Today at 9:48 AM
July 13, 2015
Claude’s Commentary No. 73
By Claude Hall
So, there weren’t as many emails as usual this week, I told Barbara. “Guess I’ll have to write something.”
“Well, make it happy,” she said. “I’ve had too many unhappy things hitting me this week.”
She’s right and you wouldn’t like to hear a list. Then, of course, there was the church shooting in Charleston. Nine people. Church people at a Wednesday prayer meeting. By a kook with a 45. He was welcomed with open arms by some very nice people to a church prayer meeting, but he wasn’t very nice himself and he sat with them about an hour and then took out a gun and at close range – so he couldn’t miss – he pulled the trigger.
In the research about him, it turned out he had a confederate flag fetish. There are pictures of this guy with the confederate flag. He drove a nice car and he owned an expensive gun. How? Why? His contributions to society: nil. A flag craze developed.
Many, many years ago when I had less horsesense than I have now, I bought a Levi jacket and had a confederate flag sewed on the back, along with the emblem Chicago and a Bud Beer emblem. I thought it was cute. I don’t think I wore that jacket more than once or twice before one of my children – perhaps even my wife – “requisitioned” it and took off the flag. It’s still somewhere in the house. The jacket, not the flag. Doesn’t matter because I don’t think the flag is so cute anymore. It was never a symbol with me. I agree it’s place is, perhaps, in a museum. Just FYI, so far as I know, I had relatives on both sides in the Civil War. They probably shot each other. Probably they didn’t know they were going to become relatives of mine at the time. From what I know now, it was a rather senseless, stupid war. As any war is. If the war was to preserve slavery, it was without question a dumb cause. Insensitive and callow and dumb.
What does radio have to do with slavery? Nothing. I hope nothing.
But in the mid-60s, I was invited to visit WSB in Atlanta. The station was managed by Elmo Ellis, a fine gentleman of the Old South. He truly was. I loved the radio station. Loved Elmo. Dark wood. Charm. Elegance. Class. History. I hope it’s still just the same as when I was there. The station.
Bob Van Camp, the morning personality, had listeners who grew up and had children who listened as did their parents and, later, as did their parents. He was engrained in the city and radio. He also played organ at the major theater in town. For years I had a photo of me and Van Camp and Elmo Ellis in the studio of the radio station.
That evening, we dined in a restaurant high in a skyscraper in Atlanta. Elmo was there. And, I think, the manager of the sister station in Charlotte. About three men and their wives. One of the wives told me about the restaurant. The floor and much of the furnishings had come from an old plantation in the area. Prestige plus! Then I realized that all of the diners in the restaurant were white. And the waiters were all black. I wonder if the restaurant is still there. I sort of hope so. But I hope the dining arrangements are a bit more modern, shall we say, than in those days.
Funny that I feel this way because I’ll likely never go back there anyway. I’ll certainly never wear that jacket again. It’s more than 50 years old now. And that was Atlanta more than 50 years ago.
Joey Reynolds: “About my asking Shadoe Stevens if he was at the 'clean' roast for Shotgun Tom which I referred to on City Watch-LA going soft!”
Shadoe Stevens to Joey: “I wasn't there. I've been working for months on the pilot for a television series for TV One. Just finished the hour pilot today and the president of the network loved it, then asked for a half-hour version ... it's been non-stop and it's all I've had time for ... and now we're going back in the studio for who knows how many more days? Love your site. You're really good at a lot of things and bring a vibrant personality to every interview or discussion ... your buoyant personality is even present in every still picture. One of a kind. Let's keep in touch more often.”
Mel Phillips: “The only on-air shift I never worked was the all-night show. I'm not complaining because your whole life is turned around when you do that shift. When do you sleep? Or wake up? Eating habits? Throw them out the door. And I haven't even approached what kind of social life you can possibly have. I have heard you mention Roger Schutt (Captain Midnight) who was our overnight man when I was pulling a 32 share (true) doing morning drive at WKDA, Nashville. I started my show at 5:30 a.m. and had to do a major cleanup before I could even touch the board. It consisted of all the garbage the good Captain left behind. An empty six-pack of beer accompanied the half-eaten fast food and wrappers. Roger's wife would come in every morning when he finished his show and without fail he would ask her 'what the hell are you doing here?' This would be followed by a shouting match when he chased her out of the station. For those who never heard Roger, he had beyond a doubt the worst voice of any one who ever faced a mic. Roger (Captain Midnight) Schutt was the strangest person I ever met or worked with during my on-air radio career. Oh and BTW, Sebastian Stone's real name was Gerald Phillips (no relation).”
Ah, but the tales of Hank Williams Sr. that Roger spun! I understand there may be another movie on Hank’s life. Will this one tell the truth?
Jerry Sherrell: “Claude: As always, I enjoy reading your Commentary. I would love to read your pdf version of ‘George And Me’. I knew George … from a distance most of the time … when I was doing promotion for Buddah and Elektra-Asylum Records. I had immense respect for him as one of the Giants Of Radio and his ear-for-a hit was pretty good, as well! I consider myself lucky to have started in radio in ‘61 and then the record business in ‘62 for decades making dozens of music artists quite rich and famous! Now I can be heard on KJAZZ 88.1FM in LA … Sundays 10AM-Noon (thanks to Saul Levine and Mike Johnson). I cherish knowing and dealing with these Hall of Fame radio people: Chuck Dunaway, Chuck Brinkman, Johnny Holiday, Dick Biondi, Clark Race, John Rook, Jim Stagg, Johnny Andrews, Joey Reynolds, Betty Brenamen, Steve Joos, John Wellman, Chick Watkins, Ed Wright, Boots Bell and hundreds of others!”
