Monday, May 25, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 65r2

Today at 8:20 AM
May 25, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 65
By Claude Hall

Foreword by Woody Roberts
I have many excuses for being out of touch, rain took out my DSL for days, and my dog ate the modem.  And even though I'm retarded, I mean ... retired (OK I stole that line from Gary Owens), every once in awhile someone phones so I recently got caught up in helping the Armadillo World Headquarters Artists with their poster auction and a close friend with some outdoor concerts.  I'd like to flashback to Commentary No. 61 and Joey Reynolds' remark: "Hey, Claude, Willie Nelson looks older than us; that's cause he is.  Lots of mileage on the old salty dog...." 

Well, speak for yourself Joey, t’was just the end of April Willie turned 82 and believe it or not I actually know a guy a tad older -- who also has a lot of mileage on him ;)  Speaking of Willie, I was there when he was born.  It happened in 1973.  I had just tossed away my radio career when I got a desperate call from the producers of the first Willie Nelson Picnic.  They were two weeks out and hadn't sold any tickets and a similar event with Willie in the same cattle pasture a year before had bombed big time.  This time Willie was paying for it and calling it his picnic and hired Armadillo World Headquarters aka AWHQ to produce it. 

RCA had dropped him and Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records had discovered Austin music and decided to open a country division.  He signed Willie and Doug Sahm and they got two albums before the country idea was dropped.  Wexler also recorded Freda and the Firedogs but never released their album.  Willie moved to Central Texas where he could work the country dancehalls that made him a lot of money and he then moved to Austin where he discovered the new cosmic cowboy/progressive country scene. He saw college kids and the children of his dancehall patrons filling nightclubs to see Michael Murphy, Guy Clark and Jerry Jeff Walker.  Willie already smoked pot and soon grew his hair and beard and got booked into AWHQ and came up with his picnic idea.

My promotion strategy was obvious by today's standards but a bit revolutionary 42 years ago.  I pulled all the ad money from country radio but for a three stations (one being the Bill Mack all-night show out of Ft Worth).  I wrote the ads, had them produced at San Antonio rocker KEXL-FM and put them on Top 40 and progressive FM formats.  Those DJs did not know Willie Nelson form Hank Snow.  I found out Leon Russell, who was trying to capture the country audience with his “Hank Wilson's Back” album, was going to co-host on the 4th but could not be advertised.  I put together a PR team and we continually worked Leon’s name through DJ word-of-mouth and album givaways and since Doug Sahm's Atlantic album had Bob Dylan on it, we simply told each radio station that as far as we knew there was no truth to the rumor Bob Dylan would be at the Picnic.  Well in week a Woodstock fervor had been stirred up and who knows how many really showed up that 4th of July as the ticket boxes fell early and security parameter was abandoned.  Estimates went as high as 80,000, ticket boxes went down at 17,000.  Willie found himself nationally launched to a new young record buying audience, but financially could only pay his Picnic co-stars like Sammy Smith and Kris Kristofferson $500 each.

Then I was involved in creating the pilots for PBS’ “Austin City Limits” and Willie was booked on both pilots, pre-his “Red Headed Stranger” LP.  In '78 Buzz Bennett contacted me to write a programming piece for the FRED annual so I wrote about this guy Willie Nelson about to burst on the pop music scene and interviewed him ... Willie had played a premix version of his soon-to-be-released Stardust LP for me, it went multi-platinum.  In 1986, Farm Aid II on 4th of July had huge equipment and VH1@ trucks rolling toward Austin and was one week out when Willie lost use of the UT Longhorn Stadium so was homeless, I got him moved to Manor Downs where Stevie Ray Vaughan's management company was housed.  Doz were the daze, my friend.

Attached you'll find a historic 1972 pre-Picnic poster of an AWHQ event with Willie, Steve Frumholz, Kenneth Threadgill, many others, for just $2.

More to come, on your wonderful books, etc.  Very best always to you.

Like quite a few others, Woody, I’m proud to have you as a friend.  Great item on Willie.  I received a phone call in the 70s from Jerry Wexler at the Billboard office at 9000 Sunset Blvd.  Like Jerry, my mentor had been Billboard Music Editor Paul Ackerman.  I think this gave me a bond, if feeble, with Jerry.  Certainly, I admired his music abilities.  Jerry said he was in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills and had some news.  I quickly hopped into the MG that I owned in those days (remember Gary?) and sped out Sunset and valet parked.  Jerry was with his wife Shirley and she was mad.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was probably trying to save her marriage.  Later, I saw Jerry with a young girl and figured Shirley had failed.  They were dining in the garden.  Jerry said he’d signed Willie Nelson to the Atlantic label.  “And I almost signed Waylon.  They are old dopers like me.”  It seemed that Atlantic was launching a country music division.  The manager of Waylon Jennings had fouled up Jerry’s plans by signing him again to RCA.  I was aware that Willie’s new LP was promoted mostly on FM.  Atlantic promotion men were constantly at FM stations.  My compliments, Woody Roberts!  As the world knows, the new image of Willie Nelson worked.  Just FYI, I reviewed the first couple of albums by Waylon and Willie.  I picked them.  But RCA wasn’t really aware of what they had, I guess.  I also picked the phenomenal “outlaw” LP.  Does anyone remember the third act on the LP?

George Jay Weinbarg:  “Hi, Claude!  I had an on-line chat with MG Kelly a couple of years ago.  He is still out in Los Angeles.  I presume you're talking about Gary Stevens/MG Kelly?  He's the same man and one of the original super jock staff from Lee Abrams' original ‘station that never was’, WICV in Chicago, along with Rob Walker, Gary Gears, Beau Weaver, Tommy Kramer and Jim Channel.  Sonny Fox and Don Cox joined us later when we took much of the staff to Cleveland and another John Tenaglia General Cinema Corporation station, WGCL.  I was Lee's national news director, and at 21 the youngest ND in the country at a major market station.  Lee tells the story here:”

Randy West:  “Just a quick note to tell you how thoroughly I'm enjoying your weekly radio roundtable and Commentary.  It's reminiscent of your Vox Jox, but with a greater depth and insight into our personal lives.  While I know some of your subjects (blame Joey Reynolds for me being in the biz!) at a mere 61 years old, the information on some of the icons in the firmament (Storz, Randle, McLendon, et al) is the kind of stuff I thirsted for as a young punk DJ, ‘spinning the tables and reading the labels’.  I encourage you to share all that early insight into the birth of Top 40; the minutia matters to us passionate ‘kids’ in our 60s!  Keep up the great work, and add my thanks to the chorus of appreciative voices!
P.S. Great photo of Don Graham (circa 1900!) today at - Don Barrett's great site.”

I saw the photo.  Great!  I started to steal it and then thought not.  But I was envious that Barrett had printed it.  Oh, well … as Gary Owens used to say.

Chuck Dunaway:  “Don Keyes was a great implementer of stolen ideas.  Don always said steal a great idea and ‘make it your own’.  He was quiet and one of the nicest Programmer’s I’ve ever encountered.  I don’t believe I ever got a critique from Don or Bill Stewart for that matter.  I last spoke to Don in Ohio about 35 years ago.  He had interest in a couple of radio stations in Ohio.  He was happy and I was about to leave Ohio to come home to Texas.”

