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Out on the town in Atlanta in 1961. WAKE’s Paul Drew, Bid Causey and Bill Drake with
Don Carroll (2nd from left), celebrating Carroll’s hit “Seven-Up and Ice Cream Soda”
—photo courtesy of Ron Brandon.
By Claude Hall
Claude Hall: “About the time you’re reading this, I shall be undergoing what they call a
‘procedure’. Several good radio and music buddies have emailed me and even phoned to talk
with son John or leave messages; they’ve experienced the procedure … the placing of a stent
in the heart area. “Piece of cake!”
“I think I would have preferred a piece of pecan pie. Ain’t nothing as much good as a piece of
warm pecan pie with ice cream on top. Well, maybe a bowl of peach cobbler. With ice cream
on top, of course. I am, all said and done, the biggest crybaby you ever saw!
“I quickly dropped an email off to Rollye to let her know my situation come the first issue in
March. Dropped the same email off to a few others. Tom Campbell assures me that I’m
going to feel like dancing a jig again. I don’t have the slightest idea of what he’s talking about
… I never could dance a jig. Heard from Morris Diamond, too. It’s strange to realize that I
go back with both Tom and Morris to 1964 … shortly after I joined Billboard magazine.
Some others chimed in. Wish me well, folks.”
Rollye: The number of you who emailed to wish Claude well is written evidence how much
he is loved. And proof that the feelings are heartily returned, Claude sent this column early
—at a time when most people would be focused entirely on what was medically looming. I
concur with Tom Campbell and others who assured Claude that this procedure is a cakewalk.
But that’s so easy to say when it’s someone else. When it’s you, it’s a full blown crisis. I’m
not sure that anything is much worse than the uneasy night before surgery. That said, before
next week’s column, I expect Claude will be feeling better than he has in a long time.
Claude Hall: “Timmy Manocheo emails a report that Sonny James, an outstanding country
music performer and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, has passed on in
Nashville. He was 87. His biggest hit was “Young Love.” Real name: James Hugh Loden.
Member of an old gospel family. Many years ago, I was having breakfast with record
producer Shelby Singleton and others in the Capitol Park Inn coffee shop during the annual
country music convention. Sonny James and wife Doris came and sat with us an hour or so.
Doug Kershaw, as I recall, came by and joined us for a while. Sonny was one of the nicest
people in show business. We come, we do, we go.
Claude Hall: “Doc, if and when you ever feel like writing an in-depth article about the state
of jazz music – your opinions – we would be more than honored to print it in Vox Jox.”
D.J. Mark: “Hi, Mr. Hall … how you been, sir? i followed your writing ever since i started to
dee jay in my late teens. You wrote for different music eras and it's good to know you are still
writing. Hope you and family are well. Take care.”
Claude Hall: “And the same to you, good sir!”
Ken Dowe: “There is probably a way for radio to sneak back into a kind of prominence, but I
believe it will have to be inside a hybrid media venue not yet created. I really would enjoy
going into the la-bor-a-tory again, and coming out with another KNUS, or 3 or 4 others, that
emerged from our crazed minds. However, once you realize you can't throw the 95 mph
fastball any longer, you must learn to get by (for awhile) with devious preparation, trickery,
and experience. Then, that too, goes. I was able to play league fast pitch baseball until about
10 ago. That's about when your previous ‘edge’ changes to butter knife cutlery. We'll have to
wait for others to add the necessary ingredients for a new cauldron of witches brew. Which is
as it should be. We had our time at the tables ... and we won big!
“Regarding the possibility of a book: I think I will give it a ‘go’. What will be hardest to give
up will be all the books I read, plus the many films I enjoy very week. I watch Foreign,
Independent, and a bit from Hollywood. Books and movies are enlightening friends. A quiet
retreat where I decompress and learn about places, cultures, and ideas that are new, and where
I vicariously teleport myself into new worlds when I don't physically get away. As it happens,
Dottie and I very much enjoy each other's company! (What?) With Dottie I am twice blessed.
She is equal parts vicariously appealing, and possessed of a superior mind. (I struck gold with
the girls of my family.) She encourages me daily to write, and take advantage of a God-given
gift. My friends have suggested I write books (on an average of twice a week) for decades.
What Dottie does not realize is that her constant companion of 55 years ... will suddenly be
much less available ... for many weeks. Perhaps, months. But, in 3 weeks I will be 75 years
old. Best I get started.
“Kindly note the impact (among thousands) Gordon impressed upon another of my favorite
mates, to whom I had the pleasure of being a minor mentor. Also, note that Tommy has now
shared 42 (married) years with beautiful Kathy. Tommy ‘headquarters’ in Hawaii. Residing
above an ocean beach. Is he not too clever? All McLendonites seem to have been blessed
with an indelible mark. Were we fortunate, or what?”
Coach Tommy Kramer about Gordon McLendon: “Great insights to an amazing man, Ken.
I totally agree. In my few chances to be around Gordon, I paid attention to every word he
said. And Gordon’s “10 Rules of Broadcasting” thing was still up in the hallway at KEEL
when I started there, even after it had been sold to Lin. It’s rare to be able to work for
someone so completely in focus, and so honorable. I had this Ken Dowe guy in Dallas, as
well as Larry Ryan in Shreveport and Bill Young in Houston -- all cut from the same cloth.
