Monday, April 27, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 61r2

Today at 7:37 AM
April 27, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 61
By Claude Hall

Joey Reynolds sent along a link to a show featuring Willie Nelson:  “Hey, Claude, Willie looks older than us; that's cause he is.  Lots of mileage on the old salty dog, and Merle looks Haggard.  Art Vuolo went to the Joel Denver conference in LA, the thing that you started.  He was on the way to the NAB, I told him to bring a wreath for the death of radio.  Since you’re suffering from Dyslexia I know you are attending the NBA.  Buffalo was a home run … the weather was 75, a San Diego day.  The Don Berns Memorial was well attended in a Bowling Alley at a Church, he is a Jew?  You know Buffalo is a Polish city.  Danny Neverath, Sandy Beach and I treated it like a Friars Roast.  Thank GOD they didn't ask us to sing ‘Rats in my Room’.  We taped a one-hour TV special on Medical Marijuana featuring excerpts from my documentary iPot.  The audience came from radio and records, thanks to Rich Sargeant, the Cumulus station -- The Edge FM.  Thanks to Mike McVay, it will air on the first of May.  The Buffalo Broadcast Association gave me a standing ovation.  I told them there was a key to a new car under one of the seats like Oprah.”

Ah, Joey.  We had some great times, eh!  Remember camping in 29 Palms when we took our kids and babysat the McAdam kids?  And how do you tell a movie star like Heather to go off out in the brush, but watch for rattlesnakes?  Just FYI, I didn’t start radio programming conferences.  The first and second were produced by Todd Storz and Bill Stewart, then Bill Gavin backed a conference in Las Vegas organized/directed by program director George Burns.  I was there.  At the Riviera ($11 a room).  Interviewed Tom Donahue.  Somewhile later, I did the first of ten conferences.  First was in New York City.  Gordon McLendon, Ron Jacobs, Art Linkletter, and George Martin were on a keynote panel.

Larry Cohen:  ln response to Bob Sherwood's tyrannical tirade blasting the R&R H.O.Fame executive body of directors in their lack of recognition of CHICAGO, their long and over due recognition of an ailing Linda Ronstadt & the inclusion of a scrappy ABBA whose admittance to the R&R Hall of Fame raised many an eyebrow including mine.  But CHICAGO is not the only orphan on the outside looking in … PHILADELPHIA has long been ignored (with exception of Hall & Oates) and runs a close second to the mighty horns of Chicago.  Also missing I believe are Gamble/Huff & Phila. International Records which Kenny & Leon sold the entire package (this I've been told by a good source) for 600 mi$$ion 'Philly cheese $teaks.'  Were you at Columbia at the time P.I. was blazing hot?  And then there is the iconic songwriting duo of Linda Creed & Tommy Bell … do you know of their collaborative achievements re their song writing million sellers?  And how about the life long partnership song writing duo of David White & Johnny Madara?  Besides being the leads in Danny & The Juniors & also writing ‘At the Hop’ (which is still being played world wide)for the group, there was Len Barry's ‘1, 2, 3’, Lesley Gore's ‘You Don't Own Me’ & a slew of other big selling 45s. (And to the younger streamer's, I am referring to vinyl & not the gun.)  A young Madara also signed a young musician years back.  His name was Leon Huff.  If Atlantic Record's Percy Sledge was inducted into the Hall for just one hit single, ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, shouldn't those mentioned above receive consideration?
CHICAGO is not the only orphan left behind.  Philadelphia is a close 2nd.  Great article, Bob.  Keep writing.  I think that Philly's Stylistics have been inducted.  And if not, they should be.  The majority of their hits were written by Thom Bell & Linda Creed.  Linda was also the co-writer & lyricist for Whitney Houston's biggest hit, ‘The Theme From the Greatest’."

Ah, Larry.  You mention Philadelphia and I can’t help but remember Reggie LaVong … one of the greatest voices in radio!  A few years ago, one of his daughters contacted me for information about him.  Last time I talked with Reggie, he was operating a limousine service.  I always had a special place in my heart for the music and radio people of Philadelphia.  Georgie Woods, Hi Lit, Harold Lipsius, Dick Carr, Dean Tyler, just to name a few … ah, ah, ah!

Morris Diamond: Joey Reynold’s remark about the sign in the men's room in KOA, Denver ‘Please Flush the Toilet’ just reminded me of a sign I have hanging in my guest bathroom given to me by music maven, Tom Bonetti, which he lifted during one of the MIDEM conventions in Cannes … Tom and I generally roomed together at this convention: ‘il est interdit d'uriner sure le mur’.  Very simply, please don't pee on the wall.”

Andy Hall did a review of Joe Goodkin's ‘Odyssey’ CD.  “Joe Goodkin is a Chicago-area musician touring the country presenting his interpretation of Homer's ‘Odyssey’ in music form.  His normal market consists of schools and universities, often playing for scholars of the classics.  One would think that his audience might be stodgy academics in tweeds, but his ‘folk opera’ is a acoustic rock song cycle worthy of Pete Townsend with some great rhythm guitar riffs, and singing reminiscent of Dave Matthews.  Influenced by Led Zeppelin, Cream and other classic rock artists, Goodkin has merged the classics with the classic rock, and we might even say the classical as he has some training in classical guitar.  The songs are catchy and cover the main themes and story of Odysseus' journey after the Trojan wars ... not covering everything, Goodkin can perhaps expand in the future the 30 minutes to an hour or hour and a half.  He could cover the sirens or the cyclops and make this into a full rock opera production.  Still, catching Goodkin live is the way to do it, and if anyone out there wants to hear samples of his intriguing work, check out his samples on his website at  Invite him to your school, help get him a gig.  You will definitely enjoy the journey.”

They pulled the plug on Bud Dain.  He’s gone on.  We come, we do, we go.  Lots of comments floating around, including this from Jerry Sharrell:  “I’ll be doing a tribute to Bud Dain on my show … Sunday 2/26/2015 between 10:10AM and 10:25AM … 88.1FM KJAZZZ.  See youz guys Friday at St. Mel’s at 2PM. PS.  Eddie, you might want to tell the girls.”

Bob Sherwood regarding Bud Dain: “Bob, I am truly sorry for your loss.  I met him a number of times over the years and felt we had a good relationship.  Especially after I left radio and he didn’t have to call direct or indirectly to chastise me for not playing enough Jackie De Shannon or other Liberty or UA Records.  Prayers and candles will follow.”

Larry Irons of “Number One Songs”:  Hi, Claude, I have a couple of comments about your commentary of Monday 4/20.  First, I want to tell you how I look forward to your posts each week, and wish (for selfish reasons) that you were not going to retire.  Second, based on your review, I immediately went to and ordered Bobby Hart's new book, ‘Psychedelic Bubblegum’.  I am a long time fan of his and am very much looking forward to reading it.  I also was trying to find ‘The Disc Jockey Cookbook’, but could not find where I could purchase a copy.  As the author, can you direct me to where I might obtain a copy?  I am a collector of cookbooks, and have myself written and published two cookbooks: The ‘Bizarre Chef Recipe Collection’, which is semi-autobiographical with lots of recipes named after famous songs or artists: ‘Do Wah Diddy Ziti’, ‘Papa's Got A Brand New (Brown) Bag (Sandwich)’; ‘Harry Nilsson's Favorite Cake’ (a lime & coconut concoction), and ‘John Denver's Favorite Peach Cobbler’ to name a few.  My second cookbook is titled, ‘The Home Chef ... Learn To Cook At Home With A Le Cordon Bleu Trained Chef’, which was written directly from my 19 Le Cordon Bleu notebooks.  (I graduated summa cum laude from Le Cordon Bleu Las Vegas in 2006).  Both of these books proved to be an insurmountable marketing challenge because of their length (1,816 pages & 954 pages respectively) meaning they had to be published on CD and viewed on a Windows platform computer.  Also ‘The Home Chef’, contains 19 video chef demonstrations, which presents a bit of a challenge for a traditional print book.  I greatly appreciated Woody Roberts statement with regards to creating a cookbook about testing and proofreading, as in my 'paella’ recipe I call for ‘1/2 Frozen Peas’.  Somehow the word ‘cup’ got omitted and no one caught it.  Lastly, I am also the author of ‘Number One Songs - The First Twenty Years’ (not a cookbook) which is doing pretty well both on my website and on, thanks in great part to the endorsements of Steve Resnik, Dave ‘The Duke’ Sholin, Shotgun Tom Kelly, Jon Zellner, Guy Zapoleon, Sean Ross and more, including your son Andy!”