Elliot Field:  “Be not in the dark re: Don Keyes.  Gordon was a great jokester. That takes nothing away from Don. He was loyal, courteous, kind, obedient, climbed more than one tower, played more than one station, ever ready, ever true and almost ever present.  Plus, who do you say drove?  Son & heir Bart?  Don't misunderstand.  I owe a great deal to Gordon.  I feel I brought a great deal to Gordon. ‘Billie, please page me at Love Field’."

John Barger: “Claude, I worked under Don Keyes my first stint with Gordon McLendon (as PD of WYSL in Buffalo).  Keyes was outstanding.  He understood how to transform Gordon's ideas into action, and Gordon never second-guessed him on the implementation.  It made for the perfect two-man team, and Gordon knew it.”

Jay Lawrence:  “I did afternoon drive for Don Keyes at KLIF.  When Buddy McGregor left for Houston, Don hired me from WIRL, Peoria, IL … Bill Morgan was manager at that time and each time Keyes left town to some other McLendon station, Morgan would fire me.  Keyes would return to Dallas and would rehire me.  Don had the trust of Gordon.  We all have Gordon stories from the ‘My Dog Buddy’ film to his film commercials which he wrote and produced and voiced.  I remember his favorite open, Dramatically, ‘her lithe young body’, etc., etc.  I'll also remember McLendon's election coverage.  He had a metal ashtray and a pencil.  He'd bang the pencil on the ashtray and yell ‘Bulletin, bulletin’.  I guess we could all write books about Gordon McLendon and L. David Morehead, two of the most important people in my broadcast career. By the way, I just finished my first session as a state representative here in Arizona and have been invited to do a weekly talk show on a regional network.”

A weekly talk show?  Great on you, Jay!  And great, too, about the political career.  Proud to know you!

Bob Sherwood: “For those who may not have have already heard, the legendary music-lover, record industry exec, exceptional human being and artist once known as ‘Smooth Lundvall’ has died.  As many of you knew Bruce suffered from Parkinson’s disease and had been in a special care facility for some time.  If there was someone more respected and beloved by those who worked for and with him the name doesn’t spring immediately to mind.  Respectfully, God bless you Bruce.”

We come, we do, we go.  A tremendous record man.

Bill Desing:  “Claude, I know you’re a fan of Frank Ward (as am I).  Listened to him along with Tom Clay, Bruce Bradley and Dick Purtin as all were Guy Kings at WWOL in Buffalo.  I think he influenced every young radio wanna be (even Joey Reynolds) He was smooth. Don't know if you have this or not but here is an aircheck. I have a few other samples from about the same time let me know if you want them.  I'm the guy named Bill who sent you the Stan Freberg stuff.  Keep up the good work.
Frank Ward – Guy King, WWOL

My sincere appreciation, Bill.  I am, indeed, a fan of Frank Ward … Barbara and I visited him and his wife at their new home in Connecticut.  Heard him on the weekend he sat in at WNEW.  Blended records so well!  I think the Magnificent Montague also had this talent, but not as good as Frank Ward.  Frank Ward was something else!

Chuck Chellman:  “Always good hearing from you and your friends, Claude.  I loved reading about Billboard’s Bill Williams … Audrey Williams was a complete other story … a real nutcase.  Going on about Bill Williams, I was doing independent promotion out of Nashville.  During a golf tournament, a tournament entitled, Chuck Chellman/Georgia Twitty Radio Invitational.  The tournament ran for 14 years.  All the big stars, too many to mention, played in the tournament.  No freebies.  Everybody paid so we could keep down the price for DJs who were on limited income.  About 10 years into the event, I decided to do a Country Music DJ Hall of Fame. The first person I spoke with was Bill Williams and later Don Pierce, owner of Starday Records.  Both agreed to keep it confidential and we met for an entire year before I kicked off.  It was, and still is, the highlight of the CRS … always sold out!  Radio disc jockeys built our industry.  Keeping with Billboard, the country charts were put together in Cincinnati where the book was printed.  Wonderful Bill Sachs was the Country Editor.  Legendary writer/band leader Pee Wee King (‘Tennessee Waltz’, ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’, etc.) and I helped Bill put together the country radio stations that would make up the chart. The country music chart also contained key record stores and one-stops … Billboard is still good today but lacks the charm of all you guys … Bill Williams, Paul Ackerman, Bill Sachs and Claude Hall.  I am also proud that I helped Bill & Janet Gavin compile the country stations for the Gavin Report.  The rest is history and I am so blessed to have known you all mentioned.  P.S. Radio today really sucks!!”

I printed a photo of Russ Regan, Rick Frio, and Pat Pipolo last week and heard back from Russ Regan:  “Claude, it was my honor to know you.  You were one of the top writers for Billboard magazine and you still have it,  I enjoy your Commentary every week, keep up your great work.  Much love and respect.”

Bob Piava:  “Loved reading about Mickey Addy.  He took me to dinner one night at Vesuvio with a couple he introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Mills.   The dinner was hilarious.  Mrs. Mills was a funny lady and she and Mickey traded quips all evening.  It was only after the Mills had left that Mickey clued me in ... Mrs. Mills was Edie Adams (ex-Mrs. Ernie Kovacs).  What a great memory.”

Timmy Manocheo:  “I went to that website that El Conejo wrote to you about last week, and immediately ordered his new LP release.  VINYL!  Can you believe it?  I'm ecstatic about this!  Not only is there a new record unearthed from the vaults of some record company, (Rhino or Atlantic, or whoever) but it's pressed on good old fashioned, supreme quality VINYL!  The website kindly sent me a status report for my order; they notified me of the special pressing they are producing exclusively for ME!!!  The album will be shipped shortly after Memorial Day.  ALSO, they sent me a link to DOWNLOAD the entire thing for FREE, just because they are such nice sweet fellows & gals, and they appreciate their customers.  I can hardly wait.  Jimmy Rabbitt & Renegade only released one solitary album, back in the mid-70s, it was on Capitol Records.  I was one of thousands who originally bought that back then.  It was & still is a classic.  Now, after all these decades, a second album.  I have attached a track (MP3) from El Conejo's newest release for you to enjoy, and share w/ whomever you like, so promo the hell out of it, Claude.  Yer pal in Cal.”

I always enjoyed Jimmy.

Ken Dowe:  “Hi, Claude … Thanks for the nice mention. I promised you a word about our mutual friend, Bill Stewart.  Your column came as my reminder.  And, please forgive, but even this treatise is a disservice to the man Bill Stewart was … to me … and to the radio industry.  First, with regard to Don Keyes, Don was close to Gordon McLendon’s age and they were pals.  He was winding down his years with McLendon not so long after I arrived during the early ‘60s and had been with Gordon almost from the beginning.  Don was a marvelous announcer and the two of them authored and recorded many of the great and iconic early KLIF promos.  Gordon was a network-calibre announcer, of course.  He could have done the nightly network news with the best of the most celebrated. I’d have put my money on Gordon in a race for who was best.  Don, was the perfect aide-de-camp in those early years.  He left McLendon on good terms to buy an AM, in Canton, OH.