Total blessings for which I’m still immensely grateful. Much love to you and Dottie. Kathy
and I will celebrate our 42nd anniversary in April. P. S. And yes, you should write a book.”
Ken Dowe: “Gordon was a great radio man, maybe the best ever. And, the only true genius I
have ever personally known. Certainly I have enjoyed the company of highly intelligent folk,
but another genius who marched to such a different drummer? Nope. Just Gordon. No peer.
He thought, fought, and performed at levels far above those of mere mortals. He was also
most unique in that he was the only broadcast owner I worked with in 50+ years who
unfailingly, always, clearly and specifically, spelled out exactly when and to what he would
commit. For all of a decade he never failed to honor every single agreement between the two
of us: without prompting. No one else, not one other person, was that honorable. Working
with the programmers at a new radio station I had purchased, I had an epiphany. It suddenly
came to me that with nearly everything I did or said I was parroting something I had learned
from Gordon. On that day, I said: ‘Hey, guys. This is an EZ listening station. Let's not add
music with horns that stand out. Horns are strident. Don't startle the listener’. A default:
Straight out of the McLendon playbook. I laughed, then jotted a note of appreciation to
Gordon for my unknowing immersion into his philosophies and ideas. Here are the first few
words of his immediate reply to that note: ‘Dear, Ken. You are most welcome!
I am following your career with pardonable parental pride ....’ Gordon was also the best writer
I ever knew. Gordon McLendon was a wordsmith. A brilliant intellectual. In possession of
talent, class, and character. Our relationship was special, and unforgettable. ‘Nevermore’.”
Rollye: The picture at the top of the column, found on Ron Brandon’s Facebook page, got
me to thinking. Drew and Drake are known by all, and even Bid Causey is remembered by
many of us (WAKE, KYA, WITH, WCAO, WEEP all come to mind)— but I hadn’t thought
about Don Carroll since 1969 (when he produced The Winstons’ “Color Him Father”), and
it’s been even longer since I’ve heard “Seven-Up And Ice Cream Soda”. Hard to believe that a
guy responsible for that record was also behind The Swinging Medallions’ “Double Shot (Of
My Baby’s Love)” among others for Bill Lowery, less than a decade later. And if “Seven-Up”
escapes your memory….
Rollye: Great graphics. Cute song written by Jerry Reed. But if you’re reading this as an
email, the youtube video is missing. Fear not. Access it directly, here:
Bob Sherwood: “For those of you that knew him but might not’ve yet heard, former CBS
Records VP Nat’l. Sales and co-founder of Cleveland Int’l. Records Stan Snyder
over the weekend. If there’s anyone who cared as much or even more about jazz and the
artists that created it was possibly Tommy Lipuma, Bobby Colomby and the late Bruce
Lundvall. I first met Stan in 1968 when I was MD at KROY and he was GM of the CBS
Records branch office in San Francisco. Great gig at that time. I expect that my good friend
Johnny Holliday knew him as well as he was PD of the great-sounding 1260 KYA, SF at the
time. Stan used to come to Sacramento to ‘work’ Russ Solomon at Tower Records but he
also occasionally called in front to meet with me while he was there and supported his local
promotion guys with verifiable facts. Not something that any of the other label or indie
branch managers ever thought to do. His ex-Marine demeanor didn’t hurt in gaining my full
attention. Later I became more of admirer when I joined Columbia Records and watched him
work his magic as head of national accounts. Beyond his professionalism, he was a fabulous
human being. God Bless You Stan. There’s now an exceptional band playing far upstairs.”
: Sadly, the radio roster on the other side is getting richer too. Jim Taszarek
of radio’s best salesmen and managers, and an all around wonderful guy. He’s probably best
known for his decades in Phoenix, but it was while he was still in St. Louis that I first got to
know him. I’m thankful for his kindness and humor. Ric Lippincott
’s passing caught me off
guard. Apparently he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer and had been writing
a blog detailing the experience until his death this month. His supporters were many, and I
wish I had known of his battle as I would have been honored to be among them. After a long
time programming career (highlights included WLS Chicago, KHTZ Los Angeles, KYUU San
Francisco— he was also with Michael O’Shea’s All Comedy Radio), and record promoter
(Maverick, Curb, Zoo-BMG) he concentrated on another love: airplanes— as a pilot and
charter captain, in addition to being vice president for a real estate title company. His blog is
still online here
(go to page 19 and read backwards to capture his journey in chronologically).
Rollye: And one more— maybe obscure to you, but the last surviving original member of The
Persuaders has died, Willie B. Holland. The group was best known for “Thin Line Between
Love And Hate,” a soul anthem on the results of spousal abuse. They also had the distinction
of having songs covered by the likes of Robert Palmer and Rod Stewart. If you don’t
remember The Persuaders, click here
for a short obit and a priceless Soul Train video of “Thin
Line ” As Claude says, “We come, we do, we go.” But in Claude’s case, not yet. I’m
hoping he’ll be up to writing next week’s column, but I stand ready to soldier on if he decides
on some well deserved rest.