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Thread: Deke Richards

  1. #1

    Deke Richards

    Deke Richards posted quite a few stories here, on the old forum before his death. I wasn't able to find some of them in the archives, but I did save them at the time. As they were already posted here, I hope no one would mind some reposts so that new members can enjoy these. I wonder if he ever started on an actual book. I wonder how many other stories he could have told...

  2. #2
    I'm Gonna Make It:

    I used Mary and Cindy ONLY. No double track and no Andantes.

    They have a great, almost haunting sound. I attribute this to the rich, almost velvet, but raspy timber of Mary's voice. With the right harmony part, and just the right balance between her and Cindy, it can almost sound like there are 3 girls singing, instead of 2. I'm sorry they got held back in the final mixdown. This was my first Supremes record. I just didn't have the authority or enough experience to mix my own product yet. If I had, Mary and Cindy would have been pushed up in the mix a tad. Other than the tracks I cut with "The Clan", I always made an effort to only use Mary And Cindy, whenever I cut a Supremes track. To me, it seemed sacrilegious not to.


    Hollywood Palace Album:


    You are partially correct. I sequenced as much of the live material on Side Two. it was like putting together a puzzle. I mean, I had 3-4 sources of recorded material, besides the studio track I cut for 'Can You Remember'. I think I even brought in Mary to cleanup or redub 'Can't Take My Eyes'. Motown wanted this LP to be a quickie to capitalize on the show. They wanted it 'yesterday'.

    Gawd, I hate to work that way. I have the artists images in my hands. I just can't let them sound bad, because of time; unless I'm forced to and don't have a choice. I milked out every once of time I had. In fact when I explained to the 'white collars upstairs' what a train wreck it was, i.e. different performances and sound, etc., I even got an approval to go over budget. Then, I had to bring in the 'Clap Man' to tie the different audience reactions together. That alone, ate up some more of my budget. [[NOTE: This is one of the early examples of 'sampling' with a keyboard. Trying to make it sound natural was a real chore, believe me! I realized this wasn't going to be one of my crowning achievements. However, a record of historic performances, even if it's not a perfect example, should always should take precedent and be preserved.


    Unreleased Supremes Tracks:

    I ALMOST FORGOT . . . I have 3 unreleased cuts I did on the New Supremes. In fact, I don't even think Paul or Andy know about them. I know George remembers them.

    1) "Loneliness Is A Lonely Feelin'" [[Jean on lead) *This song was originally cut on Martha Reeves and The Vandellas.

    2) "If You Let Me" [[Mary on Lead) *This song was originally cut on Chris Clark.

    3) "Send Him To Me" [[Mary on lead) * This tune I did 2 different vocal versions on Mary. The first VOD I had Mary sing it with a softer, airy or sexy tone and the other track I had her sing it out straight, with a harder clearer tone.

    I know I have copies here. I just can't recall what stage of the production they are currently in. I'd go ahead and post them, but I have to check with Andy, Paul and George first, to see if they plan to release them.


    Barbara McNair, Where Would I Be Without You, Chorus Harmony:

    Frank and I were playing back the tracks after we did Barbara's VOD. I just started singing a harmony. Frank liked it. However, the timber of his voice was a better match to Barbara, so we put him on the track instead.

    Barbara was a stunningly beautiful woman. Could she sing? You know it. However, she was not a 'brown-eyed soul sister' [[vocally speaking), and she knew it. She never pretended to be. However, she loved to learn different, 'hip' of 'soulful' phrasing. She always gave 110% in the studio. She was a real sweet lady, and I had a little crush on her when we worked together. I was a tad shy then, so I just never told her. And the band played on . . . .


    Jackson Five, Boogieman:

    "The Boogie Man" story is one of my sadder recollections. It also became the icing in the cake as to why I left Motown. However, I'm only going to post the short version now. The complete longer version is going in the book.

    The 'Skywriter' LP was the beginning of the demise of the J5. The Corporation had just broken up, and I relieved myself from being in charge of all J5 recording. This release, also marks the period of time when Iris became head of QC for the West Coast. Due to the 'changing of the guard', this 'Skywriter' LP was in serious trouble. First, the LP did not have a title, until Sales and or Iris made the decision that 'Skywriter' was the leader of the pack.

    What no one seemed to see but me, was this LP was being put together like an old early 60's Motown LP. That means, it was filled with just 'songs', some stronger than others, devoid of any concept. I personally thought it was seriously lacking the concern for the future of the artists themselves, the Great Jackson 5. Their lives and futures were on the line with this LP. Whoops, I'm going into the Long Version. Excuse me while I rewind.

    OK. "Hallelujah Day" was scheduled to be released. I was trying to complete what I felt was the next direction for the J5: A different Groove! Even though the story, still had a young theme, I knew it was time to take the wad of 'Bubblegum' out of my mouth, and throw it in the trash. It was time for a more mature groove. So I just barely made it to the QC meeting that Friday Morning with my little gem, "The Boogie Man". The meeting had already started, and Berry decided to go with Freddie and Fonce's "Hallelujah Day". I jumped up and said to Berry, "Hold on a minute, Boss! I really think I have the best, and what should be the next single for the boys." "OK, let's have it", Berry quipped back. I was right. Berry loved it, as well as others in the meeting. Damn, there I go again, I keep drifting into long version. Rewind, again.

    Anyway, the point is the after the LP was released, Sales waited for the stations to report. The problem is, the various station picks from the LP varied across the country. Between the different stations that reported, 5 different cuts were being played. Nothing stood out. Thus, after "Hallelujah Day", my single was cancelled, no other single was released, the LP was left out there to fend for itself and became a flop, and the J5 went hitless. The "Skywriter" LP was such a hodge-podge or pot-pourri of sounds and rhythms. The stations and the fans just couldn't figure out where the J5 were coming from . . . or where they were going.

    **gordy_hunk: Sorry, I was referring to the USA release. Maybe 'flop' was too harsh. It just wasn't up to snuff in my book, and I know a lot of fans were confused. I accidentally cut out 2 lines explaining that, just before I posted. Excuse me. You KNOW how I feel about the UK. They have been always good to me.

  3. #3

    The Blackberries
    [[Sherlie Matthews, Clydie King and Venetta Fields)

    Do you all realize how many hit records this group sang on? It's impossible to count them, much less remember them all. The original unreleased LP they recorded for Motown consisted of 9 songs. Why only 9? Even though, for the most part, we [[Motown) no longer produced 12 tune LP's at point, 10 cuts was considered the norm. However, there is a 'Cecil B. DeMille' version of "Love Child" which is 7:39; almost 8 minutes long depending on the final fade. [[I was going to edit it into 2 or 3 versions) There were also 2 additional tracks cut as backups, but they were never completed.

    The LP was produced by Sherlie Matthews and myself. We wrote some songs together, and wrote independently as well. Then, we helped complete some of each others work. I really wanted the songs to have more of Sherlie's 'stamp', than mine. It was her group and her debut LP; besides she was an excellent writer. A single was originally scheduled for release, and later cancelled. Here is the non-sequenced list of the completed tracks:

    1) Somebody Up There [[*A)
    2) Kidnapped
    3) Love [[Original Session Notes Title: "Love Is")
    4) Can You Feel It Babe
    5) Hey Little Girl [[Do You Want Some Candy?)
    6) I Found A Friend
    7) But I Love You More [[*B)
    8) Let's Get Married
    9) Love Child
    [[*) Denotes proposed original 1st single release

    Everyone who had heard bits and pieces during production, was excited. The engineers, the girls in the office, the other artists that visited the studio all gave it a 'Thumbs Up'. So, what happened? Unfortunately, it was BG who poured cold water on the project. He stopped by the studio while I was working late one night. He had heard the 'buzz' throughout the office, and thought it was time to check it out. After only a partial listen I could see he wasn't sharing the same sentiments as others. In fact, at one point he called it "GARBAGE". Ouch!, that hurt! So, Berry and I began debating, I excused the engineer, as the tone of the discussion started to escalate. We really got into it over one particular tune. We got knee deep into semantics. Now granted, maybe this LP was not going to be a 'Super Smash' or debut at #1 with a bullet on Billboard. Whatever is was, it sure as hell wasn't 'Garbage'.

    It's true, Berry didn't call them all; but he had a damn good 'batting average'. I had hoped, as the production progressed, he would have a change of heart. In hindsight, I truly believe he simply expected better of me, that's all. In Berry's eyes, I think he thought I was trying too hard to make sure the sound and/or production was faithful to what Sherlie originally envisioned. That's fine, but he didn't want me to lose sight of the main objective: A Hit Record. After all, I was in charge, and Berry expected me to use my authority wisely. Nevertheless, I continued to complete the vocal overdubs and begin re-mixing. It wasn't until Berry heard some of my final mixes, did he recant somewhat.

    I admit, the LP was a little different. There was no lead singer. per se, i.e. Diana of the Supremes. If I could have gone in this direction, I would have featured Clydie King. All the girls had distinctive unique voices, but Clydie undoubtedly had the most commercial sounding voice. It was soulful, with a tinge of Pop and a twang from her deep rooted love of Country Music. However, Sherlie decided early on not to have one of them step in front of the other two. Sherlie wanted the group harmony to be the lead singer. So, we featured each of them on certain lines and different tunes,


    The project was never totally completed. A few of the tunes only had rough mixes when the project came to a halt. Then out of nowhere, I found out "Somebody Up There" b/w "But I Love You More", was scheduled for the single release,

    I was going to assemble a teaser reel: A sound file that would contain a 20 second sample of each tune. I thought that would be fun, so you could at least hear something. However, Paul Nixon recently expressed interest in possibly including one or more of the cuts in the next volume of Cellarful Of Motown. We'll see.

    **Don't expect to hear The Blackberries version of "Can You Feel It" to be similar to Chucks. I flipped it upside down and turned it into a rocker. I put Venetta behind the drivers seat. It's a fun ride.


    Diana Ross & The Supremes - Farewell:

    I actually recorded the last 3 days, which was 5 or 6 shows. Putting that together was just short of a nightmare. I'd have one night when the girls did a great version of one of the songs, but then Mary would come off with a little 'sharply edged' quip or 2, and I'd have to get it out and then there would be a hole. So I would have to take bits and pieces from another take. If that wasn't bad enough, the audience was different and the applause was different, so I would have to go back to the first take and take the applause from a different part of the show that matched. It was crazy.

    Then there was the night I had to run from the back of the room through the patrons to get backstage to stop Diana. I had just found out the announcer was late and Shelly Berger was on his way to the Casino. So, Bless her heart, Diana had decided it would be a good idea if she introduced herself. WHAT!!! I almost had a heart attack I got backstage just as Diana came out of her dressing room and a stage hand was handing her the microphone. I quickly intercepted the pass. Diana innocently thought it would be 'cool'. I just wasn't going to let her do that. Superstars DON'T introduce themselves. Sorry Di, but it would NOT have been 'cool'. Now, that was a close call.

    I came so close to taking "Age Of Aquarius" out of the LP all together. If there weren't so many stars who decided to sing with Diana, I would have. However, I had to personally go to each one who got up and sang and get their permission to use their sequence on the LP. So I had to make separate tapes of each one's sequence, and get them to sign a waiver. There were more stars that performed with Diana, than you hear on the LP. Unfortunately, they didn't like the way they sounded, so they opted out, some even changed their mind at the last minute. That made putting together a final version of 'Aquarius', a serious challenge.

    Then, there was the real finale: The Last Night. Mary was feeling no pain, and was in rare form as she offered up a nice collection of one liners in response to Diana's on stage dialog. Cindy, occasionally offered giggles of support whenever Mary came off with a real 'zinger'. Most of Mary's 'one liners', were little sharply barbed jabs at Diana. I soon realized I was in 'their' [[the girls) world now. It was not my place to say anything. They were going to say whatever they wanted to say, however they wanted to say it. I was just along for the ride. I'm just glad I decided to record those extra shows.

    Nevertheless, for me, It was a labor of love. It was a night for the history books. It was a great time to be alive; a great time for all those people who were lucky enough to be at the Frontier in Las Vegas on January 14, 1970, when Diana Ross And The Supremes performed together for the very last time.

    **Things that were said that night reflect 2 things, in my mind at least; 1) In some ways, I wouldn't doubt the girls felt Diana was about to become a Diva, and leave her "roots" behind, and 2) I'm sure there were years and years of things that were never said. So, after a little of the ol' bubbly, they just popped out.

    **I have to agree with you about "Aquarius". I wish I left it off myself. It worked visually, but is tough to listen to. I know it seems to go on forever. I opened a can of worms with that one.

    **As far as the Video, I don't recall coordinating anything with DCP. If Dick Clark DID shoot any footage, it was arranged independently. This is one CD, I definitely would NOT like to see an EXPANDED version get released. [[smile)

    **[Celebs who didn’t give their permission to be included] Gawd, the only one I can recall right this minute is Hugh O'Brian. There were 6 or 7 altogether. Well, I don't blame them. A few couldn't carry a tune and one didn't even know the song, and a couple were a little 'toasted'. Afterall, the drinks and Champagne was flowing freely that night.


    Diana Ross & The Supremes - Cream Of The Crop:

    Was I on Cream Of The Crop? Yes and No. After we cut "I'm Livin' In Shame", "The Clan" planned to do an LP on DR & The Supremes. Frank Wilson, Hank Cosby and I started it by cutting the first batch of tracks including "The Weight", "Hey, Western Union Man", Hey, Jude", "Witcha-Tai-To", and "Everyday People". I remember it was difficult for Frank and I to keep everyone together. "The Clan" was breaking up, or should I say falling apart in front of our very eyes. We did some dub-ins, then I had to go back to California. So, Frank and Hank finished up. In fact, I don't even think "The Clan" got the credit. I don't even think I got any credit. tt was OK, I didn't mind. Afterall, Hank and Frank actually completed the productions, including the remainder of the vocals and sweetening. They did most of the work, so they deserved the credit. However I was right there at the beginning with Frank and Hank in Studio A, producing the tracks. So "Jude" went on the Cream LP and most of the others went on the "Let The Sunshine In" LP.


    The Supremes - The Weight:

    That was originally the Supremes track, Frank must have decided to add the Temps, or Billie Jean was short a tune, and told Frank to dub in the guys so she could use it on the "Together" LP.

  4. #4
    The Supremes - Wichi-Tai-To:

    Well, you have to understand Frank Wilson and I were close. We usually came to Detroit together, and stayed at the same place Harlan House / Quality Inn on Grand. We lived next door to each other. We ate at the same restaurant together, etc, etc. It just happens we were together in a cab on our way to the studio when we heard that song, and we both loved it. Same goes for another one we were crazy about, "Everlasting Love" by Robert Knight? We both blurted out simultaneously, "I love that song!" We thought they would both be great covers we could use on the Supremes LP. The only problem with "Wichi-Tai-To" was the absence of lyrics. I remember we ordered the sheet music, but what you hear is what you get. It's just a chant and a verse. So we thought it would be good for Mary to sing. We tried dubbing her in straight, then with an edge, and settled on a quiet almost whisper, which sounded the best. However, the magic of that song was it was so different at the time: A chant with a simple groove. With Jim Peppers different sounding vocal floating through the groove, is what made it all come together. I think the problem was we couldn't make more of what wasn't there, without taking liberties and changing it. BUT, we couldn't do that, or we would have been giving up what made the tune so special. So, we were in a jam. That tune was meant to be enjoyed as is, not necessarily recut. Nevertheless, we overdubbed Mary, and then sweetened the track with brass. My copy only has the soft vocals. The trick on this one would be to use the soft and the hard vocal as a shadow. Problem is, I don't know if Frank saved the other vocals or tossed them. Maybe we will see it come out one of these days. Maybe I'll even get to mix it.


    Mary & Cindy:

    You KNOW how many producers were never that crazy about using Mary and Cindy. Personally, I loved working with them. It meant the world to me to use the 'Real Deal'. I didn't care if they couldn't do this or that, or didn't have the range for this part, etc. I tried to write my parts to take advantage of their unique sound. Hey, there is only ONE Mary Wilson. The soft husky sound can be so sensuous and haunting at times, At the same time she has the other hard or edgy sound. There is just no mistaking when you hear the Real Supremes.


    Four Tops - Soldier of Love:

    Sometimes the[[I believe the) highest compliment a songwriter can [[give) pay to another, is to let that song influence his own composition in some way. It's fairly safe to say that almost every songwriter was influenced by one or more songwriters; some current and some from the past.

    Now, although it may sound strange, many composers actually influence themselves. I've written my share of chord progressions, I've felt were strong enough to convince me they could be the building blocks of a 'hit song'. However, after the song was written, and the production was complete, the end result did not 'make the grade'. Sometimes, It would drive me crazy, just trying to figure out what went wrong. So, I would go back and listen to the various stages of the composition and production. Even though I knew something went wrong somewhere, I would find that my 'love affair' for the original chord progression had not changed. So, I would simply try again. The song would change as well as the production, but the basic chord progression, or at least certain passages, would remain the same. I really did this a lot with the J-5. However, I really learned this from Lamont Dozier when we first met. I won't go into great detail here about that meeting, but I will say it was interesting and fun. Here's how it went down . . .

    Lamont found out I was the 'New Kid On The Block'. I was working late one night in the 'bunker' at Hitsville in Detroit. [[BUNKER: That's what I called the rehearsal rooms, since they were all down stairs, below street level). Well, who should open the door and introduce himself? Lamont Dozier. We BS'ed for a bit, and then he asked what I was working on. I was in the middle of 'I'm Gonna Make It'. He liked the chord structure. He was also curious about my production ideas. Among other things I showed him this drum kick pattern I was going to use at the intro, which he really liked. In fact I was flattered he later used it more as an entire feeling in 'Forever Came Today'. Well, then he got on the piano and started playing a little medley his hits. I have to laugh. I still remember him jokingly say in between the progressions , ' . . and then I wrote', and '..and then I came up with this one', ' . . . and then you might remember this one' , etc. THAT's when I heard it. He was just recycling his progressions; sometimes flipping them inside out, sometimes just taking one little part of one progression and embellishing on it to create a main or theme progression for a new song. He was actually egging me on to show him 'my stuff'. He stood up and motioned me to sit down at the piano bench he had so nicely warmed up for me. Well [[chuckle), I really didn't have much to share. Besides, I was just learning the Piano. My instrument was the guitar, NOT the piano. I was getting tired of lugging my guitar and amp back and forth from the hotel to the rehearsal rooms at Hitsville . . in the friggin' snow. So, I decided it was time. I needed to learn how to play the piano, so I could just walk in, sit down and go to work, like the rest of the gang [[songwriters). I proceeded to play a few things, but I was so bad and making so many mistakes, I ended the 'concert', confessing I just started hitting the keys the day before. Anyway, I never forgot that little session, and thought how cool it would be to get to that point with my own writing. A point where I could take from one 'Hit', to write another 'Hit'. It finally happened. The opportunity came when I recorded the J-5.

    Woah . . . I've really been reminiscing and rambling.

    Anyway, in response to your original query . . .

    A good example of such a chord progression is the one that caught your ear: 'Soldier Of Love' and 'Am I Asking Too Much'. The main difference between these 2 is, '...Too Much' was just a strong track. There was no song when I first went into the studio to cut the track. R.DEan and I wrote the melody and lyrics after the track was cut. On the other hand, 'Soldier' was written before I cut the track. The basic chord structure during the verses of both songs is indeed the same; but that's as far as it goes. The two melodies and feelings are really quite different. If you hear subtle similarities, believe me, it is purely coincidental.

    Take care of those sharp ears of yours. Remember: You only get one set.

    **You know, it's funny when you ask 'What memories do I have working with the Tops' Two responses come to mind immediately: NOT ENOUGH and AS GOOD AS IT GETS. You see, artists come in all 'flavors'; similar to the assortment of Potpourri you probably have sitting somewhere in your home. Like the colors of the rainbow, the shapes and scents vary immensely. So to me, artists are quite similar. Some are difficult, some have inflated egos, some are diplomats. Then there are screw-ups, cut-ups, attention getters, and on and on and on and THEN . . . . and then there are the Four Tops.

