Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Joel Selvin's Book "Here Comes the Night" the Story of Music Genius Bert Berns Gets 5 Stars

One of my favorite activities since retirement is having the actual time to catchup on reading and enjoying books that feed my robust appetite for the history of popular music. Even in my own book, “The Rock Trenches” I share that same interest while expressing the story with my own photographs and words that originate from my soul. Yet recently, I stumbled on a book that blows-away all recent texts titled “Here Comes the Night” by noted author Joel Selvin. The book also has an accompanying DVD (purchased separately) by the same title that underlines this powerful music journey.

Selvin tells a fascinating story of the development of the noted songwriter, and producer, and publisher and record label owner by the name of, Mr. Bert Berns of Bang Records. Burns wrote the monster hit songs; “Twist & Shout” – “Hang on Sloopy” “Piece of My Heart” and many more. Berns also had giant hit productions like; “Brown Eyed Girl” - “Under the Board Walk” – “Baby, Please Don’t Go” and more. Equally important here, he is also credited for initially discovering the superstars Van Morrison and Neil Diamond. Personally, and at that very same time, I find it interesting that I was on the same musical wave-length with Berns' early recordings and didn't realize it until reading this book. You may find yourself in that same scenario upon reading the content. An example of that parallel here, in the photo below taken earlier this week in August, I am holding original copies from those founding productions of Bert Berns from years earlier. Both albums by Van Morrison & Them and a Neil Diamond were saved from my longtime record collection. Truth is, earlier and upon release I was a huge fan of Bert Berns and his productions - and I didn't even know it.  

Bang Records was created by Bert Berns in 1965 together with his partners from Atlantic Records: Ahmet Ertegun, Nesuhi Ertegun and Jerry Wexler. The first letters of their names Bert, Ahmet, Nesuhi and Gerald formed the record label’s name; B-A-N-G. But Selvin’s great book starts well before that period and details Bert Berns long and arduous road to success starting from the streets of New York and peaks all interests as it unfolds in the shady world of rhythm and blues music and untold developments of the difficult task of making a hit songs. Plus in Selvin's book, he mentions numerous heavyweights and some of those music legends in a very unfavorable manner.  

Perhaps one reason this book captured my keen interest is mainly because I too worked for Atlantic Records. In addition to that, in the mid-to-late 1960’s I promoted the new releases for Bang Records while working at the regional record distributor in Memphis, Hot Line Records. It seems that in every chapter of  Selvin's book I read the names of people that I had worked with and fraternized with at various music functions including Berns widow, Ilene Berns. As a matter of fact, Ilene Berns took over running the record label after her husband died suddenly in 1967 as a result of a rheumatic heart condition. Bern's wife, who has also since passed away, and their son, were heavily resourced in the making of this fine book. The developments of my connections came through working for both Atlantic Records and Hot Line Record Distributor which promoted and marketed the label, Bang Records. And I'm not going to lie to you but until reading this great book, I didn't have a clue that somehow I had reached full-circle.  

Consider Joel Selvin’s book a classic as his background as a noted writer started as a music critic for The San Francisco Chronicle. From there, he has written many articles including those in the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, Billboard and Melody Maker. Plus, he has written many outstanding books all focusing on the music scene and pop culture.  

So, if you haven’t already - and if you have any interest in the music business - you should definitely read this historical book. Next to my original music journal titled “The Rock Trenches” … I definitely think that Joel Selvin’s book of the life of Bert Berns and his music career titled, “Here Comes the Night” is my most recent favorite!        

5 STARS             



Monday, August 09, 2021

Northwest Promo Legend Stan Foreman Passes

Sad news. It was announced Sunday, Aug. 8th that former Capitol Records NW Promotion Director Mr. Stan Foreman has passed away. Pictured here in the Capitol-EMI Records office on Lake Union in Seattle in the late 1980's is Stan (sitting) with Phillip Rauls (R) while enjoying an afternoon discussion. Stan was my close business associate and good friend. When I first moved to Seattle in the mid-1980's, it was Stan who introduced me to all the important movers-and-shakers in the business community and taught me the streets. RIP Mr. Stan Foreman. You will be missed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Two Original Rock Music Record Promoters Share A Rare 1975 Photo-Op Moment

Here's a classic photograph deep from the image archive: Two trailblazing promoters hailing from Memphis and landing in the music biz during the early rock music era. Both party's long music industry backgrounds reads like an Encyclopedia Britannica. Pictured here (from circa 1975) as Phillip Rauls (L) and Phil Rush (R) actually knew each other in High School as Rauls was from Treadwell High and Rush from neighboring Bartlett High. Rauls broke into the business first in the mid-1960's as the road manager of the noted garage band The Gentrys and later hired by STAX Records as local promo manager. From there he went Hot Line Record Distributor as Mid-South promo mgr. Rauls later had successful career stints with Atlantic Records, 20th Century Fox Records and then in the mid-to-late 1980's to the mid-1990's as NW Regional mgr. with EMI Records. Phil Rush came onboard at Hot Line Distributor the early 1970's as promo mgr. when RCA Records noticed him and snatched-him up as their local RCA record rep. Rush later joined Capricorn Records in the mid-1970's where he had a successful run with the Macon GA based rock label. Both Rauls and Rush were well-respected record guys long before the promotion business bandwagon became a herd mentality.