A Personal History of the British Record Business 49 – Jeffrey Kruger 6.

Basically, we have now reached 1966, so we’ll end that last sentence in part 5 and move on!

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That’s how our label grew until in 1966, thanks to Len (Wood) again, I did a second rights deal with Capitol. Arising out of that I was in Vegas and I saw Glen Campbell playing on Shindig. It was a song called Turn around and look at me.

Were you aware that the UK company was not releasing everything Capitol was putting out?

Correct. I was looking for album material, so I said to Len ‘listen, I’m a collector. Now you haven’t released Ella Mae Morse, you haven’t released the Jodimars.’  He said ‘never heard of them.’ Ron White came up ‘Ever heard of the Jodimars, Ron?”No.’ I said  ‘they’re a breakaway group from Bill Haley & the Comets – when I toured Bill he told me about them. Ella Mae Morse – can I release them?’ ‘I don’t see why not but you’ve got to clear everything through us.’ I said ‘that’s fair enough.’ The first ones I cleared  were Ella-Mae Morse, the Jodimars, Donna Hightower, whom I loved, and a Christian choir. Capitol was thrilled because I was picking up stuff that had no meaning, and they were earning money.

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Oh, and in between I did a little thing and got the rumour from someone at EMI that John Barry was unhappy. I took John on as my A&R man and that’s when Ember got serious. He wanted to be in A&R but George (Martin), Wally (Ridley) and Norrie (Paramor) were protecting their positions and wouldn’t let him produce, so he came to me and that’s how we got Chad and Jeremy and the Bond soundtracks which we licensed to United Artists in America, and Annie Ross and Billy Cotton – all things John did.

Dave Clark?

Travelling up on the Brighton Belle every morning in a carriage for six were Laurence Olivier, Kay O’Dwyer, myself, Beecher Stevens (the big man, manager of Jimmy Savile), and Jimmy Phillips all in the carriage. Jimmy said to me ‘I’ve got this song by this new group. I don’t like the record but it’s got that thumping sound you did with Madison. Can you put it out for me? I want to hold the copyright.’ ‘Who is it?’ ‘Dave Clark.’ ‘Send him up to see me.’ Dave came up and played me the record. No sooner did I sign it than Harold Davison called me said ‘listen, I don’t want you to release that.’ I said ‘don’t put me in an awkward position. I travel with Jimmy 365 days of the year – I’m committed.’ ‘Well, don’t do anything with it – just put it out.’ I said ‘why?’. He said ‘I’ve just signed Dave to Columbia. He’s going to be one of our big artists and he’s embarassed that you’ve agreed to put this out. Knowing you, you’ve got two singles, you’ll put an EP out and you do it as part of an LP.’ I said ‘yeah.’ He said ‘well, will you let the other single come out?’ I said ‘what do you mean?’, knowing full well what he meant. ‘Well, Dave has now cut two crackers. I don’t want anything to interfere with that.’ ‘Oh’, I said, ‘I won’t do that’, thinking I’ll wait till EMI release it, let them do all the work and then come in with it. Which is exactly what I did. But what I didn’t realise was that, indrectly I made an enemy of Dave Clark. Subsequently, many many years later I sold it back to him. He’ll never let it come out again. It didn’t affect my friendship with Harold. I didn’t put out the second one as I recall, but I did put it out on an album with a group of ours called The Washington DC’s.

 

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It was Dave Clark in big letters and….that’s because, again, once I got distribution and Oriole went out of the picture, my distributors were saying to me that it was getting harder and harder to compete with EMI and Decca. ‘You don’t have the promotional dollars to throw in. Your stuff is selling steadily and we know we’ll take everything you’ve got because we know it will sell three, five, ten thousand, but why should the dealers stock your stuff when they’re being pushed to take EMI’s Top Ten. Why don’t you do what you said you were going to do at the awards dinner.’ ‘What did I say?’ ‘When you got the award for Fool Britannia you stood up and said to the Gramophone Retailers Association that you guys out there had better support we independents.’ That’s when I made this famous speech. I just repeated what came into my head because the guest of honour was Sir Edward Lewis, who reluctantly gave me the award. I said ‘because if you don’t buy our material, you’re going to force us to go elsewhere. I’ve seen it in America, so I will sell to Smiths, Boots, chemists, airports, railway stations, garages – in fact I’m going to launch a budget line.’ I came out with the first budget line under ten shillings (50p). The cheapest was Decca at 17/6 (85p) so I undercut them, stupidly and without realising I’d probably cut the throat of the record business. Once I did, they had to undercut and it took the emphasis off the topline, except for the big stars. But I started the first under £1 budget record and it became a huge success. It became the FA (Famous Artists) series. FA had a different connotation – everybody told me I couldn’t do that!