    In the studio, these guys were Pro from the word GO. Never did I hear a whimper, a wince of pain, a complaint, an argument or even a mild disagreement. Some of you may not totally understand what a Producer has to do or endure to get that special performance from an artist. It can be rough at times. However, it was different with the Tops. I really loved these guys. You just knew if you had the right melody, and were lucky enough to get Levi to sing it, you were in for a real treat. That sound! The glorious timber of Levi's range. It gave you chills, just hearing him push your notes out of his throat into the Mic, through the cables, all the way into the Control Room, and then burst out of the Monitors. Ouch! You knew you had just been bit, maybe even stung, but by what? A voice? A note? Impossible! Yes, Impossible . . . but true! Levi had the sound. But where was the ego and attitude that should have been there to protect it? It was nowhere to be found. In it's place were Duke, Larry and Obie. They laid down a perfect support for Levi.

    Levi. In the studio, this man was a sweet, decent, almost humble human being. He listened to every word, every single bit of direction I would offer. It didn't always work. That's because Levi knew there was another way; but only he could figure that out. Only he knew how to get from that one note to another, without sacrificing the feeling or the melody. When he 'hit it', I just knew it was better than what I asked him to sing to begin with. Yes indeed. With me, he was a Pro from the word Go. It goes without saying, I'll always feel the same about the rest of group as well.

    Of course I could go on, but I better stop here. There is more, but I should really save a few goodies for my book.

  5. #5
    Dorothy Norwood:

    Dorothy was fun lady to work with. She was always upbeat and a real trooper in the studio.

    Who was Dorothy Norwood? Well, Dorothy is actually still alive and I understand quite busy with her ministries, recording and producing. I'm really referring to who was Dorothy Norwood, when I worked with her back in 1975. Now, here was fun lady to work with. She was always upbeat and a real trooper in the studio. Dorothy was a straight ahead Gospel Singer. She was used to getting the feeling, and letting go. Pure unadulterated emotion, soul, spirit . . . Gospel. All or nothing. So when GRC approached me to record her, I wasn't quite sure what they had in mind. Gospel was not necessarily my forte. During a meeting with my entertainment attorney, one of the execs at GRC had heard one of my demos of my song "Let Your Feet Down Easy" and thought it would be a good R&B/Pop crossover record for Dorothy. Although she was no stranger in the recording studio, I would have to say my tune + my style of producing is NOT exactly "what the doctor ordered".

    After I gave her the track to work with, I remember thinking to myself, maybe I should hold her back and set the pace, so she won't burn herself out. However, Dorothy assured me she had learned the song, and been rehearsing it non-stop. She said, "Don't worry, Deke. I got it!" Well, even though I had reservations, I decided I would just let her 'go for it', one time. She was so excited to do it, that she actually gave me too much, too soon. After the first take, I realized I had my work cut out for me. She was like a Thoroughbred going full-bore from the starting gate to the finish line. Without saying a word, it was like a Jocky was digging his heels in her right from the get-go. The shear power of her initial performance was amazing, but she was all over the 'track'. It was literally impossible to dub her in or replace one bad line here and one bad line there. It would have been too difficult to match her energy level. Besides, without direction, she would perform the same line differently than she did the time before, making it impossible to match the timber and tone.

    I had a feeling we were going to have to head for the 'stables' early. I knew right then, I had made a big mistake. [[That's where the danger lies. When an artist tells you, "Don't worry" or, "I've got it under control", that could be a warning sign or maybe a red flag. You better worry. If something goes sideways with the dub in, it's going to be your fault. You're the producer, so just do it your way.) In this case, just as I suspected, the number of takes and punch-ins could, and eventually did, take her down. She blew her chops half way through the song. Her throat became sore so she started drinking warm tea with lemon and honey. As we got closer to the 'final stretch', we dropped the Tea, and just went with warm water and honey. Any way, it was tough as we got closer to the 'finish line'. Dorothy's voice had lost all of it's crisp edge and was getting raspy; but this girl didn't flinch, didn't bat an eye, she just kept going.

    It was way too late now for her to say to me, "We better do it your way". She knew that. She was running on pure adrenaline and determination. The session lasted almost 6 hours. When we finished the dub in and she finally left the studio that night, Dorothy was one exhausted, voiceless, singer. The one thing I will always remember about Dorothy: No matter how many times I wanted to 'call it a day', she never gave up trying to give me the very best performance she had inside of her. That took Heart, and Soul. That was Dorothy Norwood.


    I'm going to take you back in time for a minute of history. I originally wrote "Let Your Feet Down Easy" for Tina Turner. We were all set to go, verbally speaking. A mutual professional friend set up a meeting for me to meet with Ike. He told me specifically I could not meet directly with Tina, without going through Ike. So, I went over to meet Ike at his studio, Bolic Sound in Inglewood. [[I hadn't seen Ike or Tina since the mid 60's when we used to play each others nights off. Ike & Tina would play my club, The Galaxy in Hollywood, and my band would play their club in El Monte). Ike heard the tune, loved it, and even called and woke up Mike Stewart [[Pres of UA Records) to tell him he had a hit song and new producer for Tina. Unfortunately, he & Tina were preparing to leave town on a European tour. Ike said he would play Tina the tape on the plane, and we would get together when they got back from the tour. I waited until they returned. When I bumped into Tina one day at the studio, I found out that Ike never played her the song. What I didn't know at the time was, Ike wasn't too fond of other producers working with Tina. When it became obvious a deal wasn't going to come together, I decided to move on.

    I cut one other song on Dorothy I wrote especially for her called "The Big Boat Rode". This was my take on Noah's Ark. I wrote this hoping it would be easier for her Gospel Fans to digest.

  6. #6
    Sammy Davis Jr:

    Something For Everyone: SAMMY DAVIS, JR. [[Part I)

    So much happened in 1970. I was riding high. I had basically engineered the recording aspect for the one asset that had finally put the West Coast division of Motown on the map: The Jackson 5. Unfortunately, I was too busy to wallow around in a warm tub of pomposity. Berry probably didn't want to see me go on an ego trip, so he kept me busy, very busy. Motown had just signed Sammy Davis. Motown did WHAT? What in the world were we going to do with Sammy Davis, Jr.? Nevertheless, Sammy was on board and nothing I could say was going to change that fact. This was strictly between Berry and Sammy. All I know is, he never asked me what I thought, before it was a done deal. Now, don't get me wrong, I would have felt the same about any entertainer of his caliber. These type of classic entertainer/singers don't always translate into hit records; especially the type of records we were currently producing. Personally, I never cared for Sammy when would "get down" performing on various TV shows. Then, I just couldn't see twisting Sammy's style to the extent he might sound unrecognizable or manufactured. After all, he was a already true legend in his own time. Come on, just think of all the things that man had accomplished, been through, and what a great entertainer he was. Did Sammy really need Motown? Did Motown really need Sammy? Whatever the answer, Berry simply handed Sammy over to me.

    After I met Sammy, everything happened so fast. I was all over the place just trying to 'shadow' this guy. Sammy was non stop. However, I suppose the first point of business was the baggage he brought with him. It was a complete album he had recorded with Jimmy Bowen. I don't know what the contractual negotiations or obligations were, except it was up me to get it ready as his first Motown release. The album was nothing more than a contemporary collection of cover songs; 2 of which came from the Motown song book. Besides "For Once In My Life", "My Way" was the only 'standard' that you felt came or would have been more appropriate in one of Sammy's earlier Reprise LP's. It was an interesting mix, to be sure. Nevertheless, it was to be released as it was, without adding or subtracting. So, it was my job to get Sammy's LP completed and released; from Multi-Track Master tapes to a finished product [[Vinyl), including the LP cover concept, design, and execution. However, Sammy had been given a certain amount of control when it came to the look of the final product. That's when Sammy and I began to hang out. Berry had his plate full at the time and asked me to stay close to Sammy as mush as possible. I reported directly back to Berry. He wanted to know where Sammy's head was at as well as make sure he was given the attention he deserved. In essence, I really acted like more a liaison between Berry and Sammy. My instructions were, among other things, "Whatever Sammy wants" . . . period! So, I was all over the place. From his house on Summit, to Vegas for an engagement, to Paramount Studios where he was filming a Mod Squad, etc. It almost seemed like I only left his side for hours at a time, not days. It was my job, but I was slowly becoming attached to the guy. I was slowly discovering Sammy was a kind, thoughtful and generous man.

    Meanwhile, we had received the Multi-Track tapes from Jimmy Bowen's Office. I was reminding Sammy that his LP was being mixed as we speak and that I need to know what he had in mind for the cover, etc. Well, Sammy knew exactly what he wanted. OH-OH, here we go. "Deke, i want you to get me 50 pretty girls and bring them over here to the house. We'll shoot the LP cover here." I got in touch with my photographer I had worked with on my last 3-4 projects, Ken Kim. He was running a tight schedule and was preparing to leave town on a job. Ken told me it had to be this weekend, or he was out of the picture. Sammy agreed with a simple, "Let's do it". "Damn, what did I do", I thought. "Now, I have to find 50 pretty girls in 48 hours". Under normal circumstances, finding 50 pretty girls in LA, or Vegas for that matter would be an easy deal. Finding and securing 50 'models' in 2 days, for a weekend shoot, was another story. I had my girls contact a few agencies, but all I could come up on such short notice was 15-20. So, I went back to Sammy and asked if we could mix-it-up a little. I had to confirm the girls I had so far, and the only way to make it to 50, was to ad-lib when it came to the remaining girls. I said he might have to be more lax when it came to calling the remaining finds 'real lookers'. Sammy understood and told me to do the best I could. So, I got my assistant, Irene to make some calls to her friends she felt would be appropriate. Then, I took a walk through our office building and asked every good looking girl I bumped into, if they could make the shoot. I also grabbed my assistant, Hal Davis' Secretary and assistant, Ken Kim's wife, Sherlie Matthews and a few other girls in my office. I remember I was still 15 or so girls shy. My notes say I ended up with 38, but I recall we had a few no-shows. I'll never know what his obsession was with the number '50'.

    Ken & I had come to Sammy's early to set up. Set Up? I honestly still had no idea what Sammy had in mind for the shot. The only thing I was pretty sure of at this point was, Sammy just wanted to be surrounded by pretty girls. That's fine, but what were they going to do? They couldn't all be hanging on Sammy. Ken and I greeted the girls as they arrived. Some of the models brought their 'kits' and wardrobe changes. I got those girls set up in different rooms of the house, as 'dressing rooms'. By the time we started finally started arranging the girls in the living room, I noticed a distinctive odor in the air, and a lot of laughing and giggling. Someone had decided to become the life of the party. The next thing I knew a few girls were rolling joints and Sammy had brought out his 'boom-box' and handed out a few Togas. They were dancing and having an good ol' time. It reminds me of the sequence in 'Animal House' when John Belushi shouted "P-A-R-T-Y!"

    Ken had found a safe place to set up his tripod just off the foyer overlooking the living room. As soon as the camera was set up he told me to check out the framing of the shot. Just as I looked through the finder, I saw one of the girls in the back, take her Toga off and throw it in the air. "OH NO,", I thought, "this is getting out of control." I lifted my head from behind the view finder just in time to see the nude girl, run over and jump into Sammy's' arms. "OK, That did it.", I said to myself. "Everyone out of the pool!" Sammy looked so shocked by what just happened. He put the girl back on her feet,and calmly sat down in his chair in the middle of the room. Then, something very strange happened. Sammy just got up and walked out of the room. I didn't know what to think. Was it getting to be too much for Mr. D himself? Was he going to call it a day? Sammy had disappeared into one of the other rooms. I stood there for a minute that seemed like forever. I turned to Ken and said, "I better go and see what's up?". Right then, Sammy came strolling back in the living room with his Toga hood over his head and this huge black bust of Abraham Lincoln under his arm. "What-In-The-World . . . ", I thought. Well, the girls hadn't even missed Sammy. They were carrying on; some dancing, some singing to the music coming from the boom box, some laughing and talking, etc. Sammy calmly walked into the center of the group and sat back down in his chair, looked up and starred at us with this totally serious look. The girls were totally oblivious to him, so I turned to Ken and said, "Shoot It . . . NOW". That shot became the center spread for the LP.

    I motioned a 'thumbs up' to Sammy from behind the camera. Sammy laughed and the girls just all looked forward semi stunned as if to say, "What was that?" after seeing the bright flashes reflected from the photo umbrellas. Everyone calmed down, things got organized and we finished the shoot. I kept everyone basically where they were. I told the nude girl to put on her Toga, but Sammy wanted her to 'stay in costume'. I said, "Sammy, I can't have a nude girl on your LP cover". He responded somewhat sharply, "Oh, YES I can!" So, I finally convinced him to put her up against the wall in the corner. I grabbed a book from the Coffee Table and had her hold it over her exposed breasts. At the last second just before we took the shot, she balanced the book between her thighs and her breasts and threw her hand up making a 'peace' sign with both hands. It was a little racy. The fact is, the girls nipples rested on the top edge of the book. Fortunately, Kim would always take a Polaroid simultaneously. When I saw the Polaroid, I decided to take a few more 'conservative' shots with her holding the book over her breasts, exposing a minimum amount of cleavage. [[Note: When Sammy saw the proofs, he was emphatic about using the "exposed nipples shot.) That shot became the front cover.

  7. #7
    Now, the session was moving along nicely. The front cover and main inside spread were done. Now, I just had Ken snap a bunch of candid shots of Sammy and the girls. I just told him to be 'invisible' and keep shooting. I thought we could put together a collage for the left inside cover. We were basically done. All I had left was the back cover. So, we got up and as we left the living room, there was a table in the area in front of the kitchen with bottles of Crystal Champagne on ice. We all relaxed and took a break while Sammy changed clothes. Then for the last shot, Sammy wanted everyone outside in the back yard. It was a simple group shot by the swings, and then we all left. That shot became the back cover.

    After the proofs came back from the lab, Ken and I went over them and picked out the shots we liked, and marked a few alternates. Then I want over to Sammy's for his approval and final choices. The front cover Ken and I chose, was the more conservative shot of the nude. Nevertheless, as I mentioned earlier, Sammy definitely wanted to use the racy one. He loved the inside spread shot. Then he looked at all the candid shots as I explained I was going to put together a collage. I got this idea when I saw his two large photo collages hanging in the living room. However, Sammy stopped when he saw this one particular pic. He then moved on to the others, but kept coming back to the same one. It was one I had not marked. It was a medium close up of one of the models sitting at Sammy's feet, as Sammy was giving her a drag on a joint. Sammy looked up, and with his finger tapping on top of the shot said, "Forget the collage, just use this one!." I winced a little, but didn't let him hear the sigh I had inside. "Really?," I said. "Are you sure? If you do, it's definitely going to raise some eyebrows." Sammy looked at as if to say, "So What? It's my album". I kept thinking what Berry basically told me . . . "Whatever Sammy wants . . ". So, I said, "OK, Sammy. You're the boss". I took the china marker, and circled the pic he wanted.

    The next week or so was spent getting the prints of the proofs and working on the layout. I decided early on, that Sammy was going to see, approve and sign off each stage of the cover. Ken did the mock up. It was pretty straight ahead; Front, back, inside spread, and inset. Now that the one insert pic on the inside left cover was larger, I was really feeling squeamish about it. All I needed now was a title and any captions or text Sammy wanted to add. We were running tight on time. Sammy was in the middle of filming a Mod Squad over at Paramount Studios. When we spoke, he told me to just come over to the studio and he would check it out. When I arrived, Sammy was still outside on the set, so I went to his trailer and waited. I could hear Sammy talking outside the door as he approached the trailer. He burst in, stage blood running down his chin from the corner of his mouth, and said joyfully, "Hey, Brother Deke." He came over to where I was sitting on the couch and gave me a hug as I stood up to shake his hand. "What ya got for me?", Sammy said with a childlike curiosity on Christmas Morning. I pulled the mock up LP out of my bag. It was a full size mockup. In fact I used an actual book style LP, so it would feel and look like the real thing. Ken had pasted our pics and background totally over the original graphics. Well, Sammy loved it; and so did the rest of his entourage in the trailer as they voiced 'oohs' and 'ahhhs' while looking over his shoulder. "Great, Deke. Just Great!" Sammy said with a calm, cool tone as he initialed the mockup. "The ONLY thing I need now is whatever quotes or text you want inside", I said. "I want to keep it simple", said Sammy. He reached over, grabbed my tablet and began to write:

    BORN: Harlem, NY City
    OCCUPATION: Entertainer, singer, dancer, actor and author.
    AMBITION: I wanna do my thing

    "That's all I want to say", he said. I looked at him, smiled and said "Done". The entourage began to applaud as I got up, but the mock up back in my pack headed for the trailer door. "Wait a minute", Sammy snapped. "Hey Shirley," he continued, referring to his long time personal assistant, "Where's that box I told you to hold for me?". "Right here, boss!", Shirley quipped back as if she was returning his serve in a Tennis Match. Shirley walked over to us as she took something out of her bag and handed it to Sammy. "Here man", Sammy said as he handed me the box. 'What's this?" I said in a surprised tone. "This is a little something I want you to have", replied Sammy. I opened the box and my god, it was this beautiful stunning 18k Gold Piaget Watch w/diamonds. I was speechless. I knew these watches cost thousands. I had never in my life been given such a fine gift . . . ever. I knew I had come to foster a great amount of affection for this man. I just never realized he would ever feel anywhere near the same about me. After I thanked him profusely, and he thanking me for what I have done, I left the trailer, the studio and went straight home. I was exhausted as I plopped down on my bed, with the watch case in my hand. I took the watch out of the box, and fondled it ever so gingerly. I still couldn't believe it. I soon drifted off with that Piaget watch lying across my stomach. It was a peaceful nap.


    Something For Everyone: SAMMY DAVIS, JR. [[Part II)

    The following day, I took the mockup back to Ken, and he set the type and pasted it underneath the photo of Sammy and the girls. We were almost there, but we still didn't have a title. Sammy never mentioned anything; not a thought, not a word. I could see I was going to have to come up with something. Ken and I studied the pics, and the layout while we listened to a tape of the LP in the background. I looked at the lineup again, I looked back at the pics. "Ken", I said. "What do you think? What is the common denominator? Now, this wasn't really Ken's job, coming up with titles for albums. He was a photographer and Art Director. I knew that, but I guess I just hoped he would say something that would trigger my creative thought process. I was hoping It would just come to us; or I would just blurt something out loud that would sound profound or at least catchy. We thought and thought. Silence, nothing. Then I decided to take another look at the tune lineup. Unbelievable! It was a mixed bag, a potpourri. There was something from this style of music and something from that style of music. There were oldies and classics, cover tunes and standards, but . . . there was no concept or underlying theme connecting them all together. Then I looked at the mockup LP again. The girls were all different. Some were Models, some were secretaries, some were black, some were white, etc. "Damn it.", I exclaimed. "Nothing matches. All we have is some of this and some of that. Same with the music. There is some of this style and some of that style". Just then, Ken said slowly, "How . . . about . . ." as he wrote on the tablet "Something For Everyone". I looked up at him and thought, "You've GOT to be kidding!" I would have continued by saying, "That is SO-o-o-o Lame!.", but I held my tongue. After all, I knew this was not Ken's forte, and yet I was the one who asked him to join in. i certainly didn't want to hurt his feelings, or make him all at once withdraw. So, I hesitated for a moment, chuckled lightly and said,"Well, it might not be a classic title, but it seems to cover it all, doesn't it?. Then I added, " Let's give it a shot. Set the type"

  8. #8
    Now here is when I took a step back. I was totally in charge. IF, after Sammy signed it off, and I then OK'd it for the printers, I would be the one responsible for what went out in the streets. No matter who or how big Sammy was, I just couldn't do that. This is because, I now had to add another important player to the equation: Motown Records. Sammy wasn't going to be the only one with his name on the LP. What about Motown? They had a name too, and a damn important one. As much as I loved Sammy, I worked for Motown. In reality, I was Berry's man, not Sammy's. So, I called Berry immediately and brought him up to speed. He told me to meet him at the house. After I arrived, we talked a bit of other current events, and what he had been doing. Then, it shifted to Sammy. Berry looked at the mock up. Everything was looking good and he was very pleased with the progress I had made. Then, it was time to tell Berry what was going on with the photo of Sammy and the model on the left inside cover. I told Berry to look closer at the photo. He could see it was a joint between Sammy's hand and the Models mouth. "Deke, are you crazy?, Berry said half laughing, as he continued, "You can't do this." I wanted to laugh too, but I knew he was serious. I explained that this is the shot Sammy definitely wanted, no questions asked. "We'll, Berry said, "we may have a problem then, because I can't let it go like this." I started to feel like a piece of paper that was getting ready to be torn in half. I couldn't just remove the photo, or Sammy would have bolted, possibly putting the project in jeopardy. I did NOT want to do that. At the same time, Berry was the ultimate decision maker. If I got into a big thing with Berry about using the photo, I could be removed from the project. I wasn't going to let that happen either. Man oh man. What was i gonna do? If I didn't come up with a solution quickly, Sammy's LP would be taken off the release schedule. All that time and work would have been in vain. I was waiting for something to come to me, something that would make sense. I looked at the pic one more time I asked Berry, "What bothers you the most, I mean what is your main objection about the photo?" "The problem is," Berry replied, "he is giving the girl a drag off a Marijuana Cigarette. Sammy is in fact, passing the Model a form of illegal drugs. Plain and simple. That is something I just can't let the label condone, or be associated with". I totally understood his point. Then, I said, "OK. What if you couldn't see the joint? What if you couldn't tell WHAT he was passing to the Model?" Berry paused. Based on the fact that I had just removed the item his complaint was founded on, I felt I had him in 'Check'. "Well, if I can't tell if it's Marijuana or not, and it doesn't lead me to believe that Sammy is actually giving the girl a Marijuana cigarette, then I would have to say . . . it would no longer be an objection." I quickly returned, "Consider it done" and then silently to myself said, "Checkmate". I immediately called Ken and told him we had one small change to make before I take it over to get Sammy's approval.

