FUN FACTS ABOUT GARY LAZAR! 

I went to Cass Technical High School back in the early 1700's when they had a special program called “Science and Arts.”  It was based on IOWA test scores and Detroit area students who scored in the top 4% were invited to be in the program.  This was the time when the Detroit school system was switching from the two tier elementary/high school system to an elementary, middle and high school setup. 

 

All Detroit eighth grade graduates were supposed to go to middle schools for 9th grade before starting high school in the 10th grade. The approximately 50 of us who were invited to the S&A program at Cass got to skip middle school and go directly to high school - without passing go or collecting $200.  Of course that put us in the awkward position of being the only 50-some  students in the 9th grade in a school with 5000 students.  In many of our classes, we used text books that were written specifically for us by our teachers or other teacher/scholars and consisted of mimeographed pages on typewriter paper stapled together or bound into file folders. 

 

Does anyone know what a mimeograph machine is?  It was an early way to make multiple copies of hand drawings or typed pages.  A stencil was made by drawing or typing onto a “master” or stencil - which was basically a wax coated page that could be fastened onto a drum.  Inside the drum was a fluid that was forced through the stencil where the wax had been removed by the drawing or typing.  Interestingly enough, the ink on the pages was purple. We had some classes where they taught us new methods of learning - like experimental math.  (Which probably explains why I still am not that great in that area.)  All in all, our high school was MUCH harder than college.  And, like college, you had to keep up your grades or you would be forced to go back to your local high school - something we all feared.

 

After high school, I decided to take some time off before college and worked for a few months supplying engine parts to an assembly line at a Chrysler factory.  After an electric hilo malfunctioned and landed on my big toe, I was laid off because I was too slow walking in a wooden shoe. I then went to work as the driver of a roach coach that drove to factories at lunch time to sell crappy overpriced sandwiches, wilted fruit and pop to sweaty factory workers. After a few weeks, the Detroit race riots happened and the company felt that an (extremely) white boy might not be safe working with the mostly black factory workers.

 

Still having some time to kill, I convinced two buddies to hitchhike to California.  We had no plans other than to make it to LA. by way of San Francisco.  It took us 2 weeks to get there, but we had great fun seeing the country and meeting people who were crazy enough to pick up 3 teenage boys.  We got to stay in some of the seediest motels in the smallest towns and meet a LOT of truckers - who seemed the most anxious for company.  I feel confident if someone tried this today, they would end up murdered and left on the side of the road.

 

We finally made it to L.A. and my two friends bought tickets on a Greyhound back to Detroit.  I decided to stay for awhile.  I heard Long Beach was a fun place, so I booked a luxury room at the local YMCA there.  For money (or lack thereof) reasons, I put in with 2 guys my age who I didn’t know.  They were a little too much fun and we got kicked out after a few days when one of them decided it would be a good idea to urinate from our 4th floor window onto a passerby’s head.

 

I hitched my way back up to L.A. and while getting an ice cream cone,  met a guy working at a Foster Freeze (think Dairy Queen) who was looking for a roommate - and a place to live.  I stayed with him at his dad’s house for a few days before we found a room in Pasadena - and another roommate who, coincidentally enough, was from Detroit.  I was very glad to get away from my friend’s father’s house because his dad kept inviting me to go to Oregon with him and his son to a cabin they had there.  He kept pointing out how relaxing and fun it was - especially because of all of the sheep they had.  He repeatedly mentioned out how sheep were THE most useful animals because you could shear them for clothing, slaughter them for food, and have sex with them.  I still don’t know if he was purposely trying to weird me out, or was having fun at my expense, but at the time, I didn’t want to take any chances.

 

The three of us moved in with this sweet elderly woman, aptly named Mrs. Carr, into her large Pasadena house, sharing a huge bedroom.  I am sure that Mrs. Carr was the impetus for the Jan & Dean song “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”  Her son had a local body shop where he customized cars, putting in huge engines and giving them exotic candy-apple paint jobs - many complete with flames.  Mrs. Carr  loved fast cars, and her son souped her up a superstock Dodge.  We would take turns going to the store with her to help her with groceries, because she had arthritis and couldn’t carry anything. We all tried to avoid being around when she wanted us to ride with her because she drove like a race car driver - tearing up and down the main street of town, Colorado Blvd.  We all feared a ride with Mrs. Carr might be our last ride anywhere.

