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John Lennon controversially claimed The Beatles were bigger than Jesus.
Some fans felt Muhammed Ali was bigger than The Beatles.
by Rollye James
Bob Sherwood: “Breaking news Muhammad Ali is dead at 74. Aside from John Kennedy
and perhaps Dr. King, I can’t think of anyone who had more impact on the totality of the lives
of our generation. And he was certainly and justifiably the most recognizable figure in the
Claude Hall: “Rick Sklar, when he was program director of WABC in New York City, told
me this. He was having his usual weekly disc jockey meeting about music when the door
suddenly exploded open and Howard Cosell burst into the room, followed closely by boxer
Muhammad Ali. ‘These are all racists’, exclaimed Cosell and one arm sweep around the
room. ‘Take care of them, Ali’.”
Nelson Davis: “Do you recall Muhammad Ali attending your Billboard Magazine Radio
Conference in 1969? Though I recall going to one of your gatherings at the Waldorf Astoria
I’m not sure if it was ’68 or ’69. My 73 year old memory replayed the image of me standing
there talking to Dionne Warwick and her then husband which was interrupted by Ali coming
over to chat with her. I do hope that you are well and still love radio.”
Rollye: “It was 1969, June 19-22nd at the Waldorf. The Second Annual Radio Programming
Forum (the first in ’68 was held at the New York Hilton). I had the perfect picture to punctuate
Claude Hall’s story about Ali & Cosell at WABC, but I couldn’t verify the rights to use it, so
The Beatles will have to do.”
Ron Brandon: “It occurs that maybe a large percentage of your readers are not familiar with
RMR..Radio Music Report (and commonly known to many of that era as the Brandon
Report)..or may not know what a "tip" sheet even was. This particular "sheet", or "trade"..
began with the legend Mr. Paul Drew in his Atlanta days..about 1963.. as Southern Music
Survey. When Paul moved on he sold the sheet to Dick Reus in Richmond, who changed the
name to R3 Reus Record Report. Dick was Music Director at WLEE and published the sheet
on the side. He continued with the format that Paul had established..4-6 business size sheets
of paper, stapled together.. a format that Bill Gavin and Kal Rudman used for many years. I
worked with Dick at WLEE for several years in the late 60s.. we'd play golf.. and on occasion
I'd stop by his house on Thursday nights when he put the sheet together. We'd share a bottle of
tequila and I'd staple sheets, address them..or whatever. And along the way, I mentioned to
Dick that should he ever think of selling the sheet, I might be interested.
“Fast forward..1974..I was PD of WORD Greenville/Spartanburg..when Dick called. He was
going to work for Atlantic Records, and did I still have interest in buying the sheet? How
much? $1000. When do you need a decision? Within an hour. I had about a hundred bucks in
the bank.. but I scrounged..called him back.. and became a publisher. Drove to Richmond..
picked up a few cardboard boxes of papers and a portable typewriter..hired a printer.. and we
were in biz.. I had been a big fan of Bob Hamilton's sheet of the 70s, so I determined to
switch to a magazine format that Bob had done so well with. We installed a separate phone
line at my apartment..my lady friend Deb agreed to help..and we were off. And we starved
and worked atrocious hours for a year or so.. but gradually things began to improve.. and in
another year or so we moved to Atlanta.
“I didn't know it then, but in retrospect, the timing was right. Economy with the record
companies was booming..Southern rock was hot..there was a chain of medium market stations
in the South that would go early on records and was popping the hits right and left.. later disco
came along. RMR began to grow almost faster than we could keep up with it. Sharing drinks
with friends one evening, someone suggested "Why don't we have a convention?" Why not..
and we ended up having half a dozen or so very successful events over succeeding years..and
full credit to John Long, Jimmy Davenport..and many others as well as RMR's growing
staff. About 1979, Chuck Dunaway joined and helped tremendously in the continued
growth.. as some weeks we turned out a magazine of over 100 pages.
“So what happened? Most of our revenue came from ads sold to record companies. And late
in 1979 that source began to dry up. In 1980, it became a vast desert of dryness.. and we
printed our last issue in October 1980.. and I personally hauled it to the dumpster. We didn't
have enough in the bank to pay the postage to mail it. That year one of the "major" trades
Record World..also folded.. along with other tip sheets. And, as we all know, not too many
years later.. the grand daddy Radio & Records.. shuttered.. and it was over.