    After Ken carefully and totally airbrushed out the cigarette between Sammy's hand and the Models' mouth, everything was done. I was exhausted but totally relieved. I was completely done and ready for my final meeting. All I had to do was to get Sammy's approval by initializing the revision with the added title on the mock up. So, I called Sammy and told him I was coming over to show him the final cover for him to sign off. Sammy said he had some friends over now, but said come on anyway. When I drove up to the door, I saw 2 Limos and one on the street. The drivers were gathered by one of the Limos. I rang the bell and was greeted by none other than Jimmy Bowen. Now, I hadn't seen this dude since his early recording days in the later 50's, when I was in still in school. Jimmy was cool and casual. The door was closed to the den, but I could hear plenty of talking and laughing. I told Jimmy, "Maybe I should come back later." "No", Jimmy said. "Sammy's expecting you. Just wait here and I'll let him know you're here." Jimmy opened door to the den and walked inside, closing the wood shuttered, double door behind him. The noise and laughter inside intensified for a moment when the doors opened, as I thought to myself, "This 'party' is NOT going to break up anytime soon". There was a man servant in the foyer with me as I waited. He asked if he could get me anything, and I replied, "No, thank you. Maybe I should just go and call Sammy later." "No", the servant said. "Mr Bowen will be with you shortly". Just then the doors opened and closed again as Jimmy walked out of the den smiling. He came up to me and said, "OK, Sammy will see you now". He walked in front of me and just as he began to open the door to the den, there was a chilling silence. Jimmy walked through still in front of ma and said, "Deke Richards". As I walked inside, I almost lost a step. There sitting on the white semi-round couch against the right corner of the room was Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy, Peter Lawford and 2 other men I didn't recognize. They were all so quiet, that it was hard to believe this was the same group that was making so much noise moments before. Even though my legs felt frozen, I moved closer to the couch as Sammy said, "Have a seat". I sat in a chair facing the couch. Then he quickly introduced me to everyone, by first names only. "OK, what have you got for me", Sammy inquired. I pulled the finished mock up from my bag and set it on the coffee table in front of Sammy. When the boys saw all the girls, there were little one-liners including, "S-a-m-m-y" said in a 'shame on you' tone, to "You Dog" to Dean saying, "Why Sam, I thought you said you went away for your health". By this time they all were clamoring to get their hands on the cover, laughing, drinking and throwing one-liners back and forth. Then Sammy made a sign as if to tell the group to cut it out or shut up. It got really quiet again as Sammy took on a serious tone. "Something For Everyone?", that's the title?" Sammy asked. I responded with a straight and simple "Yes". Sammy shot back, "Why? Why should we call it Something For Everyone?" I proceeded to explain about the variety of the tune lineup and all the different girls. I told him how I felt he might think the title would sound cliche-ish, but in this circumstance, it was somehow honestly appropriate, and complimented the potpourri of tunes as well as the images. Just then I opened the 'book cover', exposing the center spread. That was the first time Sammy saw the text he wanted in place under the photo of him and the girls. The others were moving closer to read his words. They all seemed to like what they read, even Frank nodded as if to approve. Then they began to whisper back and forth, as I sat there. I felt so all alone; like in front of judges deciding weather I was going to prison, or be paroled. After what seemed like few minutes, Sammy, looked at me and said, "OK Deke, go with it" He smiled and shook my hand. The others followed by saying things like , "Nice job", etc. They all shook my hand and each gave a few words of praise.

    It was over, I asked Sammy to go over the entire piece one more time. "You have to let me know now if you see any mistakes, anything that bothers you or anything you want to change. I didn't want to tell Sammy out right that I altered the pic, but I HAD to give him the opportunity to catch it. I felt, if actually seeing the Pot was that important to him, he would definitely see it. Sammy, started on the front and with his eyes slowly scanned each panel until he completed the back cover, and proudly said, "Where do I sign?". With the mockup signed, I placed it in my bag, said "Thank you, it was a pleasure meeting you all" and quickly headed out the double door, as Jimmy led the way. As soon as Jimmy closed the door I found us alone in the foyer. "How ya holding up", Jimmy asked. "Fine," I said. "Although I wasn't quite expecting the reception." "I know", Jimmy said, "but I want to tell you something important now. Deke, you have been inducted into 'The Clan", the pack. If there is anything you ever need, all you have to do is call." The chills went up and down my spine so fast, I felt so cold for a split second, and then a warm feeling embraced my entire body. I shook Jimmy's hand, and said 'Thank You, thanks for everything." I walked out the door and got in my car. As I started to put the key into the ignition, my hand started to shake. i started the car, paused a moment and said to myself, "Now THAT, was intense". Then I pulled out, and drove away.

    Copyright 2008 Deke Richards. All rights reserved.

    I hope the above, helps to answer some of your questions, as well as clear a few things up regarding the Sammy Davis, Jr. LP Motown released in 1970. At times, It was an emotional roller coaster ride for me. However, it will always remain a time that was filled with some of my fondest memories. It was a relationship, like no other. It was a bond I had never felt before. I am truly thankful for the time I got to spend with this very special person.

  9. #9
    Something For Everyone: Epilogue

    Did I ever make that call? Don't think I didn't want to. However you need to understand what it all meant. I knew Sammy had already told the others about me. One of these guys just doesn't bring someone into their world, into their lives, without the others knowing about it. Just imagine you have 3-5 tight friends. You talk on the phone, you hang out, meet, whatever. One of you says to the other, "So, what's goin' on? What have you been up to, Bob?" You see where I'm going, what I mean?

    When I was told 'all I have to do is call', it was more like an invitation. It meant to stay in touch for life, not just come and go as I please. I really think the reason I was invited in to begin with, was because I took care of one of their own, Sammy. I looked after him, right to the end. They [[The Pack) liked that. I knew I couldn't give Frank a call 5 years down the road and expect there to be open arms, Look at Jimmy Bowen for example. He worked with all of them. He became a fixture and kept Frank and Dean on the map by producing hit records for them in the mid '60's. That was just 4 or 5 short years before I came along. I really think Jimmy could foresee the same possibility for me. However, it wasn't going to happen. I know it would have been cool, but I couldn't just bop around and hang out with these cats. I already had a job and I already had a mentor.


    Chris Clark - CC Rides Again Musicians:

    Musicians on CC Rides Again?

    I'll give it a shot . . .

    "Can I See You" and "How About You" were tackled by the Funk Bros. and cut at Hitsville. The remainder of the LP [[including the two cuts not used: "What Does It Take" and "Everything's Right, Everything's Wrong" were recorded during a 2-Day, all live [[including strings and Brass) double session [[6 Hours) at RCA Studios in Hollywood, CA.

    Unfortunately, I couldn't get all my regular players for the session. Since I wanted continuity, they had to be available for all 4 sessions, so it was rough. The biggest change was my traps man. I couldn't get Ed Greene or Gene Pello, so I went with Earl Palmer. I had used Earl on my very first Motown session in LA for Debbie Dean, 'Why Am I Lovin' You'. The man has played on some of the best records of the 50's, not to mention his other accomplishments. He was actually perfect for these full orchestra live sessions. All the other musicians respected him so much. He kept the entire band locked in like a rock.

    For the guitars, I got 2 out of 3 of my original J5 players, Don Peake and Louie Shelton. #3 turned out to be Dean Parks. I found that Dean's style was very similar to Louie's, So, when Louie started producing Seals & Croft. and was too busy do do my sessions, I grabbed Dean Parks to take his place.

    Ron Brown was on Bass. Ron eventually took over for Wilton on most the later J5 recordings I did. Interesting Note: This guy studied Jamerson like a hawk. He actually had painfully written down note for note, all the bass lines James played on many of the Motown tracks. Then practiced them until he was damn good at emulating Jamersons basic style of playing. Unbelievable. However, between you and me and the goal post, only Jamerson knew where Jamerson was going to take the line, whether it was totally written out or not. Nevertheless, I have to give Ron the kudos he deserves. He always tried to make the most of the parts I wrote out and playing the different ways he felt how Jamerson might have played the lines.

    Keyboards was Don Randi. Don was an old friend and had a great nightclub in North Hollywood where all the guys would hang out and jam called 'The Baked Potato'. Good times and good music.

    Now, after that, with the exception of a few horns like Tom Scott, etc. my memory is a little foggy.



    I'totally'forgot . . . About 6 months ago, I had started to convert my'library'Fostex 16 track tapes, as well as my 71/2ips and 15ips tapes to mp3's. I had just started on "The'Celebration' LP, when one of my old consoles did a 'swan dive'. [[I was actually using 2 Tascam consoles chained together to give me 20 inputs. Anyway, I did at least get one song copied, which is "Doo-Bee-Do . . . ". Unfortunately, it isn't fair to judge the group or sound by this one 'pop' tune. They were quite versatile. I think that was part of the problem: There was no true identity as the style of songs on the LP is all over the place; almost like a rainbow.

    Anyway, just for fun, and so you can get a taste of 'one side' of the group, here is the remake of the tune I originally recorded on Diana:


  10. #10
    I Can't Dance To That Music You're Playing:

    I know it's late, but its been one of those days and this is the first chance I've had to write. I'm sure most of you are already under the covers and even down for the count, but here's the bedtime story I promised you: "The I Can't Dance Caper".

    Well, you must remember in those days we cut on 8-Track. There wasn't a lot of room for error, much less giving anyone extra tracks, including the lead vocalist. The 3 guitars were mixed to one track while you were recording live, Jamerson had his own bass track, the drums were cut on one, [[sometimes) on 2 tracks The piano on one, percussion on another. So, you see there is 6 gone right there. You had enough for the group and the lead. If you planned to sweeten the tracks, you had to either do a different mix when you recorded the original tracks or make an 8 Track to 8 Track transfer and put the perc and drums together etc., etc., to open up another track. Well, let's cut to the chase . . .

    The song, "I Can't Dance To That Music You're Playin'" was complete with Martha singing all the way through, as well as the 'saxy vocal break'. Enter . . . Quality Control. [[Now, if you don't know about BJ and QC, we'll have to go into that one another time.) I can tell you that BJ liked it from the first time she heard it. There was competition from Richard Morris, who was out to follow up "Honey Chile" with "Sweet Darlin'". I hadn't really earned my 'stripes' yet to be in a QC meeting. I remember, BJ said just before going in, "Take it easy Deke, you've got a good record and a good shot at it. We'll see." However, you could hear BJ and BG playing the acetates [[behind closed doors) in the hall, stopping and starting, comparing the 2 back and forth . Then, there was silence while they were voted on. When the door finally opened, BJ said, "OK Deke, you got it!"

    Well, I just about had kittens. However, BJ wanted me to make a few changes. First she wanted the song to start right out with the chorus and then wanted me to change the melody on the chorus. 'Deke, make these changes, and you'll have a hit!" Chorus at the top? Maybe, but change the melody? I didn't really agree, but I wanted the release. Hey, BJ was the pro, a senior at Motown while I, was still a freshman. I had to go with her. After all, after BG, she was the boss when it came to making those kind of decisions. Don't get me wrong, BJ did have a certain amount of magic, and she was right on a lot of her calls. So, I had to go in the studio with my trusty 'safety razor' and edit the tape. After I did it, a few of Martha's lines got clipped where I edited the tape. Not only that. The phrasing just didn't sound natural. So I asked for studio time, to make the opening kick with a fresh OD of Martha doing the opening chorus. It was tight because Martha was leaving for a gig. I think it was in Philly. [[I'm almost sure it started with a "P" anyway.) At any rate, I also changed the melody like BJ suggested. Done!

    It goes back up to BJ & QC and Oh-Oh! Uh, the response to the change was a tad cool. Meeting time, closed doors, etc. I'm waiting in the hall, pacing back and forth, like a man who's wife is getting ready to have a baby. Doors open, "Come in, Deke". Well, it seems like I had it right the first time. "Deke", pregnant pause, "change it back the way you had it." [[BJ had to admit she was wrong, which I know was not easy for her to do, especially to me, a kid who was still a bit green.) Great! No, it wasn't. What a drag, I thought. BJ wanted those first changes done so fast, there was no time to make an 8 track to 8 track transfer. I had to erase Martha's original lead vocal to redub her with the new melody BJ wanted. I didn't have an open track left. Anyway, back into the studio I go and re-edit the tape and put the pieces back where they were before I so rudely violated it. Now, I go to A&R to schedule another dub in with Martha. Wait a minute! Martha's gone to "P", wherever that was. Now, I have to go back up to A&R and tell them the problem. From there, I end up tangling with the Legal Affairs Dept. to get permission to go to "P" so I can redo her vocal back the way it was to begin with.

    Now here' is the sad part of the story that no one, including Martha, knows. Legal Affairs, nixes the trip. What? Why Legal Affairs? Cost too Much? There wasn't a studio near where Martha was performing? She was going on to another gig and I wouldn't be able to catch up with her? Why couldn't I go and have Martha redub the missing pieces? This, I will never understand. On top of that, I keep being told, "there is no time". DJs and/or sales are putting on the pressure. They have to have the follow up for "Honey Chile". The record HAS to come out yesterday! NOW, what am I supposed to do?

    BJ suggests I have the Adantes sing the chorus on the opening. "Maybe you can get one of the girls to sound like Martha [[or like the old Vandellas) in the background." Anyway, I try, but no way. I need Martha, that's it, period. It just won't work without Martha. Well, I don't know what to do. Sure, I want the release, but it's not right. To make matters worse, they won't let me go to Martha; and even if I got the OK, sales was putting on the pressure to get the record yesterday. If I wasn't a young buck, I probably would have had a heart attack.

    Enter . . . Rita Wright. Rita was working in the arrangers room running sheet music to the sessions and assisting the arrangers etc., waiting for her own break. [[Remember, many stars in the Motown family, worked as secretaries and such waiting for their chance.) She had already done a few demos for Diana. One of the arrangers asks me, "Have you heard Rita sing?". Well, to be honest, I hadn't. "She's really good"! I listened to one of her demos, and she had this little edge that gets thinner and fatter when she gets up there. Could this possibly work? Maybe if I bury her just enough with the other girls . . . Maybe if I double the girls and add just one Rita? No, then it will sound too big, to overproduced, to 'Mamas & Papas-ish". So, I go over and talk to Rita and tell her the situation. "So, do you want to give it a crack?", I asked. "Keep in mind there is no glory in this Rita, you are just playing a part." It was like . . Rita was going to be the one fake brush stroke on the original painting of the Mona Lisa."

  11. #11
    I go into the studio and we begin. I even have her sing along with one chorus I still had with Martha's voice that was clipped when I did the edit. You know, Rita really tried. I even made her change the timber of her voice in the middle of words and almost crack. But I have to tell you, only Martha can really do that. I changed EQ..while recording live. I had 3 different setups I would switch to. Believe me, no one or two could have tried harder. When I originally mixed the rough 7 1/2 ips, it did sound decent. But, I had to pull her back into the group just right. However, I think anyone would have still said, "Why did you lower Martha's voice in the chorus?" Now, here's the next cute move. I didn't mix the final record! They didn't even call me in to be at the mixing session. QC and especially BJ, knew this was a problem side. [[Note: There were only a few producers that got to mix their own product at that time: Norman Whitfield, HDH, Smokey and that's about it. Your final mixes were done without you being there.) So, you can see what a disaster this one was going to be. Whoever mixed it, needed to know what was going on. I remember when I heard it mixed the first time. "You better pull Rita back into the mix." I said. Who do you think you are going to fool? The fool, that's who . . . and that's all, I thought

    Through all of this, my gut is doing somersaults. Here we are, emulating the great Martha, when the real Martha is still with us. Now, I don't want to make this a political forum, however . . .After all is said and done, and all the stories have been told, you have to ask yourself the following:

    DO YOU REALLY THINK . . . I would want my first solo record by a major artist on Motown to be a fabrication? DO YOU REALLY THINK I wanted my first solo record to stop dead in it's tracks at the lower half of Billboards Hot 100, and have a bullet on the way down? Anyone who could have really prevented this from happening, took themselves off the hook. Someone had to take the fall. I remember seeing Martha one last time in Detroit. I went up to see BG, and she had just returned from being on the road. She was sitting there also waiting to see Berry, with tears in her eyes. She didn't even want to talk to me. I don't think she was ever told what was going down. She just heard it on the radio. Swell. What in the world did they tell her? I don't think any of us will ever know.

    Since then I've heard stories, including a few mentioned in this forum. Well, Martha never mentioned anything to me about changing the lyrics because a relationship gone bad with a musician. If that was really the case, then she kept it inside, until she blurted it out later down the line to someone. Either that ,or some writer stared that junk. Oh yes, and the one about Rita having to hit the notes for Martha? Nonsense. Martha hit the notes I gave her just fine.

    I met with Martha one more time after Motown in 1981. She was taking care of her mom and she came over and we spent the day together. We were both at low points in our lives. However, Martha had been "To Hell and Back". She had signed a couple of artist deals, neither of which were totally satisfying. I could tell she had definitely seen the demons. However, as much as I wanted to do something, I was really not in shape to help her, much less myself. Dearest Martha, I was crazy about you, I idolized you. Do you think I did this to you for my personal gain? Do you really think I had the authority to do this to you? Better yet, where did I, the new kid on the block, ever get the authority to do this to you? Ain't no way, baby. Never in a million years.

    And then there's Rita. She was just a pawn in this deal. However, I'm sure she's had her share of embarrassing questions to answer over the years.

    Now that it's history, I think we all are to blame. I could have stood up and told QC, "I'm not going to do what you want, without Martha!" Rita could have told me, "I don't want to be the one to play "Martha Reeves" on a Martha Reeves record"; and Motown could have said, "Get a hold of Martha and have her come back here so we can finish this record".

    ...and so we all came to the finish line together, dead last.

  12. #12
    I'm Still Waiting:

    I am so proud of "I'm Still Waiting" and the fans in the UK made it so popular; and to some, almost . . . a mini anthem. My one desire was to have my very own hit on Diana, with all due respect to 'Love Child". That was a collaboration. No one else liked "I'm Still Waiting". I remember Berry said, 'The character and sound you gave Diana, was not Diana at all". So, I was thrilled when it was pulled from the album and released in the UK. [[Thanks to Tony Blackburn). It went up so fast. I remember in 2-3 weeks it was #4 and became the 3rd biggest seller at the time. [[Of course this was before the Bee Gees came along with that great soundtrack.) Then up to #1. However, I was crushed when it became one of her biggest flops in the USA.

    The USA! That's all I thought about. The UK was nice, but it wasn't home. I wanted to have a hit at Home. It took me almost 2 years to get over it. And then, it suddenly dawned on me, like a tree falling on my head: "What is so special about Home and the USA, when the entire UK and even the rest of the world loves your song?", I said to myself. " Don't you feel you finally did enough and that you have made the hit you wanted to make, by yourself, for Diana?"

  13. #13
    "Once Upon A Time, We Had A Sound"

    When I first came back to L.A. from Detroit, I wanted to recreate the Hitsville sound. From the room, the musicians, and the style of recording. First I needed a studio. That ended up being Dave Hassinger's "The Sound Factory". It was just the right size, intimate and perfect for rhythm tracks. Dave Hassinger was an easy pro to work with. He never hassled me about being at the controls of the console, or mixing, etc.