I will email a copy of “The Disc Jockey Cookbook” to you, Larry, compliments of myself, Jack Roberts, and Lee Baby Simms.  Anyone else wishes a copy, the price for a pdf copy for your laptop is $10.  There is no printed version, although Don Graham had a copy printed for me and one for Jack Roberts.  I conceived the cookbook to raise money so that Jack Roberts could take a taxi to the free medical clinic.  This was after he had to borrow $25 from Don Whittemore for a trip.  Previously and continuously, he was driven by Don Graham.  Which is just one of the thousand reasons I love Don Graham.  Make that a thousand and one reasons.  Just FYI, Jack shared enough of the enormous bounty so that I could take Barbara for eggs benedict at Silver Sevens here in Vegas.  Eggs benedict there are cheaper and better than anywhere else in Las Vegas and I have been known to go ape over eggs benedict.

Morris Diamond to Roger Carroll:  “Didn't know if you were serious when you noted in Claude's Commentary this week  that you know Bob Fead and Don Graham … but who is Morris Diamond?  Of course, I don't have the notoriety as do Don & Bob – but I would appreciate knowing your thoughts … unless your memory is shot and don't remember me from KMPC days.”

Roger Carroll was ribbing you, Morris.

Ken Kotal: “Don't know if this is worth passing along or not ... but I figured I'd send it anyway.  Haven't read Bobby Hart's book yet ... but I did have the opportunity to interview him a few years back for a special series I put together for Forgotten Hits.  Interested parties can check it out here: “

Bob Barry: “Congrats to Clark Weber on his Hall of Fame induction and all the best for him in retirement.  He was one of the hardest working guys in the biz.  I’ll never forget when I was a young jock, just getting started in Milwaukee.  Clark quit his radio job here and moved to Chicago.  He asked me to fill in for him, dj-ing at a party.  He gave me a box of records and left.  This was my first experience doing a bar mitzvah and it was tragic.  The 50-plus kids said; ‘who are you?  We hired Clark Weber!’  His velvet tones will be missed by many.”

Joe Maimone Jr., director of sales, Billboard:  “Hi, Claude, I'm glad I found you!  Give me a call to catch-up.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Warmest regards.”

I wrote Joe and thanked him for his note.  Asked him how he’d tracked me down.  Wrote him: “I don’t do much phone these days.  Sorry for that, Joe!”

Later, Joe Maimone Jr.:  “I was looking through some old Billboards from the 70s.  You always gave my Dad much love in your columns.  Just wanted to reach out and say HI from the next generation of Maimones!  I’m coming to Vegas in September.  Hope to meet you then.  Be well.”

Some of the best people on this planet were in record promotion.  Including your father and people such as Jan Basham and Frank Mancini.  Lord knows, I could list a whole bunch of names!  George Furness, Tony Richland, etc.   Record promotion people were a phenomenal source of information for me.  When I broke the exclusive page one story about WHN in New York City going to a country music format, I learned the information from a record promotion person.  Even scooped the New York Times!  The relationship of promotion person to radio has not always been one way.  Joe Smith stumbled into Los Angeles after leaving Boston radio and it was Gary Owens who helped him land a job at Warner Bros. Records where Joe, as you well know, worked his way up.  GO told me this story one day on a basketball court in the San Fernando Valley.

Ron Jacobs:  “Well, maybe I could run a board as a young man, but I can’t keep a URL straight!  Here’s the CORRECT KKUA link:
Shot by Joan of Videololo.  Now in UH archives.  Howzit.  If you ever listened, here’s a backstage peek of us cooking in the kitchen with Jimmy Borges and Steve ‘Green Gopher’ Komori.  RUNNING OWN BOARD, folks.  If that crap can qualify as ‘electronic equipment!’
Coming up on 40 years ago.  On April 27 it will be 50 since we signed on 93/KHJ in Boss Angeles.  Where the world’s greatest board ops ran the gear.”

The Three Mesquiteers flourish, if weakly, sans Lee Baby Simms.  Woody Roberts:  “We'd have a lot of fun with this -- Lee's australopithecine diet would upstage the Bush man :)”

I’ve heard from John Long that Sam Hale is in hospital and pretty low.  Sam has suffered from Sudden Death Syndrome for years.  A great radio man years ago in Nashville and then Atlanta before he got into the stockmarket field.

Mel Phillips:  “No one writes 'down home' like my friend Claude. Your style of writing is a treasure and I look forward to each new Commentary.  Can I get an Amen from your readers?  Thank you....  Your mention of George Jones brings to mind a visit the Epic Records crew made in the mid-70s to Tammy Wynette's home in Nashville.  At the time her on-again, off-again relationship with George was off - the charts.  Tammy told us that she had the hardest time hiding the car keys from George who had lost his driver's license for obvious reasons.  One night she was convinced he would never find the new hiding spot she discovered.  In mid-conversation, George disappears and Tammy is convinced he won't get far without car keys.  She hears a motor rev up, runs out of the house and away George goes - on a John Deere tractor.  He didn't get far, getting pulled over by a state trooper....  On a serious note, I wish the best for Bud Dain and hope he recovers fully. It was always a treat to get a visit east from Bud. I could just listen to his stories of meeting Jackie DeShannon and Omaha forever.  He was always a gentlemen, no hype, no hustle.  Just Bud.  Get well soon, my friend.”

Thank you for the note, Mel.  I went ahead and left the bit about Bud in.  He’ll enjoy reading it.

More Bob Sherwood:  “I was having some musings with fellow musers who all played R ‘n R records on the radio in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and we were cataloguing the men who produced the greatest records during that period.  We did the obvious: Phil Specter, George Martin, Phil Ramone, Peter Asher, Arif Mardin, Lenny Waronker, Quincy Jones, Billy Sherill, Mutt Lange and a couple of the people that you regularly edify, inform and entertain in your weekly missive.  It was only when I was listening this weekend to a couple of CDs from the period by Simon & Garfunkel that I was re-awakened to the brilliant and creative productions of Roy Halee that were the signature of every S & G record we played on the radio.
Beyond Paul’s writing and Artie’s gorgeous vocals there was that incomparable SOUND.  I’m just sayin’.”

Morris Diamond:  “I have attached a foto that I finally found of Bill Stewart … this was at some event … L-R Bill Stewart, me, Telly Savalas & Mac Davis.  It's the best that I could find of Billy … do with it as you please.”

Funny thing, Morris, is that I believe this photo was printed in Record World.  Whoopee!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 60r2

Today at 8:56 AM
April 20, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 60
By Claude Hall

I recommend without reservation the book “Psychedelic Bubble Gum” by Bobby Hart with Glenn Ballantyne.  A superb book about a generation that many of us experienced.  And some of us enjoyed.  Fascinating.  Revealing.  Power-packed with inside information about the music industry.  From WWW.SELECTBOOKS.COM

Last week, I hadn’t finished the book.  A few pages to go.  I read slow these days.  I wrote about it because I didn't want to wait.  I’ve subsequently written Bobby Hart via his friend Don Graham and apologized for short changing him in my review.  So, here we have a two-part book review.  Probably the first such.  Hart was kind enough to send me a thank you note for the first installment.