“Most of those of us who date to the early years of rock ’n’ roll know the story of Todd Storz listening to jukeboxes in Omaha playing the same songs over and over.  Then, putting his radio station on the air after that lesson.  Nobody ever mentions Bill Stewart being there with Todd.  But, he was Todd’s Program Director and was Todd’s equal in the decision to convert KOWH in Omaha to all hits. KOWH was first to air Top 40 as a format.  Todd deservedly gets credit for being the first with the breakaway format on his station.  But, Bill was with him all the way.  Storz stations were highly popular all over the nation.  Bill was there.  The creators of Top 40 and rock ‘n’ roll radio were in fact a triumvirate.  It is reported that Todd invented it, and Gordon perfected it.  That is pretty much on target.  However, it’s not the (always untold) rest of the story.  Top 40 Radio was made whole from the beginning, and the third person of the trinity, was an outlier.  Bill Stewart.

“Bill was there when the new radio world exploded, and with Gordon (who hired Bill away from Todd) to add the contests, the bizarre promotions, as keepers of the flame that created a national world-of-mouth, with Storz stations succeeding wildly, and McLendon’s legendary KLIF quickly becoming the template of Top 40 and other McLendon formats.  It was no coincidence that the flamboyant style and confidence of the Storz and McLendon stations ... were shepherded by Bill Stewart.  I didn’t know Todd Storz, but I certainly knew of his success in market after market.  I know that Bill Stewart had a hand in that, and I know that Bill Stewart was invaluable to Gordon in helping create stations that totally dominated their markets.  Not just Top 40, either.  Number one legends like KABL, an outrageously successful San Francisco easy listening (AM!) had the mark from Bill Stewart’s early days at KLIF.  Just different music.  I could always hear Gordon and Bill even in that format during my business calls to KABL.

“I came to KLIF from Kent Burkhart’s remarkable WQXI in Atlanta in 1963, and stayed until I was hired by the ‘Living Legend’ Pat O’Day to work for him, Lester Smith, and Danny Kaye.   A year or so later, KLIF had lost their incredibly successful ‘Charlie & Harrigan’ morning show when Ron Chapman turned his radio successes into the same stardom on television.  Gordon ... and Bill ... had been attempting to create a new morning show for KLIF to continue Ron’s incredible achievements.  ‘What about Ken”? Bill asked Gordon.  Gordon’s response was, ‘I think we need two people’.  Bill answered:  ‘Ken IS two people’.  Which is how ‘Ken & Granny’ became a terrific experience for me, personally and professionally.

“Bill had guts, too.  I don’t know how many times Gordon fired him, but Bill never held back his opinions.  The best example I always use is the morning Gordon’s always volatile father (Mr. Mac) telephoned me after I had finished doing 3 hours on the air with Dick Van Dyke, then the nation’s #1 television star.  I was euphoric, until Bill, Al Lurie the GM and I were invited to depart the studio for Mr. Mac’s office.  He seated us, and began to glow red.  His almost dwarf-like bull dog appearance looking more and more like intentions to rip the three of us apart with his teeth.  Mr. Mac proceeded to reprimand me severely for ‘daring’ to put Dick on my show when he was principally in town to promote his movie.  I doubled down on my stupid gene and stammered that I had not realized the film was playing at a theater other than one of the Dallas McLendon theaters.  He went nuts.  Bow tie spinning, spit flying, with the filfiest language a drill sergeant ever screamed, after beginning with:  ‘You didn’t realize!!  You didn’t what?’  Then, in-between spittle curses he told me how much he and Gordon had thought of me, how smart I was, and then … ’To pull such a STUPID stunt’.  Then, he went for Al’s throat.  Another 5 minutes of ranting and raving, finishing up by saying he’d told Gordon that just because he was a Harvard graduate didn’t mean he had the brains to run one of his stations!  It was BRUTAL.  As the dust settled, and the steam was drifting out of Mr. Mac’s heated ears … Bill … bless his heart … and guts said:  ‘I still think it was a wonderful idea, Mr. Mac.  And, a tremendous show this morning’.   The old man locked eyes with Bill ... began sputtering nothings … then cursing ... unmercifully ... following his first insulting retorts: ‘YOU!  YOU!  (putting his finger almost up Bill’s nose)  I EXPECTED THAT FROM YOU … YOU STUPID S.O.B’.  Followed by more of the worst language I'd ever heard.  Then, ‘Get out! Now!  Get out of my building!!’  Bill put his hand around my shoulders as we walked up the street back to the KLIF studios, and said:  ‘Well, guess that’s it for you old buddy. That’s usually what happens after one of these tsunamis.  But, I gotta tell you … it was a helluva show this morning!’  Guts!

“And, I didn’t get fired. The old man actually loved me thereafter.  Maybe it was because a week later I ordered a hot dog eating contest at McLendon’s World’s Largest Drive-in Theater to break a Guinness record.  Mr. Mac stood by his car and said:  ‘Now, that’s using your head for something besides a hat rack, my boy. I want you take this ... and invite that pretty little wife of yours out to dinner’.  He slapped a hundred dollar bill in my hand, and I said: ‘Gee, thanks, Mr. Mac.  You don’t have to do that’.  ‘Don’t you tell me what I have to do!’  Still stupid.

“There are too many stories to attempt if I were to explain all Bill’s attributes.  First, he was not everybody’s cuppa tea.  He married Marlene, from New Orleans.  When I last saw her she was still one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known.  The first morning of the honeymoon, Bill told Marlene that he had one improvement he needed to undertake.  Marlene had a New Orleans accent.  Uh oh.  So, Bill hired a professional voice coach for her, and she still has voice as beautiful as is she. I told you … Bill never held back.  And, I said … he had guts!  He was extraordinarily intelligent and while he instructed much like your toughest college professor, he was certainly the finest teacher in the world.  EVERY morning part of my job was to have breakfast with him after my show’s completion.  At nine o'clock across the street from KLIF, where he gave me pop quizzes:  ‘Why did you not mention___?’  ‘What made you think ___ was funny?’  ‘While did you go on so long about___?’  ‘Didn’t  it occur to you that___?’  It was embarrassing and enlightening.  Also, humbling.

“Most of what I did and said after Bill left and Gordon took me off the air to become the Corporate Executive VP are direct quotes learned from Gordon and Bill, or I am paraphrasing one or the other.  No one did detail like Bill.  The immensely creative Gordon McLendon is the only genius I have ever known, but Bill and Gordon shared a mutual intensity and grasp for ideas, were each possessed of uncommon judgment, and both able to perceive and reason brilliantly.  To me that goes beyond the range and limits of IQ.  Memorize enough poems and the like and you’ll have a fine IQ.  The kind of intelligence Gordon and Bill had was that which I use to measure ‘smart’.  These really were, the smartest guys in the room.  The systematic instruction I received during the years I was fortunate to spend with them, certainly transcended any formal education I might have once thought superior.

“Sorry for the length, but Bill deserves far more.  Even a book.  But, mostly to be remembered in equal parts with Todd and Gordon.  Todd, Gordon, Bill ... the men who saved radio (from new and more exciting TV) and created radio ... as we know it today.  I knew Bill.  I was there.  As were you, Claude.”