    I ate up everything I could swallow about the Hitsville studio in Detroit. Trying to duplicate that drum sound was a serious challenge. There was a certain 'open hollow sound' to the snare, that I really wanted to duplicate. I recorded drum test after test changing the tightness of the snares, the skins, with tape, without tape. Nothing sounded right to me. I knew the one thing about the Detroit studio that was really different, was the floor! It was a wood plank floor with 1/8"-1/4" gap between 6" boards. That floor was funky. It was never cleaned, mopped, painted, polished, etc. It just kept getting funkier and funkier by some of the greatest musicians that ever walked the earth. I remember getting on the floor one day and looking through the cracks. There was empty space below the floor, just how much I can't remember now. That's it. "Dave," I said, " I'm going to build a drum stand here for my sessions." Dave said "OK, fine, except, where are you going to store it when you're not recording?" Oops!, my first snag! I thought for a minute. "Nope, I got it!," I said. "I'll design it like a baseball diamond and I'll put hinges in the center. So, after my sessions, we can fold it up and put it in the small sweetening room. It was a small isolated room used for a small brass or string section of 6 0r 8 musicians.

    So I went out looking for old distressed wood. No way. Not easy. I would have had to find an old barn and tear it down. Well, I just had to improvise. I drew up a plan, got some 2" x 8" or 12" wood and we built the stand. It was about 12" high, separated the planks, put in the hinges, and went for it, win, place or show. Well, it worked. [[Note: It worked so good, that other clients using the studio would see the stand sitting in the corner of the room and ask Dave, "What is this?" I never forget getting calls about groups asking to use the stand. I normally said no, but finally said yes to Linda Rondstadt. She ended up with a monster album. Later on, after the 'Hitsville West' band broke up, and we weren't doing sessions on a regular schedule, almost every group cutting there used that same drum stand.)

    Then, I had a special direct box made up for the Guitar players, so they didn't have to bring in any amps. One big unit with [[4-6) 1/4" phone jack inputs on the front and a small monitor speaker.

    Next I needed a group of musicians that I would always use for my sessions. Since I was planning on coming up with a so-called Motown or Hitsville West Sound, I wanted a signature in the form of musicians and the charts. Certain players would always play the same parts. For example, I always used Don Peake to double most of the Bass lines. David T. always did the fills. The musicians in LA had played on every kind of session, so most of this was simple stuff. However, if I could get a group that respected each other AND liked each other, I thought we could cut some hits and have a good time, at the same time.

    So, with Ben Barrett, who was the Local Contractor, we put together a list of players; some of which, I had already used at one time or another. The 'first string' players I finally chose stayed with me for quite a while.

    The original players were:
    Guitars: Louie Shelton, Don Peake and David T. Walker
    Bass: Wilton Felder
    Keyboards: Clarence McDonald and Joe Sample [[I used Clarence on the first few tracks, then switched to Joe )
    Perc: Saundra Crouch
    Drums: Gene Pello [[I used Gene through the "ABC" single, then switched to Ed Greene)

    This group recorded the original tracks on:
    "I Want You Back" and the LP cuts
    "ABC" and the LP cuts

    Now the next mountain to climb, was how to keep these guys exclusively for my sessions and eventually, 'The Corporation", Hal Davis and other producers that would eventually sign to the label. These musicians were working all the time and some, like Wilton and Joe were already in other established respected groups, like the 'Jazz Crusaders". Even Louie was hot stuff producing Seals & Croft. It was not easy, but I had to find a way to keep the group and sound together.

    I met with Ben again, and finally made an unheard of arrangement with the musicians. This was a deal that you will probably never hear of anyone ever doing again. I had the group 'reserved' for Motown exclusively on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If I didn't have a session, I would pay them for one. Secondly, I gave them all 2 'doubles' each. For those not familiar with the term 'doubles', I'll explain. When a studio musician plays more than one instrument on a session, he is entitled to a 'double', which at the time I believe was the equivalent to 1/3 scale or 1/2 scale, I can't remember which. Sometimes a musician reaches a certain status that his fee is "Scale or Double Scale+1, 2, or 3 doubles. So as a bonus for the privilege of having them on stand-by, I gave them all scale or double scale + 2 doubles each, whether I used them or not. After they became famous as the group that was cutting the J5 hits, the ante went up.

    And there you have it: That is how I made a team and a sound out of a studio some wood, and group of fine players. No, it wasn't Hitsville; but it was my tribute to Hitsville.

    Once upon a time, we had a sound, and so we made hit records . . . together.

  14. #14
    "The Making Of One Legend, And The Return Of Another"
    The story of The Clan, The Supremes and their Love Child

    This various bits and pieces of this story, as well as the creation of the record itself, is like a quilt. The finished product we gave you became a distinctly unique piece of material. In return, you have all shown us all how much you appreciated our work. We sincerely thank you.

    It all started with a 'sewing circle' of professional friends that sat and worked together, side by side. However, before the 'quilt' was completed, some of us became strangers. We separated, but we continued to work on different 'patches' at the same time. Sometimes, we even found ourselves all working on the same 'patch,' at different times. Some became envious while others found pride. Some became disillusioned while others became inspired; and yet, I don't think anyone ever stopped believing we would all conquer the challenge before us.

    To get the complete true story, you would need to tear this fabric apart. To accomplish this task, you would have to get the entire 'circle' together again. In the meantime, at least I can offer you my pieces or 'patches' that became a part of this wonderful quilt.

    This is a story filled with joy and sadness; trimmed with fine lace of elated pride. For all of us who rose to the occasion . . . It was "The Making Of One Legend, And The Return Of Another"

    To understand how, who and why the "The Clan" was formed, we need to go back to 1967. You knew that Motown had a west coast office, right? Well, it was in LA. in the Sunset and Vine Tower. Hal Davis held down the fort and was considered by some as "Mr. Motown". Frank Wilson who also lived in LA, worked out of that office as well.

    I came to on board in late 1966, after actually signing the contracts in Detroit. There wasn't much recording going on, but what there was, Hal did most of it. He had already done some sessions for Brenda Holloway. When Motown had acts that were coming to LA, from Detroit, that's when we [[Frank, Hal and myself) got a shot to record them. However, Quality Control, and Billie Jean Brown thought very little of us on the West Coast. First, QC didn't like the sound of our productions at all. Well, in hindsight, I don't blame them. It wasn't Hitsville, that's for sure. However, there were some good tunes. After almost a year, Frank and I had become disenchanted with the company. It would be different if we lived in Detroit, but living on the West Coast, seemed to be our curse.

    So, Frank and I wrote a letter to Berry, saying we needed to have some 'action'. Both of us thought there was no sense staying on just for an advance and never getting any records released. We made it known, we were both ready to go looking for another company who would utilize use our talents. Berry got the letter and shortly thereafter sent us a letter saying he wanted both of us to come to Detroit.

    After we arrived, we met with Berry, and he told us we would both get a cut on the next Diana Ross & The Supremes album. Of course, without question, whatever we did had be good. That album turned out to be 'Reflections'. Frank recorded the Brenda & Patrice Holloway tune, "Bah-Bah-Bah" and I produced, "I'm Gonna Make It [[I Will Wait For You)", written by myself and Debbie Dean. Both cuts as promised went into the album. Finally, we had made a mark.

    Now we need to jump down to late '67 to mid '68. "Reflections" single was a hit, but it went downhill from there. "In and Out of Love" got close, but no cigar. "Forever Came Today" [[cut in LA) was only a mild success. Motown was going through legal matters with HDH over royalties, and somebody hollered, "STRIKE"! So, HDH stopped working on Diana and The Supremes. However, Diana needed a hit so they chose "Some Things You Never Get Used To". That even made it worse. Believe me, I know sales really tried to make the last 3 sides hits, but you can't get 'Blood From A Stone".

    Berry was frustrated, but not down for the count. Diana HAD to have a hit. The way Berry explained it to me once, and I have never forgotten this. Here is a close quote. "Diana is the 'Queen Bee', Berry said. "When she has a hit, the rest of the acts, or company, does well. She is considered ,'The Leader Of The Pack'. So we have GOT to get a hit on Diana, period". Sales were down for all the artists. The company was suffering.

    The next thing that happened, was really Berry's idea. It was the ultimate gamble. He did something that was very strange, fairly unorthodox and pure genius all at the same time. Little did anyone know, he was shopping for heroes, and looking for soldiers. It was time to wage war. Well, to go into battle, you need an army. I was lucky enough to be on that shopping list. Perhaps I should say, "I got drafted' into a small army that would eventually; save Diana and the Supremes, save Motown, and send a message to HDH all at the same time. [[Note: After all was said and done, I always believed what probably pleased Berry the most ,was that it send a message to HDH and any other producer or artist; that 'No Man Is An Island").The next months would change history forever. It became the stuff legends are made of. It was . . . the beginning of "The Clan".

    Part II
    Heads Up! Female In The Foxhole!

    Now, whether there was a meeting in the 'War Room' first, or we all met in the 'Foxhole' itself, THAT is a tad foggy. So, let's just go to the Foxhole. This is where we would get to meet our comrades, the ones who we would be fighting with, side by side.

    Time: 21:00 hrs.
    Place: Hotel Ponchetrain, Detroit

    We all arrived at separate times, except Frank and I came together. "Nice place", I thought, "Now this is where we should be staying", I said to Frank. Of course, it was nicer than where Frank and I were holding up; at the Quality Inn Motel on Grand. Don't get me wrong, we had some good times there. However, this Ponchetrain Hotel had class. Anyway, we went up to the room. I do remember when the door to the suite opened, I walked inside and I said, "Not bad. Tennis anyone?" Come on, this was not a room. This was a big play pen, and guess who came over to play. I mean, you can't tell the players without a program.

    Of course you know Berry's track record, forget about Motown. Hey, Jackie Wilson alone . . .great stuff.

    Frank Wilson was active before I came along. However, other than the Supremes Reflections cut, Frank and I worked together on a single for Barbara McNair called, "Where Would I Be Without You". When Frank was going to do the Supremes and Tempts first album, I came to him with an arrangement I had for "Funky Broadway". He loved it . He wanted me to play the Whrilitzer elect piano on the session just like I played it for him. However, I was a little nervous, so I backed down. After all, that was a live session with 35-40 musicians. I couldn't afford to screw up. Besides I was a guitar player, not a piano player. So, I had Gene Page write it out and I'd make sure the player got the feeling right in the studio. We did 2 other cuts together for the album; "I'll Try Something New" and a name value tune, "This Guy/Girls In Love With You". It was a fun session. Frank and I got along just fine. I think I was his first 'white' soul brother and I really liked having him for a brother as well.

    Then Hank Cosby arrived. Now, Hank was a decent man. He always treated me with respect at Motown, even before I had really earned any. I wasn't that familiar with Hank's early work. When I came along, Hank worked closely with a good looking writer named Sylvia Moy. Together they were on a roll and he was producing hits on Stevie Wonder. Hank was also in charge of the arrangers and coordinating the sessions. Hank had his office there, in the Arrangers Room. I liked Hank. He was a good man.

    Then in walked R. Dean Taylor. Now, my first impression was that Dean was the one artist that just seemed totally out of place at Motown. Now, I had met him before at Hitsville, downstairs in the rehearsal rooms. In fact it was there in Eddie Holland's 'office'. I'll never forget. Dean was sitting there, with a pipe in his mouth. I thought he was someone from upstairs [[Legal Dept. ). However, that just goes to show you. Never judge a book by it's cover. Eddie introduced us and said Dean was a writer and artist with the label. Well, Dean loved Neil Diamond and semi-fashioned his style after Neil as well. I would soon learn that Dean could write some great words and had a different approach to going after, and finding hidden melodies in tracks. Dean was a Top Gun.

    The Plan of attack was outlined by our Commander and Chief, Mr. Gordy himself. [[Pardon me while I give you the essence of what he said, purely in jest.)
    In essence, Berry very calmly said, "You vill virk, and virk and virk, until you can virk no more. You vill not leave the premises. And ven you are done, you vill have a hit on Diana Ross. Is this perfectly clear?" Ouch!, I thought, but I said, "Sounds pretty crystal to me."

    Now, every great plan has it's 'drawback', or a 'catch'. It seemed like this one had both barrels blazing. Here was the 'drawback'. We were to stay there, in that suite, until the 'hit' was completed. Woah! Hold on there! Wait a minute. Did I hear you correctly? Stay HERE in this hotel room?, All of us? 'Til it's done?

    "Right.", Berry said. "This is a [[2 or 3) bedroom suite. There's plenty of room. You can have room service bring up your food and then you can take turns sleeping. Everybody stays here."

    Then, at that very moment, in walked . . . the 'catch'. The last 'soldier' to arrive was . . . WHO? No one said a word. The silence was deafening, but the sound of our thoughts came through loud and clear . . . "Heads Up! Female In The Foxhole!"

  15. #15
    Part III
    Round And A-Round and A-Round We Go

    Heads Up! Female In The Foxhole! Great Balls Of Fire! It was the Blonde Bombshell from England, Pam Sawyer. Pam was also an LA resident. Her hubby was quite famous, or should I say he helped one singer to become a household name in the 50's producing hits like 'Chances Are' and "The Twelfth Of Never" [[I'm almost positive, those were just 2 of his great hits.) That's right, Johnny Mathis. Now Pam was a wild one. She could talk faster than I could think, and lyrics? Forget it. This girl just came up with great ideas and words as well. Pam was not for everyone. I mean if you were a slow kind of laid back person, Pam could exhaust you. Before I understood more about good lyrics from writers like Smokey, Eddie Holland, and later even Pam and R.Dean, I was writing what I call 'Moon, June, Spoon' lyrics. Well, I guess I was stuck in the 50's. Most of the lyrics were so simple then. Words in many of the hits, were like you talked. "I love you...I'll never let you go...I can't live without you...I want to hold you again, etc. YUK. [[My Alter Ego interjecting here: Sorry Deke, I liked your tracks. I even liked your melodies, but give it up; you were a terrible word man.) Times had changed. Lyrics were deeper, and had double and triple meanings. I really wanted to become a good lyricist, but it was a lot of hard work, if you weren't a 'natural'. Now Pam, on the other hand, was a gifted girl. I could go for days sometimes, searching and struggling for just the right words. On the other Pam, just opened her mouth and seemed to, excuse the expression, vomit one classic line after another. Who says girls can't play 'war games'?

    Now, naming this small band of misfits was again, Berry's Idea. "We are going to be called . . "The Klan".
    WHAT?, I thought to myself, did I totally miss the humor or clever hidden meaning of the name?. "The KLAN"? I said as I took a deep breath, but wasn't sure what I wanted to say. I mean I've heard of 'friendly fire', but with a name like that? Eh, I don't think so. Then, Berry said 'spelled with a "C", and I let go of the air in my lungs. Now, keep in mind "The Clan" itself consisted of everyone except Pam. This is because "The Clan" was actually a production team. Pam was not a producer. So, Berry gave us his blessing and said, "Let me know when you have something", and walked out the door. Then, we all left the hotel to get a change of clothes, personal items, etc. It was obvious we were going to need them. After we all returned, I recall it was all so awkward in the beginning. I brought my guitar and small amp with me. The hotel had provided us with an upright piano. [[Note: In fact images pop in and out of my head about 2nd piano. In fact it was a baby grand. Oh well, either I'm seeing double, or it was wishful thinking)

    Now you have to imagine this scenario. Here are 5 writers that have never teamed up before, that have just suddenly become partners, and mind you, not by choice. Great! How do we start? Who starts first? Well, it was just plain weird, period. I plugged in my amp and guitar and limbered up a bit, quietly. Frank played a few chords. I backed him up for a while. Hank was checking out the groove. Then, Frank changed over to another feel and set of chords. I backed him up again. Hank stomped his foot and nodded his head to that set. Hank had this cool way of nodding his head kind of in a semi-circle when he liked a groove. Then, it all slowly died out . I'm almost sure R. Dean brought his acoustical guitar and then started strumming some chords. However, remember he had that 'Neil Diamond' thing going. Hank couldn't get into that. I played with Dean. Easy stuff. Guitar players can talk together with guitars. It doesn't matter what the other one is playing, you just shift gears. Frank tried to follow, but he couldn't lay into that kind of groove. So, he was stuck playing mostly pads and a few licks.

    Poor Pam was stuck. What could she do? Holler out a concept? I mean did Hammerstein just holler out "OKLAHOMA" and Rogers say, "Yeah Oscar, here you go' Plink, Plink, Plink, Plink, Plunk? Well, that might have been OK for those boys, but we were a different breed. We always did music, melody or tracks first. The actual song or lyrics came later. However, like I said, Pam could come up with concepts, like rabbits have babies. So she would just keep on writing, talking her ideas to whoever was playing at the time. I don't care what I, or anyone else says about that girl, she was a real trooper.

    Frank took a break and I jumped on the piano. Dean tried to follow me. Pam recited lyric ideas in my ear. Hank was nodding and tapping his foot. Back to Frank. Frank fumbled, Dean took it, I blocked and ran with it and Hank kept on checking for the groove. IT WAS CRAZY, totally insane. Five talented writers, and we were all out of control. What we really needed to do, was all go downstairs to the bar and get drunk. "Round and around and around we go, where we gonna stop nobody knows." You see, someone had to come up with a structure that all 5, or at least 4 of us, took a liking to. Then, the odd man out, would eventually come around. In reality, Frank and I were just playing things we were in the midst of writing. So this is how it went that first night until someone finally quietly walked into one of the bedrooms and lied down. Then Pam, having no one to 'play' with, took her toys and went to bed in the other room. The sound slowly faded. The last thing I remember is lying on the couch at 4am, holding on to my guitar by the neck like a Lilly in my coffin. I never heard the last note of the night.

    The morning after, was rough. I really think we all felt we had partied the night before. It was like we either got too drunk to drive and crashed at a strangers or we got 'picked up' and taken to 'their' place. Think about it. Here are these 5 'dead' bodies all over the place. Whoever woke up first got to see the others at their worst. One was snoring like a bear. Someone else took their shoes off and it didn't smell all that great. Everybody's hair is sticking up in the air, etc. Then, there is the one lady in the house. Well, don't ask me. I wasn't the first one up. I got busted with the rest of the late sleepers. There was only one way to do 'the morning after' gracefully. If you were lucky enough to wake up first, and quietly sneak out without waking the others, you could make a dash for home, or your 'other hotel'. Then, take a nice shower and change. By the time you got back, you would have missed the awkward feeling of seeing everybody at their worst. Oh well, life is made up of little memories like this.

    By the time we got ourselves together and ordered some food, the ice began to melt. We had a few laughs and we were ready to give it another go. Everything went about the same as the night before, but at least we were listening to each other. Sometime during the early part of the night, I started to feel my oats. I had laid back earlier, because the piano just seemed more natural to kick things off with. Maybe I was a tad shy to stick myself out there with my guitar. [[Note: Just so you pickers out there know; I was playing my '61 Telecaster with a rosewood neck. It was a stock job with the old hand wound Leo Fender pickups. I was going to get a Maple neck, but it just seemed like everyone was changing over to Maple necks. I hate that. So, I just stayed with my Rosewood.)

    I had a number of guitar players I followed and were idols of mine including, Freddie King, BB King, Pee Wee Crayton, Lonnie "Memphis" Mack, and for that funky country thing, some early James Burton licks. So I just turned up the volume on my trusty small Magnet Student amp [[which gave just the right amount of dirt or clean distortion and started pickin this groove. It was a mixture of Lonnie Mack and Jimmy Burton. That groove became the guitar quilt I actually used in the verses of the song. I just stayed there on that lick. It was easy for Frank to play against it, through it and over it. Then Dean jumped in. We were finally jamming. Then, there was a knock on the door. We froze. Just when we had something going I thought, the hotel was going to bust us. I put down my guitar, turned off the amp and went over to the door. I was all prepared to blame Pam and her stupid record player [[just kidding, Pam). I opened the door and the man said, "That sounds good!". It was Berry.