To be frank, I’m still reading the book.  I’m currently nearing the end.  And, frankly, the more I read this book, the more I’m impressed.  Bobby Hart, a phenomenal songwriter and performer, has written a magnificent book.  A book that you should read, a book that should grace your bookshelf in the living room.  A book that should be in every library – college and city.  A picture of Johnny Holliday is here, Don Graham permeates some of the book.  Wes Farrell (poor Wes; Hart mentions his marriage to Tina Sinatra but stops there).  Lester Sill.  George Goldner.  The tale behind the Monkees.  And the venture of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart on their own through their breakup.  As I said, I’ve always enjoyed their songs.  Now, I’ve been enjoying their life.  And it’s a damned good read!  Great on you, Bobby!

Regarding my “water” story in the previous Commentary, this from Joey Reynolds:  “There is was a sign in the men's room at KOA in Denver.  Please flush the toilet.  LA needs the water.  I know, cause I put it there!”

Frank Shively: “Hey, Claude, about the water redistribution. Might be cheaper for the coastal states to do some desalination and not mess with other folks.  Had they started desalination years ago, water would not be the problem it is today.  The newsletter is great.”

Catalina Island off the coast has a water desalination plant and so does/did the town of Santa Barbara north of Los Angeles.  Don’t know if the plant in Santa Barbara was ever used, but ….

Don Imus: “A wonderfully written essay on water and other matters.”

Whups!  You know how it was: people expected to laugh when Bob Hope said anything.  You say something, Don, and I shake my head and clean my ears.  One thing, though, I’m grateful to hear from you.  You are one of my barometers of reach.  When I hear from you and Don Whittemore, hey, I figure I’m doing pretty good.  Look!  Hey!  I have readers!

Bob Sherwood:  “Dear Kindly Ol’ Uncle Claudius, your essay about the America that you (and I) love is absolutely spot-on!  Instead of wringing your hands and saying ‘there is no Climate Change, we just need a little water’ -- Yeah! just like Custer needed a few less Indians.  The problem in this country -- with all due respect to our President -- is, there is NO Leadership!  You know who would’ve gathered the brightest minds and come up with a workable solution and implemented it in spite of a ‘do nothing’ Congress like we have today?  Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
And who else?  The man who become the most inspirational figure since FDR himself for several generations of American’s and peoples throughout the world … John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  And then the man who delivered on JFK’s vision, your fellow Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson.  While he didn’t exactly portray an acceptable Jeffersonian image and will sadly be remembered for his tragic handling of the Vietnam War, his legacy should be about his skill as the Master of the Senate.  His focus, drive and unmatched political maneuvering produced the greatest improvement in social conditions for the dis-advantaged in the nation’s history.
And then there’s the Civil Rights Bill and the absolutely unprecedented Voting Rights Bill.  We could spend a week discussing that puppy.  So listen … if you’re gonna’ run, please lemme know so I can change my support to you and contact everybody I know.  No, no.  Don’t thank me.
When you’re in just consider me for Head of the FCC.”

Larry Cohen:  “In response to Bob Sherwood's 'wish list' of personal political preferences addressed to ‘Dear Uncle Claudius, etc…’ I found his piece of journalistic excellence to be:  Observant.  Opinionated.  Open-minded.  And like Oscar Robertson, The ‘Big O’ of the old NBA Cincinnati Royals, OUTSTANDING!”

I, too, like the way Bob Sherwood writes … and thinks.  All of those guys who worked at KROY in Sacramento, CA, were pretty bright.  Musta been something in the water.  Maybe someone was spiking their Coors.

Robert E. Richer:  “A gentle reminder:  When you state that all of these developments should be funded ‘by the government’, please remember that you and I ARE the government.  The Government is not some big pot of money in DC.  The Government is supposed to spend only what it takes from you and me (and what it short-sightedly borrows from China, of course).  What really should happen in the water situation is that every user of water should pay for it … at market rates.  That would certainly raise the price of lettuce, almonds, cantaloupes, etc., but wasting water would become a thing of the past, and even with lower snowpack in the Sierras, we’d see those reservoirs start to refresh themselves in short order.  Las Vegas gets most of its water from the once-mighty Colorado River.  So does Los Angeles.  Even with the pending battle over water between LA and LV, hotels keep being built in LV as though water availability was not even a consideration.  Mr. Wynn, if you want to build another hotel in Las Vegas, be prepared to factor a considerable fee into the room rate for water.  And show it on the bill.  Maybe even meter each room’s use of this precious resource.  Installing a filter, such as a Brita for about $25 would remove all of the chlorine taste from your tap water.  It could save you a small fortune in the cost of bottled water, not to mention the environmental disaster created by all of those plastic bottles.
Here in Connecticut, we’re lucky in that we have our own well, and goodness knows, we’ve had more than our share of snow and rain this year.  Rain forecast again tomorrow.”

Just noticed today  (4.17.15) in Yahoo that William Shattner wants to build a pipeline from Seattle to California and Lake Mead.  My idea is better, I think, because it handles eastern floods and mid-western drouths.  The government operates on taxes.  It has never spent exactly what it takes in.  More people at work equals more governmental income in taxes and, thus, the capability to fund national communication lines for travel, water transportation, electricity transportation, etc.  Just FYI, Robert, we have the PUR device at the Hall House … and still buy bottled water.  Doesn’t everyone?

Don Graham:  “Claude … we got word that Bud Dain was walking across the street and got hit by a car last Monday night 4/13 …taken to the hospital.   Sustained very severe injuries … in a coma and the hospital tells us they are not permitted to release any information regarding his status ... Ed Dejoy and Jerry Sharrell have been in to see him and tell us it’s extremely critical.  All good thoughts for Bud.  Be well.”

Please keep us posted.  Bud is a good man.

Woody Roberts:  “I don't know if during your 1950s UT days Kenneth Threadgill's gas station beer joint was one of your stops.  It was on the outskirts of town on North Lamar Boulevard on the way to the Skyline Club that hosted Hank Williams, Elvis, Johnny Horton and others.  Kenneth became a mentor and the encourager of Janis Joplin when she was at UT and part of the Waller Creek Boys, folk music regulars who played for fun and passed the hat at Threadgill's.  She had been voted Ugliest Man on Campus.  Pretty cruel.  Kenneth told her to let it go and belt it out.  Well, you can see Mr. Threadgill by queuing up to 3:05 on this video:
“Here is Janis with the Boys at Threadgill's in early 1963:

“PS, Guys, I know I'm overloading both y'all with email but be assured I am trying to break the habit that I built last three years with Lee Baby Simms, we sometimes emailing back and forth multiple times per day.