Kent Kotal:  “If you haven't heard, Wally Clark ‘officially’ announced his retirement from "the public eye" this week at the ripe young age of 84.  We're running a short piece in Forgotten Hits today and would love to follow it up with a few comments and/or memories.  Feel free to pass this along in your newsletter and have interested parties contact me.”
Click here: Forgotten Hits

Jorj Bauer:  “Searching the internet for traces of my uncle – I am Marty's nephew, and am a photographic artist, based in Philadelphia – I stumbled across your Commentary from 2013:
Damned if that one quote doesn't fit him to a tee. I can hear it in his flat tones and see it with that wide smile of his.  Thanks for name-dropping someone that isn't a celebrity to most, but certainly is to me.  You gave me a great opportunity to reflect upon his character.”

Marty Iger was a good friend and a phenomenal photographer.  I still have a book or two of his photos.  He specialized in aerial work, but I have a book, I believe, of the life of ants.  He and Bob Curran, editor of Cavalier, were also friends.

Heard from Don Imus with a link to an appearance he made on the Letterman show.  Barbara and I taped Letterman’s last show and watched it the next day.  Great!  Next week, Irons and more!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 64r2

Today at 8:49 AM
May 18, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 64
By Claude Hall

A great while ago, I was en route from Los Angeles to Miami and what better chance to interview Gordon McLendon, right?  I was picked up at the Dallas airport by Bart McLendon, now a multibillionaire “chauffeur.”  He was very pleasant.  And so was Gordon.  He maintained an office in the building where he also operated a movie theater on the ground floor.  I believe that his FM station was also in the building.  I sat across his desk from him while he nibbled at a sandwich and, I think, a glass of milk.  It was a good interview and I appreciated Gordon giving me the time.  I believe I printed it in installments in Billboard.  I intended to feature it in the second volume of “This Business of Radio Programming” but, sadly, that book was never to be.

What surprised me – his answer -- was when I asked Gordon who was the best radio man, in his opinion, among all of those who’d worked for him.  I personally knew many of them and admired immensely such men as Bill Stewart, Kent Burkhart, Art Holt, Chuck Blore, Don Barrett, Ken Dowe.

“Don Keyes,” Gordon said.

Don had earlier left Gordon McLendon to operate his own radio station.  That will ordinarily irritate someone of the business stature of a Gordon McLendon.  Anyway, I’d been expecting him to mention the name of Bill Stewart.  But, no, the best radio man who’d worked for him, among hundreds, was Don Keyes.

I talked with Keyes once or twice on the phone.  Nice guy, but not particularly impressive to me.  Bill Stewart, I knew well.  And I considered Bill Stewart a brilliant radio man.  Both L. David Moorhead, known for founding KMET-FM in Los Angeles, and George Wilson, who created WOKY in Milwaukee into a Top 40 icon, told me that without Bill Stewart, there wouldn’t have been a Gordon McLendon or a Todd Storz, the owner of KOWH in Omaha, without question the world’s first Top 40 radio station.

That was a damned good interview.  It’s a pity that volume II never came to be.  I had interviews with Gordon McLendon, M.G. Kelly (whatever happened to him?) and Jimmy Rabbitt ready to go.  Ah, the books that I never got around to writing!

Jim Slone:  “Saw Don Rickles tonight on Letterman ... boy has he faded ... he just had his 89th birthday ... Howard Stern was on and hogged all the time interrupting and being obnoxious ... I can't stand that guy, never could ... pathetic, crude, vulgar guy ... shows what our culture has come to for him to be the highest paid media star there is (according to what Letterman says).”

I sincerely doubt that Stern is the highest paid anything.

Hal Smith:  “Your comments about Mark Twain brought back some memories.  Sue and I visited his newspaper office in the basement of a building in Virginia City, Nevada, a couple of years ago.  As a kid I was also a fan of Jack London.  I enjoy your weekly posting.  Keep 'em coming.”

Don Imus noted the mention of a new album by Jimmy Rabbitt in last week’s Commentary.  Don Imus:  “If Jimmy will send me his album I would probably play it.  I am NOT going to buy it.  I've been around a while — I can't recall ever giving anybody any money for the privilege of playing their record.”

So, I quickly sent Don’s address to Jimmy.  This sort of thing makes me proud to know Don Imus.  Don, incidentally, sent an early version of “Hellmakers” to his agent for me.  Unfortunately, she didn’t like it.  Cry, cry.  Having friends is a great thing … even if they can’t always help out.

Rich “Brother” Robbin:  “Claude:  just a few words to tell you how much your ‘over-the-back-fence’ chat-blog means to so many of us.  Keep up the good work, ol' trooper ... you've got a lot of friends who love you including me!”

Thank you.  It’s sorta nice to know who’s reading Commentary.  I’m sending it out to about 500 – perhaps a bit more – but there’s no way I can tell who’s reading it or not.  A note now and then cheers me up.

Diane Kirkland:  “Looks like the photos got taken out when I answered Chris Petersen’s emails ... but I’m sure he’d be glad to send you the photos.  He has guitars signed by The Eagles and other notables, photos, etc. etc.   Everything you can think of.”

Diane, I saw the pictures.  His collection – just fantastic -- will more than likely end up in a museum one of these days.  Thanks for letting me see them.  I’ve never seen such an extensive collection in my life.  How did he manage to get backstage to meet all of these acts?

That luncheon honoring Jim Gabbert and Gary Gielow for KPEN Station of the Year is June 16.  Contact Darryl R. Compton, Broadcast Legends, at if interested.

Robby Vee:  “Thank you everyone that made it out to the Anoka Show and helped make it a great night!  Here is where we will be rockin' this week.”
Sat May 16   St Croix Casino, Turtle Lake WI 8pm Show
Tues May 19   Grand Casino, Hinckley MN 8pm Show
Wed May 20   Grand Casino, Hinckley MN 8pm Show
Thurs May 21   Grand Casino, Hinckley MN 8pm Show

This is one of the three sons of Bobby Vee.  All are musicians.  Robby has his own band and plays throughout the mid-west.  I’ve known the boys – and daughter Ginny, too – since they were pumpkins.

Don Graham reports that Bobby Hart is the subject of a new documentary film called “The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em.”  Hart recently authored the book “Psychedelic Bubble Gum.”  Good on you, Bobby!

Mel Phillips:  “Got a couple of questions for you.  I met Mickey Addy when Billboard had the convention in New York in the 70s.  He was quite the Broadway Danny Rose character.  I think he had tails on, a top hat and a monocle covered one of his eyes.  Did he always wear the monocle?  I had always heard about them but never saw anyone actually wearing one until Mickey. And what the devil did Mickey do at Billboard?  Also, don't know if you were still at Billboard when the video column was written by a woman named Diane Tameecha (dyin' to meet you).  Her byline had a picture but it looked like it may have been a put on. Do you know who wrote under that name?”