  16. #16
    Episode IV
    When The Cat's Away, The Mice Will Play

    "What was that you were playing?", Berry said as he came in with a smile on his face. Not wanting to sound like we had nothing to show for the last 20 hours, I said "New thing we've been playing around with". The guys looked at me like, "Oh yeah?". Well, you just have to stick yourself out there sometimes. That's how you get breaks. They don't come looking for you. Just then BG said, just what I was afraid he was going to say. "GREAT! Let me hear some more". Boy, that did it. I could see daggers in my comrade's' eyes. But Ol' Hank had it easy, he was just tapping to the groove. He wasn't gonna catch hell, but I was, if Frank and Dean didn't follow my lead, like RIGHT NOW! After all, I was the one that opened my big mouth. Come on guys, I thought to myself, it's only a groove, just go with it. Frank played a couple of licks the first time around that were nice and melodic, I just hoped he hadn't forgotten and would play a 'command performance'. Dean was giving solid rhythm support on the acoustic the first time through. I knew he would stay there and wouldn't be a problem. I knew where I was going. Just in case, I said to Frank, "Why don't you start with those little licks and that 3 chord turnaround this time". I figured if we screwed up, at least it would sound like we were trying something different, and it would be understandable to play a clam or two. I told Dean to hold out and just let Frank have it, then I'd kick in with the picking thing and then Dean could come in last. This way I figured Dean could hear just what kind, and how much rhythm support to come in with. I counted it off since I knew the right tempo that makes my 'pickin thing' work.

    Now, to add a little excitement to the room, I counted, or should I say hollered it off as if we were in the session. One . . . .Two . . . One, Two.................! Well, Dean got so excited, he jumped the gun and came in at the top with Frank. So there was this rhythm going behind Franks 3 sustained chords and tasty licks. It sounded so good I just let it go one more time around as I reached back and cranked up the volume on my trusty Magnet Amp. I was thinking so fast, I almost blew a fuse in me. I wanted it to shake up Frank and Dean when I started playing, so they would look at me right away. Mainly because, I was just going to stay pickin on that one chord, We hadn't really figured out where to go, so I didn't want anyone to get any ideas to start looking for chords, or taking a chance and actually playing them; not yet anyway. The turnaround came around the second time and BAM! I picked that Tele to death. Well, I shook em up all right. We laid there for 8 bars maybe more, maybe less. Then Frank did something I didn't expect. He played the 3 chords and the licks like the intro, and Dean followed him. Me? I did the weirdest thing. I threw in this Duane Eddy sounding lick and then just stayed there in one key on that grove with my pickin thing. When Frank and Dean came around again, I 'Duane-d It' one more time. What can I say? It was beautiful. It was exciting. It was cool, and to top it off Berry was smiling tapping his foot. I was looking at the guys with a confident smile and stroking my ego at the same time with my silent thoughts, "Now THAT'S how you get in . . . and out of a jam!" [[Note: Boy, it took me almost 30 years to see what a 'Brat' I must have been sometimes!)

    We repeated both parts one more time and then I just stopped everybody with a heavy hit of my strings as I muted them. I quickly said, "Well, that's all we have so far, whaddaya think?" "Great", Berry said. "What's the concept for the song?" All I could say to that, was that Pam had been coming up with different ideas and words since yesterday, but we hadn't really put any of them inside the music yet. Well, now it was Pam's turn. Berry was inspired and went over to the piano and decided to play this chord structure that had been on his mind. He was playing slow and as I listened to the chords I thought of a lot of tunes. It was a progression many guitar players played. In fact, when he first played it the way he did, the first tune that came to mind, was 'Walk Don't Run" by the Ventures. [[What did you say Deke? Did you forget you are at Motown, boy? The Ventures? What are you talking about? Sorry, but that's what it was. i.e. Am-G-F-E). You see, Berry had a love affair with minor chords. So he was la-la-ing as he was hitting the chords and letting them sustain. Now, the only problem I saw was his groove was totally different than what we were doing. I know we all looked at each other a bit puzzled. [[Note: Remember, Berry was a great writer. I loved all the Jackie Wilson tunes. In fact I used to sing almost half of them when I performed with my group. Sure, he was the President of Motown, but I had more respect for him as a writer, and I looked forward to learning all I could from him. Now Berry on the other hand, was a fan of HDH. Even though those songs meant $$$ for the company and they were going though bad times, he always liked HDH's stuff a lot. ) Just then he picked up the tempo and added the feeling of the bass from "My World Is Empty Without You". At the same time, Pam went for Berry's left ear and started talking about a new idea she just came up with about a child out of wedlock. Now I have to admit, it sounded a little strange. A few words were said here and there, but we all seemed to feel it was not the time to critique, but to back off and listen

    Berry was the only one that really knew we couldn't just come up with a tune. The good, or even great melody was just not going to be enough; not this time. There had to be something special in the meaning of the words. It had to be more, it had to be . . . a classic. Think about it for a minute, and you might understand what I think the man was going through;
    YOU are the one . . who is the President of the company.
    YOU are the one . . who is having problems with your best writing machine.
    YOU are the one . . who is responsible for what your top act's next record is and does next.
    YOU are the one . . who will be judged by everyone else in the company [[from Billie Jean Brown in Quality Control to Phil Jones in Sales and everyone in between) and FINALLY and possibly the most important to you personally,
    YOU are the one . . who is going to be watched closely by the ones you are trying to prove something to. . . Holland-Dozier-Holland.

    I just knew it was time to back off. He needed to find and feel good about something. There was too much at stake. So Pam continued on with lines and Berry kept playing the progression. I nodded to the guys and quietly went over to my guitar, as Dean followed suit. We began to back up the simple 4-chord structure, over and over.

    At some point the words 'Love Child' hit the air. Now I know it wasn't me, so that leaves 4. Hank wasn't into the concept that much at first, so I'll take him out as well. Berry heard it as well, so he's out. That leaves Frank, Dean and Pam. I really do believe it was Pam or Dean, because Frank was trying in his head to see how these 2 parts were going to go together: Walk Don't Run ala My World Is Empty Without You and the little funky groove we had played earlier.

    Berry now started singing the line 'Love Child' against the chords, once for each chord. Pam kept jotting down notes and occasionally talking out lines, as Berry would imitate or repeat what she said bending the words to fit inside the same space with the 4 chords. Hank was just not convinced yet. He was the only one of us not playing, so he could be totally objective to what was going on. He knew It was just plodding along from Am to G to F to E, from Am to G to F to E. The way Berry was playing it so far, there was no just real groove to that progression. No, there sure wasn't. Not yet. Not that night anyway. We never got back to our original groove we played earlier. Berry was too excited with what had been accomplished, and I think the rest of us needed to embrace this progress, and not critique it too quickly. So Berry finally stopped playing and said, "That's great, just great!, I think we definately have something". It was time for him to go. He told us to continue and see if we could develop it some more, and then said "See You tomorrow." and walked out the door.

    All in all, I have to say it was a good night for all. Berry felt good. Pam was happy she finally had a shot, and came through quite nicely and the guys had a nice funky little track started. Somehow, we had all managed to get a little closer that night; even though there were holes to patch and questions to ask. However, It was too late for that now. The Boss was gone for the night. But . . . everyone knows when the cat's away, the mice will play.

  17. #17
    Part V
    Going For The Kill

    Well, we just sat there for a minute. "Love Child"? That title definitely didn't have that sound like "You Keep Me Hangin On" or "Standing In The Shadows Of Love", etc. That was where everybody was missing it, including myself. Then, all at once, it got crystal clear. Everyone was thinking too much about the other past Diana hits. It was blocking the minds from thinking beyond all of that. I said, "If we can't see it now, don't worry about it. We still have a chord structure to create, as well as a melody." There's plenty to do.

    [[NOTE: Since I'm going to be jumping back and forth, talking about us putting 2 musical sections together, I'll just give them names. I'll just call the funky track we did the 'pickin thing' and the 4 chords from 'Walk Don't Run,' the 'LC Chords.' In fact, let me shorten that up to . . . "PT" and "LC".)

    We started to listen to the cassette we taped of the mini track we cut and Berry playing the basic 'Love Child' chords while he sang. The first thing was to get the LC to grove like the PT we had done earlier. Now, there is no possible way to explain just how we finally did it. We just kept playing the one, and at different points, jumping into the other trying to keep the same groove. It was really frustrating and we were slowly getting burned out. We had a few ideas, but every idea seemed to leave us cold. Boredom was beginning to fill the air in the room. Even the smoke from our cigarettes was beginning to have that stale smell. We were getting too close. We needed to step back and look at it from a distance. Sometimes these things are like puzzles. They can drive you mad, and I'll tell you something right now, if you don't already know it. In music, trying to get something to sound simple, is usually the hardest thing to do. I knew we needed a break, maybe a bite to eat, talk about something else, watch some TV, etc. We just needed to get away from it for a minute. However, Pam was still making notes, reciting lines now and then. However, no one was really into the lyric thing right then. We had to put this thing in shape so the words had someplace to go. We ordered some food, turned on the TV and took some R&R.

    It's funny when you're in a group like this. You are friends, when you're making progress. The rest of the time you're really strangers. When you have a writing partner, you've come to know each other's little quirks. You know how far you can go, how hard you can push, how much you can joke. THAT'S because you KNOW the person you are working with. It was different in this situation. We all needed respect, but we also needed a leader. At least, that's what I felt we needed, someone to push us, get the best from us, produce us. God, we had enough talent in that room, that's for sure. Maybe I understood that a little more than the others. I had come to Motown just after a fairly long run of playing gigs with my band. Being the leader of the group, was still fresh inside of me. I've always been a leader and an Aries to boot. In fact, what Aries people do, whether we like it or not; we lead . So, I decided to gamble again, only this time it was going to be with a group of equals who were working side by side. No one really had the right, but I took a chance anyway. It was just so clear to me. Somebody had to tell us all what to do. Somebody HAD to strike a spark, start a fire, get a response. So, I just went ahead and laid out a game plan. It was going treat this like just another song we were going to play on stage.

    "OK, Everybody out of the pool," I said. "Let's go get this song finished." Everybody got up and walked back into the main room and went to their 'battle stations.' Whew, I thought to myself, so far so good. I had an idea we could try, when we go from the PT to the LC. Since the PT was really a guitar thing, I suggested that Frank just play the 4 chords of the LC, and let them sustain and I'm going to keep going with the PT. "Let's go for say 16 bars with the PT, then into those turnarounds, and then to the LC twice and then back to the top.", I said. Then I told Dean, "When we get to the LC, you take the rhythm there. Just fill the holes with a good rhythm that's in the pocket. Frank won't be in your way, so you'll have a clear shot at it. Don't ask me what to play or tell me what you're going to do; just do it, OK?" I just didn't have the answers yet, and I didn't want to play 'arranger' at that point either. Then I asked Hank to just come up with a simple rhythm and tap on the table. [[Note: I may have told him to try playing 16's on the tambourine, but just can't remember if we brought one or not.) We were moving right along. None of the guys seemed to mind me calling the play. Again, I counted it off in the ballpark where I could do the PT. ONE . . TWO . . . ONE, TWO....BAM!

    We were into it. It sounded so good when it started. "HOLD IT", I said. "Is the tape going?" We had all totally forgotten. Someone pushed record on the cassette player, and we were off and running again. We went for the 16 bars as planned, then I nodded for the turnaround change twice and then we came to the LC. Woah! Dean played this great rhythm right on cue. He played a full fat strum on that acoustic. Now, it wasn't exactly what we ended up with, but I gotta say, Dean was close. We kept on going. When we got back to the top, everyone just kept going one more time around. We stopped and all smiled. Everyone blurted out one liners of approval. Pam was even tapping her foot. That was a good sign, since Pam didn't usually keep time. "Play THAT back!." Funny, I think 2 or 3 of us said that at the same time. Now, that inspired Pam to come up with a few more lines. We all liked it, except for just one thing. The different sections sounded fine, but the order we played them in, was not making it. We switched the parts around, and tried it again. No, that didn't do it. We switched the order again and then tried it one more time. THAT DID IT. We were getting there, but we still needed another part and some more chords. What we needed was what I used to call 'The Mountain'. [[Songwriters have their own names for this part.) It's not the intro. It's not the verse. Its not the chorus, and it's not the turnaround. I call it 'The Mountain'. It's the part that takes you from the verse and leads you up to the chorus. I've always called it that. It reminds me when I'm writing, to 'climb up' to the chorus.

    Now, Pam had gotten inspired by the track. Before we got into it again, she shot off a few more lines. Well, one line hit a nerve on Dean. That one line was, "never meant to be". Dean said, "Hey, lets do it one more time". This time when we came to the LC, Dean mimicked the rhythm of the lyric line "never meant to be" on the 2nd and 4th chord of the LC. THAT finally nailed the rhythm guitar part. Now things were really picking up. This was important. It's one thing to be led; another thing to be told what to do, and another to know what you have to offer, is accepted and appreciated by others. So, everybody HAD to feel a worth, a purpose, and an individual sense of pride. If everyone had frozen up when I started leading them, I would have failed. We might have gone sideways, you never know. We were all producers, except for Pam. How does one producer, produce another producer? For that matter, how does one producer produce 4 producers at the same time? Eh . . . well I'll tell you. Gently, v-e-r-y gently.)

    It is too difficult to go into detail from this point on about 'where this chord came from' and 'why that chord was used there', etc. I know we put together 3 or 4 different progressions. Part of this became mathematics as well as what sounded good to our ears. I mean, you just know you don't go from this chord, to that chord. You already know it won't work. However, Dean did a lot here with melody ideas, forcing us to try different progressions. We laid them all down on tape. It had been a long day, and I believed the best one yet.

  18. #18
    The next day, Berry came over to hear the progress. He loved it. Between the different track ideas, Pam's lines and the different melody ideas we had, Berry felt we just might have all the parts. He stayed for a while and then took the tape and said he wanted to have some time with it. We were all in a state of limbo. We couldn't really go on any further at this point, until we knew what Berry thought. So, this was a good time for us to go back to our hotels and check in with the rest of our lives, etc. We decided to come back in a few hours. When I got to my room, I called Berry at the house and told him we were talking a break. He said, "Deke, I LOVE that guitar thing. Come over to the house now and bring your guitar." Well, there went MY break!

    When I arrived at the mansion. Berry was playing the tape, singing some melodies, etc. He told me he how much he liked the guitar licks and wanted to hear more of them. "Well ", I said, "did you decide on a progression you like the best?" "Let's just play around with them for a bit. Plug in your guitar.", he said. So we went over the different changes, moving things around, etc. Like I said earlier, sometimes writing songs, is just like doing a puzzle. We used pretty simple chords, so it was easy for Berry to actually learn the progressions, and play along on the piano. I helped just feeding him the chords verbally, till he was comfortable. When we finally stuck with the composite progression we both seemed to like the best, we gave it a try together. It felt right and the order of the chords went together fine. We sang some melodies back and forth. Then, I played the tape we had made at the Ponchetrain earlier. "OK", I said, "Now see if you like this" When it came to one of the sections we had decided to use, I played more of the 'Duane Eddy-ish' guitar licks at the changes. 'Great", he shouted. That's it.!" Well, THAT did it. The man was definitely hyped up and ready to roll. "Call 'The Clan' and tell them to get over to the hotel RIGHT NOW!" I got on the phone and passed on the word. I reached Frank in his room. I could hear the TV in the background. I said "You sound like you're kickin' back. Well, get your shoes on, It's time to go back to work. I'm here with BG at the mansion. He wants us to meet at the Ponchetrain now. We're going for the kill!"

    Part VI
    The Beginning Of The End Of Deke

    I had gone ahead on over to meet the rest of The Clan at the Ponchetrain. Berry said he would be there directly. He also told me to have everything ready when he got there, so we could go right to work.

    We were all ready and waiting when he arrived. Berry had been studying to the tape on the way over to the Ponchetrain. He came through the door with barely a hello. You could tell he just wanted to get right into it. He sat down at the piano. Although he knew the structure, I felt it was better to let Frank play piano. I jokingly told him, "Hey, BG! We'll play the tune, you play the producer". Now it was just a matter of putting the whole tune down on cassette in the order that BG and I had discussed it at the mansion. I'm pretty sure he made one change while he was playing the tape on his way over. At this point, we all just wanted the same thing: a track we would all be 'turned on' by. It was all still fresh in our minds, so this went fairly quickly. As we all became more familiar with the final progression, the parts each of us were playing just got tighter and better. [[NOTE: I can't remember when Paul Riser was called. It was either at the Ponchetrain, or when I was over at the mansion. At any rate, Paul showed up and wrote up a quick chord chart that everyone could use. I don't even think he wrote anything for Jamerson.) We all decided that Frank, Dean and myself would play our parts, when it came time to cut the track. As far as Berry was concerned, the time was NOW. Berry threw out the first curve ball. I didn't know, that after I left his place, he had put out the call. The studio was ready and waiting, and the Funk Brothers were summoned.

    It's too bad that no one was on hand, or called to take photos of this historical occasion. However, that's the crazy thing about taking photos. You never think of those things when you're just doing what do. I mean, this was a first. Berry back in the studio, producing with 3 other producers and going for the Brass Ring [[a Smash on Diana Ross) at the same time. Since Frank, Dean and I were going to be playing on the track, Hank would act as producer inside the studio, and Berry would be producing inside the control room.

    [[Note: I can't remember if Earl Van Dyke, couldn't be located, or just wasn't called because Frank was going be on piano. However, Robert White, Eddie Willis and Joe Messina all showed up as well as Jamerson.)

    I was pretty excited myself. It was going to the first, and maybe the last time I would ever have the honor to play side by side with The Funk Brothers. The engineer sat me up in a chair directly across from them. I have to say, I was really a little uncomfortable. JJ and the boys always sat in the same chairs placed in a line. They were ragging on me and I remember Joe saying something like ,"You're on our turf now' and they all laughed. I was never what I'd consider a 'great guitar player', but I could hold my own. I remember I just kept thinking, 'settle in, relax, everything's going to be fine'. At the end of the studio there was a door that went into the small room for the horns. I think it was also used for small string sessions, although I never cut strings there. This is where R. Dean was placed, since he was playing the acoustic guitar.

    We ran down the chart a few times and I watched what the guitars were playing. Robert White had these serious fingernails, and always kept them manicured to a tee. He is the one that would pluck the chords with his nails instead of using a pick. That's what got that clean distinct chord sound. Joe mostly played rhythm. I noticed he only used the first four strings, staying off the E & A bass strings, thus making a cleaner rhythm sound. Eddie always did the little licks and added the personality here and there. Keep in mind, this style I mention, wasn't etched in stone, but they did use these styles on many of the sessions I observed or produced. Everyone knows they could switch gears and play whatever, whenever. Anyway, I decided to keep Robert on the sustained chords. I had Joe double Deans acoustic, and Eddie I took with me. I wanted the PT to really stick out there and be seamless. I didn't want Eddie to double me, or it would have sounded too busy or clashing. So I told Eddie to mute his strings and just pick 16ths on his bass string in the verses. I finger picked all the notes that went over, under and around Eddie while he just stayed on the same note all the way.

    OK, we [[the guitars) were ready. Frank and Dean were balanced and ready. Frank gave the drums the same 16ths that Eddie was playing for the intro and verses. The only thing missing was the actual intro. We tried a drum kick, a bass lick, a piano lick, but none of it worked. Then, Paul Riser [[bless his soul) actual gave me the idea for that made me find the intro. If it was going to start up with the guitar pickin thing as the basic foundation, then I should get us there on the guitar as well. I just needed something quick, simple and tasty. I put in these 2 chords up higher on the neck. It sounded a bit thin, so we added the cymbal crescendo to build it up and then slam it down into the groove. It really worked quite nice. We were ready for a take. Frank did the count-off, Hank stayed with the drummer, [[It was Pistol or Uriel), and Berry made sure it was going on tape. We used up the entire 3 hour session on "Love Child". We had just cut the track for the next Diana Ross single. It was a simple sounding track, but solid and strong.

    It was over. It was time to relax and rejoice. We listened a few times in the control room and then went over to Berry's place for a mini celebration and listening party. It was kind of embarrassing how much he would mention my guitar stuff. Don't get me wrong, everyone likes their ego stroked, but when you're in the room with the rest of your producing/writing team, you get a tad queasy. The fact is, Berry just liked what he liked, period. He had respect for everyone in the group, or none of us would have been chosen in the first place. I just know we enjoyed working together. I don't know what made him single me out and take me under his wing. However, I always thought I was getting the better end of the deal. The "Love Child" project, was the beginning of a great relationship between the two of us.