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The Little Old Lady From Pasadena

Jan & Dean

 

The Little Old Lady From Pasadena

(Go Granny, go, Granny, go, Granny, go)

Has a pretty little flowerbed of white gardenias;

(Go Granny, go, Granny, go, Granny, go)

But parked in a rickety old garage,

There's a brand new shiny super stocked Dodge.

And ev'rybody's sayin' that there's nobody meaner than

 

The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.

She drives real fast and she drives real hard,

She's the terror of Colorado Boulevard.

It's The Little Old Lady From Pasadena!

 

If you see her on the strip, don't try to choose her,

(Go Granny, go, Granny, go, Granny, go)

You might have a go-er, but you'll never lose her;

(Go Granny, go, Granny, go, Granny, go)

She's gonna get a ticket now, sooner or later,

'Cause she can't keep her foot off the accelerator.

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I met a buddy of my original Foster Freeze roommate, Mike, who was about my age and got to be really good friends with him.  He was a really laid back funny but very smart and mature.  After hanging out with him for a week, he invited me to meet his family.  He lived in a HUGE mansion in Sierra Madre, on the side of a mountain overlooking L.A. - something I never would have expected, because he was so down to earth.  I hit it off with his family immediately and was asked to move in with them.  I had my own bedroom (about the size of most people’s houses) and became a part of the family.  The only rule was that I not fool around with my friend’s drop dead gorgeous 15 year old sister (who looked like a 28 year old fashion model and was incredibly smart and friendly.)  I was living there for a week before I met Mike’s dad.  He spent most of his time at the Santa Anita or Hollywood Park horse racing track training horses, sleeping in the stables most nights.  The mansion and fluid spending habits of the family became clear when I found out the he was Charlie Whittingham, one of the most successful horse trainers in the history of the business.  I found out that he had trained horses for Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and tons of other celebrities of the day and continued to train horses for Burt Bacharach and other celebs of the current timehehey.  Mike told me that Judy Garland gave the family a puppy for Christmas one year that was the son of the actual dog who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

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Wikipedia:

 

Charles Edward Whittingham (April 13, 1913 – April 20, 1999) was an American Thoroughbred race horse trainer who is one of the most acclaimed trainers in U.S. racing history.

Early career

Born in Chula Vista, California, Whittingham began working around race horses at a young age and was eventually taken on as an assistant by Hall of Fame trainer Horatio Luro. During World War II, his career was interrupted by service with the United States Marine Corps. At war's end, he returned as an assistant trainer until 1950, when he set up his own stable to take on the training of horses for various owners. He got his big break when Liz Whitney Tippett hired him to condition her Llangollen Farm racing stable. In 1953, Whittingham trained his first champion when Llangollen's Porterhouse earned U.S. Two-year-old colt honors.

 

Records and champions

Over his 49 years as a head trainer, Whittingham had 252 stakes wins and became the all-time leading trainer at both Hollywood Park Racetrack and Santa Anita Park.

 

Whittingham trained several champions, including American Horse of the Year honorees Ack Ack, Ferdinand, and Sunday Silence. Among others, he trained Daryl's Joy, champion New Zealand two-year-old, winner in Australia wfa championship W S Cox Plate, Victoria Derby, Oak Tree International (USA), Cougar II, the 1972 U.S. Champion Turf Horse, Kennedy Road, the 1983 Canadian Horse of the Year, and for a time, Exceller. He also trained the champion daughter of Affirmed, Flawlessly. His horses were named Champion Female Turf Horse on four occasions. In 1986, at the age of 73, he became the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby, then won the prestigious race again three years later. Both Derby-winning horses went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic.

 

He continued to train horses right up to the time of his death at age 86.

 

Honors

In 1974, Charlie Whittingham was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In 1993, he was also inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame in the San Diego Hall of Champions. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in the U.S. in 1971, 1982, and 1989 and U.S. Champion Trainer by earnings seven times: 1970 to 1973, 1975, 1981, and 1982.