LP’s for under ten shillings?

Yes, they were good. One of them was the Dave Clark thing, Broken. I couldn’t couldn’t have put John Barry out on that series, but I had other things and I packaged them as beautifully as I could. We really had the first budget line at that price. It was even cheaper than Embassy was selling to Woolworths, though they weren’t in it at the time.

As juch as he hated me, I got a call one day from Ted Lewis – very rare. I said ‘as long as this call’s not to invite me to cricket.’ He always laughed at that. He said ‘Have you heard of this man Mandela?’ I said ‘yes I saw it on the news last night – this canon Phillips or someone from St. Paul’s cathedral was saying how terrible it is.’ He said ‘they want me to release this album Why I am Ready to Die by Nelson Mandela. I can’t put it out. Same way as you picked up Fool Britannia can I give it to you? It’s got to come out’

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Did Decca not want Fool Britannia?

Originally it was offered to Decca. It was the fact that I put out records that were different. I didn’t care. Politics didn’t mean anything. I saw the canon from St. Paul’s who said all his parishioners would buy it. All I could see were sales, but I got it fromSir Edward which was ironic. It’s still in the catalogue today (2000-ish) and it was a huge seller and we gave part of the money to the apartheid situation, and I was banned from going to South Africa for a while, not that I wanted to go. So there is a capsulated version are some of the highlights of Ember which sytarted with nothing.

I hadn’t realised Ember started as a subsidiary of an American label

It was going to be subsidiary of an American label, but it was always mine.

Tell me about Glen Campbell

Before we come to that. Please understand that I am not looking for ego, but there are things that I did that nobody else did and if it hadn’t been for me, the independent business as it exists today might not have existed. I’d like you to at least acknowledge that I had to find pressing – it wasn’t there – and had to find distribution. I had to ride my bike to distribute product; I had to get it played against the majors saying ‘if you don’t play this you’re not going to get that’. I was up against everything. I couldn’t get my stuff on the air because there was a monopoly. If you explain that background within the history maybe, then it makes sense.

Tell me about promotion

What usually happened was down to personal relationship. For instance, Alan Dell loved jazz, came down the club. I’d say ‘I’m going to release this Chico Hamilton or this Gerry Mulligan. ‘I gotta have it.’ Alan played my records to death and in the course of chatting he wasn’t for me or against me. These are good records – support the independents. I built up a network of independent reviewers. A written review was very important, almost as important as radio. The Rodney Collins’s of this world were just starting and they would say ‘we can’t get review copies – we’re getting Melodisc, Oriole, can we have yours?’ So  I brought in a secretary just to service those people, so I was a hero to them. When John Barry came on board I said ‘Look, the biggest problem we have is getting your stuff promoted. Don’t think just because you’re John Barry and you’ve had twenty hits that DJ’s are going to love you because you’re on Ember. We’ve got a talking point John, but you’ve got to realise you’re now on the other side of the fence.’ ‘Oh no, I’m John Barry.’ John had an ego. We clashed all the time because I was watching the pennies and John was used to spending. ‘I want 60 men (musicians)’ ‘Jesus, can you get a bigger sound with 60 than you can with 30? I thought you were this great arranger who could make 30 sound like 60.’

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It worked for a while. When he wanted a big band he had a big band – those were the rows. He came to me one day and said ‘We’ve got to have a promotion man. Who’s the best in the business?’ ‘You can’t afford the best.’ ‘Well, I don’t know who the best is yet.’