  19. #19
    It was time to tighten up the melody and the lyrics. We already knew that Pam's strong suit was the words. I really gained a new level of respect for Dean as he polished up and added parts of the melody. In the meantime, we went for a string session. Paul Riser gave us a great string arrangement . The intro still needed something to help that guitar and drum crescendo. The string gliss Paul wrote was perfect. If anyone wasn't sure about this track before, the doubt was melting quickly. It was time for Diana and the group. Dean, Pam and Berry worked with Diana. I was only at some of the dubins. They really had that part of the production under control. That's the one advantage to having a team of players. At first Diana was fine, but I could feel she was a little uncomfortable with so many people in that small control room. It can get a little trying with 5 people coming up with ideas for her, so I just paid my respects and left. On the second dubin I went to, I could see Diana was just not in the mood to sing at all that night. I know that Berry made her come in, like it or not. Well, I couldn't really feel sorry for her. We [[The Clan) had all worked our butts off getting to this point. It was all for Diana. Berry expected her to give just as much as everyone else had. No more, no less . . . just her best!

    When it was time for the BG vocals, whatever input and ideas we had, were noted. However, Frank took charge here with the Andantes. Frank always had a great feel for background parts. The 'buzz' was spreading through the company that this new group called 'The Clan' was getting ready to unveil their creation for all to hear. All we needed now was to mix it. The next QC meeting was only a day away. There was just no way we could have it ready by then. Berry was loaded down and behind with some company business. Of course this record was serious business as well, but there were other important matters for him to deal with. However, the Sales Dept. was climbing the walls and Billie Jean was telling him we have to come out with something, like now. She said she had one or two things she was going to play in the meeting. Berry really felt bad about this. I could tell he did NOT want to wait one more week till the next QC meeting. As we walked down the hall after leaving his office, I suddenly blurted out, "Berry, I can do this. Let me mix the record tonight and I'll have it ready for the QC meeting tomorrow." He stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me. "Are you sure", Berry said. "I mean are you SURE you do it?". "Yes!, I said. "I know I can. I can pull this off. I know every part of this record like the back of my hand." Berry hesitated for a moment, then turned and said, "Let's go, I 'm going to call Billie Jean right now". We went back to his office. He called Billie Jean and told her, "We want mixing time tonight. We're going to have it ready for the meeting tomorrow". Done. BJ set up the time and there was no turning back now. As Berry and I left his office the second time, he was smiling. We bumped into Frank and Hank in the hall. "Deke's gonna mix 'Love Child' for us tonight. We're going to play it at the QC meeting tomorrow morning." Hank had a semi-blank look on his face. "Don't worry", said Berry. "Deke's got us covered".

    I was all set to go and showed up at the mixing room at 6pm. It was just the two of us, the engineer and myself. Hold on a minute! How could everything be so right, and then suddenly go so wrong? In less than 24hrs, I went from Berry Gordy's 'Golden Boy', to 'Mr. Bad Guy'. Little did I know, I would be responsible for the attempted assisination of 'Love Child' and 'The Clan'. I was about to experience the most embarassing moment of my life. It was like a bad dream. It was like . . . the beginning of the end of Deke.

  20. #20
    Part VII
    The Miracle Mix

    A normal mixing session would run 1-2 hours. If the record, or producer was important, then of course it could go longer When it came to 'Love Child', I didn't know how long we were scheduled for, but we obviously had carte blanche. So Ed started doing the normal setup, as I went over my notes of all the parts of the production. There were a lot of miscellaneous things to keep track of while mixing, i.e. low levels on this track, a mistake on that track, a breath or bad punch-in on Diana's track, etc. He did a number of mixes but always missed something. Even with some limiting here, and some compression there, it soon became clear to both of us. This was a job for more than one pair of hands on the console.

    We split up the 'watch out for' list between us and started to mix again, together. I must admit there were a few early mixes that didn't sound bad. However, this mix was too important. I had to come up with a mix that was w-a-y beyond something that 'didn't sound bad'. I kept thinking to myself, "Everyone in that QC meeting has to fall over like bowling pins when they hear it. They have to love this record. 'Love Child' has to get a unanimous hands up reaction to be the new single for Diana. Keep in mind, this project had been under raps, so no one had heard anything yet. The anticipation was overwhelming. The fact is, in some circles, 'The Clan' with it's secret project, was looked upon as a bit of a joke. We all knew this kind of stuff drifted down the halls like cigarette smoke coming from underneath closed doors. After all, think about who was in the group. Hank had some credibility, but the rest of us have any real serious track record. Even with Berry in the group, didn't change it much. I think many had given up hope on him every writing another classic.

    Mix, after mix, after mix was completed and played back. Sometimes, it came so close . It was Midnight and I was still excited and feeling fine. Ed was really into it as well, so we kept going. We were going to get this baby if it killed us. Well, it almost did. At about 3:00 in the morning, it seemed like we had it between 2 different mixes. So, we decided to make a splice and put them together. We tried it in a couple of different places. There was too much tambourine on one mix, and it just called your attention to the splice. The other splice point had a similar problem. We had spent almost 45 minutes trying out the 2 different takes and the 2 different splice points. I could feel that Ed was starting to fade a bit. We started to mix again. It was now 4:00 am.

    We mixed for another hour. Keep in mind an hour disappears like a shot in the dark, when you're mixing. There are false starts, and places where a cue is missed, playbacks, etc. You might end up with 4 or 5 mixes. During these mixes little things got tweaked up, i.e. a little more echo on Diana, a little more edge on the snare, a little fattening up of the acoustic guitar. At any rate we finally came up with another mix close to 6:00 am. We both made all the cues perfect, it looked like we had a winner. We played it back. DAMN. One of us, while reaching for one of the cues, had bumped the master fader. You could hear it as plain as day. There was no way this was going to fly, I thought to myself. All we had to do was make one more mix, and we would have been home free. We started up again, but we just missed little things in each mix. After about ten or so of these, I just knew Ed was starting to lose it. Now the clock seemed to start ticking in double time. Every time I looked up another 30 minutes had disappeared. Whoops, I just lost the tambourine, then there too much echo on the snare, and finally the BG vocal sounded dull. These all got fixed and we continued. It was now 7:00am. I knew it was time to start counting backwards. I thought, "The meeting starts at 10:00 am. I have to cut the acetate. That would take 30 minutes, with the paperwork, etc. It would take me 30 minutes to take a 'bird bath', change clothes, freshen up. I had to add traveling time from the studio to my hotel and from the hotel to downtown. [[You have to remember, the new offices had now moved, and were no longer at Hitsville.) That was another 30 minutes. There was 1-1/2 hrs. right there. So, I had until 8:30 at the latest to finish the mix, not one minute later. I couldn't be late for the QC meeting, period. That gave me 1-1/2 hours before I had to walk out the door. On top of that, the final mix had to be leadered, logged etc.

    Billie Jean got into her office at 9:00am, sometimes earlier on a QC meeting day. I thought I better make the call. "What?", you're still there? You've been there all night? Damn, Deke!". BJ said. "Look, BJ we've had a tuff time with this, and I know right now I'll be running late. That's why I called. I'll need to have the Disc Mastering Room waiting for me when I get there.", I said. [[The Disc Mastering Room is where we cut the acetates.) Now I know, if Berry wasn't involved in this project, just what Billie Jean would have said to me. I'm sure she had to really bite her tongue. I knew I was going to hear about this at some point down the line. "All right, but get your butt in gear!", she said, then hung up. With that out of the way it was time to get back to the mix. 1 hour and 20 minutes to go, that's it. We made another one, but something sounded strange. During the mix, Ed took muted something and forgot to put it back on. Unfortunately, that was straw that broke the Camel's back. Ed was tired and pissed. He was so cool until then, so I never knew it was building up inside of him. He wanted to call it off. I said, "Come on Ed, we're almost there". Begging and pleading would have done no good at this point. I could see, he was wasted. I said, "OK, take a break, I can handle it. I'll keep going." By now, I knew all of the changes by heart. I had to keep my concentration, but I kept on going. Ed stepped in from outside and made a comment while I was playing back a mix. I made the adjustment or change and kept going. 49 minutes . . . 27 minutes . . . 16 minutes and then with only 12 minutes to go, I got it. I cut and spliced in the head and tail leaders and almost put half of my finger inside that mix as well. Razor blades can bite you, when you're trying to work at 90 mph. I grabbed my stuff and with only 4 minutes to spare, I was out the door at 8:26. I did it!

    I raced to the hotel, cleaned up and continued on to the office downtown. I ran in, jumped on the elevator and got inside the Mastering Room at 9:20. The engineer was waiting for me. He cut the disc, and I took the stairs just in case the elevator was crowded. When I got in the hall, I saw Hank and Frank. "BG was looking for you. Have you got it?", they asked. "Right here", I said. We walked down the hall and into the meeting. I saw Billie Jean and Berry seated at the tables at the end of the room. The 2 turntables, sitting on the table in front of them. The meeting hadn't begun. Various producers and others from A&R and sales were sitting in the fold up chairs that filled the room to capacity. Besides Hank and Frank, Pam and R. Dean were also there. There was Johnny Bristol & Harvey Fuqua, Ivy Joe Hunter, Norman Whitfield, Clay McMurray and more. Even VP-by-day Smokey Robinson, who didn't always come, showed up. [[I'm sure Berry asked him to make it on this so-called special occasion.) I walked up to the end of the room and calmly handed the acetate to Berry, almost interrupting his conversation with Billie Jean. She barely looked up; just long enough to give me a stern look. There was no 'hello' or 'good morning'. I turned and went to a chair that Hank had saved for me on the end. Normally, I always sat in the back of the room. It was fun back there. Besides, If your record was a 'bomb', you didn't feel everyone's eyes looking at you from behind. However, Hank and Frank got us all seats in the middle of the room. Oh well, I thought, today . . . so what?

    Berry called the meeting to order. The first acetate was placed on Turntable A. It was played, voted on, comments made, graded and then on to the next. If a record got a majority of hands up, it could almost be considered the next release. About 4-6 sides were played, then Berry in a low key style, introduced the next record he was going to play. He wanted it to be the last record played in the meeting. There were a few words about the new producing team , but our names were not mentioned. Everyone knew what they were getting ready to hear. It was ours. It was 'The Clan'. It was 'Love Child'. Everyone looked over at me an smiled, and I returned the gesture. Berry slowly lowered the needle on the beginning grooves. From the moment it started, you could hear a pin drop. The first thing that happened was Berry looked up directly at me. I felt the eyes of Hank and Frank as well looking at me as well. The record almost sounded like some kind of a joke. It was thin and you could barely hear Jamerson on the bass. Diana's voice had too much edge and way too much echo. At first I thought the cartridge on the turntable just blew out. For me, listening to this record continue for almost 3 minutes, was nothing short of pure torture. My God, I thought what happened?

  21. #21
    As the record was beginning to fade, Berry lifted the needle. He was smiling and almost everyone in the room was laughing or giggling. It had to be the most embarrassing moment of my entire life. Berry was laughing himself, jokingly said, "I'm going to have to have a long talk with 'our mixer', Deke Richards. We are going to have to go and do another mix on this, and resubmit it in the next meeting." Then he continued with a humorous line or two, that was probably very funny to everyone but me. Then he said he wanted to meet with "The Clan" after the meeting was over. I could barely stand it. I just couldn't believe what had happened. My whole world had just turned upside down. The meeting ended and some of the producers made cracks to me on their way out the door. People were filing out the door. Hank looked at me and said, "What did you do, man?". I overheard someone else say, "Well, THAT was a big mistake". I could see Billie Jean was still giggling and laughing. While Berry was talking to her, he motioned to us to follow him as we all walked out the door. I thought to myself, I had it all in the palm of my hand, and I blew it. It was all over now.

    We all stopped in the hall and Berry said he had Billie Jean schedule some mixing time and was going to go upstairs to mix at 6pm. I remember one the guys telling me, "Why don't you go back to the hotel now and get some rest? You look like you could use it." I just stood there still stunned for a second, as they continued to walk down the hall. "No! Wait a minute", I shouted as I shuffled up to the group. "I want to mix this again". There were a number of comments firing all at once. All I can tell you is, none of those talking approved of my request. "Look", I said. "I blew it, I know that, but making me stay away is not going to change anything or make it better. Berry, I've GOT to know HOW I screwed up so badly. I've got to make it right. Please, man." Then it was quiet for a second. Berry said, "It's OK Deke, go home, go back to the hotel". "Berry", I said again, "I NEED to do this. I want to learn. I really want to be a good mixer. Let me work with you." There was another moment of silence. I glanced at each of the group, but their eyes were fixed on Berry. I felt so bad for everyone, but I knew they all thought I single-handedly tried to assassinate "The Clan" and "Love Child" at the same time. Now we were all looking at Berry, waiting for his answer. "All right, you can come. Just meet me at the Mastering Room upstairs tonight at 6. Right now, I want you to go back to the hotel and get some rest. You look like hell". "I'll be there", I said, and walked away, leaving them all standing in the hall. I'm sure a few more things were said after I walked away, none of it very good. However, I couldn't blame them; and at the same time I couldn't let it get to me. I knew 2 important things. I just got a second chance, and I was NOT going to blow it. I was going be a winner. Nothing was going to stop me from doing that.

    Russ Terrana was the engineer assigned to meet us in the Mastering Room that night. I liked Russ. He was a sharp, quick thinking, knowledgeable engineer, with a sense of humor. Russ had everything set up and ready to go, including the ID tapes for the tracks at the base of each fader. Berry immediately sat down at the console, and Russ stood to his left. I stood to the right of Berry, but in more front of him. I didn't want to be looking over his shoulder. I hate that, myself. I wanted him to be able to see me at all times. He started to run down the tape and get a feel for the balance and the levels on each track. I watched every single move Berry made that night, but I never got on the console. He never asked to play the mix I brought to the meeting, even for comparison. That let me know, just how bad it really was. We stayed only until about 9:00pm. Berry had made a few mixes and I asked for a 7 1/2" ips copy for myself. "Why?", he said. "I want to study it.", I said. Berry told Russ he wanted to come back tomorrow night.

    Day 2 started about the same. Berry sat down at the console, Russ and I stood. He would ask for this echo or reverb and use terminologies I was not familiar with. When I saw a moment I wouldn't break his concentration, I started to ask questions. What is this?, What does that do?, Why use this instead of that?, etc. Then I'd leave him alone and just listen and study what was happening to the sound. I waited for him to miss one thing that I believed was important, or would sound better another way. [[Note: I may have totally screwed up the mix that everyone heard, but I LIVED with that 8-Track Master tape for 14 hours. I knew where all the little problem areas were.) However, I wanted him do his mix and not be interrupted. At the same time, It wasn't my place, not yet anyway. I waited patiently to hear 4 little words. Russ was helping him with compression and limiting, etc. Then after the 5th mix, he was smiling confidently and then turned to me at last and said:

    BG-"What do you think? [[BINGO! Those 4 little words were music to my ears.)
    DR-"There was a snare beat you keep missing just before the second verse."
    BG-"Where?", he said in a tone that was a little like "What are you talking about".
    DR-"Play it back from the first chorus and I'll show you." When it came to the part, I said "THERE". [[I still refrained from touching the faders since he was at the controls . I just had to be patient.)
    BG-"Yea?, so . . .? What?"
    DR-"I thought you heard it"
    BG-"Heard what?" [[This seemed like a little bit of a 'cat and mouse' game, but I didn't want to push him. Finally, he said:
    BG-"What are you talking about? Show me!"
    That did it.
    DR-"Do you mind?"
    BG-"Here, sit down". He got up and I sat down.

    This would be better anyway, I thought . With him standing, he could just listen and hear the difference. I had Russ play the tape from the first chorus again. I let it play the way once through just the way he had it mixed it. "Now," I said, "check this out!" I asked Russ to rewind the tape and play it again. This time when it came to the part just before the second verse [[Diana is singing, 'different from the rest') I slammed up the fader on the snare for a split second. WAP!. Berry said, "That's great, play it again". Now he was watching my hands on the faders. I did it again. "Excellent!" he said, then I started to get up and Berry said, "No, stay here. Russ, get us another chair." From that point on, we were inseparable at the console.

    Side by side we mixed for hours at a time. I soaked up every little bit of knowledge I could from Berry like a sponge. I even stayed after Berry left and continued to mix a few. I even spent time talking to Russ. He would show me the correct use and application for various types of echo and reverb, limiters and compressors, etc. I remember when BG and I were mixing, the rest of 'The Clan' stopped by at different times to check on Berry and 'The Bad Guy'. However, the ice had begun to melt. Everyone could see I was going to make sure it was right this time. You could just tell, this record was going to be great. Then, something strange happened. I had started early on one session, and had made a few changes and found a another 'goodie' [[Note: 'Goodies' were the great little parts in the track or production, that were just lying there, waiting to be found and then featured in the final mix so they would stand out). Berry walked in and just listened to what I was doing, instead of sitting down at the console. He said:

    BG-"Did you put that on tape?".
    BG-"Well let me hear it back". [[When the playback was done, he smiled.)
    BG-Almost, but you forgot one thing". [[He seemed so proud as if to say 'Got Cha!" He made another mix as I watched. Then, we played it back.)
    BG-See? You forgot to bring up the strings there?
    DR-You're right. Not bad, but . . . you blew it!".
    BG-"Bull Sh--!, where?"
    DR-Move over a minute. [[I made a mix an showed him another 'goodie'.)
    BG-Damn. That's good.

  22. #22
    Well, it was like this. The two of us in friendly combat, shooting each other down, picking each other up, right down to the end of the line. There were times we felt we had the final mixes. Berry ordered acetates cut. Then, we went down to QC room and played them back on the turntables. Acetates had white labels with all the info regarding the mix. The title was followed by the mixing engineers initials in parenthesis, then the date, master number, etc. One acetate was placed on each turntable. This process was called 'A-Bee-ing". We would cue up both turntables, let them go and switch between the output of Turntable "A" and Turntable "B". Then these acetates were given grades just like in a QC meeting. 1 to10, 10 being the best. Most of the final mixes [[acetates) brought to the QC room to check out, consisted of one done by each of us. There were some that were even done by both of us together. Those acetates had both of our initials typed on them as mixing engineers. i.e. [[BG/DR). We intensely competed 'to the death'; or should I say, ' for the life' of the next Diana Ross and The Supremes release. He knew deep inside, how I felt. I would have given anything to undue the wrong I had done that one black day when I walked into the QC meeting with that first mix of "Love Child". We had such great fun working together. I was working beside one of my idols. I had learned so much, it was time for me to give back. I even taught my 'teacher' a few tricks. We used to laugh and joke when the he was grading our acetates on the turntable. "Well, this one sounds good [[referring to my mix), but this one has this little 'goodie' . . etc. [[Referring to his mix.) Then he would write the grade in pencil on the label. "I'm going to give this one [[mine) a "8". However, this one [[his) I have to give a "8-1/4". I would shoot back, laughing so hard, "What? Hey, come on man, where did you get that "1/4" crap! Let's go back down, I can beat that one". Back down to the room we'd go, both squeezing a little more 'juice' out of the tape and into the mix.

    When it was finally over, we sat in the QC room, our acetates on the turntables. Berry always put his on the left and mine on the right. We both swore this would be the last. Back and forth, back an forth he switched the monitor from Turntable 'A' to Turntable 'B'. 'Mine has got the guitar lick here, but yours has got that string gliss", he said as we both laughed. "I don't care BG, you call it.", I said. I felt confident that both mixes were just as great.. "Well, I'm going to give this one a "9" [[referring to my mix the right) and THIS one [[referring to his mix on the left) a "9 3/4". That was it. It was over. "Mark down the mix, and give Billie Jean the number. Then, have a couple more acetates cut for me." Berry started to leave, then he turned to me, shook my hand and said, "Deke, you were a 'dead man'. Everyone in the group was out for your blood, but you came back! You did one hell of a job". We congratulated each other, said good-bye and then Berry walked out the door. I just stood there for a minute, alone in the room. The memories of that fateful day I came to the QC meeting with that 1st mix of "Love Child" flashing in front of my eyes. I walked over to the desk and picked up both the discs off the turntables, and walked over to the door. I turned and took one more look at the empty room and I began to see ghosts of all the producers talking and laughing in their seats. It was almost like a kid's classroom before the teacher walks in. I had a feeling this room would haunt me the rest of my life. It was starting to already. My chest swelled and let go one last sigh of relief. Then I turned off the lights, and walked out the door.

    The End? . . . not quite.

