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Alice Harnell, Olivia Newton John & Morris I. Diamond last month in Palm Springs
by Rollye James
Morris I. Diamond: “Again, you guys came up with a most interesting series of stories that
stirs my memory brain – what’s left of it – and feeds my enthusiasm to get involved -!
Claude, your mention of Mickey Addy told me something I never knew....that he was
involved in Billboard with you and Paul. When I got out of the Air Force in 1945, I rejoined
the Tommy Dorsey organization as a song plugger for his music publishing companies. I got
to be friendly with Roy Kohn who was plugging for Shapiro, Bernstein Music Publishers...he
and Mickey were close friends because Mickey was also a plugger for the same company.
Mickey also became composer, having written with Buck Ram a monster hit, “Remember
When”...The Platters recording helped make it a hit. Mickey, also in the late ‘40’s & early
50’s became an arranger for various bands playing New York City.
“Yo, Rollye....I remember when Charlie Rich became the CMA (Country Music Association)
'Entertainer of the Year'...well deserved. You also mention Barbara Mandrell’s saying “I like
Olivia Newton John but she isn’t Country”. What an understatement. Olivia’s sales from her
first COUNTRY hit. “Let Me Be There” was certainly the envy of many of the Country
super-stars...as well as “Take Me Hope Country Roads,” “Have You Never Been Mellow?”
Olivia invited me to the Grammy’s the year she won a truck load of Grammys. We sat in the
first row and she piled her Grammy’s on my lap. That was in 1974. We’ve never lost touch of
“April 29th, Olivia Newton John, packed the Fantasy Springs Casino, here in Palm Springs
and did one of the best stage performances I've seen & heard in years. I was proud of her.
After the show she warmly greeted my partner, Alice Harnell and me. Alice and I couldn't
believe that at age 67, she's all over the stage - singing & dancing.. for a little over 2
Mel Phillips: “WRKO 50th Anniversary Reunion: When: Weekend of June 2, 2017 (Save the
date) Where: Allston-Brighton, MA: A Friday Night (June 2) Party for all WRKO employees
past and present (news of both a hotel room plan and party venue coming soon)... On Air:
WRKO-AM and Backbone Streaming (produced by George Capalbo Jr.) Saturday Night June
3, 2017, 7-11 pm…
“There were a total of 5 GM's during the top 40 era of WRKO.”
Perry S. Ury ('67-'72) John Papas ('72-'73) Jack Hobbs ('73-'78)
Chuck Goldmark ('78-'80) Bob Fish ('80-'81). Current GM Phil Zachary
J.J. Jeffrey Johnny Dark Chuck Knapp Arnie Ginsburg
WRKO 25th Anniversary group photo
Mel Phillips continues: “Thanks for the lowdown on the origin of "Boss Radio", Claude. The
memories came rushing back thanks to both of you. Claude, I'm sure that trip to Nashville
with Mickey Addy and Tommy Noonan had to be hilarious. I lived near the Belle Meade
Country Club when I worked for Jack Stapp at WKDA in '61-'62. I pulled a 32 share doing
mornings at the Top 40 station. We even beat WSM and WLAC. Rollye, your mention of the
Silver Fox, Charlie Rich: He was one of our artists when I did promotion for Epic Records
and I know Charlie had his moments but I just found him to be a quiet man with lots of
knowledge of the music business. I met Mickey Addy at the Billboard Convention at the
Plaza Hotel (1970?). What a character. I had never seen anyone wearing a monocle until
Mickey. And the way he was dressed. He looked like a midget penguin. I had the extreme
pleasure of knowing the other person you mentioned - Tommy Noonan. Tommy did the
alumni sheet for CBS Records and he would print my blog. Tommy knew I wanted to get into
writing and he was just great in giving me the confidence to do it. We lost a great person when
he left us - too soon. I loved his sense of humor. He always found something to laugh about
and oh, what stories. I have learned that you've written something good when you either 1)
move the reader, 2) teach a reader something they didn't know and/or (3) give the reader
memories with something or someone you've written about. Both of you get an A+ in all three
Rollye: “My office at Billboard was next to Tommy Noonan, who during my tenure
thankfully took over the charts (from Bill Wardlaw). I concur with Mel. Tommy Noonan
was always so much fun to be around. I unexpectedly heard from him via email a month
before he died, and was crushed to get the news of his passing. As for “Boss Radio”… but
wait, there’s more. Neil Ross has a great observation”…
Neil Ross: “Regarding the "Boss" controversy/discussion: I arrived in New York City in the
fall of '62 to attend RCA Institutes Radio Production and Studio Operation class. I was 17 at
the time and although between work and school I didn't have a lot of spare time, I did start
hangin' with a group of other young ne'er-do-wells in Central Park.
