how important the ‘farm club’ is to our industry. For many of us, that is how we all came up through the ranks. Patty and I watch your ‘Reynolds Rap’ daily on Facebook. She and I both have chuckled at your stories. I only had the pleasure of working with you once while at KMPC, but I will always remember you and Tom Shovan and what you were able to do with that stodgy old radio station. Truly cutting edge stuff in 1979. Take care my friend. Hope to see you someday soon while you are still in Florida. And, as somebody famous once said, ‘Thanks for the Memories’.”
Mel Phillips: “This is a follow-up to a question about WOR-FM. With a little help from my friends at Wikipedia, WOR-FM started out simulcasting WOR-AM in 1948. Ron Ruth, our GM, and I (the PD at the time) filed for a call letter change to WROQ. Someone on our staff (one of the sales staff, we suspected) leaked the new call letters. Before we were granted the change, Stan Kaplan told Sis about it and they got their filing in before us. Charlotte, NC, got the call letters we wanted. Ron and I went down an available list of call letters and we chose WXLO. We wanted something with a 'Q' but nothing else was available that we liked, so we decided to choose WXLO and play up the 'X' (our first contest was ‘Location X’) and the 'L' as in 'Extra Large' and the like. The call letters were changed from WOR-FM to WXLO-FM on October 23, 1972. Those calls lasted until 1981 when they were changed to WRKS (KISS) and then in 2012 to WEPN-FM (ESPN Sports) which it is now. In honor of the late and very great Paul Harvey: ‘And now you know the rest of the story’."
Jim LaBarbara: “Jack Woods & I worked together in Cleveland at WKYC -- I learned a lot about life & radio from him. My deepest sympathy to Marilyn & his family. At the time we were close friends. I wish I would have kept in touch in recent years. I know we would have hugged & picked up the conversation like it was yesterday. Having said that there are two WKYC people I'd like to find. Does anyone know how to contact our 60s WKYC GM Bob Martin (he came from the Storz Miami group)? Bob gave me the big break & hired me at WKYC in early 66. Jim Gallant was doing all night at the time & three years later when he was PD at WLW hired me & gave me the label ‘Music Professor’. Hopefully someone will have his contact information. Add my name to the many who have thanked you for your weekly email.”
Don Elliot: “Claude, I had a feeling you would like to hear this … a friend of mine, the insane girl Wayne, formerly of K rock and editor of LA radio.com, put this three-hour interview together -- with music -- on Denny Tedesco, tommy's son after attending a showing of ‘the wrecking crew’ here in LA with me last week. See you in Vegas.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link. But thanks, Don.
Jim Gabbert: “Claude, keep it up! As I look at my Trendsetter Award from Billboard for having pioneered Quad what happened was I was appointed Chair of the National Quadraphonic Committee and we did elaborate tests, etc., and found that the only really quad was the Dorren discrete quad. The systems used by all of the stations that went quad was a synthesized one that really did not do quad justice. We submitted the Committee's recommendations to the FCC. To broadcast the Doreen system we needed a rule change and they never acted on it. As co-chair of the AM Stereo Committee the FCC did the same thing. The C-Quam (Motorola) AM stereo system was a really good sounding system. During our tests we simulcast our FM (K-101) with our AM and compared the 2 in separation and fidelity the comparison was amazing! Again, the FCC dropped the ball by not setting standards. Contrary to popular belief, AM can broadcast better fidelity but the car radio manufacturers (Mainly Delco) started making narrow band AM receivers which made AM really sound bad. Ford tried a wide band AM receiver but it was too late.”
Robert E. Richer: “Thanks for Frank’s kind comments, Claude. And speaking of call signs, one of the O’Neils, who used to own WOR in NYC, told me that WOR stood for ‘World’s Oldest Radio’.”
Michael Ambrose: “Hi, Woody and Claude, it's pleasantly odd that Chad Oliver should float back to consciousness all of a sudden. For some reason, I just reread his ‘Shadows in the Sun’ for like the fourth time. (That's his Crystal City novel.) It was his first adult SF novel and came out about 1956, I think. Then a few days later I found and reread my copy of ‘Broken Eagle’, his middle western. I'm torn between whether he was the better SF or Western writer. I'll stack up ‘Cannibal Owl’ against ‘Shores of Another Sea’ any day. In everything he wrote, it seems First Contact is the theme, and nobody did it better. He was a universalist. I was a student of Chad Oliver for two anthro courses at UT in the late '70s, but I never really knew him, alas. I saw him at ArmadilloCon 3 in 1982(?) and for the last time when he introduced Dr. Jane Goodall at Bass Concert Hall right before he died.”
Woody Roberts, a closet science fiction fan (as am I), had asked if I liked the work of Chad Oliver, a professor at The University of Texas, and I had written him back and copied Mike Ambrose. Mike’s response is above.
My response to Woody: “Odd, but I had trouble remembering his name these past few months. Too many other names have passed my way, I suppose. But I read Chad prior to entering The University of Texas. Got to meet him at some meeting on campus after he was teaching there. Him and his wife. Nice guy. Good writer. He was at the time working on a book about his home town of Crystal City, as I recall. Somewhere along there, I more or less stopped reading science fiction. I think it was after I discovered Bob Silverberg was writing all of each issue of Amazing Stories. That bothered the hell out of me! I never respected Silverberg. Jealousy, I suppose. At this time, about this time, I met Raul Cardenas in Papa Gallo on Sixth Street and wrote ‘Sixth Street’ and sold it to Manhunt. Raul took me to a party by some woman, about 40 years old, who was hanging on the campus. She was into avant garde magazines and had walls of them in bookshelves. Loaned me a book of plays by the guy who wrote ‘The Bald Soprano’. From there on, I was mostly into D.H. Lawrence, William Saroyan, Eric Maria Remarque, J. Frank Dobie and Montague Summers and Sabine Baring-Gould (these latter two for research; I especially recommend Baring-Gould for everything but his fiction; he was lousy at fiction). I liked Chad, though. Good writer. Nice guy.”
And, speaking of books, I had an email from Walt Pinto regarding my novel “I Love Radio” that featured life comments from about 50 good radio people.
Walt Pinto: “Bought the book two days ago ... about 40% so far. Absolutely great. One of these days I'll share a couple of radio/record stories. I seem to remember that you don't like phones, but prefer email. If you can spare about two minutes for a quick call, I have something you might be interested in. I'd be happy to call you. It's about a video about rock radio you might want to see.”
I’m sorry, but I just don’t do much phone. Had to talk to doctor the other day, but … I apologized via email to Walt.
Walt Pinto: “No apology necessary … I do that also … often. I'm going to have some sort of a procedure tomorrow. Had something unusual happen to one eye, and I'm going to see a specialist. Apparently I'll be out for a few hours. Nothing urgent to tell you, but it relates to something you might want on the subject of Rock Radio. BTW: Finished ‘I Love Radio’. So many things in it that are incredible. I was working at WDRC when Joey got fired for the mayor comment. He had called the mayor a ‘broad’ and was told not to do it again. So the next day, in his opening monolog over the theme, he mentioned the incident of the previous day and said, ‘No broad in office has a sense of humor’. That's what got him fired.”
Keep the Faith, Baby!