    I kept those 2 final acetates for myself to remind me of this special moment in my life. When I finally got ready to leave Detroit to go back to LA, I looked at the discs one more time before I put them in my bag. I laughed to myself as I looked at the grades Berry had written on our final mixes: "9" on my mix and a "9 3/4" on his mix. Then, I saw something that suddenly put me in a sort of trance. I had to look twice. Examining the discs carefully, I discovered that the mixing engineers initials on both discs were the same [[DR). In other words, the 2 final mixes that Berry graded that day, were both in fact, my mixes. Was this some mild form of 'Sweet Revenge'? No, not at all. Let's just call it a miracle. Until now, it is the one secret I have kept to myself all these years. I never even told Berry.

    I hope you enjoyed taking this ride with me down Memory Lane.

    Thank you all, so much . . .

  23. #23
    "The White Boy, The White Girl and The White Label"

    I hadn't been with Motown very long before I heard about Chris Clark. Berry had signed me to a producer and writers contract and Debbie Dean to a artist and writers contract in 1966. Debbie was the first white artist on Motown in the early '60's. I was under the impression Debbie was still going to hold that title the second time around. Berry wanted to put Debbie on his new label V.I.P. However, then I heard this record on another white female artist he signed to the VIP label. It was Chris Clark. Her record was "Love's Gone Bad". I always thought that was a great record. I also believed it could be rough getting two white female singers, on the same label off the ground at the same time. However, what did I know about these things? I just kept thinking to myself, 'Mr. Gordy must know what he's doing'. During my first 1-1/2 years with Motown, I had casually talked to Chris on different occasions at Gordy Manor, and at Hitsville. I got along fine with Chris. She definitely had a bit of an attitude, but I soon realized it wasn't because of her connection with Berry. It was simply a part of Chris' personality. She just had confidence, that's all. She carried herself well, had a soft voice and a dry, sometimes 'stinging' sense of humor.

    Now I have to jump down to early 1969. Not only had "Love Child" been a smash; but Motown enjoyed it's best time in history during December of 1968 on the Billboard charts. Stevie's "For Once In My Life" and Marvin's "Grapevine" kept 'Love Child' company at the top of the pop charts. What a glorious time it was for Motown. The 'Love Child' experience had helped to create a strong bond between Berry and myself. We both had gained a good amount of respect for one another. He gave me a 'second chance', and I came through for him; while at the same time saving my own face. So when he asked me to come up with something for Chris Clark, I told him I would do my best. At least, the timing was right. I was no longer recording Debbie Dean. Debbie had only one release in 1967, "Why Am I Loving You?. Motown never released a second record. You see, Debbie had competition; Chris Clark had moved into town . . . Motown that is. I believe Berry had finally come to the conclusion that one white 'female' artist was all he could handle at a time. I wouldn't doubt if Chris Clark may have had a few words with Berry about it as well. The situation might have been different had one of the girls gotten a hit record, but they were both 'hitless'. They both needed a special kind of attention. Debbie saw the potential problems and after meeting with Berry, decided to let her artist career go and concentrate more on writing. Now, that helped relieve Berry of his personal conflict of interests: 2 white female artists.

    You need to keep in mind, many producers had only recorded Chris for a couple of reasons: 1) Either Berry made a personal request directly or via the A&R Department, or 2) Producers felt they would get a decent 'shake', If they did get the release on Chris. At least, they knew Berry would do his best to help promote the record. After all, she and Berry were close. You didn't have to have eyes in the back of your head to know that fact. However, some producers still vacillated when it came to cutting great tunes on Chris. It was not a question of Chris' ability to handle the material. More than likely, some writers simply wanted to save their better songs, for the bigger name artists. After all, this was Motown. Wouldn't you rather have had your 'hit' song recorded by the Tempts, Supremes, Martha, Smokey, Stevie, etc., instead of Chris Clark? On the other side of the coin, a rose, is a rose, is a rose. In other words, a hit, is a hit, is a hit; no matter who it's on.

    While I was in Detroit, I went ahead and cut three totally different types on songs on Chris. I just wasn't sure what direction would be right for her. One of the cuts, "Can I See You In The Morning?" was my favorite and I had written it especially for her. After I completed her first vocal overdub, Chris liked it and took home a tape copy for Berry to hear. I didn't think much of it at the time, because Chris played everything for Berry that she was currently recording. However, Berry gave me a call at my hotel and told me he liked the song and felt it could be the next single for Chris. I told him I was scheduled to go in the studio to do the various BG vocals and horn overdubs. Chris' tune was on the list. Then, I was taking a day off before returning to LA. Berry said, "Fine. Chris and I are leaving for California tomorrow. Call me when you get in, so we could hear the finished production." So, I completed my sessions, kicked back for a day and then left Detroit.

    With bags in hand, I walked into my place in LA, and saw the message light on my answering machine. Nothing much, just 4 calls from Berry. He wanted me to come up to the house as soon as I got in. I partially unpacked, grabbed the tape from the session, threw some water on my face and jumped in the car. When I got to Berry's house, I heard the tune playing on the pool speakers. 'They're playing my song. That was a good sign', I thought. Then all of a sudden I heard the horns and BG vocals. What's going on here? I just finished that 3 days ago in Detroit. I was the only one who had a copy. Wrong! Berry had already ordered a rough mix sent to him from Detroit, and he and Chris had been listening to it for the last two days. [[Note: See the neat things you can do when you're the President of Motown? I could just see him going to Paris and telling his long time assistant/secretary Rebecca Jiles, "I'll be at the hotel at 2 PM. Have an acetate cut from Deke's session on Chris, and sent to me there. I want it to be on the turntable in my room when I arrive!". It somehow reminded me of 'The Eyes In The Sky' in Las Vegas.) Well, we all sat for a minute and some suggestions about the song were passed back and forth. Then, out of nowhere Berry just blurted out, "I want you to cut Chris Clark!" Right! Yea? So? Great, I thought. "Isn't that who I just recorded and who we were listening to?", I said. Berry, lightly laughed. "I mean I want you to cut an entire LP on Chris", he said. Now, Chris was in the room at the time. They had to have been discussing this for a while. Between Chris getting along with me in the studio; Berry and I working together closely on 'Love Child' and Berry and Chris liking 'Can I See You In The Morning", I had just secured a brand new 'job offer'.

    How could I have known, that my response was going to take me into a new and exciting world of independence? This would become the second phase of my life at Motown. If I decided to do this LP, would I be saddled with Chris Clark forever? Was I being moved into the 'white sector' of Motown? Was I ready for "The Politics Of Dancing"? Would I ever again be able to record my favorite artists on Motown; or would I find 'my favorite artists' on another label?

  24. #24
    Episode II
    'A Job For Superman'

    I thought this would be a great idea. Up until then, I was only doing single cuts. This would give me the chance to cut an entire LP. However, I never said 'yes or OK' right away to Berry. I remember I said something like, "Let me think about that one". Berry smiled. Chris looked a tad shocked. The 'Big Cheese' just offered me a deal and I said I'll think about it? I think I got Chris that time. Berry never came back at me with, "What do you mean?" or "You'll do what I tell you to do!", etc. I think it gave him a chuckle to have someone around him that didn't say 'Yes, Mr. Gordy" or "Whatever you say, BG". The truth is, I liked him and I owed him, and would have done anything he wanted me to do. I also would have backed down from my initial response if he had pressed me, but I just felt it was time to gamble. So, I left the house that day with the Chris Clark LP hanging in mid air. I didn't have a game plan yet, but I did decide on one thing: I was going to 'take it to the max". A few days later I called Berry and told him I would do the LP. However, I wanted to meet with him and Chris first, regarding the project. "What's on your mind? ", Berry quipped. No, I wasn't going to talk to him on the phone about it. I wanted to see them both in person.

    First, I had to tell Berry my feelings about 'white artists' on Motown. I simply believed that program directors and DJ's were not going to ever be that receptive to playing a Motown Record by a white artist. Forget about the black stations. What were they going to do? Try to let a white 'blue eyed soul' artist, pass for black? When would they reveal the artist was indeed 'white'? The company was not geared for it. Even though the Motown hits were crossing over to the pop charts now, people wanted to hear that 'Motown Sound'. Well, that sound included the artists they had come to know and love like The Supremes, The Temptations and The Four Tops. Chris Clark? Sorry, no dice.

    So I told Berry, I wanted to create another label for Chris. The new label would have to 'look' like a white artist label. There was a catch to my madness. I didn't want Motown's name anywhere on the LP jacket or record itself. I even wanted the sleeves to be plain white. NO reference was to be made anywhere that this label was a subsidiary of Motown Records. The sales department was supposed to handle this like some little existing label they picked up. Whatever. Next was the name. The 60's was the era for free love, hippies and out spoken, pot-smokin'; activists as well as an extremely diverse assortment of recording acts. So I said I want to call the new label "WEED". Then I added the simple double-meaning slogan, "Your favorite artists are on . . . WEED". Next I needed to design the label artwork. I studied tons of logos and labels. I'm almost positive I finally got the idea from the Stax logo of the snapping fingers. I had a shot taken of my hand making a peace sign. What schlock I thought, but then again, it wasn't. I liked it. I made the label all black. Black can be ominous, or mysterious or just plain classic. Then came the lettering for the name. I wanted something organized and straight, but with a little 'vine' look to it. At one point I was going to have a 'tagger' [[well, back then it was a Graffiti Artist) do the name with shades of that psychedelic look. However, it was the end of the 60's and I thought it would look too dated.

    While Berry and Chris were munching on all my ideas from 'the other side' of my mind, I threw him a curve ball. This was the last and strangest request of all. I wanted to change her name. WHAT? Deke, now you've gone too far!, I thought. Well, I did believe, if I kept the name Chris Clark, those who played or knew of her previous records might trash it, saying "Oh here comes Berry's Blue Eyed Soul Sister again." So I wanted to change her name . . . without changing her name. "To keep the mystery, I want to call her simply "CC". After all, what's in a name? The Beatles seemed to prove that point quite nicely.

    The last part of the concept was to change her image and get her away from R&B or 'white sounding black' songs. Black is black, white is white and soul is soul. In the record business at that time, these simple facts got all mixed up. A black act could sound white, but with few exceptions, a white act sounding black didn't always work. It's funny. When I played gigs in the 60's before I signed with Motown, all I played was R&B. I played black clubs, white clubs, mixed clubs; it didn't matter. You were accepted for your colorless soul; but making and breaking records was a different ballgame. If you sounded too black, the pop stations might not play you. If you wern't black or didn't sound black enough, you weren't going to fool anyone, including the black stations. So, I just felt this [[R&B or Black Sound) was not a good road for Chris to travel.

    Well, my friends, what can I say. Chris was game and the 'Big Bear' went for it as well. "OK, Berry, I have one last request to seal the deal". "Jesus, Deke!" What else could you possibly want?", he replied. "Well", I said and then stammered. "Well, . . . " I started up a second time. Then I took a breath and just said it quickly in one mouthful. "I want to give musician, engineer, writer, arranger and producer credits on the jacket." "Say what?", Berry said. "No, that's OK , I heard you the first time. I'll have to think about that one. We already give Producer and arranger credits, don't we?" "Yes and No", I said. "Arrangers don't get credit on the albums, just singles. If its a mixed album, the producer with the most cuts usually gets the credit. I want to break this down." I knew what bothered him the most was the musicians. I'm sure he felt this would set in motion a pretty serious 'chain reaction'. He was still sensitive about the HDH situation, so I didn't think it would fly, but at least I tried. When the dust settled, I got everything else I asked for.

    Now, before I go any further, I must give credit where credit is due. There are things I've said here, that are important.

    • Berry let me change the name of his pet artist.
    • Berry let me create and have control of my own label.
    • Berry agreed not to put 'a division of Motown' on the label or jacket.
    • Berry let me copyright the Weed name and logo in my name, so that the name Motown wouldn't even show up in tiny print.
    • Berry let me be the first to give producers, arrangers, writers and engineers credits on an LP.

    But why? I could understand if I were Holland • Dozier • Holland. I could also understand if I were Smokey or Norman Whitfield, but I wasn't. Why did he do it then? Was I that good of a salesman? I don't think so. I really believe Berry had guts, faith and he took chances. He showed me he was a great man with foresight as well as insight. You can tell, he obviously believed in me. It made me want to come through for him, not only for myself. I really wanted to show him he made the right move, just like he did with me on "Love Child". You need to know these things; mainly because he had a lot to do with shaping part of my character. Sure, the man wasn't perfect, but who is? We disagreed, plenty of times. So don't judge anyone anyone too quickly, especially when input comes from a negative source. Throwing dirt back and forth is cheap stuff. Anyone can do that. Remember, it is always so important to learn and embrace the 'good that men do', because it is all forgotten too quickly. Bad men, don't do good things. [[Excuse me ladies, for not being politically correct.)

    The Material

    Now, here is where there was a time problem. Maybe CC was putting on the pressure, I don't know. As an artist, she had been waiting; maybe not patiently, but she had been waiting none the less. Now, it was her turn. There wasn't time to come up with a fresh batch of new songs for CC. Berry wanted to get her in the studio, yesterday. So, there also wasn't the time to come up with a true identity for CC, or a total concept for the LP. I just thought to myself, 'You've got to work fast, Deke and don't look back..' So far, I only had four original songs and tracks and only one was complete. I had to figure only two out of the four would make it to the album. I needed six to eight more tunes and arrangements . . . right now. Hey, no problem Deke. I knew exactly what I was going to do. This was a job for . . . SUPERMAN.

  25. #25
    Episode III
    'The Merrie Melodies'

    Superman Indeed! That's exactly who I needed now. A ton of work to do in a thimble full of time. Unfortunately, there were no men running around on the streets in blue tights and red 'booties' at the time. So, I knew there was nothing I could do, but quit 'looking to the skies' and just go, "Straight Ahead"!

    Barry wanted me to record the album in LA. This way he could keep daily tabs on what was going on. We were all there in town anyway, so it made sense. To save time, I told Berry I would cut it live. This would also save on overdub sessions and excess studio time. I decided to use one of the arrangers I worked with in Detroit, David Van de Pitte. Although I was a self taught musician, I always wrote most of my own rhythm charts. However, when it came the sweetening charts [[strings and horns), I was slow as a snail. I didn't have time on this project for that kind of nonsense. I just felt David could write the entire score. After all, these type of gigs are the easiest and most fun for true arrangers. They get to do what they are supposed to do...ARRANGE, not fill in the area that's left over. [[Note: When I first came to Motown, I was pushed in Dave's direction. I really wanted to use guys like Paul Riser or Willie Shorter, but they were currently busy with other producers. So Hank Cosby, head of the Arrangers Department, was trying to balance the load.) David was fairly new at Motown and hadn't done much, but he turned out to be an easy arranger to work with. I usually knew what I wanted certain instruments to play. David really didn't mind writing the various parts I recited. He never took it personal. We actually ended up becoming very good friends. So in a way, this project was a way for me let him 'do his thing', without me being in his face all the time.

    It was time to get some songs together. The minute I thought of changing Chris Clark's name to CC, I thought of the Chuck Willis classic, "CC Rider". Mitch Ryder had also put it in his 'Jenny Take A Ride' single in '66, but it was more 'Jenny' than 'CC'. Besides, I wasn't out to copy his version. Next, I just thought of doing a few covers of songs that were big hits. This was the fastest and easiest way I could show off CC. So I just opened up my Billboard and started looking over the titles. All of the tunes I chose, fell within a 60 day period. I picked tunes that either been a hit, were a hit now, or were moving up and I believed, would be a hit.

    I remember thinking . . . A Program Director would just HAVE to hear how she handled The Beatles smash, "Get Back" On the other hand, a PD might say, " . . .now just what could this chick possibly have done to the Joe Cocker classic, "With A Little Help From My Friends"" or, "a girl doing the Elvis classic, "In The Ghetto"? This I have to hear!"

    What's that you say? You smell a little P.T. Barnum here? Well, in a way, I guess that's true to a certain degree. Right or wrong though, I had to stand by it. You see, if I spent my time looking for new material, I'd want each tune to flow, or paint some kind of picture of CC. Otherwise, what would be the sense of it? I'd only end up with another 'mixed bag' of tunes on the LP. If I tried to write them all myself I would have been too picky, because I would have wanted each one of them to be perfect. After all, it was MY debut LP as well. I had to go with the common denominators of the sound and her treatments of these name value songs for the audio part of her image. Believe me, these were not easy things to decide; especially when time, was noton my side.

    Three Dog Night were on their 3rd hit single. It was the Harry Nilsson song, "One". This one I used because not only because of it's chart action, but because it was a statement for CC. 'One is the loneliest number, etc." CC was going out there alone with a new name, a new image, etc. I thought it was an appropriate choice..

    I took "Good Morning Starshine", because it was a Top 10 hit, and I had a slightly different idea for the arrangement. The play 'Hair' was such a big hit, but everyone was doing the Aquarius tune. Zodiac signs were in, unbelievably in. Personally, I got a little bored with that crap. God, you couldn't even meet someone new without the first line coming out of their mouth, "What sign are you?"

    Blood, Sweat & Tears were hot as a pistol. As you know, their first big smash was one of Berry's tunes, "You've Made Me So Very Happy". I needed to bring some of the dough back home. I thought Berry would appreciate that. I was sure he'd show up when I was going to dub in CC, and have some fun getting involved. "Spinning Wheel"? Well, that was also a smash and just happened to be a BS&T tune as well. It wasn't because I was going BS&T crazy. Like I said, the first BS&T tune was for 'Home and Country' [[Berry and Motown)'.

    That leaves us with the last two songs that were mine, "Can I See You In The Morning"? and "How About You". 'Out of the 5 I actually cut, I felt only these 2 were worthy. Can I See You . . ", you already know about. "How About You? was the only off color tune of the batch. This one I added for 3 reasons. 1) It was a 'white sounding standard' type of tune. I added this one just in case a PD thought CC sounded good in a 'mellow mood'. 2) I used a new contract writer that wasn't getting much action, Sandra Saunders to write the lyrics to one of the verses. I had already written the rest of the song. I wanted to give her a shot to get a little credibility, since I knew the song would be released in the LP. Then, maybe some other producers and writers would use her. 3) At the same time I wanted to give David a taste of something, so I gave him a small percentage of the song. I thought, if it did get some play, it was the type of tune that others might cover. So, that was my way of saying a little extra thanks. [[Note: It worked out fine, since I recut "How About You" and put it on the Diana Ross 'Everything Is Everything" LP.)

    Well, I think that covers all the tunes I finally used on the LP. Now I had to self indulge myself with a few 'Merrie Melodies': Romeo & Juliet, The William Tell Overture, and Also Spake Zarathustra. What in the world you ask, did these 3 items have in common with CC?

    1) Also Spake Zarathustra" is Richard Strauss' unforgettable theme from "2001 Space Odyssey". This was always a favorite classical piece of mine. I felt it would be perfect to open Side Two as the intro for "One".

    2) "Love Theme from Romeo And Juliet" was another hit on the charts. Franco Zeffirelli's film version was a big hit and listening to the "Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet' just put you back in the theater with the 2 star-crossed lovers [[Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey). So, I wanted to set up "You've Made Me so Very Happy" with Romeo & Juliet.

    . . . and last , but not least

    3) "The William Tell Overture" was made famous to millions of TV and moviegoers as the theme for the Robin Hood of the Wild West, "The Lone Ranger". There is a mixture of reasons why I chose this ditty. First, I already envisioned what the cover of the album was going to be. This Overture would play a major role, but I'll get into that later. Second, when I was playing in clubs with my band, we used to do a version of this for laughs. We would hit the final note, sustain, and then break into Booker T's "Green Onions". The crowd loved it. Third, I thought it would be fitting and fun for my new strange artist "CC", who was preparing to sing "CC Rider", to be introduced by the theme for "The Lone Ranger".

    The live sessions were so much fun. We recorded for 2 days. It was actually 4 sessions; a double session on each day. Everybody had a ball. I had fun producing, CC had fun singing live with the orchestra, David had fun writing and recording, the musicians had fun playing the charts and Berry had fun watching it all go down. When the dust cleared, everything was done except for the background vocals. CC also had to redo some lines here and there. Even though the sessions went well, and we were on target time wise, this was no time to rest. Not yet, anyway. Now, I had get started with the visual part of the project. It was time for me to get crazy . . . and go out and have some more fun.

  26. #26
    Episode III
    'Hi-Yo Silver'

    Did I really need to go 'crazy' just to have some fun? YES!