“It was all one big ball of wax.. radio stations, rock and roll, record companies, trade
magazines.. I don't think anyone saw it coming.. the end.. but it's all too clear to all of us now.
Where was that crystal ball when we needed it?”
Rollye: “Great memories in those cover pictures. I hurt reading Ron's story of the last issue’s
fate. I don’t know much about record company economics after 1975, but I was surprised to
read the timeline. Money was freely flowing (probably too freely flowing) to radio in the
‘80s, from local stations to networks and programmers. At some point in the decade, I knew
three programmers who barely made it out of high school and probably skipped math class,
with major equity lines of credit to buy their own stations. And the bacchanalian feel of the
national radio conventions boggled the mind. In ’83 and ’84 while I was with Billboard, I did
a guide to hospitality suites in order of what was being given away, and what was served—
from hors d’oeuvres to entrees to desserts, why not eat it in order? (The suite holders were
none too pleased, of course.) It seemed like the money would never stop coming. So hearing
that record companies clamped down on expenditures to the point RMR had to fold in 1980 is
almost incomprehensible to me.”
Bob Skurzewski: “You can pass my name (email) to David [Gleason -
next Saturday and due to the 50's theme of the street sock hop, we are the only (Terri and I)
authors invited to participate..
“We also have been asked by our library to do a presentation of the book and I am digging out
photos, air checks and alike to see if we can format a 1 hour display. Kinda hectic but there is
always room for more if we can help. Sorry for the delay, it's just been one of those weeks.
Keep Vox Jox coming. Great reading.
Rollye: “I understand the time crunch all too well, and I’m happy to be patient for any gems
Bob wishes to share. Meantime, anyone who has ever had even a passing fondness for
it’s always wonderful to hear from Joey Reynolds though I confess often suspect he starts the
conversation out loud and finishes it online. Take this email for example:”
Joey Reynolds: “I like the original
Tried the crispy and don't like it
Hello to Colonel Hall and Rollye Kroc
My most favorite is still In and Out.”
Rollye: “Hopefully Joey's talkin’ fast food. It got me to thinkin’ (and it got me hungry). One
of the best things about working in as many markets as Joey did in the ‘60s, is the exposure to
purely local fast food. These days McDonalds is everywhere, but I defy anyone reading this
not to be able to list a handful of places everywhere they worked that were lovely and local.
OK, not always lovely. But often fun. Burger Queen, Burger Chef, Burger must anything…
Royal Castle (putting White Castle to shame big time), Big Boy of every variety from
Abdow’s and Azar’s to Vip’s and Yoda’s (not to mention the original.. Bob’s)… Beef-a-Roo in
Rockford, Ameche’s and Gino’s in Baltimore— but nothing tops Cincinnati chili— which has
little to do with Cincinnati, and less to do with chili. It’s a Greek immigrant concoction.
From the long gone originator Empress, Skyline and relative newcomer Gold Star, to single
locations of Camp Washington, Chili Time and so many more.. but I digress. Happily. See
what you started, Joey?”
Art Vuolo to Joey Reynolds: “OK was it Joey Reynolds on KB in Buffalo or Jerry Stevens at
WIBG in Philly who did the premier exclusive of Freddie Cannon's lesser hit "Patty Baby" in
1963? Here's Lou Simon's take on the Satellite Survey Show on Sirius XM!”
Joey Reynolds: “OK, Louie Louie— I was managed by Tony Mamarella who co owned
Swan records with Dick Clark and Bernie Binnick. The US congress asked Dick to remove
himself from ownership of music which he played, and he did. Freddie was on his way with
Palisades Park and probably Jerry Stevens played it first cause he was in a bigger market and
the backyard of Swan and Dick Clark. I was just a beat behind and maybe hyped it a little. In
those days the glue in radio and records was the promo men, and I will bet Matty Singer
brought the record to WIBG. Jerry was a pioneer in FM with WMMR in Philly, although I
had met him in Buffalo years earlier on WBNY, he was a smooth jock who really wanted
WNEW in NY, his hometown.
“I WANT CANDY by Niles, Giles and Chiles”— Feldman, Goldstein and Gotterher were
The Strangeloves, a fake Australian group along with Ron Striano who is now a credible
psychologist for the elderly in Jersey, He made the old folks crazy when they were kids and
now makes money healing them.
