Saturday, May 29, 2010

5/31 -Jimmy Webb, Booby Hart, Don Randi

Happy Memorial Day!

Bobby Hart - Songwriter/Performer ("Boyce & Hart")

Tommy Boyce (born Sidney Thomas Boyce, September 29, 1939 — November 23, 1994) and Bobby Hart (born Robert Luke Harshman, February 19, 1939, Phoenix, Arizona) were a prolific songwriting duo, best known for the songs they wrote for The Monkees. Hart's father was a church minister. Hart served in the Army after leaving high school, and on discharge travelled to Los Angeles seeking a career as a singer. Boyce was separately pursuing a career as a singer. After being rejected numerous times, Boyce took his father's suggestion to write a song called "Be My Guest" for rock and roll star Fats Domino. He waited six hours at Domino's hotel room to present him with the demo, and got Domino to promise to listen to the song.[1] The song hit #8 in the US and #11 in the UK, becoming Domino's biggest hit there in several years, and sold over a million copies. Boyce met Hart in 1959, and the following year played guitar on Hart's single "Girl In The Window," which flopped, but marked the first time he used the name Bobby Hart, since his manager shortened it to fit the label. Their partnership made a breakthrough with a song recorded by Chubby Checker, "Lazy Elsie Molly", in 1964. They went on to write hits for Jay & the Americans ("Come a Little Bit Closer"), Paul Revere and the Raiders ("(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone") and The Leaves ("Words"). The latter two songs provided the Monkees with hit B-sides in 1967. The duo also wrote the theme song to the daytime soap Days of Our Lives. At one point in this period, Hart also co-wrote "Hurt So Bad" for Little Anthony & the Imperials with Teddy Randazzo and his regular songwriting partner, Bobby Weinstein. In late 1965, they wrote, produced and performed the soundtrack to the pilot of The Monkees, including singing lead vocals (which were later replaced, once the show was cast). In 1966, despite some conflicts with Don Kirshner, who was the show's musical supervisor, they were retained in substantially the same role. It was Boyce and Hart who wrote, produced and recorded (with the help of their band, the Candy Store Prophets) backing tracks for a large portion of the first season of The Monkees, and the band's accompanying debut album. The Monkees themselves re-recorded their vocals over Boyce and Hart's when it came time to release the songs, including both "(Theme from) The Monkees" and "Last Train to Clarksville," the latter of which was a huge hit. Kirshner suddenly relieved Boyce and Hart as producers, by claiming they were using studio time booked for Monkees songs to record tracks for their own solo project. After their departure from the Monkees, and the negative publicity that erupted when word got out that the band hadn't played the instruments on their early records, Boyce and Hart were unsure how the Monkees felt about them personally. Attending one of their concerts, though, the duo were spotted in the audience, and singer Davy Jones invited them onstage, to introduce them: "These are the fellows who wrote our great hits — Tommy and Bobby!" Every original Monkees album (except for the Head soundtrack) included Boyce and Hart songs. While working with The Monkees, Boyce and Hart embarked on a successful career as recording artists in their own right, releasing three albums on A&M Records: Test Patterns, I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight, and It's All Happening on the Inside (released in Canada as Which One's Boyce and Which One's Hart?). The duo also had five charting singles; the most well-known of these was "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight," which reached #8 in early 1968. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[3] "Out and About" (#39) and "Alice Long" (#27) were their other Top 40 hits. The duo also performed "I'll Blow You A Kiss in the Wind" on the television show Bewitched in one of several TV series appearances that included guest spots on The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie ("Jeannie the Hip Hippie"). Boyce and Hart also were involved with producing music for motion pictures for Columbia Pictures, including two Matt Helm movies (The Ambushers and Murderer's Row), Winter A-Go-Go and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. In 1971 a sitcom named Getting Together appeared on ABC-TV, starring Bobby Sherman and Wes Stern as two struggling songwriters, who were friends of The Partridge Family (and were introduced on their show). The series was reportedly based loosely on Boyce and Hart's partnership. At this point, they decided to work on various solo projects. Hart was nominated for an Oscar in 1983 for his song "Over You", written for the film Tender Mercies. According to the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Boyce and Hart wrote more than 300 songs, and sold more than 42 million records as a partnership.