“They were all using the word "boss" at the time. They used it the way teenagers on the west
coast were using the word "bitchin'." Instead of: "That's a bitchin' car," the New York kids
would say, "That's a boss car." "She's a boss chick" etc. I recall Murray the K using "boss"
on the air on WINS. Can't recall if the WABC or WMCA guys did. I don't know if this was
strictly a New York phenomenon or if the word was in use in other east coast cities, but you
heard it from young people all over the greater New York area then.
“I left NYC in early '63 and I never heard the word "boss" again until news of the debut of
Boss Radio 93 KHJ reached me in 1965 . I was in Hawaii at the time and when I heard about
Boss Radio, I assumed the expression had migrated west from New York in the intervening
years. That was not the case, as I discovered when I got back to California. Other than KHJ
nobody was using boss or even bitchin.' Now it was "cool," "far out" or "groovy."
“So, I wonder, whence came the inspiration for Clancy Imislund to suggest calling the new
format on KHJ Boss Radio? Did he have young relatives on the east coast who hipped him to
"boss?" Or was he unaware of the east coast slang and simply mean to say something like,
"KHJ is the boss of all the other stations?"
“And why, I also wonder, didn't any of the New York stations pick up the slang being used by
their young listeners and use it. I can understand the problem with “Bitchin' Radio KFWB
Channel 98.” But, as far as I know, there was never “Boss Radio 77 WABC.” Seems like
somebody dropped the ball.”
Rollye: “A few east coast personalities beyond Murray used it, and as you say, Neil, they used
it years earlier than KHJ. Immediately coming to mind is Jerry Blavat, the “Boss with the
Hot Sauce”... (not to mention he's also the “Geator with the Heator”, but no one attempted to
understand that, let alone copy it).”
Tom Russell performing in Las Vegas May 19, 2016. (Photo by John Hall)
Claude Hall: “All of you who read me, realize that I’m a huge Tom Russell fan. I consider
him one of America’s great artists. I was introduced to his music by Ernie Hopsecker and
have subsequently passed on this favor to Ken Dowe. My son John has also become a fan. I
emailed Tom Russell that I couldn’t make it to his performance here in Las Vegas May 19 at
the Methodist Church by UNLV, but that my two sons, John and Andy, would probably be
there. This review is by Andy, who is currently an adjunct professor in English at UNLV.
Talk about hardcore fans, two of the people in the audience had caught Tom’s show in Los
Angeles the night before and drove to Las Vegas to catch him again. Tom was nice enough to
mention me during his show and later handed my sons an autographed poster to give to me.
Nice, Tom. Thanks. And John says Nadine, your wife, is a pretty. And so’s her mother.”
Andy Hall: “There is the mythical west, the historical west, and the real west. Tom Russell
navigates the intersections between the three. He would be at the center of the Venn diagram if
this were a PowerPoint. A student of Ian Tyson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, a storyteller singer, he
barrels across all the boundaries. Discussing Dimitri Tiomkin, Russian bard who wrote the
classic theme to ‘High Noon’, sung by Tex Ritter; he mentions that the plot of every western
either is an unknowing hero takes a journey, or a stranger comes to town. Russell embodies
both as two hours with Russell leaves the kid in me yelling "Tom, come back, Tom" a la
A show with Tom Russell takes you into the mythic. He plays on the periphery of the music
industry, yet personifies the very purpose of musicians, troubadours and entertainers: to
transform through tales. This particular show (5/19/16) was presented by a fan at the
University United Methodist Church across from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (on
land that was owned by Clark Gable). Seventy other people joined the audience including
cowboy poets, hipsters from LA who might be the Tom Russell's of the future, and aging
aficionados like my brother and myself. Two lovely German ladies were there following him
across America on greyhound.