More Woody:  “Funky ABC video but good enough peak into the past --

“One day the 'Dillo will be in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame.  I put three years of my life and money into its ten-year run, it was the era when we created the Lone Star Beer Longneck campaign that 25 years later added the word ‘longneck’ to Webster's Dictionary ... and we helped start ‘Austin City Limits’ TV show as a consultant on the two pilots, now the longest-running live performance show on television.  Even though the hall is today a legend I consider the venture a failure, I was shooting for national radio TV syndication and a record label.”
Janis singing at Threadgill's with Waller Creek Boys early 1963 (Powell ST, John on harp) --

Don Sundeen  ”Bob Shannon asks 20 Questions of Ira ‘Eye’ Lipson, creator and programmer of the great Dallas, underground radio station KZEW, (The Zoo) that is currently celebrating its birth 50 years ago and fondly remembered by folks who loved it.  Lipson took advantage of the emerging FM band and the hip music available on long playing records to create something very different from other stations of the day.  The Zoo reflected the emerging youth culture with laid-back jocks playing a wide variety of artists and genre. The branding of the Zoo was brilliant, listeners were: ‘Zoo Freaks,’ proudly displaying the Elephant Radio logo on the cars and vans they drove to Zoo events: large gatherings for community charities, and Lipson’s greatest idea, ‘Zoo World:’ a weekend showcase of lifestyle choices and live music that drew huge crowds. In the TDR piece, Shannon asks Lipson thoughtful questions about creating The Zoo, his life, careers and memories.  The answers are interesting and sometimes surprising, as is Lipson himself.  If you're thinking of using the piece about the KZEW Reunion that I sent you yesterday, could you please correct an error? This is not a 50th anniversary, it would actually have gone on air in 1973 or 42 years ago. Apparently I misunderstood the information. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

My son John sent me one of the press tales of the Gary Owens memorial April 12.  Lots of people there, including Arleta, Gary’s widow, and Gary’s two sons, Scott and Chris.  Event was at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills.  Speakers:  Ben Fong Torres, George Schlatter, Fred Williard, Anne Worley, “Laugh-In” writers Chris Bearde and Allan Katz, former mayor Richard Riordan, Mad magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones, writer Ken Levine (Cheers, The Simpsons), comedian-director Howard Storm, Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall, documentarian Donna Kanter, writer-singer Monty Aidem (The New Laugh-In), actress Jolene Brand Schlatter (The Ernie Kovacs Show), actress Jackie Joseph (Little Shop of Horrors) and actor Hank Garrett (Car 54, Where Are You?).

Don Eliot was by this past week.  Spent half an hour before he’d had enough of me and headed on down the road.  I really enjoyed his visit.  He’s supposed to be writing one or two of his tales up for Commentary.  It’s astonishing how, when you get two old radio or music guys in a room, the tall tales start to flow.  And they probably get taller with every telling.  And that’s how it should be.

Someone who refers to himself only as Bill:  “Love your weekly column. Keep it up, everybody I talk to from my radio days always mentions you. Enjoy not only the radio stuff, but the things that are on your mind are always interesting.”  Bill sent me a jingle about radio and I asked where, what?  Bill came back with the information that “It was part of the opening of ‘The Stan Freberg Radio Show’.  At the time it was too hip for the room.” And he sent me the whole thing.

Chuck Blore:  ““Where the heck did you get this thing (attached)?  That's almost fifty years old ... I don't even remember the stationary.  It's amazing how your fans like to hold on to things ... things they really care about and are emotionally connected to.  Of course you know that better than I do ... dont'cha?”

They’re not my fans, Chuck.  They’re yours!  Chuck refers to a statement I attached last week of a rather ancient invoice sent by his commercial production firm in Los Angeles.  It was sent to me by either Larry White or Bob Skurzewski.  I think.  I apologize for not knowing exactly who sent it.

Chuck Blore later:  “f you want to hear some radio jingles (I never called them jingles, to me they were songs) I have plenty...some even with big stars; Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, etc.  Lemme know, they are fun to listen to.  Bless you, my friend.  Make that my old friend.”

Roger Carroll:  “I know Bob Fead and Don Graham.  Who is this Morris Diamond?”

Woody Roberts:  “Since you assembled a famous cookbook....
Lee Baby Simms would have rebelled.  The strangest project in my 40-year career as a media consultant was to oversee creation of a cookbook.  Whew!  It was not a lot different than producing a chemistry book.  Every recipe had to be closely examined by a chef and tested, proofreading won't do it.  A simple typo can transform a teaspoon into a tablespoon or sugar into salt.  In fact, the first edition had too much salt in the cornbread.”

Hah!  Check a recipe?  Not on your cottonpickin’ toenails!  “The Disc Jockey Cookbook” assembled by me and Lee Baby Simms was a labor of love.  I still get a kick out of it.  And, furthermore, I cooked up a batch of Lazy Man’s Chowder just yesterday.  Gone in a flash!  I managed to get the last cup.  Only because I’m fast!

Clark Weber: “Bob Hope said the time to get off the stage was when you could still hear the applause from your dressing room.  At age 84 it’s time for me to step away from both the mike and the podium.  Know that your help in what was happening in the world of music helped immensely therefore you’re a part of this award.  Thanks.”

And Clark attached a note from Dennis Lyle, president of Illinois Broadcasters Association, to the effect that Clark Weber has been inducted as a member of the Hall of Fame for the organization.  Clark will be honored June 16 at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Normal.

Great on you, Clark!

Bob Sherwood:  “Claude, I send this FYI after hearing Scott Shannon’s quite righteous rant relating on Chicago not being in the R’n’R Hall of Fame on WCBS-FM on Friday morning.”

“Heard your comments about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame on Friday and you’re completely spot-on.  It started out fabulously but the last decade or so it’s been totally irrelevant.  The fact that Chicago isn’t in absolutely invalidates it.  If the late Terry Kath’s searing, crunching guitar isn’t rock and roll, I’m Little Peggy March.  And nobody is a more precise nor harder-driving percussionist than Danny Seraphine.  Apparently Chicago was too ‘jazzy’ with all those great horn players and such and they certainly can’t have that in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.  There’s not going to be any of that jazz stuff to water down our R‘n’R heritage.  Except maybe for Miles Davis, the purest jazz musician who ever lived.  He’s in. Chicago isn’t.  And the other outrageous example of the balderdash that controls the R‘n’R H of F is the fact that it took more than two decades after she was eligible for Linda Ronstadt to be ‘allowed’ into the Hall.  It’s clear that those gorgeous multi-zillion selling albums she recorded with Nelson Riddle, her album of her Mexican heritage and her starring in some live Gilbert & Sullivan plays in NYC invalidated her career as one of the biggest Rock and Roll artists of the ‘70s and early ‘80s.  Jann Wenner and the other esteemed Board members of the Hall must’ve been listening to news/talk radio during that time and didn’t hear that Linda and producer Peter Asher used what became the Eagles on those ‘70s recording sessions and they were her back-up band when she was playing in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans nightly.  But by golly the late Ahmet Ertugen was able to get Abba in the Hall years before Ronstadt or Neil Diamond!
Abba!  Abba got in early because they so represented the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, James Brown, Buddy Holly and the Rolling Stones.  AAAaaarrrggghhh!”

Good on you, Bob!  Just FYI, my son Andy told me yesterday, Saturday, that KISS was in the Hall.  And Bobby Vee isn’t.  I think someone should be tarred and feathered.  But then, I remember when George Jones used to do “Long Tall Sally” on the “Louisiana Hayride” live Saturday nights out of KWKH, Shreveport, LA.

Good be upon thee!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 59r2

Today at 7:46 AM
April 13, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 59
By Claude Hall

A lake at Merced, CA, is almost dirt.  A television news program a week or so ago showed water down to only 9 percent of capacity.  A couple of very nice houseboats sat high on what is now a hill.

You see Lake Mead on television, it’s a horror story.  You can tell where the water line used to be.  High on the bluff.  The Colorado no longer reaches the ocean.  All of its water is used up before it reaches the Sea of Cortez.  Mexican farmers scream for their share.  But it’s just not there.

Water in the United States has gone Gucci.  Comes in fancy bottles.  Even imported from Tahiti in cute little square bottles.  My wife Barbara would die of thirst if she had to drink water from the kitchen tap.  She doesn’t like the taste.  It’s guaranteed pure.  Doesn’t matter.  She doesn’t like the taste of chlorine.  It seems okay to me.  However, we keep several cases of bought water in the house.

Meanwhile, in the middle of the United States, floods and snow storms go to waste.  The storms dribble, finally, into the ocean.  Our government should launch a national campaign to not conserve water, but to channel it to good use.  I visualize a series of communication channels coast-to-coast.  These “channels” would feature a huge water pipe for the transportation of water to where it’s needed, a belt of electrical lines, a super-speed, wide-track railroad, an eight-lane highway (each direction) and space on either side for the expansion of all of these and more.  The water would be used for corn in Missouri and wheat in Kansas and Oklahoma.  Once in Colorado, the water would be lifted and permitted to stream and river into the Colorado.  Fill up Lake Mead.  For farms in California, where there’s a desperate shortage, and around Mexicali.