 

Named in his honor is the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, a Grade 1 stakes race that was held annually at Hollywood Park and moved to Santa Anita Park when Hollywood closed. A bust of Whittingham and his dog Toby is at the paddock at Santa Anita. Del Mar Race Track has the Whittingham Sports Pub with photos and sports memorabilia honoring Charles Whittingham, and Hollywood Park Racetrack has the Whittingham Pub and Deli.

 

 

 

I lived with the Whittinghams for a number of months, realizing that I had to go back home to college sooner or later, but wanting to delay it as much as possible because I was having WAY too much fun.  Mike had become my mentor - being much more experienced life than this naive virgin kid from Detroit.  My sexual awakening came from Mike dragging me into bed at 3 in the morning with Gerte, the maid the family had imported from Sweden.  She wasn’t pretty, but she certainly rocked my world.  Under Mike’s tutelage, I learned much about the ways of the world - although his advice of picking up “large” women because it’s easier and they try harder - has long been retired.  (Mike ended up becoming a horse trainer as well, having a lot of success including winning the Breeder’s Cup.  I am still good friends with him.)

 

I could finally put of college no longer.  I had applied to both U of M and MSU, but had been accepted to U of M and turned down by MSU (a baffling circumstance that I was soon to understand).  Michigan State was on the quarter system at that time and started a full month later than U of M. and I wanted to spend that extra month living large in Sierra Madre.  I decided that I would somehow convince MSU to admit me, stay there a term and then transfer to U of M.  Fortunately this was long before the day of the internet and easy access to personal information.  It was also a time where it was possible to actually speak to the head of admissions with a phone call.  I worked out my story and got the head of admissions on the line.  I told her that I had been accepted to U of M (even much harder to get into than MSU back then) and was confused why I had not been accepted there.  She told me that my grade point from Cass didn’t reflect my SAT scores and MSU didn’t want underachievers, but rather students who worked to their potential.  (I didn’t bother to explain to her that my high school wasn’t the normal high school but MUCH harder - and I also wanted to have fun when I was there.)  I quickly developed this story in my head and literally had her crying when I told her about being the oldest of 7 children whose parents died in a car crash and detailed how I had to make enough money while going to school to support my brothers and sisters. Through her sobs, she told me what a brave, hardworking person I was and made the decision on the spot to admit me.

 

Shortly before MSU orientation, I hitchhiked back home and began a new chapter in my life.  After living in a dorm at MSU for a semester and hating it, I realized that my only chance for getting off campus was to join a fraternity.  I wasn’t exactly the fraternity type and realized that my chances for getting into a fraternity as a freshman were bleak.  A buddy and I were in a funk and decided to hitch to U of M.  Ann Arbor, at the time, always cheered us up, because so many students were drugged out and depressed, it made us realize that we didn’t have it so bad.  I came up with a plan to get a free place to stay.  We figured out which fraternity with a nice big house didn’t have a chapter at MSU and knocked on their door, asked to meet their president, and told them that we wanted to start a chapter of their fraternity at MSU.  It worked.  We were invited to stay for the weekend, fed as much beer and food as we wanted, and fixed up with good looking dates (although, truthfully, many of the best looking U of M girls at the time were kind of on par with some of the not best looking girls at MSU (your mother, of course excluded!).  We got so drunk and had so much fun, that we actually decided to start a chapter of the fraternity at MSU.  Totally due to blind luck and through no knowledge of any kind, we had chosen a national fraternity who used to have a chapter at MSU but had been thrown off campus many years earlier.  The good news was they still had a house there - and it was the only fraternity house on sorority row.  The bad news for the fraternity currently renting it was that they got thrown out so we could move in.  The better news was I got out of the dorms! I became president of the Theta Xi chapter at MSU and was in a fraternity without having to go through any hazing.  We were not the typical fraternity, most of us violently were opposed to the ongoing Vietnam war.  We could be seen (not officially, of course) marching in anti-war protests on campus and conducting informal classes at our house on how to get out of the draft.  We turned our ritual room into the perfect closed environment to get to know each other better while enjoying some “herbal” relaxation.  Sadly, the Theta Xi chapter become less and less radical as time went on, and despite my best efforts, turned into a fairly normal conservative fraternity.  It was at MSU for as long as I was there.  When I graduated, it merged with Beta Theta Pi and the current members moved into their much nicer house.  Our house was turned into co-op housing, which is still what it is today.