I bumped into Teddy Holmes at Chappells, who is the doyen of all publishers and who was giving me masters to release. That’s how I met Hal Shaper – they all had songs they wanted to get released. Ted said to me one day ‘Jimmy Henney will plug the hell out of this, don’t worry.’ ‘Who’s Jimmy Henney?’ Everywhere I went at the BBC all I heard about was Jimmy Henney, whose office wasn’t at Chappells, it was at the BBC! When Jimmy said ‘play’ it was played; when David Jacobs was told to play it on Juke Box Jury, it was played. They had a fantastic relationship. I found out Jimmy was unhappy for some reason at Chappells and I went to Ted and said ‘I’m going to talk to Jimmy.’ (I never went behind people’s backs). I sat down with Jimmy and told him what I was trying to do. He said ‘I’m aware of what you’re trying to do – they hate you in the business. You’re the one who’s doing all the things they wish they could do, but you’re doing it. But I don’t think you afford me, unless you let me do my deejaying’ (Chappells wouldn’t let him do his GPO broadcasts or something). I said ‘I don’t care what you do as long as you plug John Barry’s stuff.’ That’s how we got all the play on Chad and Jeremy and things like that. I put Jimmy Henney on the payroll.

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I think that next time we actually are going to reach Glen Campbell and maybe even a lengthy, but sure to be entertaining Frank Sinatra story!

Text © David Hughes, 2017. Photos gleaned from Google Search purely for illustration.

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A Personal History of the British Record Business 48 – Jeffrey Kruger 5.

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The usual delay but here we go with the next instalment of one of the British music business’s key 1960’s entrepreneurs. Jeff has formed Ember Records initially as a British offshoot of the American company and used EMI to licence some now rare R&B tracks. Now we come to the Harry Simeone Chorale, whose version of Little Drummer Boy’ was a Top 20 hit in February 1959, and the seven following years.

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It first came out on Top Rank; then their rights were up and I signed and had the hits. Bill Metcalfe was Jean’s husband (Jean Metcalfe was one of the presenters of ‘Two Way Family Favourites’, a record request programme for the armed forces in Germany and their families in England, and then the biggest record show on radio.) Bill was the show’s producer in Germany and I was one of the few publishers to go over there and give them my releases. I’d heard that Radio Luxembourg charged fees – that was where Keith Fordyce reigned. On the British Forces network Bill Metcalfe reigned but I didn’t know until I got there that Bill was married to Jean. The bottom line was that I would give new records for Bill to play. He became a hero. AFN (American Forces Network) was getting them off Bill, so socially he was on free meals or whatever, and Jean would play Onward Christian Soldiers, Little drummer boy and my other things, not just because I was over there plugging but because genuine requests were coming in. As long as she could find one card and she could finally play it (Drummer Boy) she’d play it.

(I think Jeff’s memory is playing tricks on him here. I cannot trace a Bill Metcalfe with BFN – Bill Crozier, yes – and Jean was married (for the first and only time I believe) to Cliff Michelmore and for a while all three were with Two-Way Family Favourites, whuch may explain the muddle!)

 

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So I wrote to Sir Edward Lewis in April 19th 1962. It was my birthday and his birthday. I said to him ‘Happy Birthday from one person in the record business to the giant’ (I worded it very carefully).’May I take your mind back to 1927 when you were in my position? Why would you deny me the right to get (record) distribution? How can I hurt you? You can’t stop the independents – we’re coming. If you don’t let me release legitimately, where you’ll earn money through your distributor, Selector, you’re going to force me to sell my records in railway stations, bookshops, anywhere I can. You’re not going to stop me. You may not like me but give me credit for doing no different to what you did.’ I get a call ten minutes after the post has arrived. ‘I’m on my way to Lords. England are playing – nothing stops for England. Join me.’ I go to (well, he says The Oval, which would have been a bit silly!). He’s sitting there in his box and he says ‘I don’t know what to make of you but you intrigue me.’ I said ‘If my product sells, you earn and I earn. If it doesn’t, I’ve misjudged. I’ve got specialist albums that are not going to hurt you – give me distribution with Selecta. Give me the freedom to deal with them the same as any other company.’ He said ‘I’ve got to make a call.’ Who’s the call to? I presume L.G. (Wood). In any event I get distribution. The minute I got Selecta L.G. calls and says ‘well, if you’ve got Selecta, you’ve got to have EMI.’ So now I’ve got the chance of full-blown distribution, all the money I’m earning from the club and from commissions and publishing. It’s a different story pressing albums. I had to have a designer. I had to have a copyright person, so I take on Margaret Brace who becomes owner of the biggest copyright bureau in Europe. Then I had to move to bigger premises. There was no pressing when I started – I found pressing.

Did you carry on with Orlake?

I was loyal to them right up to the time when I needed more. Then I went to Maurice Levy who had the pressing plant in Aylesbury that CBS eventually bought.

Oriole Records (owned by Levy) had the same sort of issues?