Can you imagine a railroad onto which you could drive your car and enter a “hotel” room for the 150-mph trip?  A railroad train with a restaurant with picture windows?  Maybe even a gym.  A supervised playroom for the kids.

Considering the long drive in a city such as Houston to reach the airport, a train might be faster for a trip to Dallas.  In the old days, it took me 45 minutes from my door in Bel Air, Los Angeles, to reach LAX, park, and walk onboard my American Airlines flight.  Today, that’s impossible.  A train might be much faster for many destinations.  Especially if you wanted to go surfing in Pismo Beach.  Or take lunch in Splash where I recommend the clam chowder.

These communications channels would be bankrolled by the government.  Out-of-work people would now be able to pay taxes, buy food, medicine, cars, houses as they joined the workforce.  The manufacturing of equipment, handling of legal aspects regarding the acquisition of right-of-way, etc., and the end result of wages (i.e., spending on goods) would more than pay for the project in the long run.

As Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett envisioned huge channels on Mars in yesteryear’s science fiction, we, too, should envision channels on Earth … at least in the United States.  And the vision should be made a reality.  In my opinion, if we don’t plan for the future, we may not have one.

Woody Roberts to the remaining Mesquiteers:  “Fellow Mousquetaires, this is a long overdue Thank You note.  I doubt you can fully grok the enrichment and joy brought into my life by reuniting me with Lee Baby Simms.  The other day I was thinking of what my world, my sensorium entire, would be like had that not happened.  That priceless brief wink of time.  Although Lee and I never once talked on the phone or had a video call, the continuing series of emails back and forth were like the days of old and we discovered that neither of us had really changed our core personalities since our last meeting over the New Year’s holidays in 1976.  God, did we have fun on that totally gonzo car trip from San Antonio to Cleveland with The Baby at the wheel.  He was pleased to learn I still had a momento with my hickory walking stick that we selected and cut in Tennessee.  
“Our emails got kinda crazy over these past three years I truly experienced more joviality – to borrow a Mousquetaire word -- with him than any other time since our last great adventure.  So I have now this block of new memories that are all wonderful.  And it is because of you.  If Claude had not located my seldom looked at Gmail address where I happened to see the name of an old friend I had not heard from since my life changing thumb-out trip to Discover America (and myself).  In 1973 Lee had just dropped me off with backpack at north edge of Santa Barbara and pointed me towards Big Sur when none other than Mr. and Mrs. Hall pulled their car off to the roadside and opened the door and waved.  Perfect!
“Were it not for Claude Hall I would not have been on the lookout for email from Robert Weisbuch that likely I would have deleted as spam.  And were it not for ‘Dr. Bob’s’ prodding and his important book about the Hartford WPOP/WDRC ratings war Lee and I would not have started communicating.  You guys put two Old Friends together on a digital park bench to while away our years, share memories, but most of all play with each other in a way unique to us.  Emailed letters, pictures, links, exchange of gifts were perfect expressions for us hermits.  We used to argue over which of us was the greater hermit.
“So my gratitude for what you did is boundless, reuniting Lee and me greatly enriched our lives.  Lee hid the pain of his illness from me and when he cut off communications two weeks before killing himself I didn’t understand what was happening.  He planned it.  He wanted to leave the stage with everyone applauding and filled with memories of his totally unique spirit.  And now, after my initial shock and unbounded grief has subsided, I understand what he did and why he did it.  That his final words to us were a setup like he might do on his show: ‘No way, Jose, will I ever go back to Hartford!!!!!!’.  And then we never heard from him again.  He signaled the end, for it was our Hartford years that provided the impetus to form the Four Mousquetaires.  Now, we are Three and the glue holding us together has weakened.  I doubt if the two of you fully realize how much he cherished your friendship and truly admired your talents.   He felt honored to include you among his friends.  As do I.  Barbara Bodner formerly of WPOP said it best: ‘Lee Baby always knew when it was time to leave’.  And in the end, he did the right thing and even managed to increase my admiration for his spirit, his strength, it was the perfect sign off for Lee Baby Simms.  Finest thoughts always, and thank you.”

I, too, miss Lee Baby Simms.  I doubt there will ever be another like him.  Condolences to you, Woody, Dr. Bob Weisbuch, and to Lee’s daughter Kim and Lee’s grandchild.  And me.  To be without Lee Baby Simms is a pain that is difficult to endure.  I wish to hell that he hadn’t done it!

Morris Diamond:  “Good morning, dear friend, Claude.  So nice to hear from you – and Barbara.  Almost as heart rendering as the emails I get from my two daughters … one in Chicago & the other in Phoenix.   We speak often, but see each other yearly.  As a matter of fact, they, along with their husbands, and Alice and I are taking an Alaska 11-day cruise together the end of August and I can't wait.  Alice's son, Derek Penslar, is a professor at Oxford and we're going to visit him in late May for a couple of days and then spend a few days in London to see some old friends.  Thus far we are well enough to travel, and now you with your brand new foot should do the same … also bring Barbara along as well.  Happy to hear that your foot is all better … yesterday was my visit with my foot doctor … mainly to clip my nails and that made me feel in pretty good shape for an old varmint.  I recall Bill Stewart and my dealings with him were minimal – I couldn't recall any episodes that would be of interest to your readers  and that would apply to almost anybody that I knew from the '50s, '60s, '70s  -- other than Gary Owens, George Wilson, Martin Block, Robin Seymour – and, of course, Joey Reynolds and Morton Downey Jr.   My memory ain't like it used to be – thank heaven for Google on the internet.  In a day or so, I have some thoughts that I will write to you – nothing in particular – I marvel at your ability to recall so much of the past – the people, the events – and when I see a name in your weekly report that gives me a bit of a recall, I feel great and I thank you for the open letters that appear weekly.  Much love to you and Barbara.”

And much love to you and Alice.

Timmy Manocheo wrote regarding the passing of Stan Freberg.  He died on Tuesday in Santa Monica, CA.  He was 88.  “More sad news this week – the passing of one of the most enduring and recognizable voices of the last half of the 20th Century passed away this morning, at the age of 88.Stan Freberg was the voice of hundreds of cartoon characters in the 1950s, countless radio and television commercials of the 1950s and 60s – all around wit, humorist, writer, host and comic genius. Freberg was the Dean of modern Advertising … In the late 1950s he produced his own radio program, a sort of last-gasp of Network radio in 1957.  Only lasting 14 weeks, and without sponsorship, the show became the backbone for a number of comedy routines and something of an underground classic, prompting Capitol Records to release a ‘best of’ album in the early 1960s.”  Freberg classic: Lake Michigan is drained and filled with hot chocolate, after which a plane drops a 700-foot mountain of whipped cream and a 10-ton maraschino cherry. Some 25,000 imaginary extras cheer.

We come, we do, we go.

Bob Fead:  “Wonderful thoughts and comments about Herb and Lani … 16 years of my life were at 1416 N. La Brea.  They are truly very special friends.”