 

While at MSU, I was approached by one of my fraternity brothers who was in a band.  He complained that his band’s manager was terrible and the only thing he did was put an ad in the MSU newspaper every Friday - which he got for free, because he worked for the paper.  The band was starving and was going to have to break up soon.  I kiddingly suggested that he fire the manager and hire me.  The next day, he told me his band had fired their manager and I was their new one.  I was mortified.  I thought he knew I was joking.  When I explained that he became extremely upset and begged me to try to get some jobs for the band until I could find someone else to help them.  I grudgingly agreed, feeling so bad for putting my friend in such a bad situation.  I knew every president of every fraternity and sorority on campus because I had to go before the Inter-Fraternity and Sorority Council to get my fraternity approved to be on campus and had been a member of it ever since.  I started calling my friends and discovered they were all looking for good bands to play at their parties.  Inside of a few days, I had my friend’s band booked every Friday and Saturday for the entire school year - and a few Friday afternoons for TGIF parties.  I started getting calls from bands non-stop to book and/or manage them and soon had a stable of bands.  Not only was I making money, I was having fun.  I got to go to any fraternity or sorority party I wanted, and even bring a date - to check up on my bands.  I decided to expand my booking agency and started booking the better bands at local bars.  As the word got out, I began getting calls from bars around the state wanting to book my bands. I got a call from a booking agent in Ann Arbor who was booking all of the national bands at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit.  He wanted to work with me and in addition to the local bands, I started booking national bands.  I convinced one of the bars in East Lansing that was having trouble getting people in the doors - mainly because they were located on the outskirts of town - to change their format and let me book national bands there.  The bar was called The Stables because it was a huge old barn where they used to have horse shows.  It had a really high ceiling and a balcony that ran the entire inside perimeter of the building.  It held 500 people and I was able to convince the owner to build a stage and a sound booth.  I began booking national entertainment there 6 nights a week.  They would have one act Tuesday - Saturday and then a bigger act every Sunday.  The format was a huge success and lasted for 3 years.  Over that time, I booked, among others:

 

Aerosmith

Ahmad Jamal

Buddy Guy

Charlie Mingus

Chick Corea & Return to Forever

Country Joe McDonald & Barry Melton

Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks

Dante the Hypnotist

David Buskin

Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett

Diana Markowicz

Dion DiMucci (of Dion and the Belmonts)

Doc Watson

Donald Byrd

Doug Kershaw

Earl Klugh

Eric Anderson

Esther Phillips

Firesign Theatre First Edition (featuring Kenny Rogers)

Freddie King

Freddie Hubbard

George Benson

Gun Hill Road

High Energy

Jack Schechtman

James Cotton Blues Band

Jean Luc Ponty

Jerry Jeff Walker

Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Rogers (Blues)

John Hartford

John Stewart

John Hammond Jr.

Jonathan Edwards

Josh White Jr.

Kenny Rankin

Les McCann & Eddie Harris

Livingston Taylor

Loudon Wainwright III

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas

Mason Williams

McCoy Tyner

Megan McDonough

Miles Davis

Mose Alison

Muddy Waters

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Paul Geremia

Paul Siebel

Peter & Mary of Peter Paul & Mary

Pharoah Sanders

Phil Ochs

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

REO Speedwagon

Rick Nelson

Richie Havens

Robert Klein

Roger McGuinn

Rosalie Sorrels

Severin Browne

Sly & the Family Stone

Spirit

Stanley Clark

Stanley Turrentine

Stephen Stills

Styx

The Dillards

The Ace Trucking Company

The Committee

Tim Hardin

Tom Waits

Waylon Jennings

Wayne Cochrane & the CC Riders

Yusef Lateef

 

While booking the Stables, I was approached by Columbia Records and hired as their local promotions rep.  My job was to go to the local stations and convince them to play the new CBS releases.  It was also part of my duties to greet bands on the label who were playing concerts in the area (and sometimes pick them up and get them back to the airport).  While working for CBS, I was approached by Warner Brothers Records and offered a similar job from them.  I didn’t want to quit my position at CBS but they told me they were fine with me working for both companies.  It was a natural.  Since each label was only pushing a few records each week, I could go to radio stations with records from 2 labels and convince them to play all of them.  I continued successfully working for both labels for quite a while.  I neglected to mention to CBS that I was also working for their competitors.  When they finally found out, they told me I had to choose one or the other.  I decided to continue working for WB (since Clive Davis - head of CBS - and I didn’t seem to agree nearly as much on which records to push as I did with the promo department of WB.)