No, because he sensibly had a brother and they opened their own pressing plant. Originally his label was not meant to be commercial as it was the Woolworths thing (Oriole was pressing the Woolworth Embassy label, almost exclusively cover versions of hit singles) that kept him going, but in order to sell the Woolworths thing he had to put out a commercial line. He had very few hits. I did produce some things for him, all under my publishing company! What comes to mind? June, July & August comes to mind, and something with a group.

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I produced for him; I didn’t care who, so really he was the first budget line rather than a true independent. There was Melodisc dealing with very ethnic Jamaican things, mainly on 10″. Siggy Jackson worked for a guy  called Emil Shalit. All of us used to talk because we were the pioneers, but I was the one who started the first full-blown label – singles, EP’s, LP’s. First one to put single in (picture) sleeves; the first one to come out with different lines – a jazz line (CJS – Collectors Jazz Series); a country line (CW series), and when London got fed up releasing Starday I took Starday, CEL for Celebrity Series; the first one to do gatefold sleeves. That really is the background to how Ember started.

I had hits in spite of myself. Little Drummer Boy – 300,000 sales for an independent was phenomenal. I had no promotion budget. Onward Christian Soldiers nearly 700,000. I found the first Dave Clark record and put it out.

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Joe Meek had a label called Triumph, went into liquidation. We were all friends, the independents, they all came down to the club. It was like a little circle and Joe said to me ‘I’ve got this new recording of Angela Jones. I’ve just signed Michael Cox with a song called Angela Jones and I really don’t want to know. The liquidator doesn’t know I’ve got this – will you put it out on Ember and pay me the royalties?’ I look at it – one of the songs is my publishing, by pure fluke. So my third Ember record was in fact a Triumph record. We pressed a few copies (Ember S103) but we used all Joe’s remaining stock he’d pressed to beat the liquidator. That’s really what we did if you want to know the truth.

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The fourth record we put out……my wife said to me in 1959 or 1960:’You’re going on holiday whether you like it or not.’ I don’t know why we chose Jamaica but we decided to go to The Playboy Club there. We get there and Ocho Rios is ten minutes away over the Blue Mountain. We got an inter-island flight on Jamaican Airlines and saw this nice little jet there but when we get to it, it’s a three-seater and she hates flying at the best of times. I bundled her in and up we go, the wheels don’t go down, we nearly touch the top of the mountains and we’re in Ocho Rios and she is that colour! She says ‘I don’t care how long it takes on the way back – we’re going by road.’ We have a breakdown and I bump into Desmond Dekker and I listen to a little thing he’s cut called ‘The Israelites’ which I didn’t understand, and while we’re waiting I met the Kong brothers who’d produced it. I stayed extra time, went to their house and signed up Beverley’s Records – well some of their stuff, only to find they’d also sold it to some of my friends in London, the original Trojan. I put it out on Ember. I let them keep it on their label but they had to pay me royalties. Leslie Kong had sold it to MCA and EMI, both of whom came out of the woodwork to get me and I saw them off. I had Desmond’s signature; I had the Kong brothers’ signatures and I made them swear it in front of the Jamaican government. Their lawyers Myers Fletcher and Gordon knew that I knew those royalties were being paid out of the country and that’s a jailable offence in Jamaica. They were also dealing in that stuff, ganja, which you would have known by another name – cannabis, not that I would have said anything, but they knew they’d better not mess. My reputation was getting to be ‘if you deal with him and he shakes your hand you’ll get everything – he’s very fair – but if you cross him, God help you’ and in those days I had a temper and a long memory.                 4e4817f8defe3df7103b91154c5c3ad6--bongo-ska.jpg

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Anyway, I do the deal with Uni in the States after proving to MCA they had no rights, but they said they had this Uni label and I fell in love with Russ Regan who was one of the best. Russ loved the record so I saved MCA’s face by giving them a deal, a 1% over ride, and it went to No.1 as you know, it sold nearly a million. When I got paid it was on 400,000. We also put it out on Ember and it may also have been on Trojan.

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At thgat time I brought in Hal Shaper and Hal got the publishing on it for our company. He had to fight Chris Blackwell at Island who thought he had it and in turn had passed it on to A&M’s publishing. So there was a battle royal but we finished up owning the song – it may have been less that 100%.

That’s how our label grew until 1966 when…..

And there, I’ll leave you to ponder the next tantalising episode, which again involved EMI’s legendary MD L.G. Wood.