There will never be another Mickey Addy, a man I loved dearly and a character and a half.  He worked in sales for Billboard.  This was after he retired as a promotion man for Dot Records.  Heck, everyone one loved him!  We took him to Nashville one year and he costumed up.  I’m sure all of the newspaper people in town knew who he was (our country music editor at the time was Bill Williams and Bill had been a newspaper man and knew everyone in town).  However, Mickey Addy, in costume, had pictures in the paper, in color, and articles galore about being a count.  Fun.  Mickey was writing a book about the music industry on cassette.  His view.  He thought of Frank Sinatra as “that young punk.”  Mickey said he’d dictated several cassettes.   Tommy Noonan of Billboard was a close friend of his.  After he died, Tommy was one of the first into the apartment.  No cassettes.  The lady you mentioned, Mel, was after my time.  Sorry.  I may write more about Bill Williams in a coming column.  Audrey Williams, no relation, threatened to kill him.  Must have been something he wrote because he was a quiet, unassuming person.  Okay, guess I’ll tell the tale now.  She finally caught up with Bill in a nightclub … couldn’t find her gun in her purse so she threw the purse at him, drunk … Bill picked her up and drove her home and put her to bed.  As I said, Bill knew everyone in town and every story.  He died one afternoon at a little league baseball game watching one of his kids.  I guarantee you, he was more than likely the best country music editor Billboard ever had and that includes Bill Sachs, once magic editor of the magazine back in the day.  Someday, they might write the real Hank Williams tale.  The movie, I understand, had too much of the touch of Audrey … wasn’t real.  Or, at least, not always.

Bob Sherwood:  “Regarding the passing of Stan Cornyn … he was one of the most creative people I met in nearly four decades in Broadcasting and the music business.  And a charming raconteur.  Another truly great one that the current generation wouldn’t/couldn’t understand and absolutely couldn’t replace.  As with Lee ‘Baby’ Simms -- someone who’s like we won’t see again.”

Lord, but I miss Lee Baby Simms and George Wilson.  I haven’t written much lately on the novel “George.”  Still toying with my Kindle.  Currently reading a Max Brand.  Having a ball!

This from Don Sundeen, “Stan Cornyn used to sing drum solos to his dates.  Really.  Now maybe it’s me, but I think any man who can cop the snap of a snare with his mouth is probably more than capable of capturing the rhythm of the nation with his words.  Cornyn, who spent the lion’s share of his career at Warner Brothers, has written a book called ‘Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group’, and if you’re in the record business, or ever were, or want to be, or are interested in how music, media and money has impacted our society over the last 50 years, it’s a must read.  No, I’ve never talked with Stan Cornyn personally, but after reading his words late in the night for two days straight, I believe I’ve heard his voice.”

B.B. King has died.  Great, great guitar player.   He will be missed.  Just FYI, both King and Santana supposedly live/lived in Las Vegas.  I really admire Santana.  Wish I could meet him.

More Bob Sherwood:  “Obviously he was much more than ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ but that’s what B. B. King will always be for me.  I think that the track and the single were almost perfect recordings.  It’s one of a select number of records that I never tired of playing on air -- year after year.  The pure passion and emotion in his voice is rarely duplicated and the exquisite purity of his glorious playing on the intro, the bridge and the outro is only approached by Carlos Santana on his classic ‘Europa’.  We were blessed to be around to enjoy his gifts.  I suspect there’s another ‘King’ in Heaven. Or, at least on the way.”

Devon Wendell:  “Here's my very personal remembrance and tribute to B.B. King.  I hope all is great.  I Love your blog!!  Thanks for including me!!!”

I value your work immensely, Doc.
Jon Scott:  “Wanted you to know how our 3rd Music Industry Reunion went here in Los Angeles – GREAT.  More than 275 music industry figures, past and present, filled the Sagebrush Cantina. The party was incredible and the camaraderie of the music industry is amazing.  The night was a virtual hug-a-thon, as people came together from all over the country for this party with one common bond -- a passion for music and to see longtime friends.  Legendary record executive and industry trendsetter Russ Regan was presented with the Music Reunion’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.  Look for another Music Reunion in 2016.

Pictured (l-r): Pat Pipolo and Rick Frio of MCA Records, and Russ Regan, former president of 20th Century Records.”

Great on you, Jon!  I treasured, in the day, knowing all three of these men.  Record men of the first water.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 63r2

Today at 9:48 AM
May 11, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 63
By Claude Hall

I remember that I would drop by the city library in Brady after school and usually checkout two books.  I read all of the Oz series in the library and everything I could find by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Mark Twain, too.  Samuel Clements’ third in the Tom Sawyer series was the funniest.  I read a lot as a kid, starting at age 8 or 9.  I read every copy of Reader’s Digest over more than a dozen years.  You can learn a great deal from Reader’s Digest.  That is, you could.

My wife Barbara has a master’s from Columbia.  I didn’t receive my master’s until the early 80s, but I don’t want you to necessarily believe that she’s the smartest in the family (this is still a matter of conjecture).  Years upon years later, Barbara and I visited Twain’s “paddlewheel” home in Hartford, CT, and his “study” in Elmira, NY.  Yes, we’ve also visited Hemingway’s place in Key West.  Barbara’s master’s thesis at Columbia University was an hour play about Twain’s childhood.  I’m the one who typed the final draft for submission.  But when I was around 12 years old I would read “Tom Sawyer” and other books while walking home from school … stepping on stones across the Brady Creek, named after the cartographer and once called Brady’s Mistake because he thought it was the Colorado, a river in Texas more than 30 miles north … walking along the stream on a trail that wandered through a grove of magnificent pecan trees and by a small lake.  The trail went on further, a mile or so to a spring, but our house was near the pecan grove.  And by the time I’d reached home, welcomed by a scattering of dogs, I’d probably read most of a book and would finish it after supper.  I devoured countless books.  And it’s amazing how many books were written by Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard and others I no longer recall.

Later, I got into Max Brand.  I have more than 160 pocketbooks by Max Brand.  A few have the same title, but a different cover with a different price … you know, 25 cents, 75 cents, $2.50.  I also have a copy of the one science fiction novel that he wrote and a detective written in the “tough guy” style of Mickey Spillane.  Brand was extremely prolific and I’m a huge Max Brand fan.  He wrote about 4,000 or so words a day.  And while I’ve been in the home of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour, I wish I could have visited with Frederick Faust, the real name of Max Brand.  Doesn’t really matter, I guess.  He never actually saw the West about which he wrote.

So, my beautiful wife Barbara brought me a Kindle for Easter, an unlikely gift for that particular holiday, but an apt one for me.  My eyes are no longer what they used to be.  I usually increase the size of the type on this laptop to 20 point Helvetica when I’m writing.  You can increase the type on a Kindle and this is good, especially if you wish to read Tarzan novels.

The first thing I did was “buy” some of the free or almost free books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard.  Leigh Bracket, too, my favorite writer.  I’m currently reading “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar.”  Lord!  Was it really 70 years ago that I first read this book?

You could never say that my writing was influenced by Burroughs.  He’s a bit archaic.  Some of his words are big words.  You need to keep the dictionary at hand if you really care about his meaning.  None the less, I’m enjoying this story.  I’ll probably read a Max Brand next even though I have five pocketbook Max Brand westerns on my shelf that I’ve never read … been waiting for the next cruise.  Waiting five or six years now.  No cruise in sight.