“FGG produced the Angels, Richie Gotterher started the Orchard and had hits with Sire
records and Seymour Stein who owned Madonna. Bobby Feldman went to Nashville
independently, later Jerry Goldstein had a label and produced WAR with Steve Gold in LA.
Sly and the Family Stone came after Epic.
“The authority on all of this is Rollye Bornstein, she will fill in the blanks. It's a wonder
Jerry Blavat doesn't take credit, he is the Geator with the Heator. I love him.”
Rollye: “I’m flattered, but hardly the authority on anything, let alone this, other than to know
that Jerry Blavat wouldn’t have been caught dead playing a FGG bubblegum record back
then, probably not even The Strangloves’ “I Want Candy” with its Bo Diddley inspired beat.
“Joey knows more about this story than I’ll ever learn. He’s in large part responsible for
spreading the word that Ron Striano was a Strangelove. Ron had an enviable, but widely
unknown, music career on his own— including being discovered by Gerry Granahan as a
pre-teen and becoming the house guitarist for Caprice Records, where The Angels did what is
arguably the best ‘60s white girl group record ever— “Cry Baby Cry”. Unfortunately Ron
didn’t write “I Want Candy” (in addition to FGG, Bert Berns gets credit), because it truly is
the song that won’t die. Everybody and their brother has cut it, it’s been used in parodies and
commercials (most notably I Want Pringles), and was a top 10 hit in Europe within the last
“Speaking of brothers, nothing tops the “official” story on The Strangeloves, who were said
to be an Australian group of siblings from a sheep herding family and their cousin, Reggie
Strange (Striano played that role). Strange/Striano would have forever faded into obscurity
had it not been for The Joey Reynolds Show
on WOR. IMDB has a great bio on Ron here
beg to differ with Joey on one point though— Ron, the psychologist treating the elderly
today, is not healing the folks he drove crazy with his music in the ‘60s. The teens who
bought “I Want Candy” when it was first released are now all chronologically eligible to be his
Claude Hall: “I wish you could have heard quad. Real quad. The discrete version. Matrix
sucked, in spite of what Dr. Ben Bauer would have told you. What he told me when he flew
in a scientist from Japan and they installed the system in my office at 9000 Sunset Blvd., Los
Angeles. I was flattered. Hell, yes. He was in my textbooks in college. But the Doobie
Brothers with “Jesus Is Just Alright” in discrete quad could wipe you out. Deadly! I should
know. I was more than likely the world’s greatest authority on this new sound involving four
speakers. Lou Dorren, the genius inventor, knew more, perhaps, but his view was limited to
himself and his own inventions. He’s the person who found a way to broadcast quad over an
FM signal. Previously, Jim Gabbert at K101-FM in San Francisco convinced another FM to
broadcast the two rear signals and his station broadcast the two front signals. Crude. Not
commercially viable and certainly not ecstatically pleasing. There were a couple of Jim
Croce LPs in matrix that I liked. Wished they could have been in discrete.
“Just FYI, courtesy of JVC, I was one of 14 writers (there were only two of us from the
United States, a fat guy from Audio Fidelity magazine) invited to Japan to tour the JVC labs
and factories and the head of the firm treated us to a fancy dinner and presented each of us
with a present for our wives. I asked Barbara yesterday if she still had the cultured pearl
necklace he gave me and, yes, she does. Me, I have the phenomenal memories. I took a stroll
on the Ginza and bought a discrete quad LP … the only LP that I can recall buying during all
of my years with Billboard. Just FYI, I listened to one of the first stereo LPs ever – Louis
Armstrong on Audio Fidelity Records; bought the LP at the Colony Record Store on
Broadway in Manhattan; played it ob an Emerson. This was long before I joined Billboard
“Yeah, I knew quad. I still have the equipment to play both matrix and discrete. And
probably the largest collection of LPs in existence unless Lou Dorren has some hidden away.
But I never hooked the system up here in Las Vegas. So, while I’m writing this about how
great it was, I myself haven’t heard quad in more than three dozen years. I dream of what
could have been. That’s it.
“I was hanging out with Dorren a lot. Had been with him when he demonstrated the system to
the head of Lockheed. I was in constant contact with Jim Gabbert when he broadcast the
first single station quad music. Discrete, of course.
“What happened to quad?