Text © David Hughes, 2017, all ilustrations courtesy Google search and are for that purpose only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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50 years ago in the Music Industry 10 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

Even before journalism and 30 years in the music business I had in my small way been a huge supporter of the off shore British “pirate” radio stations largely sited in the North sea either on converted ships or wartime forts on stilts in the river estuaries. That interest became more than just as a listener when a Radio Caroline DJ, Carl Conwayconway-1.jpg

turned up at my front door just outside Maidstone, urging me to help with a ‘Save the Pirates’ petition to present to the prime minister. I jumped in with both feet, using the local and music press to drum up support, and along with others, we did hand it in at the door of No.10. That must have been the silent spur that led to me joining the Kent Messenger and subsequently almost bullying Ray Coleman at Disc to gimme a job! So here we are, fifty years later, marking that anniversary of Radio 1, and here a week or so later in 1967 is my latest round-up feature which, as you’ll gather, revealed me as a great Emperor Rosko fan (though Johnnie Walker, who was still on the ship, was my real hero, along with Carboard Shoes Keith Skues) 50 years!!

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50 years ago in the Music Industry 9 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

Disc was a Top 30 chart weekly. Ray Coleman had this policy – all the time a record was going up the chart we’d interview the artist, or do something on him, her or them, every other week. Those were the days of course when the chart ran the music business, singles tooks weeks to gradually reach their peak, and the keys shows were Top of the Pops (tv) and The Top 40 show on Radio1, on a Sunday late afternoon if I remember correctly. (and look, there’s Fluff, who had probably beenm interviewed by Bob Farmer)

Anyway, 1967 was the year of the Tremeloes (on this particular week, Even the Bad Times Are Good was at No.6, with Englebert’s The Last Waltz at 1)and I was their appointed Disc person. They had hit after hit, so every couple of weeks I’d trot up to Starlite Artistes offices under the genial dictatorship of Peter Walsh – incidentally, also Chairman of Slough FC – and the five of us would try and come up with something to talk about. Pop journalism was intense in those days!

Individual profiles was the obvious starting point. I got on with Alan best of all four, Liz and I went to his wedding, though extraordinarily he died ages before I ever knew.tremeloes.jpeg

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A Personal History of the British Record Business 47 – Jeffrey Kruger 4.

Without wanting to, without maybe even realising it, in order to maximise the return on an American publishing deal he had struck with Ember’s Al Silver, Jeff finds himself having to release the original single of a song called ‘Banjo Boy.’ Because he’s successfully persuaded the majors in the UK and US to record versions, he has no option but to do so himself

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So I was in the record business.

So I’m telling Tony (Hall) that I want to release jazz records. He’s saying to me ‘there’s no money in jazz records; that’s a hobby.’ I went out with some girl and I heard the Ray Ellington Quartet – they were huge at the time. Dick Katz was their pianist, lovely guy, and when I watched him play piano my mouth was open because I couldn’t play like it.The Ray Ellington Quartet.png

Jimmy Phillips, the publisher, came to me with a song called The Madison  and he said ‘I’ve got the same problem as you – I’ve got to get a local version. I can’t get anybody to do it. London are releasing the original version and EMI have knocked it off already but with a singer, and that’s not going to work. I need a gutsy record. I want you to copy this record.’ ‘What do I do?’ He said ‘You hire a studio; in fact I’ll pay for the studio.’ I said ‘Well, I saw somebody last night who could probably cut it beautifully – Ray Ellington.’ ‘Great idea.’ At midnight the next day, the first time we could get any studio space, down  by the BBC where our engineer was the most famous rock producer today, Glyn Johns.

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We cut that and on the other side I put one of my copyrights, happened to be an Angel copyright by the Four Seasons guys, Bob Crewe and Bob Guardio. So we had The Madison Parts 1 & 2, She lied and Too old to cut the mustard. (not according to this single sleeve, but never mind!)