Meanwhile, I’ve finally installed “La Tigre” with Kindle Books.  It’s a bit overpriced at $2.99.  My apologies on that.  But I think you can actually buy this eBook at $.99.  If not, heck I’ll email a copy if you want to read it.  And I’ve reduced the price of “Hellmakers” to $19.95.  Warning:  You wouldn’t like it if you read it.  It’s a bit literary.  Real life.  Circa 1940-50 in West Texas.  I.e., more or less a horror story.

I now have 18 eBooks with Kindle Books and three printed books with, including “This Business of Radio Programming” in a reprint version by Dan O’Day, who sent me a royalty check a few weeks back for $260.  I think this is pretty good for a book first published in 1977.  My thanks to Dan O’Day.

And I’m still writing along on “George.”  A work of love.  Heart.  Lee Baby Simms is going to be sorry that he didn’t hang around long enough to read it.  My next book will be titled “Popsie” about our family dog.  Bobby Vee and his children and wife Karen knew Popsie.  The dog was given to my kids by the legendary show business photographer in New York City, once a band boy.  It’s nice to have something to write.

Diane Kirkland:  “Funny story ... I was selling my 1973 Capitol Records belt (with all the current names stamped in leather around it -- Beatles, Grand Funk, Leon Russell, Pink Floyd) and I just heard from the winner of the eBay auction.  He says ‘Had the same one in the 70s … Worked for KROQ radio … going to a good home ….’  His name’s Chris Petersen, don’t know if he was a radio personality or worked behind the scenes at KROQ.  Lives in Oregon now.”

Diane, if you happen to stumble across his email address, send it to me and I’ll send him this issue of Commentary.  Or perhaps you can do it for me.

I remember that belt.  I wore it out.  Still have it.  I still have more than a dozen belt buckles, a fad of country music radio stations, somewhere around.  And I still have fond memories of a Buddah short-sleeve sweat shirt.  Gone now.  I wore that thing out on the basketball courts of Los Angeles.  Fond keepsakes are a coffee mug and a beer stein made by Bobby Vee and fired by his wife Karen.  Each has a great image of my face!

I wrote Gail Scott to apologize for misspelling her husband’s name, Larry Scott, one of the great KLAC, Los Angeles, jocks.

Gail Scott:  “Thanks … he thinks a lot of you also … old age hurts all of us.  He is better, walking with half of his weight, able to get up from bed, moves around the house and is doing much better.  Too much for an old fart.  Hip replacement 3/23 sent him home on 3/30 and he fell and broke it on 3/31.  But God is good and tends to our soul and our ailments.”

Robert Weisbuch:  “I just wanted to make contact again as I know it has been awhile.  Two matters have kept me uncharacteristically quiet.  One is that I have been occupied with starting a deliberately low-profit academic consultancy, Robert Weisbuch and Associates -- sixteen former and current presidents and provosts and deans and specialists of universities and colleges are joining me to try to help liberal arts colleges in a difficult era by focusing on what really matters -- which is to say, students, curriculum, campus life.  Check out the website designed by my 18-year-old son Gabe at or Robert Weisbuch and Associates. 

“Then too, as I expect is true for you, I spent some weeks just mourning Lee Baby's death.  It was difficult to think about much else, but talking to Woody and to Lee's long-ago love Brynda Powers helped.  So, too, oddly enough, did reading Hunter Thompson's note written before his self-inflicted death.  As Barbara Bodnar, an integral part of the gang as a terrific copywriter at WPOP in the Woody and Lee era said, Lee always knew when it was time to move on.  I would just add that he often moved on before listeners and colleagues wanted him to do so, and that is especially true in this final case.

“I am back to work on the manuscript now, hoping to finish by end of this month, as Woody has given me a due date.  I do hope you will pass on to Joey Reynolds this from Lee, that when I wrote to Lee Baby that I had had a very enjoyable lunch conversation with his onetime rival, Lee wrote, ‘I would have given anything to have been there.  I never listened to the competition but with Joey I made an exception’.

“Finally, Claude, could you put me in touch with Ken Levine, who wrote so strikingly about Lee upon his passing?  ‘Word jazz’ is a phrase for the ages.  Even when I don't write, Claude, I think of you with gratitude and pleasure.  Your admirer, Doctor Bob.”

I looked at your website, Bob, and it’s fantastic.  Class, yet informative.  My compliments to your son Gabe.  I do believe, as well, the services you offer are needed.  Great on you!

Doctor Bob, FYI, is one of the Three Mesquiteers.  His pending book about Lee Baby Simms does us all grace.

Johnny Holliday:  “Claude … May 3rd was the memorial service for Sal LiCata in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  It was wonderful but very emotional. There were more than 150 who turned out to remember my long-time friend from high school. Representing those in the music business, Carl Maduri who was a neighbor of Sal for many years and one of his closest friends … Louie Newman who flew down from Atlanta to pay his respects.  I was honored to read tributes to Sal from Clive Davis, Ken Antonelli, and Tommy LiPuma.  Each of those 3 gentlemen wrote of their long-time working relationship with Sal and the impact he had on the music business.  Licata was president of EMI and Chrysalis during his 40-year career in the music industry.  Sal was executive vp and gm for Clive Davis' Arista records.  As Ken Antonelli wrote, ‘Sal had success wherever he went’.  He had such a wonderful connection with people.  Tommy LiPuma's final words in his tribute to Sal … ‘I will miss his presence on this earth, and the world is a little less without him being here.  Rest in Peace my friend’.  Sal LiCata was 77 and died March 19 from injuries sustained in a fall.”

Jimmy Rabbitt:  “Uncle Claude, This is the LP that Jerry Wexler produced on Texas/Renegade and me in 1973.  Lee Baby helped pick the new re-mixes and album track order, so he really was first to hear the finished product.  We talked about this album during that interview you did with me in Billboard back in the day.  It was never released, and was found in the Rhino/Atlantic vaults while they were looking for music by James Booker III for the new movie about his life, ‘Bayou Maharajah’:
I'm very proud of the work we did for Atlantic Records with Jerry, Tom Dowd, James Booker, Keith Olson and the best pickers from Texas that would play with me at the time.  Lol  Let me know what you think?  BTW, none of this would be possible without you, but don't tell anybody.  I'll tell it in a new song about you, called ‘Billboard Ain't No Porno’ coming soon. Thanks, El conejo.”
code: EX52222225

Gary Allen: “Hi again, Claudius, one of my best Radio pals of nearly 50 years and I communicate with one another quite frequently, and we always find ourselves talking about Lee ‘Baby’ Simms at some point. I’m sure you think of him as well.  Once you ever came in contact with Lee you were struck with his ‘magic’ both on and off the air.  Just the other day my friend sent me a poem he wrote entitled ‘Bye Baby’.  I thought it sad but good, and I wanted to share it with you.  Only those who knew Lee well will get the subtlety of the verses.  Hope all is well with you and Barbara.  All is good from here.”