Don Graham was kind enough to send me a copy of “Psychedelic Bubble Gum” by Bobby Hart.  An amazing book by an amazing songwriter – Bobby Hart -- with Tommy Boyce.  Lord, but I still remember some of those tunes!  Songs you feel like singing.  “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “Last Train to Clarksville” and the entire Monkees story, the Brill Building.  Names from Bobby Vee and Snuffy Garrett to Wes Farrell and Don Kirshner and Lester Sil and Phil Spector.  Countless stories. I’ve always felt a little sad about what happened with Wes Farrell.  This is a book I shall personally treasure and “order” my sons to read.  John and Andy will love it.  A book I recommend if you’re interested in the history of the hit tunes of the 60s and 70s.  The industry and what made it tick.  Fascinating!  I knew some of the people and met many others in the book and believe that Barbara and I were in the A-frame mentioned for a party at invite of Mickey Dolenz.  Ron Jacobs, the Hawaiian guru who programmed KHJ in Los Angeles that helped make “Last Train to Clarksville” a national hit would love this book.  The book, written with Glenn Ballantyne, is published by Select Books,, at $26.95 US.  My sincere appreciation to Bobby Hart and also to Don Graham, America’s promotion icon.

Danny Davis:  “Love when you find those little ‘tid bits’ to close out the Commentary when ‘all ain’t happening’, Claudie! and if you’ll allow … New Year, Passover, Lenten Observance and all.  Take a moment to recall one of the goodest guys, I believe, EVER to ‘brighten the blogger’s lightening pathways … Jack Roberts!  Here’s to you, Jack.  And believe in brighter days!  Remembering well.”

Ken Dowe:  “Dear Claude Dallas, I would vote that you are indeed a historian.  But, you also are possessed of many assets that may be more evident to your myriad friends than you recognize in yourself.  You deeply, truly, care.  About most people.  And, you are a friend to even those who have few friends. You draw quite an eclectic crowd. That's not easy, Claude.  It's hard.  Very hard.  Yet, you do it with ease, and glide into many lives.  I think that is the other half of your personality, Claude.  Much of your time is generously spent in support of and appreciation of others. You are a historian, but you are a humanitarian as well.  You have an interest in art, music, Cowboy Poetry, politics, and science.  And, you possess intellectual curiosity.  How cool is that?  That is the definition of a Renaissance man.  And, that ... (in my judgment) is who you truly are.  My fan letter on Bill Stewart in a few days.”

FYI:  Ken Dowe has offered to send me his views on Bill Stewart and I’m looking forward to them!  I also thought I’d ask Morris Diamond.  However, Morris and lady Alice are just about to visit London, then cruise Alaska.  If anyone has any personal thoughts and/or opinions regarding Bill Stewart, I’d be interested in seeing them.  I liked Bill and Marlene.  Some have told me that Marlene was one of the most beautiful women they ever met (“I Love Radio,” Books).

Doc Wendell:  “I was mulling over the some of the anti-jazz propaganda going around lately, so I thought I'd address some of it in my new ‘Twist Of Doc’ op-ed piece.  Hope you dig it.”

I always look forward to your musical insights, Doc.

Woody Roberts:  “Took me quite awhile to remember the name of the long burst recorded at a SETI station in late 1970s, then my brain kicked in and said "Wow" --and that was it: The Wow Signal.  Here are the most recent updates on that decades old incident, Your son John may appreciate. 
And a SETI League report on the 72 second signal: 
Best wishes for you and Barbra and the "kids" on Easter Day 2015.”

Johnny Holliday:  “Forgot to include Sal's home address … wife's name is Carol Lee, 125 Grand Palm Way, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418.  I know she would appreciate hearing from Sal's many friends in the music business.”

Work on “George” has been slow.  For many reasons.  But I managed a few words this week.  Meanwhile, I’m about to install “La Tigre,” my recent western novel, with Kindle Books.  Price will be about $2.95.  I’m planning to also reduce the price of “Hellmakers” to $29.95.  My brother-in-law Richard Schwartz has given me a Kindle.  I will download my own books first, of course, then some free stuff by Edgar Rice Burroughs (yes, the Tarzan books) and H. Rider Haggard.  I read most of the Tarzan books when I was around 9-12 years old.  Would like to see if they’re as good as I remember.  Some of those old pulp writers were excellent craftsmen.  When I taught creative literature, I quoted from both Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, who happens to be one of my favorite writers, period.

BROADCAST EQUIPMENT FOR SALE:  INCLUDES VARIOUS TAPE DECKS, MIXING BOARDS, SOUND BOXES, PHONE DEVICES, ETC.  MUST SELL ASAP.  PLEASE CALL: 805-794-3924 or 805-653-1448  (Note, this came from a person I respect, but I can’t vouch for anything beyond that.  I’m not seeking advertising.)

May Your Week Be Kind And
Gentle And All You Meet
Wear A Pleasant Smile

Monday, April 6, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 58r2

Today at 9:27 AM
April 6, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 58
By Claude Hall

Woody Roberts, quail country, Texas:  “Howdy, Claude … there are four documentaries I believe anyone involved in Top 40 radio or the pop music business during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s otta check out.  In chronological order, the first is a doc produced by A&E Biography Channel called ‘Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'N' Roll’.  It is real hard to find but for awhile it's available on YouTube and here's the link -- https: //

“Next is a must-see for people involved in the southern California of '50s and '60s, it is called ‘The Wrecking Crew’ and can be found on Amazon and other services.  Third is ‘Muscle Shoals’, a film anyone in the business will more than enjoy.  And the hit-making ‘Sound City’ picks up in the 70s and beyond.  They're on DVD and can sometimes appear on Netflix.  Having been a documentary student, willing to bet I've watched a hundred music docs by now, there are some great ones starting with ‘The Beatles: The First USA Visit’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’ … and forward into 2015.”

Long before I heard Elvis Presley on his initial appearance on the “Louisiana Hayride,” I caught a live show in the baseball park south of the lake in Austin, TX.  Sonny James was the headliner.  Gene Vincent was also on the bill.  I would think that Vincent was shaking a leg, among other things, before Elvis shook a leg.

Tom Russell:  “Claude!  Once again I'm honored. What a great crowd of good people on your blog. This time I'm writing from a farm village in Switzerland, where my wife and I have a small place to chill out before we hit 33 dates in the USA in April, May, and June, with ‘The Rose of Roscrae’ tour. All dates are up on ... then in the Fall we do the UK and Ireland.  I was impressed that the great Bobby Vee is in your audience.  I'm a big fan, and also a Bob Dylan fan, and I know Dylan played with Bobby Vee a short while in the early days.  Pounding the piano.  I implied some of this in my song ‘Mesabi’, about Dylan coming from
the Mesabi Iron Range of Minnesota, where ‘the duck tailed boys from St. Cloud pounded out their chords of fame … and that Armory show
where Buddy Holly sang – ‘The Learnin' of the Game’.  (Before the plane went down.)  What's great about your blog is the feedback from folks who helped bring the great songs out to the vast public … back when every song was a revelation. Keep up the great work. Thanks!

Bobby and Karen Vee lived up the street from 2800 Moraga in Bel Air, Los Angeles.  For my housewarming party, I passed out flyers up and down the street under the belief that neighbors wouldn’t complain about the noise if they were there.  Either Bobby or Mickey Dolenz tuned my Goya G10 (later stolen in Enid, OK, along with another beautiful Spanish guitar; I’ve never been able to replace them).  Anyway, our kids played with the Vee kids and the families soon became good friends and still are.

Jay Lawrence: “Claude, I, too, would like to know where Bob Martin can be reached, also Jim Gallant. Two very important people in my career.  By the way, every time you mention L. David, he was probably the most important person in my broadcast career.  From Tucson to Los Angeles, to New York and finally Indianapolis.  Thanks.”

I believe this business – music and radio – is the darnest business for mentoring.  George Wilson always admitted to owing Jack Gale for his early radio gambits.  And Gary Owens once told me of how he helped Joe Smith get into the record business when he first arrived in Los Angeles.  Three men guided me during my early Billboard days – Music Editor Paul Ackerman, Talent Editor Mike Gross, and Coin Editor Aaron Sternfield.  All good men and true.

John Barger: “A column idea ... 10 outrageous radio urban legends (tall tales) still believed and repeated today.  Like who really invented Top 40 radio? ... even though all of us who worked for McLendon surely give him credit.”