While in college, I tried my hand at promoting a few concerts on campus and had some luck with concerts featuring Procol Harum, and Chick Corea & Return to Forever with special guest Freddie Hubbard

 

I moved back to the Detroit area, after 11 years in the East Lansing area so I would have the opportunity to go further in the music scene.  I teamed up with a few partners and as Standback Productions, we began promoting concerts around the state including:

 

Aerosmith

BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive)

Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids

Hall & Oates

Steve Miller Band

The James Gang

The Temptations

Todd Rundgren & Utopia

Tower of Power

 

I became involved with Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Inc. In 1978.  MFSL was a record label that licensed recordings from major labels and marketed re-mastered super audiophile versions of them.  The breakthrough technique that was used to radically enhance the sound was to master the records at half speed.  By slowing down the mastering process, it allowed the cutting lathe to give more detail to the music, noticeably increasing the frequency range.  It made low and mid-range stereo equipment sound markedly better and allowed high end equipment to sound like you were in the studio while it was being recorded.  My job was to acquire licensing for records.  When I started with the company, it was issuing mostly records of train sounds or weather (rain, thunder, etc.) Because of my contacts at labels and with artists I was able to get them the entire RSO catalog (my band was on the label at the time) which included the Saturday Night Fever and Grease soundtracks (still two of the highest selling records in history), Eric Clapton, and the Bee Gees.  In addition, I secured the rights to all of the Bob Seger records, which led to access to the entire Capitol roster (including the Beatles).  I secured the rights to George Benson and Earl Klugh records which led to access to the entire Warner Brothers roster. An offer was made by the former head of ABC Records to buy the company and I agreed to sell my 20 percent share.  The company is still in business today, now concentrating on gold plated audiophile cd’s, but the half speed mastered albums are highly sought after, oftentimes selling on ebay for many hundreds of dollars apiece.

 

It was during this time that I was approached by a band from Ann Arbor called “The Rockets” who wanted me to manage them and get them a record deal.  They were Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, minus Mitch Ryder. 

 

I was ready for a new adventure and agreed to manage them.  Within a month, I was able to get them a major record deal with RCA Records.  With the release of their first record, I was able to get them high paying one nighter headlining gigs around the state for more money than they were used to getting for a week in local bars.  I was approached by Bob Seger’s manager, Punch Andrews, who wanted to become partners with me in managing the Rockets.  His job was basically getting the band signed with a major booking agency so they could tour around the country.  I maintained day to day management of the band.  While we were waiting for a national agency to sign the band, I continued booking them.  I booked a surprise birthday party at The Roostertail in Detroit for Eric Clapton.  Eric fell in love with the band and jammed with them for 2 hours at the gig.  He took my number and told me he wanted to get them signed to the label he was on, RSO (which was the hottest label at the moment, with the Saturday Night Fever and Grease albums in additon to the Bee Gees and Eric.) A week later, I got a call from the head of RSO Records who wanted to come in and see the band.  After his trip to Detroit, he offered me a deal on RSO.  I wasn’t happy with RCA’s ability to promote the band and I was able to broker a deal whereby RSO bought out our contract from RCA.  The band recorded 2 albums for RSO and scored a few top 40 hits and great record sales.  Unfortunately Robert Stigwood, owner of the label, decided he wanted to get into films and shuttered the record label.  Based on the success of the RSO records, and my former contacts with Warner Brothers, I was able to get the band signed to their subsidiary Elektra Records label for two lps.  The band began having problems with the lead singer’s newfound love for drugs and alcohol and it was obvious their days were numbered.  Capitol Records made an offer for a new record deal and the band cut their last album for Capitol.  It was a live record recorded over 5 sold out nights at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.  The infighting had gotten so bad the the band broke up shortly after the live album.  During the seven years that I managed the band, we headlined three sold out nights at Pine Knob every summer (18,000 seats per night) and headlined many other venues around the country.  In addition, we toured as special guest with many bands, including doing literally hundreds of dates with Bob Seger and Kiss and touring with other bands including, among others:

 