“Well, there was the big fight between CBS (matrix) and RCA (discrete). It was the damnest
fight you ever saw. Bloody, to some extent. A fortune was at stake. The public got confused.
You play a discrete quad LP on a matrix system, you’re lucky if stereo comes out. And vice
versa. You could play both systems in stereo and the stereo was usually there.
“Another thing, I came to work one day and my desktop was clean. All of the materials I’d
placed there regarding quad (I had no filing cabinet) in my cubicle at 146th “up behind the
Paramount Theatre” there in Manhattan. Hal Cook, publisher, had got in a dither one
evening, mad as hell about something else, and gone on a cleaning spree. He didn’t suffer
these spells often. Once with a set of drums at home in Scarsdale. Books, news releases,
academic research papers … all gone. Suddenly, I had nothing real that I could quote in my
articles about quad. No sources.
“We are currently going through a technical explosion of sorts – computers, iPads,
smartphones and who knows what’s coming the pike. I’m listening at the moment to the
Mavericks in stereo. Bet Raul Malo would have been great in quad. Little Feat, too. And
Lyn Stanley, wow!
Rollye: “Quad’s fate reminds me of AM Stereo. When a standard isn’t mandated (even a bad
one), it’s rare a technology catches on. (As I type that, it can be argued that VHS trumped
Beta in the open market, but but Sony’s reluctance to license Beta— clearly a better format—
while JVC would license it to anyone with a pulse, sealed the deal.) As bad as NTSC is
(never twice, same color, as they say), how long would it have taken color tv to catch on
“And for AM stereo, it can additionally be argued the separation was never the issue— fidelity
was all important, with few AM stations redoing their audio chain start to finish focused on it.
Most still had remnants left of everything from the loudness wars of the 60s to reverb. But
with Quad, I think it really did come down to the lack of a standard. And I concur totally with
Claude. Discrete (4-4-4) was the way to go. Matrix (4-2-4) paled by comparison, and near as I
can tell, Derived (2-2-4) caused listener insanity. Ok, I’m exaggerating there. But there’s
irony in that “Surround Sound” so popular today is a poor imitation of discrete Quad at it’s
“Back in the days of open reel tapes, commercial releases went to the home market on quarter
track. I vaguely recalled a quad version of a quarter track machine with all four tracks in one
direction— Teac, I thought. Looking online I came up with a picture of it on the wikipedia
which includes an interesting rundown echoing some of Claude’s thoughts.”
Claude Hall: “Good day here. Got a little work done on my novel. Happy about that! I'd
intended to include the stuff you emailed me about Zhito years ago, but can't find it. Darnit!
Good stuff. Supports my own conjecture. What a pity! You're a good writer, too.”
Rollye: “Claude having a good day is the best news of all to me. As for Zhito, clearly Lee
Zhito wouldn’t make the last of anyone’s “most respected”. I hunted for whatever I sent
Claude because after writing it, I seemed to purge much of it from my memory. One of these
days I’ll dredge it up again. I do remember he got his comeuppance courtesy of me. Can still
see him mumbling to himself on the other side of the conference table. I also remember that
the British Embassy stopped him cold when he offered his soon to be Editor In Chief less
money to come to New York than the UK government felt was survivable. Yeah, fine guy.”
Bob Levinson: “Late in adding my support here for honoring Russ Regan with a NARAS
Lifetime Achievement Award. Long overdue and long, long deserved.”
Mel Phillips: “When we launched WRKO in 1967, we were determined to play the best top
40 music, have the best disc jockeys to play that music, have the best news staff and create the
most talked about promotions in Boston. We accomplished all of those goals. With Harvey
Mednick as Promotion Director, we had such memorable promotions as the Casino Royale
Premiere and resulting riot, our diamond giveaway, Fashion Happenings, summers in Canobie
Lake Park, Win Your Weight In Money, Candy Apple Red Mustang giveaway, Camaro and
Golden Opel giveaways, the Money Machine, Secret Sound, Black Box, boat cruises, New
England Dragway races. We also presented the hottest music acts, produced oldies albums and
did on-air countdowns in addition to The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. The photos that follow
give you just a taste of what we delivered first and best to New England:”
“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 (the hotel room plan and party venue are in their final stages & will be announced
soon)... On Air: WRKO-AM and Backbone Streaming (produced by George Capalbo
Jr.) (Saturday Night June 3, 2017, 7-11 pm). The reunion is a year away.”