Bye Baby

Bloody red tomatoes
Clinging to the vine
Snaking like blue highways
You traveled in your prime

Another town was waiting
for the stories that you'd tell
As you smoked another doobie
In a mom and pop motel

Gave no thought to destination
'Cause you wouldn't be there long
It'd be somethin' that you said
And in a heartbeat you'd be gone

Lovers friends companions
You never had the need
And in the end your only friends
Were whiskey pills and weed

Bloody red tomatoes
In the morning sun
Mute and lonely witnesses
to the hour of the gun

More Gary Allyn:  “As an addendum to your note, you’re right.  Lee and I worked together a few times.  I was PD at KCBQ when Lee Baby was there.  But before that, while an on-air PD at KONO in San Antonio, Jack Roth (KONO owner) wanted to hire Lee back after Lee and Woody had left to go back East due to Jack Roth winning the work injunction hearing in court.  So we did.  It was an amazing time to be sure.  Lee was at his most incredible I believe.  Then again in 1974 when George Wilson asked me to go to WMYQ and PD this FCC-troubled station.  George already had Lee en route to Miami when I got there.  Lee and I crossed paths many times and each encounter was an experience like no other.  We emailed each other a few times over recent years, and he was always very complimentary to me.  I saved a couple just for remembrance sake.  I worked with some great ones in my time in Radio, but Lee is in the Top 3 or 4 I ever had the pleasure to know, hear and work with.  So Claude, enjoy those ‘Red Beans and Rice’.  The ‘Baby’ would be all smiles I’m sure.”

I had sent Dr. Bob Weisbuch Gary’s note above and copied Gary.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 62r2

Today at 8:27 AM
May 4, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 62
By Claude Hall

Frank Boyle:  “Love reading your weekly runs down Music Memory Lane.  As a National Sales Rep for Eastman, I knew mostly owners, GM, GSM's and rarely PDs or DJs -- never met a record guy.  But you folks mentioned Philadelphia.  Best known GM of WIP and WPEN was Harvey Glasscock.  Women meeting Harvey for 1st time -- would shyly ask -- "is that accurate description of your  ‘you know what’?  Harvey would laugh -- put his arm around her and ask ‘Would you like to come up to my room and see for yourself’?  At WIP he was followed by Dick Carr and Bob Mounty.  Mounty never dialed Long Distance -- just opened his office window and yelled.  Remember Larry Wexler, WMagic GM -- the amateur magician?  He did his favorite trick with me at a Greater Media Annual Management Conference on the stage.  He told the audience he was going cut my head off with his Magic Guillotine.  After setting up the guillotine -- he cut a cantaloupe in half.  Then put my head in a black hood under the knife.  Said this is the penalty for a National Rep not making their 1975 National Revenue projection.  I heard the falling knife whirr down but did not cut my head off.  Rick Buckley and his dad bought WIBG. Someone told them the call letters stood for ‘I Believe in God’.  So much for I. B Gimbels.  You'll recall they called it "Wibbage" on the air.  Famous guys like Jerry D. (Inside Radio Newsletter) were PDs there.  Jerry Lee was just starting then.  He made radio history after being a US Army Military MP in WWII.  One of the reasons Philly always has great Radio is because of gutsy, creative GMs who backed up their creative PDs. Stay well.”

Don Eliot:  “Larry Shaw in hospital.  Waiting for update.  Will let you know.  Sure enjoyed our visit, Claude, and of course, it was too short!  I have no excuse for not coming more often other than my sinuses getting messed up by the third day but since it's such a short drive, i'm thinking about coming back just for a show or two... and maybe taking you to the Silver Sevens for those wonderful eggs Benedict you talk about.  Joey Reynolds give me a copy of his cookbook… Speaking of cookbook… And as far as rats in my room… My wife who is a year or two younger than I, had not heard the song, so when we had a little visitor scrambling around under the couch visitor recently (we nicknamed Rodney the Rat... Going to head a dirty look and a guy… Must've been mafia), I started singing it to her.  Week before last I was in Buffalo for a family funeral. Must've missed all the excitement with the guys mentioned in your column today… I  spent some time at famous Amish Maple pancake place up in Appalachia (sp), Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn.  Dad used to sell Buick limousines to Sally Gambino, but that's a whole nother story, too!  Last but not least, wondered if you know some of the folks involved with the ASCAP convention which is in town this week:  (My cousin is a songwriter, so we'll probably get over to see him as well while he is in town for this).
Always interested in what inspires song writers to write certain songs… And then it struck me… This morning as I was reading your column… I was cleaning my gun… (cuz it rhymes with Galveston?).”  This is a 22 Magnum… The orange is around an inch and a half in diameter at 75 feet holding the revolver… Put it in perspective, it would be like blowing out the two tiny little slots on an electrical socket from 3 rooms away. Not bad after 25 years of not touching it and considering hand-holding cameras these days gets me a shaky picture but this one seems to be right ‘on target’.  Stay in touch.”

Sad to hear about Larry Shaw being in the hospital.  I always considered him to be a great country jock.  I’ve never told this tale because it still embarrasses the devil out of me when I think about it.  Larry asked me to sit in with him on his show one evening.  I brought some of my favorite albums up.  That was the deal.  Along the way, I mentioned that “Tomorrow Never Comes” was derived from “O Solo Mio,” the American translation, so to speak.  Larry quickly jumped in and said there was no connection and praised the writer of “Tomorrow Never Comes.”  I quickly realized my goof.  The tune I was thinking of was “There’s No Tomorrow.”  I used to think I knew country music.  But Larry’s familiarity with the genre puts me to shame.  He not only knew country music, but was dedicated to the music.  Went out and learned how to drive a truck and actually took trucks on the road … just so he could communicate better with some of his truckdriver listeners.  Larry was probably one of the best jocks in the genre.

Allan Shaw:  “I saw Joe Maimone Jr.'s comments in this week’s Commentary.  You might want to forward the attached photo to Joe Jr.   It's a photo I've kept over the years of Joe Maimone Sr. on the job in NYC circa 1970 when he brought British recording artist Jackie Lomax by WABC-FM to drop off his new single.  Joe was one of the best ever.  You mention that you attended the Gavin Radio Conference at the Riviera in Las Vegas and interviewed Tom Donahue.  Was it the 1967 conference?  If so, I was also there and was APD at WCFL at the time.  I remember that Jerry Moss was a speaker at the conference and opened his remarks by saying that it had been a pretty good year for his and Herb Alpert's fledgling A&M record company.  That was an understatement for sure.  Tom Donahue's address inspired me to think about programming album rock on FM.   Those really were exciting days for the radio and record industry.  Thank you for taking the time to do these commentaries.  There is nothing else that chronicles those olden and golden days of the radio and record industries and the colorful people who were involved as well as you do.

My son John A. Hall, Esq., dug this up:
I tapped into a May 1964 issue of Billboard (I joined the magazine about this time) and noticed a column written by Bill Gavin.  This, I did not know.  No, I did not replace Bill Gavin at Billboard.  He probably had a stringer deal … got paid by the inch of copy in a stick (printed column).  Just FYI, I considered Bill Gavin one of the greats in our business.