“He told stories of taking a greyhound bus across Canada then down to Nashville where he
joined Dobie Gray and Kinky Friedman on stage at a church ministered by Hank Snow's
son. Imagine a redneck church where the congregation has Kinky Friedman upon stage
with Dobie Gray ... a Jew and a black man and Tom Russell all singing gospel songs. Then
on to Austin where he met his musical tribe of outlaws. He told stories of Bob Dylan's and
Ian and Sylvia Tyson's songwriting prowess, how they could write a masterpiece in 20
minutes, Touring Ireland and singing some of his latest literary lyrical creations. Of getting on
stage with Johnny Cash ‘Peace in the Valley’ whispering into his ear the last verse. On this
particular night the set included: ‘Guadalupe’, ‘Navajo Rug’, ‘Hair-trigger Heart’, ‘Rose of
Rosecrae’, ‘East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam’, ‘Nina Simone’, ‘Veterans Day’ (recorded by
Johnny Cash), ‘Blue Wing’ (recorded by Dave Alvin), and others.
“Today's music business is just as it has always been. Most artists are lucky if they can scrape
by, a few fall into the trappings of fame and fortune only to see how fickle or deadly it can be.
Tom writes songs, prose, and paints and draws. He has appeared on Letterman, but his heart
is in singing with a guitar, unamplified when possible, and chit chatting with you after the
show. I think of him as a cowboy Bukowski, sans the drunkeness. For him, the intoxication is
in performing. My brother thinks of him as a country western Harry Chapin ... he sings
songs that tell a story, have a slightly or directly subversive quality. He could be Johnny
Guitar, saving the saloons of the West with his song ... even if he's playing houses and
Rollye: “Speaking of today’s music, Claude Hall forwarded a fascinating article sent to him
by Rick Frio, that old music is now outselling new music for the first time in history. Granted
it refers to hard media, not downloads, but even so, this article
is an eye opener. Rick, a VP at
MCA records back when and very nice guy sent something else to Claude, with a warning:”…
Rick Frio: “Warning: Be prepared for a couple of hours of going back in time and trying to
recall what you were up to (or trying to forget) when these were the rage on the hit parade,
Don Sundeen: “One thing you have to admit, there were some very colorful characters in the
Rollye: “Don sent a link to the bio book on Morris Levy released in March. Author Richard
Carlin does a thorough job of tracing Moishe’s career from Birdland to the bad move that
reading the book is as good as the synopsis on Amazon, it’s a killer. Don also sent along an
excerpt from History of the Music Biz: The Mike Sigman Interviews. It’s a quick read,
including info on where to get the rest of the story. Click here
Doc Wendell: “I hope all is well. I've been working very hard on my new site and I thought I'd
send you my latest review
of an amazing jazz trumpeter before I take a short and needed
Ron Brandon: “Hi Rollye... something I've noticed... In the old days when a group of
radio/records guys (as you have as readers) would gather, they would tell the "real" stories.
Now I notice that the stories are either not told at all; only the "clean" version is told, etc. So
on this rainy day I thought I would take the time to share a couple of "real" stories. You can
use or not use.. at your leisure and discretion. In the first story I'll change the names to protect
those still above ground.. who now prefer to be identified only as adoring grandparents who
used to be in the rock and roll biz. (At one time a dear friend that we all know asked me to
pull something that I had posted on Facebook.. because he didn't think it appropriate that his
FB friends see it..even though it was relatively innocent back in our day.. and I immediately
obliged). I frequently see suggestions that so-and-so should write a book.. but the books that
have been written are either sanitized or disguised as fiction..
“This story involved four characters as follow: Major independent record promoter I will call
"Indy".. major market Program Director will be called "PD".. major label record guy will be
"Smash".. and tip sheet publisher will be "Tip". Story takes place is a major Southern city in
“Four guys sitting around about 4pm on a lazy summer afternoon at Indy's house in the burbs.
A few beverages have been consumed.. just idly shooting the breeze. Someone suggests..
nothing going on.. let's hop in the car and head downtown. They make it as far as the nearest
bar in a shopping mall on the perimeter.. and decide to stop for a quick one. They enter and
are reluctantly served.. seems one of them is inappropriately dressed.. flip-flops (even though
no one else was in the place). So after just one or two they return to the Indy's shiny new
Cadillac Seville.. and proceed to discuss what to do next.. now about 5pm, prime traffic time.
There's no hurry.. just chatting.. when Smash remembers that he is carrying his long-barrel
magnum.. which he pulls out for all to inspect. While none of the four had any expertise with
firearms, each thought he would like to try it out. Down goes the window... up goes the
pistol.. and with a mighty roar half a dozen shots are fired. They agreed that was fun.. but
what do do next?