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We put it out; Jimmy got it in the charts for us (November-December 1962) and Walter’s (Woyda) calling me ‘We need more records.’ And I get a call from Woolfsons saying they’ve got record distribution for Scotland but they can’t get the majors’ products – they’re doing main scottish and Irish. I went up to look at this operation. It was huge. So they become our Scottish one. Lugtons did London and Leed with Walter, Then I get a call from a man called Solomons – not Phil, not Mervin, but the father (Maurice). I’d like to see you.’ I don’t know who he is. Up he comes, the old man and his wife, dolled in diamonds, beautiful. He said ‘Do you know me?’ I said ‘No, but are you any relation to Phil and Mervin?’ ‘Yes, Mervin runs our distribution in Ireland – we are the exclusive distributors for Decca; Phil’s got his own agency and he’s going to start a pirate radio station…(I’m not sure of the chronological order).’ He said to me – ‘Look, my bona fides are this: When Ted Lewis couldn’t pay his wages in 1927, I’m the one who backed him, I’m the one who got the shares and I’m the controlling shareholder for Decca. I want your line for Ireland and I want you to release some of these LP’s of Irish artists. I can sell tens of thousands.

So suddenly I had a network of distribution. ‘What about jazz?’ I said. He said ‘Anything you release there’s a market for, We’ll help you to sell, or we’ll export it for you.’ ‘What’s export?’ ‘Oh, we’ll ship it to France, to Germany, wherever.’ And that’s how I started in the record business. It became the necessity and in order to teach Al Silver a lesson I had the Ember label, so I used what was there. The artwork was ready.

How did you deal with all the admin?

Admin I was brilliant at. I had people. I brought in an accountant. I brought in a book-keeper and the three of us worked donkey’s hours. I mean, I always believed in paying good money and I was young. I worked sixteen, eighteen hours a day, crawling to the club, picking up my father at midnight and driving home. It got to the stage where I fell asleep one night and we brought in a driver. But I was running them all. Pete King was doing the agency, I was looking after the records and in 1961 I realised I needed albums.

In between I went up to see Len Wood again. Len always comes in to the picture, and I said ‘Len, I need distribution – I’m going to go after albums and things.’ He said ‘well, I can’t give you distribution yet unless Decca do, because I’ll be breaching an agreement that I shouldn’t tell you exists. The majors will go against each other, let’s simply say that. But downstairs is a man you can meet who has an office in Hayes and he’s the best exporter of product in the world. When he’s sober, he’s the best.’  I can’t think of his name, but he was your (EMI’s) head of export sales for donkey’s years – you brought in a young guy to help him and he took over, I sat down with him and he said ‘I can export this stuff but I must have an exclusive.’ I said ‘I don’t want the bother. How do I get paid?’ He said ‘every six months.’ I said ‘I want monthly payments – I need a cashflow.’ ‘OK, EMI’s big enough to handle that, or we’ll feed you on account and twice a year we’ll adjust it and you’ll owe us or we’ll owe you.’ Great.

I went over to the States. I knew and bumped into the man running 20th Century Fox, Norman Weiser, and he said ‘Well, you can have some of our albums. We’ve got Al Martino, Tommy Dorsey, the soundtrack of Summer Valley, Glenn Miller Band, but the best thing we’ve got is the Harry Simeone Chorale Little Drummer Boy.’ I said ‘I’m a jazz label, R&B, what is this stuff?’ He said ‘Well, you’ll have all our soundtracks, a free pass to all our pictures (I still loved the movies) and we’re filming Cleopatra  so you’ll finish up with that.’ Little Ember Records signed its first deal, not with a nobody, with 20th Century Fox! Again, we got publicity all over the world. Then I started to pick up albums. On the Billie Holiday tour she said to me ‘I’ve got masters you know.’ I said ‘Well I don’t know if I can get them out but I will try and get them released for you. Who knows? I don’t know what the future will bring. Send them to me.’  When I toured Billy Eckstine, he told me he had a band. He said ‘the girl you’re bringing on tour was my relief pianist and singer, Sarah Vaughan.’ I said ‘ Where are those records?’ He said ‘I’ve got them somewhere – I’ll send you the tapes.’ I started to collect these things, never thinking I’d put them out.