38 Special

AC/DC

Aerosmith

Alice Cooper

Allman Brothers

Bad Company

Billy Squier

Billy Idol

Blue Oyster Cult

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Boomtown Rats

Cheap Trick

Dave Mason (he was our support act)

Def Lepard

Donnie Iris

Eddie Money

Eric Clapton

Fleetwood Mac

Foghat

Foreigner

Heart J. Geils

John Mellencamp (he was our support act)

Journey

Kiss

Loverboy

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Michael Stanley Band

Michael Bolotin (now Michael Bolton) (he was our support act)

Molly Hatchett

REO Speedwagon

Rick Springfield

Robin Trower

Ronnie Montrose

Rush

Sammy Hagar

Scorpions

Styx

Ted Nugent

The Babys

The Cars

The Kingbees (they were our support act)

The Who

Thin Lizzy

Uriah Heep

Van Halen

ZZ Top

 

During the time I managed the Rockets, I also managed and got record contracts with major labels for Dan Schafer (RCA), The Rockies (RCA), Letter O (Polydor and A&M) and Brussel Sprout (MCA) who had 2 top 40 hits in Canada (eh?)

 

I co-produced a music video for Letter O for Polygram records which won two awards.

 

After the Rockets broke up I was approached by Kenny Rankin, a folk/jazz artist who had already recorded four commercially successful albums.  He had a record for the most appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson but his career had taken a downturn (mostly due to his inability to get along with any of the promoters who booked him).  I started managing him, straightened out his attitude and within two months took his income from an average of $1500 a week to $25,000 a week.  I managed Kenny for 3 years. (Until I couldn’t take the asshole anymore.)

 

While auditioning lead singers in the hopes of reforming the Rockets, I met and was hired by Mark Farner, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of Grand Funk Railroad to manage him as a solo artist.  I put a band together around him, got him a new record deal and took him on the road for a few years.  (Until he decided as a born-again Christian that he wanted to do Christian records).

 

 

I managed John Stewart (formerly of the Kingston Trio.  The Kingston Trio was kind of the Beatles of the late 50's and early 60's.  They were credited for influencing pop culture and sold millions of records, placing over 10 of them in the Billboard top #10 and scoring many hit singles)

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Wikipedia: The Kingston Trio:

 

On folk and pop music

The Kingston Trio's influence on the development of American popular music has been considerable. According to music critic Bruce Eder writing for Allmusic.com:

 

In the history of popular music, there are a relative handful of performers who have redefined the content of the music at critical points in history—people whose music left the landscape, and definition of popular music, altered completely. The Kingston Trio were one such group, transforming folk music into a hot commodity and creating a demand—where none had existed before—for young men (sometimes with women) strumming acoustic guitars and banjos and singing folk songs and folk-like novelty songs in harmony. On a purely commercial level, from 1957 until 1963, the Kingston Trio were the most vital and popular folk group in the world, and folk music was sufficiently popular as to make that a significant statement. Equally important, the trio —in tandem with other, similar early acts such as the Limeliters, spearheaded a boom in the popularity of folk music that suddenly made the latter important to millions of listeners who previously had ignored it.

 

Discussing his earliest musical influences in a 2001 Rolling Stone interview, Bob Dylan remembered:

 

There were other folk-music records, commercial folk-music records, like those by the Kingston Trio. I never really was an elitist. Personally, I liked the Kingston Trio. I could see the picture...the Kingston Trio were probably the best commercial group going, and they seemed to know what they were doing.

 

In his autobiography Chronicles, Dylan added: "I liked The Kingston Trio. Even though their style was polished and collegiate, I liked most of their stuff anyway."

 

In February of 1982, Chicago Tribune writer Eric Zorn praised the Kingston Trio's impact on the popular music industry, claiming that "for almost five years, they overshadowed all other pop groups in America." He also noted that "five of their first six albums hit No. 1 on the charts," and that they "so changed the course of popular music that their impact is largely felt to this day."