“As they continued to chat.. several police cars with lights and sirens blaring.. came careening
into the shopping area. Wonder what's going on they all questioned.. maybe a robbery or
some such. After a few minutes, one realized that perhaps the cops were responding to “shots
fired”.. that perhaps the cops would consider such action inappropriate, and maybe they
should move on down the road, which they did. So, in afternoon drive traffic, they headed on
downtown for further adventures. "Hey look.. there's the Royal Crown (name changed) hotel..
let's stop there.."..a familiar watering hole since several industry conventions had been held
there. Not a bad idea.. into the hotel and to the lobby bar.. where several more beverages
“Apparently a private party was taking place in the adjoining disco, and Tip insisted that they
mingle. Again, the dress code surfaced..but Tip talked their way in as he had held events in
the hotel. Not a good idea.. and they were soon asked to leave.. which they did..party was
kinda dull. Exiting through the lobby bar doors, PD and Smash managed to get into a
disagreement. Although the subject matter was of no importance, it quickly led to an
on-the-ground wrestling match outside the hotel lobby bar. As they fell into nearby
bushes, PD came up with a beer bottle that had been discarded by some careless patron. After
brandishing it threateningly for whatever reason, the thought occurred to PD that the best
thing to do with the bottle was to throw it through one of the beautiful stained glass
windows..which he promptly did.. with a resounding crash. Even in their inebriated state,
each realized that a quick vacating of premises was appropriate..and they split.
“Back into the Seville.. PD insisted that he drive feeling that he was the most sober of the
group (which was open for discussion). Continuing to head for the heart of downtown,
someone suggested a visit to a nearby "Gentlemen's Club." Sounded like a good idea.. and
PD took the next exit. As it happened there was a large stretch of fairly level ground near the
exit.. and PD quickly left the exit and proceeded to do doughnuts in the shiny new Seville.
While impressed with his driving expertise, someone suggested that should all the cops not be
searching for the earlier gun-firing individuals, they might have negative thoughts about
his driving exhibition.
“So.. on to the Gentlemen's Club. They were immediately admitted.. and settled into
comfortable seating..Tip at the bar where some very talented young ladies were
demonstrating interesting gyrations on the bar.. Smash and Indy at a nearby table.. and PD
gone to the bathroom. All was fine for a period ot time.. when.. of all things, to Tip's
amazement PD climbed onto the bar and began to dance with aforementioned young ladies.
“Damn, Tip thought, that PD is a fine dancer.” However, for some unsuspected reason, this
was apparently against house rules.. patrons were not supposed to dance on the bar with the
“Bouncers seemingly came from everywhere.. One got to the bar first.. and PD promptly
popped him in the jaw and down he went.. much to the amazement of the entire room.
“Damn.. just like in the movies..” exclaimed Tip.. and Smash and Indy laughed heartily.
However, all good things must end.. and the bouncers quickly gained the upper hand, and
promptly began ejecting the foursome from the premises. Unknown to all.. the president of a
local record company and her party were in a far corner of the room... obviously enjoying
the hilarity of the brewhaha. After explaining to the owner of the club who the guys were..
that they were in the rock n roll biz.. etc.. the record company execs calmed the situation.. and
our guys were allowed to leave..and all ended reasonably well.
“Amazingly.. right next door to the "Gentlemen's Club" there was a massage parlor. Indy and
Smash agreed that sounded like a great idea..so in they went. Or so they thought. Whether
quick intuition of the proprietor or word of mouth from the Gentlemen's Club.. admittance was
refused in spite of displays of cash and credit cards by Indy and Smash. By this time.. the
night was pretty much over.. 3 am or so. Back in the Seville.. back to the burgs..not too much
conversation now.. when.. Smash discovered a bottle of Dom underneath the front seat.. which
was promptly opened and sprayed about the interior. Home safe.. a little worse for wear.. the
guys called it a night. And next day.. off to their respective pursuits of running a radio station,
promoting hit records, and publishing a tip sheet.. which they all did with some level of
“And that's a true "real" story... not that unusual for that time and place in the biz. Maybe I'll
settle for just the one story today.. there are many others.”
Rollye: “What a great story! I believe every word and I can see it unfold in the mind’s eye
like it was just yesterday.