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I went to Cincinnati and met Syd Nathan who had a label called King. His office boy was Seymour Stein who went on to do Madonna and so forth. Syd took a liking to me. He was very wide, very fat, eating all the time. Came to work at two in the afternoon and stayed till midnight, that kind of operation. While waiting for him I was listening to these black guys recording. ‘What’s your name’ ‘Woolly John.’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘I’m Brown, James Brown.’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘We’re the Five Royales.’ I was hearing all these great sounds while waiting for him. His idea of an Englishman was like the Sherlock Holmes films – you wear striped trousers, bowler hat and an umbrella, and here was I going to baseball with him. Not that I liked baseball, but he did, so I liked baseball! The bottom line was that I came away with a contract that gave me his Bethlehem label, which was Duke Ellington, Chris Connor, a lot of jazz stuff which is what I was after. But he said ‘You’ve got to take my Federal label as well. You’ve got James Brown.’ I said ‘Yes, I heard him last night. I don’t know if that stuff will sell in England.’ He said ‘Tonight he’s cutting a new single – come to the session. Woolly John (I don’t believe he exists!!), The Shondels. I’ve just cut one called Dedicated to the one I love, that’s a hit (by the Five Royales). I want you to put those out. If they don’t sell initially, they’ll sell in five or ten years time – this is the coming music. Like, you fancied Al Silver’s kind of R&B – this is the real black stuff.’ So I was at the session when he did Tell me what you’re gonna do by James Brown. I went home and put that out. Then I put the album out. I put all the King albums out and that’s when I needed distribution.

Your (EMI) people were doing a phenomenal job exporting. Then I had Ariola in Germany become my representatives. They came to see me, wanted all this stuff. I called Syd. ‘You got anybody in Germany?’ ‘Where is effing Germany – I thought we destroyed that in the war’ I said ‘Well, can I have the rights for Germany?’ He said ‘Do what you like in Europe.’ I said ‘If I ever do anything, I’ll let you know.’ These guys were all too busy running their own operation to worry about where LA was, let alone England. The clever people were Decca and to a lesser degree your people when they bought Capitol, getting people to pick up all that independent stuff.

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We’ll stop and draw breath here, but not for long. The Ember empire carries on growing; Jeff plays Sir Edward Lewis off against L.G. Wood and is the first to spot Dave Clark….and much more!

Text ©David Hughes 2017. All illustrations are just that, courtesy Google search.

 

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50 years ago in the Music Industry 8 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

Those who are asoldasme may remember Lobby Lud, the mysterious character in trilby and raincoat who popped up at seaside resorts during the summer months in the 1950’s. If you approached him with a copy of the News Chronicle (my parents’ daily paper of choice due to its Liberal leanings – those were the days when the Liberals WERE a party!) and said “You are Lobby Lud and I claim my prize” you did…..though I have no memory of what the prize was – probably a voucher for the News Chronicle!

Anyway, in the summer of Sgt Pepper, someone at Disc – I’d like to think it was the advertising manager, a fine man with the unforgettable name of Fred Zebedee, rather than editor Ray Coleman – came up with the idea of repeating the experience by creating a Miss Disc and sending her off to Brighton and other resorts. By approaching Miss Disc, Sandy Brown, clutching a  copy of Disc & Music Echo and answering a carefully chosen question from her – you won a record token!

Sandy’s personal life shall remain hers, though I did recently rediscover her via Facebook living in Spain and sent her a good selection of these 1967 memory photos. Apart from looking fantastic, she became Miss Disc because her then boyfriend’s sister was the girl friend of Disc’s news editor (and said boyfriend and I later shared a flat in Sutton for a while). Also her (Sandy’s) sister married a pirate DJ and they are still together over 40 years later. That’s how things intertwined and  worked in those days!!

The summer of love!

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Oh, and just because it was in the same issue of Disc, how’s this for a bargain

 

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50 years ago in the Music Industry 7 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

Amen Corner had the joy of being managed by Don Arden, though I think it was he who decided the lads from Wales should live communally in a large house in Streatham. I went there a few times and it was all nice and innocuous. Little was I to foresee that Andy Fairweather-Low would go on to reach iconic guitarist/producer status, a revelation I encountered years later when, having been tasked by Harvey Goldsmith who had given himself the impossible task of being both Roger Waters’ manager and promotor of his “Pro’s and Cons of Hitch hiking” tour, got me to tell Waters and his wife why tickets weren’t selling! Deep breath….”No one knows who you are!” (Waters had refused to mention Pink Floyd in the advertising). Uproar!! However, something must have sunk in, as, the band was then boosted by Eric Clapton and Andy Fairweather-Low!!

Some years later, Andy produced and played on a “lost treasure” Glyn Johns-produced album, “Blue Slipper” by a lady called Helen Watson to whom my area of EMI tried hard to bring her the success and recognition she deserved….but we failed.

Today Blue Weaver is a Facebook friend, though I doubt he remembers who I am!!

Anyway, here they all are in Amen Cornerland in August 1967.

 

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