Robert E. Richer:  “Hi, Claude … the piece and photo mentioning Telly Savales brings back great memories.  My first job out of college was in the mailroom at the American Broadcasting Company.  ABC was the last of the Big Three to get into TV, and was sucking every penny out of radio in order to finance the TV.  That was good news for me, because at no addition to my breathtaking mailroom salary, I was given a half-hour of time on the ABC Radio Network to write, produce and deliver a show.  I chose to produce a program that I called ‘Strictly From Dixie’, obviously a Jazz show.  Back in those glorious days, we had an announcer, an engineer and a director.  All for a half-hour record show.  The staff director assigned to me:  A kid named Telly Savales.  When the show ended at midnight, we’d go out and hit half the gin mills in Manhattan, with Telly driving his Hudson, which today would qualify as a toxic waste zone.  I think he might have been living in the car at that time.”

Don Graham had asked me to place his son on my email list.  I did, of course, and wrote Mark a note.

Mark Graham: “Thanks for the Commentary.  Dad speaks highly of you, too!”

Joey Reynolds:  “You might want to add Bruce Morrow to your list and drop him a note that I forwarded this to you?  Another legend who is still working.  GOD bless Cousin Brucie!”

Joey had obviously sent a copy of Commentary to Cousin Brucie because there was this note included:  “Thanks Joey -- great reading.  Maybe I should ask Claude to send the Commentary to me.  Very enjoyable stuff. Bruce.”

Dave Sholin: “Noticed that in your recent commentary a message from Larry Cohen mentioned Lesley Gore's ‘You Don't Know Me’.  A song that's gonna be a hit all over again, thanks to Grace … an incredible 18-year-old artist who has a brilliant career ahead of her!”

Frank Jolley: “Claude, For those of us not giving in to the new wave of old radio trying to be new radio has listeners in 24 countries now with a weekend lineup that appears to be old radio in the new world.  Friday night 6 pm-12 midnight is Jimmy Rabbitt, followed Saturday night by John R (formerly of WLAC, Nashville) and Frank Jolley on Sunday followed by ‘The HiFi Club’ with Mike Shannon from Ft. Worth and the ‘CBS Radio Mystery Theater’.  As Jimmy says ‘That’s what Rockhouse is all about and keep your toe tappin’.  BTW:  Jimmy’s new album with the Renegades has just been released.  Hope you'll check it out.”

I’m pleased to hear that Jimmy Rabbitt has a new CD out.  I’ve always liked – and enjoyed – El Conejo.  A cutie:  El Conejo is one of the few (maybe the only) disc jockey to be fired long distance.  From Australia, in fact.

Frank Shively:  “Thanks for remembering Frank Mancini!  I worked for him in the late 60s at MCA and kept the connection for years after.  He was the nicest and smartest person I have ever worked around.  I think of him often.  He could make my day better just by answering the phone.  Tony Richland was another one of the really good guys.”

I, too, miss some.  It’s lonely without Lee Baby Simms and George Wilson.

Ron Jacobs:  “KHJ kicked off Boss Radio 50 years ago this week.  About the earliest days:  On August 12, 1965, I’d been the KHJ Radio program director about four months.  Never lived in Los Angeles before.  Previously, I worked with Frank Terry at KMAK, Fresno.  On weekends, we would often drive south to see the LA Rams, The Troubadour and Watts Towers.  That August afternoon, I was called into the KHJ Radio/TV newsroom.  Six news wire machines chattered nonstop.  What was going on?  The announcer on duty explained, ‘Riot in Watts. Getting worse, fast’.  ‘How are we covering it?’   ‘(News Director) Art Kevin and Frank Terry went there in the mobile unit … wanna talk to them?’  Terry was on the mobile phone.  In the background I heard,  ‘Plat, plat, plat’.  ‘What the hell is that, Terry?’  ‘… just gun fire’, he replied nonchalantly.  ‘Where are you guys?  We need a feed.  Now’.  Terry said, ‘OK’ and passed the mobile phone to Kevin, who was next to him –  Underneath the car!  KHJ 20/20 News earned more honors than most any Top 40 radio station. The entire crew was fearless.  Thank God it wasn’t what’s exploding and blazing in Baltimore: 50 years and nothing has changed.”

Thanks for the news feed, Ron.

Mel Phillips: “I am very excited that Amazon has decided to publish my new book, 'From the Mailroom to the Majors.'  I decided before I published my first book that recording my thoughts and memories will be the way to help young people starting out in pursuit of a career.  And it doesn't have to be in the radio or music business.  Hopefully I can help them pick up a thing or two that can be useful in any field. 'From the Mailroom to he Majors' is a story of a successful career that started in the mailroom.  The trail to success began with a series of jobs in small towns but would lead to some of the biggest cities in the U.S. This is my story and you'll have a paperback edition as soon as I get it published.  My friends can order the Kindle edition from:”

Great on you, Mel.  Sadly, I doubt that kids are hanging out, waiting for a career in radio, anymore.  But the book is history and that’s very important.  Ah, radio!

Woody Roberts reports the king is dead.

Richard Irwin: “I try to skim your newsletter every week, though some of the names are unknown to me.  Did you know we have the ONLY video of Lee Simms?  I spent a day with Lee and it was among the treasures he contributed to REELRADIO.  The following was published on REELRADIO in General Comments, so you might as well have it, too.”

To wit: was prohibited from airing more than 1,100 exhibits online.  The site lost about 1,000 subscribers.  The sites have been restored, but many subscribers are still hanging fire, according to Uncle Ricky, who adds: “Today, April 29, less than 60 subscribers have returned … to say this is disappointing would be an understatement.  I’m quite gloomy.”

Be nice if those of you who have been supporting the website contact Uncle Ricky and help him with funds to keep the site online.  The URL is

Pete Cosenza at Columbia Records is promoting Hozier’s new single “Someone New.”  If you’re interested in hearing the record, contact Pete at

I just learned (Thursday) that Billboard had dropped the name Vox Jox many years ago.  I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.  At one time the column was read on islands in the South Pacific, behind the Iron Curtain, and even translated into Portuguese and read throughout Brazil.  Just about every disc jockey and program director in the United States and Canada read the column.  Australia, too.  Yes, I even know where it was usually read.  Doesn’t matter … it was a force.

Good news!  A good friend of mine, someone very knowledgeable and experienced in radio, is launching  If you’d like a “page” in this new site to promote yourself or a link to your own site or whatever, contact the president at  The president/director asks only for your patience as it takes a while to generate something such as this.  I understand that my own Commentary will be a part of this new

The director, who wishes to still be off the record for a while longer:  “What I want to recreate is what Jack Roberts had with Hollywood Hills, allowing everyone to be a visible part of it.”

As a former bus driver used to say:  “How sweet it is!”  And I assure you that I could not ask for a better heir.

Now and then one discovers a music masterpiece.  Something that makes you proud to work in our combined industries.  But this tune evidently missed the boat.  My son John just brought home a reissued CD by Gene Clark – “Two Sides to Every Story” on High Moon Records from the RSO Records recording.  The tune I’d like to praise is “Give My Love to Marie” written by James Talley, Hardhat Music.  With orchestral background, Gene has created a heart-tugging coalmining tune, evidently circa 1977?  My compliments.  I love this tune.