“Nice to hear from Ron Brandon, and timely too. I was about to contact him on David
to me. I’m always amazed at what’s there and often searchable. If you’re wondering how it
got there, it’s folks like you and me letting David copy (and return) our archival copies. At the
moment he’s after tip sheets. I found Bob Hamilton for him, but what he’s got in the way of
back issues, I’m not certain. And I think I got him in touch with Betty Breneman. But there
are so many more. So Ron, meet David…”
David Gleason: “My problem is not knowing many of the players. I’d cold call Kal
Rudman, but he’d have no idea who I am. Joel Denver has a lot of old R&Rs, and I have
written him but I think I lack credibility. Same with Ron Fell, who might still have Gavin
Reports from his 23 years there… or Ben Fong-Torres who I sent emails to but never got a
reply. I wonder where Bob Hamilton is? I traveled between several jobs with a complete set
of the Hamilton sheets, and whenever I was at a loss for a good promotion, I would read
through a batch and look for the stories about things other stations had done.
“I never heard about Mickey Turntable. That sounds like a fascinating story you should write
about with Claude.
“On a totally different subject, and one more in the Mediatrix vein, did anyone save real
ratings books from the 60’s and 70’s? I have a few old Hoopers and a Pulse or two but very
few early Arbitron issues. If anyone has any, I’ll send them prepaid UPS labels and return
them after scanning. This is one area that is actually quite fun, as people have a selective
memory about past ratings successes… how many #3 stations become #1 over time?”
Rollye: “I gave David the cliff notes on Mickey Turntable— a true Buffalo soap opera. I
think Bob Skurzewski reads this column, and if so, I bet he’ll be the best to dish all the dirt on
“I’m incredulous that David would have any credibility problems. No one comes close to his
nearly as good anywhere), his industry experiences are priceless, and Todd Storz gave him
advice on starting his first top 40 station (which David did, as a teen in South America). I’ve
offered my name for David to use for the few doors it might open, and I bet Claude Hall will
do likewise, which would open just about every door in the industry.”
David Gleason: “ Speaking of Claude, I only met him a couple of times but I think he was in
frequent contact with a good friend and good competitor in Puerto Rico, Bob Bennet. Bob ran
Bob Hope’s station in San Juan, WBMJ (and was identified as Bob Badger in a photo in a
recent issue Vox Jox). WBMJ was a real Top 40, all in English, in the middle of the
Joey Reynolds: “I am so happy to have you (Claude) in my life AND everybody else is as
well. You and Rollye are the light at the end of this tunnel— that has more potholes than my
daughter’s marijuana field.
“I truly believe in the future and the next generation with a restoration of some history and
common unity… In my opinion the big dogs need to give space to the puppies, Clear
Channel/iHeart, Cumulus, CBS, Fox, and the others who do not serve a signal area need to
give the licenses back for reappointment and restore the public involvement…This move on
the part of congress would be an act of faith in the districts which they serve and create
employment thru entrepreneurial investment. The govt will like it, the banks will like it, the
public will have honest variety again and the music industry people will get access and local
platforms for hard to place music, news and commercials.
“A shame to put public money in airport security. It's been said 'If you want peace stop
bombing other countries’… There is not enough money in the world to keep enemies from
doing destruction, they are termites, maybe we can start by respecting other cultures and by
example get our own house in order.
“Imagine radio and tv are relying on a 2 year time buy for electing a President and holding on
to old systems like ratings, we are never going to grow with old ideas… Let's search then we
can re search… The media is the way to get out of this mess. How can a dozen people own all
of these properties and serve millions of families and communities?
Rollye: “Claude has said repeatedly how fond he was of Lee Baby Simms. He considered
Lee his best friend, and he misses him greatly. Recently, he got this heartfelt email:”
“Dear Claude, I am Brynda. Lee’s long ago love. I decided to write after reading how much
you still miss Lee. I regret not contacting you years ago, after reading, “I Love Radio.” It not
only brought back fond memories of Lee but led me to him. Thanks to you, after many years, I
was able to visit him every week via Hollywood Hills and Radiodom. I took great pleasure in
reading about the Three Mesquiteers, his joy over growing the maters (among other things),
his rants and raves, or simply what he was having for lunch. He could still make me laugh and
cry. All the times I wanted to reach out to him. When George Wilson passed away or
mentioning me in one of his candid stories. Many lingering questions were answered from
reading his comments. I longed for those Mondays until I read he was gone. I have loved Lee
for most of my life. Not one day passes that I don’t think about him or listen to countless
songs with the memories that tell our story. Last year you wrote about unrealized dreams, we
all have them; mine was to see Lee one more time. I truly treasured the time you gave me.
You, Woody, and Bob did for me what Lee could not, ended my doubts and gave me some
closure. I pray your health continues to improve so you can finish “George and Me.” Warm