Jimmy Webb - Songwriter

Jimmy Layne Webb (born August 15, 1946 in Elk City, Oklahoma) is an American songwriter. His compositions include "Up, Up and Away", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston" and "MacArthur Park". His songs have been recorded or performed by Glen Campbell, The 5th Dimension, Thelma Houston, The Supremes, Richard Harris, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes, R.E.M., and Chet Atkins, among others. According to BMI, his song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" was the third most performed song in the fifty years between 1940 to 1990. He is the only artist to have ever received Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration. After transcribing other people's music for a small music publisher, Webb was signed to a songwriting contract with Jobete Music, the publishing arm of Motown Records. The first commercial recording of a Jimmy Webb song was "My Christmas Tree" sung by The Supremes, which appeared on their Merry Christmas LP, released in 1965. The following year, Webb met singer and producer Johnny Rivers, who signed him to a publishing deal and recorded his song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on his 1966 album Changes.." In 1967, Johnny Rivers turned to Webb for songs for a new group Rivers was producing called the 5th Dimension. Webb contributed five songs to the 5th Dimension's album Up, Up and Away. The song "Up, Up, and Away" was released as single in May 1967 and reached the Top Ten. The group's follow-up album, The Magic Garden, also released in 1967, except for a recording of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Ticket to Ride", included only his songs. In November 1967, Glen Campbell released his version of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," which reached No. 26 and became an instant pop standard . At the 1967 Grammy Awards, "Up, Up and Away" was named Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Two Webb songs, "Up, Up and Away" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", received eight Grammy Awards. Webb's success as a new songwriter was unprecedented and underscored what would become the central dilemma in his career. While his sophisticated melodies and orchestrations were embraced by mainstream audiences, his peers were embracing counterculture sounds. Webb was quickly becoming out of sync with his times. In 1968, Time acknowledged Webb’s range and proficiency when it referred to his string of hits, noting "Webb's gift for strong, varied rhythms, inventive structures, and rich, sometimes surprising harmonies." In 1968, the string of successful Jimmy Webb songs continued, with the 5th Dimension's "Paper Cup" and "Carpet Man" reaching the Top 40, Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" selling over a million copies and Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge scoring a gold record with "Worst That Could Happen", a song originally recorded by the 5th Dimension. Webb formed his own production and publishing company that year, Canopy, and scored a hit with its first project, an unlikely album with Irish actor Richard Harris singing all Jimmy Webb songs. One of the songs chosen, "MacArthur Park", was a long, complex song with multiple movements that was originally rejected by the group the Association, which had commissioned it. Despite the song's seven minute, twenty-one second length, Webb released "MacArthur Park" as a single, and it quickly reached Number 2 on the singles chart. The album A Tramp Shining stayed on the charts for almost a year. Webb and Harris produced a followup album The Yard Went on Forever, which was also successful. At the 1968 Grammy Awards, Webb accepted awards for "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", and "MacArthur Park". In 1969, Glen Campbell continued the streak of Jimmy Webb hits with the gold record "Galveston" and "Where's the Playground Susie", quickly becoming the finest interpreter of Jimmy Webb songs. Webb and Campbell first met during the production of a General Motors commercial. Webb arrived at the recording session with his Beatle-length hair and approached the conservative singer, who looked up from his guitar and said, "Get a haircut."

Don Randi - Legendary Musician / Owner of LA's "Baked Potato"

 A long time fixture in the Los Angeles area, Don Randi is best known as the proprietor of the Studio City club The Baked Potato and for his longtime leadership of a popular fusion/crossover group, Quest. Raised in the Catskill Mountains of New York, Don Randi had classical music lessons for 13 years. He moved to the Los Angeles area in 1954. Since then he has been a busy studio musician, appearing on and writing for a countless number of motion picture and television soundtracks, commercials and pop albums. Randi recorded as a leader for World Pacific (1960), Verve (1962 including a trio date with Leroy Vinnegar and Mel Lewis), Palomar, Reprise, Capitol, Poppy, Sheffield Lab and Headfirst. Don Randi appears at the Baked Potato with Quest on a fairly regular basis.

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