I believe Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon must be given equal credit and I was told many times that there wouldn’t have been a Todd Storz and a Gordon McLendon without Bill Stewart, national program director under first one, then the other.

Clark Weber:  “Hi, Claude:  Wanted to give you and your readers the heads up on Ron Weisner’s new book, ‘Listen Out Loud!’  Ron, who at one time worked For MGM and Buddah Records back in the late 60s and early 70s, spins a great story about managing McCartney, Madonna and Michael Jackson.  The book foreword is written by Gladys Knight and is replete with the names of people and places from that golden era. I think you’ll like it, I certainly did!”

Joey Reynolds has a blog!  Really nice.  Lord, but how many years have I been a Joey Reynolds fan?  My wife, too.  And my three sons.  The first thing I can recall writing about him was in the one-shot magazine SoundMakers published by Billboard circa 1967.  I thought I was going to get sued.  But the first time I met him, as I recall, he wheeled his car into the curb of Sunset Boulevard, hopped out and introduced me and Barbara to his wife Carolyn and thanked me.

Dick Summer:  “Lots of talk about jazz in your Commentary today.  Good.  Barb and I saw Herb Alpert Friday night.  He's 80 years old, and all that wonderful experience glows.  He had a keyboard guy and a drummer with him ... and he had a musical hydrogen bomb with him that blew me out of my seat.  He worked the whole gig with a mute in his horn, and you could see that he was prodding the keyboard and the drums to step it up ... and oh my God did they ever.  Quick aside: In the early 60s, his A&M Records subsidiary (Omen Records) released an LP of the material called lovin touch that I was doing on my radio show.  It was moderately successful.  Herb told a story that puts it in perspective.  He said, ‘There was a musical group in the early 60s that wanted us to publish their stuff, and looking back I guess we should have signed them. They called themselves, The Beatles’.  (Win some/lose some as they say.)  Oh, yeah ... the explosion that tossed me out of my seat: Loni Hall is his wife of 41 years.  As you remember, she was the very excellent lead singer with Brazil 66.  She did a couple of numbers that sizzled.  But the thing that konked me was simply the way she looked at her guy.  The only other time a woman ever looked at her man like that happened to me ... a long time ago ... in studio 2B at NBC radio.  I hope every woman in the audience was taking copious notes.”

Sometimes, a man just gets enormously lucky and the right woman finds him.  That picture of you, Dick, and your wife.  Cute!  As for my Barbara, I’ve never been able to figure out why she married me.  She was Park Avenue.  And, though I professed to be a Mexican bandido, I was strictly a Brady redneck, now converted.

Lani Bennett, New Orleans: “Just one among many who so loved your Commentary!  Married to Buzz Bennett for about 7 years was my opportunity to be exposed to the most spectacular of industries ... the Radio & Music world.  I love reading all about the glory days ... and indeed, for all the crazy sex, drugs & rock & roll ... it was an era never to be forgotten. Thank you for all you do ... and for all who participate.  Lots of Love.”

True, this column is naught without you guys.  That’s why I love you all!

Ken Dowe:  “Sent this (Commentary) to my closest friend, 777 Captain who flies only internationally.  He's in Kuwait City now with protecting guards outside his hotel room. ‘I don't want an orange jump suit’.  You've hooked another fan for Tom Russell.  The reference to being homesick has to do the ranch house he built atop the highest point in Erath County, Texas, where the Hill Country begins.  Certified ... cowboy country.”

Dowe’s buddy emailed him: “I'm in Kuwait today and I have been listening to some of his music. Makes me more homesick than usual for ‘Quail Mont’ and the view off my back porch!”

Ken Dowe replied and copied me:  “Since you have been crying into your non-alcoholic O'Doul's there in Kuwait City, I thought I'd offer a professional hand and assist your selections of Tom Russell's Cowboy Collection of Song(s) of the West.  As you scroll through the iTunes Store, I suspect you'll find the following will take you straightaway to your West Texas mountain top.  These are my starters and there's not a single bad choice.  Not in order of preference, although I like best “Tonight We Ride (the theme of the Dumas Regulators).  I enjoy great ‘lines’ and lyrics.  Such as the beginning of a Hemingway chapter from ‘A Moveable Feast’: ‘The only thing that could ruin a good day was people’.  But, don't you hate how Papa H would run on and on?  So verbose.

“Tom Russell had a new fan from:  ‘Black Jack Pershing on a dancing horse’, ‘Hard luck's the only hand I ever drew’, ‘She was a debutant.  Now she's a penitent. On Ash Wednesday’,  ‘Holy people in an unholy time’, ‘We strayed a little too close to the edge.  We got burned.  Heading for the church at the end of the line,’ ... and others.

“Songs: ‘Llano Estacado’, ‘Love Abides’, ‘Katy’, ‘South Coast’, ‘Ash Wednesday’, ‘St. Olav's Gate’, ‘Claude Dallas’, ‘The Sound of One Heart’, ‘Gallo Del Cielo’, ‘Alkalai’, ‘Navajo’, ‘It Goes Away’, ‘Veteran's Day’ w/Johnny Cash, ‘Dance Hall Girls’, ‘Outward Bound’, ‘The Man From God Knows Where’, ‘Hallie Lonnigan’, and ‘Mary Clare Malloy’.  (These last two will put you in touch with your Scots-Irish blood.)  This is a good beginning.  I'll add more when I've tired others with these.  My friend Claude has mentioned several of that are his favorites.

“You're only hours from climbing into the Captain's seat of your 777, sandblasting away from Kuwait City, and back home.  No west-with-the-wind this trip.  Sorry.  Maybe you'll have time to get familiar with some cowboy songs and mentally prepare to be a ranch hand again ... for a few days, ‘where the west begins’."

And Ken Dowe signed his note to the Captain: Kit Carson.  And I wrote the Captain and Kit Carson and sent them “A Little Wind Will Blow Me Away,” which I always thought should have been No. 1 on the Hot 100 Chart.

Tom Russell, Switzerland:  “Claude. I love it!  Yes, I co-wrote ‘A Little Wind Will Blow Me Away’, with Peter Case.  I also co-wrote ‘Beyond the Blues’ with Peter Case and Bob Neuwirth (Dylan's old cohort).  Springsteen used to sing the song at song checks.  I got a very nice note from Springsteen once, beneath my door in Brooklyn circa 1995 … praising ‘Gallo del Cielo’, my song.  Never met him in person.  Dylan also digs the song … weird where songs will go.  Ian Tyson recorded it in 1983 … he's 81 years old now and just sent me a link to his new record coming out soon. He wrote the most popular song ever in Canada, ‘Four Strong Winds’.   We co-wrote ‘Navajo Rug’, which was a radio hit for him in 1987.  What's great is hearing back from these sage radio folks who are still moved by songs and songwriting … it gives me some hope!”

Jim Slone, Tucson:  “Ken Dowe mentioned Willie Nelson back in the 60s in the KLIF studio.  I was a DJ in Albuquerque in 1962 ... Willie came through town with Shirley Collie (ex-wife of Biff Collie, big-time DJ in Houston) ... Willie and Shirley had a record out on Liberty titled ‘Willingly’ ... went top ten … they came by KRZY and were promoting the record as well as their appearance at The Hitching Post (Glen Campbell's old stomping grounds).  Willie was all duded out in a skinny tie, nice suit, good haircut … reminds me of the Mad Men series.  He was looking good!  Willie and Shirley married in 1963.  Shirley passed away several years ago at age 78.”

Scott St. James: “Sweet column, but upon reflection, which of your Commentaries aren't sweet?  At this end I've been going through the toughest flu bug I've ever been hit with.   5+ weeks and counting.   And I'm not the only one in these here parts who's fighting the good fight.  The thing that's so great about your Commentaries is that we are given the time to smile every Monday.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to Number 58.”