 

On musicians

Among the many other artists who cite the Kingston Trio as a formative influence in their musical careers are comedian, actor, and banjo player Steve Martin, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles, pioneering folk-rock artist Gram Parsons, Stephen Stills and David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Beach Boys' Al Jardine, Big Brother and the Holding Company founding member Peter Albin, Denny Doherty of The Mamas and the Papas, banjo master Tony Trischka, pop groups ABBA and The Bee Gees, Jefferson Airplane founding members Marty Balin and Paul Kantner, Buffalo Springfield founding member Richie Furay, Byrds co-founder Gene Clark,  roots musician and master mandolin player David Grisman, singer-songwriters Tom Paxton, Harry Chapin, Jimmy Buffett, Tim Buckley, Steve Goodman (composer of "The City Of New Orleans"), Steve Gillette, Michael Smith (composer of "The Dutchman"), Shawn Colvin, folk-rock group We Five co-founder Jerry Burgan, folk and rock musician Jerry Yester, Modern Folk Quartet musician and famed rock photographer Henry Diltz, and progressive jazz vocal group Manhattan Transfer.

 

On the music business

The C.F. Martin & Company guitar manufacturers has attributed the dramatic rise in demand for its instruments in the early 1960s in large part to the Kingston Trio's use of their guitars, featured prominently and without compensation on nearly all of their album covers.[78] A Martin company press release in 2007 announcing a fourth Kingston Trio commemorative model guitar stated that

 

The Kingston Trio changed everything about popular music—and the entire acoustic guitar industry along with it... It was the rise of The Kingston Trio that really established Martin as "America's Guitar"...The Kingston Trio wasn't just a musical group. It was a phenomenon, as influential in its time as The Beatles would become in theirs.

 

Satirist Tom Lehrer has acknowledged the Trio's pioneering of college concerts, observing that before the Kingstons "there was no real concert circuit...The Kingston Trio started all that,"and in Time magazine, critic Richard Corliss asserted, "In my youth, they changed pop music, and me with it."

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John, as a solo artist, had a huge top #5 hit with “Gold” and had three other top 40 hits - including 2 produced by Lindsay Buckingham and featuring both Lindsay and Stevie Nicks, who were both in Fleetwood Mac at the time and huge fans of John.  John also wrote many hits for other artists including “Daydream Believer” which was a number one hit twice - first by the Monkees and then by Anne Murray. It was also included in one of the Shrek movies recorded by Smash Mouth and eventually recorded by more than 50 artists.  Roseanne Cash had a hit with Runaway Train, penned by Stewart and he also had many other songs recorded by other artists including Nancy Griffith and Joan Baez.

 

I managed Mark Lindsay, lead singer for Paul Revere and the Raiders and who also had hits as a solo artist.

 

My favorite artist (by far) that I managed was Eric Burdon & the Animals.  I managed Eric for about three years and toured all over the country with him, not only managing him but helping him obtain bookings and a record deal.  In the process, I learned the he knew he had fathered a child out of wedlock and had been trying to track her down for 20 years.  I tracked her down for him and helped reunite them.

 

While managing bands, I also became part owner of “The World’s Only Mechanical Surfboard.” It was similar to the “bucking bull” that was showing up in country bars, only it was an actual longboard surfboard mounted on a device that changed speed and pitch depending on the operator.  Participants would try to “surf” by attempting to keep their balance on the board as it moved faster and faster and at steeper and steeper angles. It was surrounded by mattresses covered with blue tarps made to look (kind of) like water, so when the riders finally were thrown off, they wouldn’t be hurt.  I obtained bookings for it all over the U.S. and Canada, including tours with the Beach Boys and a scene in a major motion picture release and I personally toured with it for two years.

 

I was the musical director for the New World Pictures movie, “Under the Boardwalk” (and was also an extra in the movie) and placed songs in movies and television shows. 

 

I have been mentioned in more than 5 books relating to rock and roll including a history of Creem Magazine, a biography of Mark Farner, and a book written by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s drummer, Max Weinberg entitled, “The Big Beat - Conversations with Rock’s Great Drummers”.  I was able to convince Max to use a picture of Johnny Bee on the cover and have Johnny Bee’s interview as the first chapter of the book.  Johnny Bee was the drummer in The Rockets, who I was managing at the time.  In addition.  I picked Max up at the airport when he flew into Detroit, transported him from and back to his hotel each day, and the 2 weeks of interviews with Johnny Bee were conducted in my house while listening to records from my collection of 50,000 lps that were picked by Max.

 

I put together the Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels 25 year reunion concert at Pine Knob.