Tom Russell: “Claude: I just finished a 5000 word piece on Ian Tyson for a great magazine on the West: "Ranch and Reata." www.ranchandreata.com. It's a bi-monthly and available by subscription (almost as big as Vanity Fair! But but better!) and by far the best Western magazine. I do an essay every issue … last issue Emmylou Harris was on the front. Ian Tyson and I co-wrote a song on his new record (it's on my record as well) ‘When the Wolves No Longer Sing’. That's the title of the essay. Ian's latest record just out is ‘Carnero Vaquero’, he's going strong at 82. By the way Ian and Sylvia were a different duo than Mickey and Sylvia -- who had the hit with ‘Love Is Strange’, but Ian and Sylvia (different folks) did sing the song as well. Ian's first song was ‘Four Strong Winds’, which has been voted the most popular song ever written by a
Canadian. Not to be outdone -- Sylvia's first song (circa 1963) was ‘You Were on My Mind’, a big hit for the group We Five, whose lead singer was John Stewart's brother (John being a member of the Kingston Trio. Ian wrote ‘Four Strong Winds’, right after Bob Dylan sang him ‘Blowin' in the Wind’, in a bar in Greenwich Village. That so many great songs were being written by these folks early in their career is unimaginable now … we don't have young spirits and characters of such deep artistic demention these days. I struggle onward!’
Just FYI, in the mid-60s in Manhattan, Barbara and I used to catch acts such as Ian and Sylvia and Gordon Lightfoot and Paul Butterfield and his Blues Band (with Mike Bloomfield on guitar, as I recall) at the Town Hall in mid-town are. I recall catching the Weavers there, too. It was a great, great venue in those days.
Ken Dowe: “I’m in, Claude…. Sorry you can’t be here, too!! Thanks for the heads up. Wife Dottie, and 18-year-old Grand-SON are now fans, too. We’ll be in the cheering section.”
Ken refers to the pending concert by Tom Russell in Santa Fe.
Woody Roberts: “I'm wondering about Augie Blume. Do you know anything? I am thinking of him because I came across some of his old newsletters from when he went independent. Augie was a highly respected RCA national record promotion man in the 1960s and was put in charge of promotion for launching the Jefferson's Airplane's sub-label Grunt. The night I won General Manager of the Year at the Bill Gavin Conference I walked in just as the ceremonies were starting and found an empty chair at a table of folks I didn't recognize and it turned out two of them were Augie and his gracious wife Nancy. We became very good friends and I stayed overnight at their Susalito home a couple of times. When I was trying to launch Armadillo Records as a sub-label for WB my company brought in Augie to consult. We represented one of the first pure Americana bands and Mary Martin was interested, plus we had a Freddy King single for Bill Oaks at RSO that Dr. Tom Terrici in Dallas had focus tested as Top 10. I lost track of Augie in the late '70s about the time Terrici closed his office and moved to a residency at Eslaen Institute in Big Sur. Many programmers like Bennett, Connell, Starr, etc., hired Dr. Terrici to test new music. He was a visionary using galvanic skin response along with intellectual voting and a uniquely crafted psychographic focus group. I used his services very effectively.
“About Tom Russell. I've listened to his songs for years and was surprised when in your Commentary he described his works not as country but frontier music. Forty-five years ago when the progressive country, cosmic cowboy, outlaw country era was starting to boom in Austin there was frontier music in the mix. On the pop side of things was Michael Murphey with ‘Geronimo's Cadillac’ on A&M; then for Epic Records came his Gold selling ‘Blue Sky -- Night Thunder’ with its top-three hit ‘Wildfire’. Murphey has from his first recordings been in fascinated by old west music and has a fine album called ‘Cowboy Songs’. Another of that period was Steve Fromholz with his classic ABC-Probe release ‘Here to There’. Even more authentic to the form is Bobby Bridger. Back then he was on RCA and published a local tabloid Hoka Hey. He not only is a songwriter but has lived the life of a modern old time pioneer and become noted as an expert on the lifestyles of Indians. He has three albums and four books at Amazon. Here's one of his songs, ‘Red Cloud’ -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNDw44Ux9ew
“Just some evening thoughts rambling through my mind. Just got a 40-inch 4k desktop monitor and perhaps getting too immersed.”
Woody, I remember Augie Blume well. Very likeable person! And I think he did well for RCA. I know the rumor about his leaving the label. RCA made a mistake, in my opinion. After he left the label, he sort of vanished from media.
Just FYI, I was the first to write about Dr. Tom Turrichi. I was introduced to him in an elevator in, I think, Chicago at an NAB by John Long. Long had attended a three-week school on Transcendental Meditation in California and about this time had people refer to him as Dr. John Long.
Turrichi fell from favor when Neil Bogart at Casablanca hired him on five singles and proved correct. Bogart claimed it was too difficult to promote on a record when you already knew it wasn’t a hit. Great line from Jerry Wexler, Atlantic, “If Neil will pay me the $200 he owes me, I’ll tell him how to spell Buddah.”