Robert E. Richer:  “As there seems to be a more than average mention of Jazz in your current edition, I wanted to point out the recent passing of Orrin Keepnews, one of the great men in the field of Jazz records.  Orrin was partner with Bill Grauer in Riverside Records, which was instrumental in developing and recording some of the greats in Jazz, including Thelonius Monk, Chet Baker, the Adderly brothers, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, etc., etc.  I had the good fortune of being a small shareholder in Riverside, and also functioned as sales manager.  As a sidebar, for car buffs, we produced the great ‘Sound of Sebring’ records, but Orrin eschewed any involvement in that labor of love.  Los Angeles Times 3 weeks ago:
Orrin Keepnews dies at 91; Grammy-winning jazz producer, historian

Marlin Taylor:  “Regarding the Mel Phillips/WOR story ... when I arrived at WRFM in early 1969, I quickly learned a negative we'd need to address was the confusion between WOR-FM and WRFM.  Of course, the WOR call letters were legendary and well-known, even if the fame came from the AM.   Compare that to WRFM, which at the time was lodged at # 23 in the Arbitron, just ahead of WHOM-FM, which I believe was still airing Chinese programming -- yes, there were only 24 stations listed in the Big Apple Arbitron at that time.  Until our FM dial cards and word-of-mouth publicity about our improved programming began to make an impact, we carefully emphasized the ‘R’ in our call letters and our frequency, ‘105’.  There's another part of this story ... which I'll share at another time.”

Woody Roberts: “I remembered the room I was in on the day I heard Chad Oliver had died, but couldn't recall the year.  So looked it up.  Were it not for the web I would never be able to find this information:  Chad Oliver born in 1928 passed on in August of 1993.  His first novel ‘Mists of Dawn’ was published in 1952 and he had four other SF novels, last was published in 1971.  He turned to the western genre and had four novels published.  Won an award for ‘Broken Eagle’ and I recall how excited he was.  Here is a list, the last book was in the publishing house when he died:
The Wolf Is My Brother (1967)
The Shores of Another Sea (1971) -- first contact, anthropological SF.
Giants in the Dust (1976)
Broken Eagle (1989)
The Cannibal Owl (1994)
He also had three short story collections published.  Among the mainstream writers and self-professed literary historians in Austin, sadly, Chad Oliver goes unrecognized.”

Ah!  And no one remembers, I would surmise, Tom Lea and J. Frank Dobie, and Robert E. Howard and O’Henry (who has a “home” in Austin.  Barbara and I have visited the frame shack museum dedicated to O’Henry and the home of Mark Twain and his “study” in Elmira, NY, and the “grave” of W.H. Lawrence and the home of Louis L’Amour when he was alive ….

Bob Sherwood:  “OK, Kindly Uncle Claude … a mild rant to follow: go to your collection and pull out Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Feels Like Home’ CD from 1995 and listen to ‘The Blue Train’.  It is a great song fabulously performed and exquisitely produced by she and the brilliant George Massenburg.  It is a hit recording.  But, aside from a few braves souls at AC, it was never played!  The CD also contains a great version of Randy Newman’s ‘Feels Like Home’ and a special version of Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’ wherein she alters her voice to give the song a unique treatment.  And nobody heard it!  Because radio had decided she was ‘over’.  It’s been 20 years and I’m still pissed!  And then I recall that about 19 years earlier I was three years removed from radio and  # 2 in promotion at Columbia and we unbelievably blew one of the greatest rock love songs of all time ‘I Could Never Leave You’.  It also had a gut-wrenching performance by Mike Finnegan and we still lost it.  And with it, his pop career.  Thank God he made it in country.  Never mind.

I hurt – and hurt bad – when a great song doesn’t make it.  Sad!

Ernie Hopseker:  “I am quite happy that a Texan like Ken Dowe has discovered Tom Russell.  Those of us who have found him go through the musical transformation, and are never the same.  Tom is multi-dimensional, and don't get fooled by his country persona.  He embodies Charles Bukowski, Woody Guthrie, Ian Tyson, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and a plethora of multi-talented, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual poets and musicians.  He really is multi-national, living in Switzerland and El Paso.  His wife Nadine, is Swiss, but is also Doug Sahm's God-daughter.  His live shows are magic, and when he comes to your neighborhood, I recommend going to see him.  All I can say, is get to know his music, and then get to know Tom.  Buy every song you can find (Frontera Records), listen to them closely, and you will be transformed. I am happy to call him a friend.”

Ernie Hopseker, a veteran radio man, is the person who introduced me to the music of Tom Russell.  I will be forever grateful.  My son John A. Hall, Esq., caught his act once at McCabe’s in LA and is also a huge fan.

Don Sundeen:  “Couple of things.  Last week you mentioned that you'd heard that Ira ‘Eye’ Lipson was famous.  Indeed he was very prominent in AOR radio back in the day, because he created Dallas' iconic Album Rock, or ‘underground’, Radio Station, KZEW, ‘The Zoo’.  From its Elephant Logo to it's tasty music library, promos and great low key disc jockeys, everything Eye did was innovative and new on the nascent FM band.  There were certainly other stations in the country, like Tom Donohue's, KSAN, in San Francisco, with similar format's, but Eye's branding was ground-breaking.  KZEW bumper stickers were everywhere, identifying the car's owner as a, ‘Zoo Freak’.  All this took place barely a decade after the Kennedy assassination in a very conservative town. Coincidentally, there will be a gathering of folks from far and wide celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Zoo on Saturday, April 25th. It should be a great party, and my friend Eye Lipson will once again rule as the ‘Zoo Keeper’.   On another note, I'm happy to announce that Bob Shannon is doing 20 Questions with the great Ken Dowe on our blog, TheDonRocks, this week.  Ken's storied radio career includes being the top-rated morning man at giant Top 40, KLIF, Dallas, Programming Executive for Gordon McLendon's chain of radio stations, and owner of his own group of stations. Ken has had a successful and fascinating life, and Bob's probing questions can get very interesting answers. If you haven't sampled yet, this might be a good time to take a look.”

Bob Skurzewski:  “This is the invite that I got. I will not be there. Not because of Joey but other complicated issues. I hope somebody local will report. Art Wander might be there. Dan Neaverth may also be there. Knowing of Joey, he might even respond.  Danny Neaverth and Joey go back some with KB Radio and those cult following singles they on Swan Records.  Dan was 3 to 7 PM and Joey followed 7 to midnight.  The changeover they did each night has a cult following and people are always trying to find tapes of the adlib's they did. They were funny. I think I only have one and found it during a trade I made with somebody years back. I don't have all the air checks of Buffalo radio people but I do have a decent cross section of well known and unknown voices that came and stayed or came and went from Buffalo.  Stay well.”

Bob Taylor, Bob Taylor Voice Productions:  “I was an avid fan of Bob Skurzewski's Bflo-Off the Air monthly digest.  He told me about yours and suggested I talk to you about putting a blurb in it for me.  I and my partner and good friend Harv Moore formerly of WPGC in Washington, had a morning show at WPhd in Buffalo throughout the 80s named ‘The Taylor & Moore Show’. (  I'm still in voice over business and looking for something special.  I'd like to find someone (Old School probably) who could help me design and build a SONOVOX.  The voice changing device from the 40's and 50's that PAMS used in jingles back then.  I want to build one (or even buy one if there's one for sale out there).  I need to speak to an engineer / builder / designer who would be willing to help.  Please put me on your weekly mailing list, and if possible put my request in it when you can.”

Johnny Holliday, Larry Cohen, and I, a ragnot and a half, have been carrying on a cute diatribe about basketball.  No room to feature the stuff here, but maybe I’ll do a “special issue” or something.  All depends on time and energy.  Quien sabe?  The notice below is courtesy of Danny Davis.  Good on you, Danny.