 

I went back to college to further my career in the music business.  By the time I finished, the music business had changed so radically that I no longer wanted to be involved in it. Because I had worked with and knew so many musicians, I decided to become a criminal defense attonrey, since they were the perfect built in clientele for drug and alcohol related defense work

 

While I was in law school, I helped create the Metro Music Café - Muscular Dystrophy Walk of Fame.  Over three years, I solely arranged for national musicians who were playing in Detroit area venues to be inducted into Walk of Fame at the Metro Music Café in Royal Oak, put their hands in cement, meet and greet fans and sign guitars to be auctioned off to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  I was able to successfully organize these events based on the artists that I knew and connections that I had cultivated over the years I was touring with the bands that I managed.  In addition to arranging the artists to participate in the Walk of Fame, I did the artwork for the posters and ads to promote it. Some of the inductees include: (Bill, I have tons of pictures of me with many/most of these artists).

 

10,000 Maniacs with Natalie Merchant

AC/DC

Adrian Belew from King Crimson, David Bowie

Aerosmith

The Alarm

Alice Cooper

Allman Brothers

Alvin Lee & 10 Years After

Aynsley Dunbar - Drummer

B.B. King

B.J. Thomas

B-52's

Bachman Turner Overdrive aka BTO

Bad Company

The Barenaked Ladies

The Beach Boys

Billy Ray Cyrus

Billy Squier

Billy Joel

The Black Crows

Bo Diddley

Bob Saget

Bobcat Goldthwait

Brian May from Queen

Brian Wilson

Bruce Hornsby

Carl Perkins

Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Cheap Trick

Chris Isaac

Chubby Checker

Country Joe McDonald

Crosby Stills & Nash

Dan Hicks

Dan Fogelberg

Danny Elfman and Oingo Boingo

Dave Edmunds

Dave Coulier

David Coverdale and Whitesnake

David Bowie

Deborah Harry from Blondie

Deep Purple

Dino Danelli from The Rascals

Dion (DiMucci from Dion & the Belmonts)

Dionne Warwick

The Doobie Brothers

Edgar Winter

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

Eric Burdon & the Animals

The Everly Brothers

Fleetwood Mac

Foghat

Foreigner

The Four Tops

Frankie Valli of the 4 Seasons

Freda Payne

Gene Loves Jezebel

Ginger Baker & Jack Bruce from Cream

The Go-Go’s

Grace Jones

Graham Parker

Gwar

Harry Connick Jr.

Iggy Pop

The Indigo Girls

In Living Color

INXS

James Taylor

James Brown

Jean Luc-Ponty

Jefferson Starship

Jethro Tull

Joan Baez

Joe Cocker

Joe Walsh from the Eagles

John Sebastion from the Lovin’ Spoonful

Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols

Junior Walker

Kenny Loggins

Kim Simmons from The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Kip Winger from Winger

Kiss

The Knack

Kris Kross

Lenny Kravitz

Leslie West

Little Feat

Lou Reed

Luther Vandross

Manhattan Transfer

Mark Farner from Grand Funk Railroad

Martha Reeves

Marv Johnson

The MC5

Meatloaf

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels

The Moody Blues

New Kids on the Block

Ozzy Osborne

Paul McCartney

Paulie Shore

Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits

Peter Frampton

Phish

Primus

Radiohead

The Ramones

Ratt

The Refreshments

REO Speedwagon

Richie Havens

Rick Derringer

Rob Zombie & White Zombie

Robbie Kreiger from The Doors

Robin Trower

The Rockets

Ronnie Montrose

Ronnie James Dio

Rush

Shadowy Men On a Shadowy Planet

Smithereens

Soundgarden

Steppenwolf

Steve Miller

Stevie Ray Vaughan

The Supremes

Ted Nugent

Three Dog Night

Timothy B. Schmit from the Eagles

Tom Jones

Tony Orlando

The Ultimate Warrior

Violent Femmes

Wolfman Jack

Yes

ZZ Top

 

I did at semester of law school at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England.

 

I was president of Student Senate at law school and the first person to use a laptop at the school.

 

As a lawyer, my first client was Wolfman Jack - who I had worked with in the music business.  I won $25,000 for him from a Detroit promoter who had stiffed him.

 

I have been practicing law for 23 years.