    [[There is a small amount of relevancy in this brief interruption of my story)

    Some of you who are producers in the music business will understand. I believe there are 2 types of Record Producers; "Hands-On", and "Hands-Off". Both producers get the job done. It depends on just how talented they both are, side by side, when it comes to actual results. Let me explain.

    Hands-Off: These producers, surround themselves with talented people including engineers, song writers, arrangers, vocal arrangers, etc. In the studio, many times it is these people that do the creating and the 'Producer' approves or disapproves. The 'Hands-Off producers don't exactly know how to change it, fix it, augment it or enhance it. However, they have their gang of pros at their side, to do this work for them. Then, they takes what they like or don't like.

    Hands-On: These producers have their hands on everything. Whether it's a change in the arrangement of the track, to giving out vocal parts, to knowing what changes to make on the console for the sound, to changing a line in the song. In turn, these type of producers make themselves responsible for every action and reaction, command and execution. They accept the role of Commander-in-Chief as well as the troops doing the physical fighting.

    Now, I personally, am a Hands-On producer. I HAVE to and like to, be involved in everything; from counting off the track in the studio to mixing the record. It is a tremendous amount of work. With all due respect to those hard working folks out there. . . An 8 hour day of this style of Hands-On producing can sometimes be the same as a person at a straight job, working 3 days straight. Only because we wear so many hats at the same time, it is more of a mental drain. Even though it can be exhilarating, sometimes it is totally exhausting.

    On the other hand, I am familiar with or personally know a few well known 'Hands-Off' producers. They simply sit back in the studio and their 'gang' takes care of everything. They don't know exactly how to change something, but they do know it needs to be changed. They find, and surround themselves with talented people. Smart. So, they might say to one of their team, "I don't like that. Try something else". At the end of the day, they still look 'cool as a cucumber', without a single drop of sweat.

    Both of these producers get the job done quite nicely, and just as well. I must admit, as much as I enjoy 'being in the trenches' , I do envy the good 'Hands-Off' producers. On a few occasions, I found myself saying, 'Why don't I do that?" Well, I guess you just can't change a Leopards' spots.

    So, when I say 'go crazy' and have some fun, this is where I was coming from. This sessions went so smooth, I not only felt confident; I think I got a little 'giddy' or maybe even silly that day. Well, us white guys can't be 'cool' all the time. It was one of the few times I had energy left to burn. That energy made me want to go crazy and have some more fun. I wanted to get started right away with CC's visual image. I had no solid ideas yet, except, I wanted the images to cry out for curiosity. Don't forget, I was doing a little P.T. Barnum here. I had to do something to portray CC as a weird, strange chick. The freakier the better. There was just too much competition out there. Hey, they say, "curiosity usually killed the cat." I knew whoever saw the jacket, would just HAVE to listen to the LP inside. That was the whole idea. I wasn't worried because, the music inside was NOT junk. It was the only shot I had. Remember, this was the first release on my new label, "WEED". I didn't know how Berry was going to figure how to promote it, without getting involved or letting the cat out of the bag. I was all alone on this one. I was given all the rope. God, I just kept thinking, "Don't blow it Deke, and go and hang yourself". I was on a roll and closer to BG, than ever. There were those in the company who had been trying for quite a while to get this close to the boss, and there I was.

    Here we go. I've always loved magic. So, I called up 'The Magic Castle' in Hollywood. For those of you who are not familiar, I will loosely fill you in. This is a strange castle in the middle of Hollywood. It is perched above one of the main well traveled 'side streets' one block north of, and running parallel to, Hollywood Blvd. It is actually a private club for Magicians. They come and hang out, have dinner, and try out their latest magic for friends or peers. As I recall, there are 2-4 small 'showrooms' where some would perform. Each magician might go from room to room. Some rooms were quite small. The general public could not enter the castle, without a courtesy card or being accompanied by a member. I had a few magician friends, and had been there on many occasions. There was plenty of atmosphere in that place. This would be my first stop for some pics of CC. I got special permission to enter during the day. Unfortunately, It wasn't as mysterious in the daytime, as it was at night. However, I didn't have a choice. I would never be able to go there and shoot at night with all the guests. So, I took CC in all the different rooms and shot her in various poses with any props I could find handy. I took some strange shots as well as some "artsie" shots. I even took her in the men's bathroom. I was only thinking the 'weirder the better'. I wanted PD's to say, "What in the world . . . ?" "Who IS this CC and what is she doing?", etc. Even though I was only going to be able to use one or two shots, I wanted to make sure I was covered. We rapped it up and I dropped CC off at Berry's. Then, I went to pick up this great prop chair I had reserved from the 1938 Flynn classic, "Adventures Of Robin Hood". I was going to use it for tomorrow's shoot.

    The next day I took CC to a place I recall being called, 'Train Town'. This was a place in the valley like a miniature Ghost Town. When I say miniature, I don't mean it was a small street with only a couple of store fronts. I mean this was a place where the munchkins from the Wizard Of Oz would have come to hang out. Everything was small. The train, the buildings, etc. With CC being so tall, I thought I might get a few shots of her looking like a 'real giant'. In fact I even got a shot of the two of us in one of the buildings. I even took a couple of shots of her sitting in that great 'Robin Hood' Chair. Unfortunately the only backdrop were the long, dry grass and weeds. I really thought it looked stupid and pointless. Oh, well you can't win 'em all. There wasn't much else to do out there, so we packed up and split.

    Finally ,it was time for the finale . . . the LP cover shot. Now, just about this time CC was getting a little cranky. It was hot that day and 'Train Town' and those buildings were warm, to say the least. Along with the chair from 'Robin Hood', I had picked up a white cowboy hat, a holster and gun, and a black mask. I had already made special arrangements with the people at our next stop. "OK, here is where we get your cover shot", I said., as we pulled into the Animal Compound.

    NOTE: You see, CC loved animals. At one time she even had a cheetah or leopard, I can't remember which. That was the whole thing. She was always so sure of herself and always acted totally fearless. Then she would strike an attitude. Most of the time, it didn't bother me. Sometimes, she took it too far. She would make you feel like YOU were the sissy. Fearless? Hell with that. That cat scared the crap out of me sometimes. I remember quite clearly, getting some cute scratches from her 'little baby'. You just look at a cat the wrong way, and they just make these sudden moves on their own. Remember now, this was not your little 'poopsie' that jumps on your lap to watch TV with you and play with the buttons on your shirt. I'm talking, somewhere in the vicinity of 'Leo The Lion' here.

    However, she was a bit confused on this move. "Don't worry, you're gonna love it", I said. I didn't dare tell her earlier what was going on, or she may have backed out. I knew once she was there, she had go through with it. CC was a real Tom-Boy. She wasn't about to let someone think she couldn't handle it or let something a guy might do, get the best of her. We met with the trainer and I told him to bring 'Betsy' over to meet CC. In the meantime while we were waiting, I gave CC the holster and gun, the white cowboy hat and the black mask. 'What are you up to. Deke", she said lightly chuckling. "I look like The Lone Ranger". "Bingo! You hit the nail on the head. I'm going to have you rear the animal back with your gun blazing in the air." CC was now semi-laughing with disbelief, but she was game. After all, she was Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. So I said, "The only problem is, I couldn't get an all white horse". About that time Jack, the trainer, came over the hill with Betsy . . . . The Elephant. 'You have GOT to be kidding", she said. "Nope, there's Silver, I mean Betsy", I said. Well, I was really trying to hold back the tears, I wanted to laugh so bad.

    Ready CC? It's time to ride! "Hi Yo Silver, away!"

  27. #27
    Episode V
    'Pokey To The Rescue'

    I could see the little 'brat' coming out of me again. No, maybe not. I was just being a 'little devil'. "Come on CC", I thought, "you can take it!" I mean afterall, she was starting to get a bit 'testy', and it was putting an edge on me as well as my photographer, Ken Kim. I just wanted to break the ice.

    Now, It was time to 'hop up' on Betsy. Hop up? This should be good. The trainer got Betsy to lie down on her side. CC donned her costume and got aboard. The the trainer, with one command and his prod behind her ear, got Betsy to stand up. [[I always thought that 'fireplace poker' was so cruel.) Woah, there she goes. Up, up and away is right. CC was up in the clouds. Great. I really wanted to have her on the edge of a cliff with a good backdrop of the mountains and sky. However, there were no 'Cliffs Of Dover' to be found at the compound. We had to settle for the top of a small rolling hill. Oh well . . so much for what you want and what you get. The next step was to get Ken and the camera in position. We had to take into account Betsy was going to rear up on her hind legs, so I made sure she would be in frame. All set. "OK CC, get out your gun!", I said. "When Betsy goes up, I will only have a few seconds, so just stick that gun in the air , and strike a fearless pose. Remember, this is NOT an Elephant, this is your trusty steed, Silver." Here we go. Jack gave the command, and another prod, and up she went. "WAIT a minute", cried CC. "Put me down!". 'What's the matter?", I asked. "I wasn't ready" she replied. "OK, let's do it again", I said. Up, Up and away. "STOP!" CC cried out. "I can't do this" Oh, oh, I could see she was visibly shaken. I couldn't believe it. Sheena afraid? Secretly, the 'little devil' in me was saying, "Got Cha!".

    Well, I must admit I felt bad for her. I really think it was the height. Secondly, I did say, she was "fearless", NOT Sabu! Elephants, unlike cats, just don't sit around your house watching TV with you. Think about it. You are already up about 10' and now heading for 15-20'. I has to be a little scary. So, I had compassion for the situation, even though, I really DID want the shot. "It's OK, Chris", I said sympathetically. "I'll figure something else out". Just then, she threw the holster, gun, mask and hat on the ground and lashed back at me. "You G-- Da-- better! Then, a few other superlatives directed at the crew on the ground, starting flowing out of her mouth. What?, I thought, "Was she going to go to BG when we got home and blast me? I was trying to be understanding and nice. Well, CC was downright upset and acting like a spoiled brat. I was embarassed. Jack and Ken didn't know what to say. I turned, looked up at her and said, "I'm sorry Chris, I didn't realize it would be that difficult. Hang on, we'll get you down. First let me get at least one shot of you on Betsy, so we have something. No since in it being a total bust." "All right, but hurry up and then get me down!", she quipped.

    NOW, I was mad. She had just blasted us all. So I went over to Ken and called Jack over. Then, the three of us walked further away, in the oppisite direction, so CC couldn't hear us. "What can we do here, Jack?" I whispered. "I need to get something on film. Anyone have any ideas?" Well, a few things got tossed around and I heard CC call out once., "Hey!", but I didn't look up. I just hollared, "We'll be right there". Ken, Jack and I kept on thinking out loud. Then I heard, "D-e-k-e!". "OK, CHRIS! JUST A MINUTE!" I yelled. Jack had an idea, but before I could think it out, Chris faintly shouted, "H-E-Y, YOU GUYS!." Finally, I looked up and . . . Holy Sh--, they were gone! Swell! Now, how in the hell do you lose a 6' blonde on top of a 5 ton Elephant in less than 30 seconds? They were nowhere in sight. "Jack," I said with a worried tone. "Where'd they go?" "Don't worry, Betsy, just decided to go for a walk. She's probably on the other side of that hill.", he said. I had to laugh, I could still hear Chris in the distance, "H-e-y you guys. D-e-e-e-k-e! H-e-l-p M-e-e-e! So, I looked at the guys and said, "What do you think? Think CC's having a good time?" Jack, volleyed back with, "I really think Betsy likes her!". "That's good," I chuckled. "I did have my doubts for a minute there." Just then, another shrill came over the hill and pierced through the trees in front of us. "D-e-e-k-e!" I could have sworn a saw some of the leaves shaking. "Oh well", I said. "I guess we better go and get her. Don't want her to have too much fun." So, Ken grabbed his camera and tripod, and the 3 of us went to the top of the ridge and looked down. There was Betsy all right, and CC was still aboard. "She's [[CC) doing good, don't you think so, Jack?", I said. Jack laughed. They wern't all that far away, and Betsy was only walking slowly. Thank god she wasn't in 'Charge' mode or on her way to a fire with that hose of hers. When we finally caught up to them, Jack told Betsy to halt. CC said in a sardonic tone, "Thanks guys. It's about time!". However, before I got her down I wanted Ken to get one shot of CC on board Betsy. One more? Hey, I never one to begin with, remember? So, while Ken was setting up, Betsy got bored, and decided to take off. OH, NO, here we go again!. As they started down the path, CC looked back at me and said, "Damn you De--" CLICK!. And there my friends, is the back cover of the LP!

    Now, since my cover concept was shot, I had to think of something fast. The LP was originally going to be called 'CC Rider'. There would be that great satiracal Lone Ranger shot of her on the cover. Crazy, nuts, totaly insane, but it would have been fun and definately caught some eyes. However, that was all over now. Dead! Fini. My whole idea concept was shot. Besides, I didn't want to use a white horse. That would make it too close to the real image of The Lone Ranger. Man, I was screwed. Then, it came to me. I thought of the old serial 'The Lone Ranger' and the sequel, "The Lone Ranger Rides Again". Ah-Ha! What if I make this out to be her second album, even though she hasn't had a first yet. Seems in context with the other crazy things I've been doing so far. I thought. Now, what If I make her a total embarassment. I mean, 'our hero' CC, is not really that well equipped; as hereos go anyway. Hmmmm . . . maybe. What if her 'trusty steed' is in fact, something you can't trust. What if, 'her firey horse with the speed of light' turned out to be an old hag? NO, better yet . . A DONKEY! Y-e-a-h!

    "Hey Jack, do you have a Donkey out here?", I asked. "I've got one, but he's difficult. We call him Pokey", Jack said. "Perfect! Pokey The Donkey! Just what I need." I replied. Well, it took me almost an hour to get that damn Pokey up on that ridge. Geeze, the sun was already going down. I didn't have too much time and I couldn't come back here. For all I knew, Chris was going to quit me cold after we left the compound. So, I tried various shots of CC and Pokey. I had her pulling Pokey by the reins, pushing Pokey from behind, talking to Pokey, scoulding Pokey, pointing off in the distance [[showing Pokey where the 'trouble' was, etc.) None of it looked right. So, I had CC mount Pokey. However, Pokey was NOT going to move another inch. That was it, he was done for the day. The sun was sinking fast behind the hills. So I decided to make the most of it. I could just envision 'CC' getting ready to go 'to the rescue', jumping on Pokey, drawing her gun and saying, Hi-Yo Pokey, away! . . . and they just sit there. CLICK! Well, there you have it. Our hero, on her trusty steed, for the another go around, with her second smash album, "CC Rides Again".

    It was a rap. I thanked our host and trainer and said good-bye to Betsy. We got our gear together and drove off. As we got half way into the city, the sun was more visible. We still had a little time left. Chris had melted down, and was laughing in the car. We were all harmlessly joking about Betsy. However, one thing still bothered me. She hadn't really apologised to Ken or Jack, before we left the compound, for her, shall we say descriptive comments while on Betsy. So, I thought to myself, I'm going to have to have this out with her once and for all and just clear the air. Either we would be friends or foes. I still had the Robin Hood chair in the back of Ken's station Wagon. As we passed over a bridge, I looked down and saw the L.A. River. We used to call it 'the wash' when I was a kid. I saw these great psychedelic green swirls running through it. I turned to Ken and quickly said, "Pull over! Stop the car." Ken pulled into the dirt on the other side of the bridge. "What's the matter!", they both said inquisitivly. 'We still have that famous chair from 'Robin Hood'. I'm not going to take it back without getting at least a shot of CC sitting on it", I said. "Here?", she said, looking at the side of the freeway. "Well, not exactly. Down There.", I said as I pointed into the river. "What?', said CC. Ken looked on in a puzzled way, trying to figure where I was going with this. "Come on Chris, this will look great with you sitting in the chair with all the water flowing around you. Just this one last crazy shot, OK?"

  28. #28
    I went to the middle of the bridge and looked down, framed it with my fingers and said, "Yeah, this will look great!" So we got the chair and all headed down the dirt sides of the embankment. I went over the concrete wall first and they lowered the chair. Ken helped Chris from above while I steadied her from below, then jumped down himself. Now, we were all standing on the dry part of the basin in the wash. The river was about 15 feet away. It was the middle of summer, so the river wasn't that high. Chris mostly always went barefoot, although she did sport sandals on occasion. Today, she was barefoot. We walked over closer to the water. The green swirls I saw from above was indeed, fungus. Pretty, but still. . . funky fungus. "Hmmm I said, CC you didn't bring any shoes?". "No", she said. "Deke, that's gross out there" I know, but it will look great on film and we'll only be a minute" So, I carried the chair over to the middle of the gunk. Then, I told Chris that Ken and I would get her over there. So Chris sat in our linked arms and we carried her over to the chair. Perfect. "OK Ken, let's go". "Go where", CC said. "We have to take the shot from above.", I replied. So Ken and I left her there, on the chair, in the middle of the LA River. We climed back up, and went to the car to get Ken's gear. Ken started quizzing me while we were preping and setting up on the bridge. I told him I was going to ask Chris to apologise to him, or I was going to leave her there in the river. Now, I was kidding, but I didn't want to tell him that. "It's OK, Deke, forget it." "No, Ken", I said."She was really nasty. I don't give a damn who she is or who she knows. There's no excuse for what she said. " I thought Ken was going to have kittens. He was seeing his relationship with Motown slowly going down the drain, or should I say . . . down the river. It was a beautiful sight from above. CC had to cross her legs. She and the chair was sitting in about 6-8" of green slime. So, we did a few poses. I wasn't going to have her do anything crazy, like stand up. God, I didn't really want her to fall in that junk. Then I told Ken to start packing up while I went down to the river.

    I went over to Chris and we had a few words. We talked about the day, the things we did and the craziness of it all. 'Did you have fun', I asked. "Well, to a degree.", she quipped. Then I told her how this was all my crazy idea and I didn't mind if she got miffed at me. However, the other 2, Jack and Ken, were just following orders, so to speak. None of this was their doing. I told her how nice of a guy Ken is. "He's a pretty sensitive person, Chris", I said. "He's not a game player nor does he have a caustic sense of humor, like us. His little son treats me like a second 'daddy'. I have kept company with him and his family for some time. I just felt he didn't deserve to get crusified by that sharp tounge of yours. There was a pregnant pause as she looked at me. OK? Ready to go home?" She nodded and I yelled up to Ken, "Ken, give me a hand and lets get our artist out of this crap". During the ride home, in her own way, CC apologised to Ken. It had been one hell of a day.

    Episode VI
    'One-Way Ticket To Hell'

    Chris and I were just getting to know each other. Sometimes you have to go through a little 'sparing' with your partner, artist, etc. I don't know. I have also felt that people should just be themselves, for better or worse. However, when you're in charge and responsible for many aspects of a project, you can't always be 'Mr. Nice Guy'. You've got to make it all come together. So, my first thought was always trying to have people have at least 'some sort' of respect for the others working on the same project. It's one big team and everyone is important. Sure, people can just do their job, no more, no less. However, It's nice when others, go out of their way for you. You get that extra special care and attention. Sometimes, money can't buy this treatment, but respect can.

    Well, at least the photos were out of the way. I just kept my fingers crossed. At least, the setups looked fine to me when we were shooting. Now, it was time to get back to the Music. I originally cut the tracks for CC at RCA Studios in Hollywood; with the exception of "Can I See You In The Morning?" and "How About You", which were cut at Hitsville in Detroit. The engineer at RCA was Mickey Crofford. I really liked Mickey. He was a small guy in his late 40's or early 50's and reminded me of an amicable and pleasant version of Mickey Rooney. He was a great engineer and had been with RCA for years.

    1969 was a very busy year for me. Not only was I working with CC, but I also started working with the J5. I'm pretty sure I had completed CC, but some of my old notes indicate I was working on both artists simultaneously at one point. Sometime during early part of that great year of 1969, Berry and I had gone over to meet Guy Costa. Guy was the nephew of arranger-conductor Don Costa. Besides his own LP releases as an artist, Don was responsible for starting Paul Anka's career as well as working with Sinatra for many years. Guy, together with his dad Leo, and Don owned a studio on Fairfax in LA. It was a part, or asset of DCP [[Don Costa Productions). Now, Guy was knowledgeable in electronics as well as engineering. They had installed a new 16 Track Machine at DCP. It's funny. Many of us got so used to recording on 8 Tracks. I remember thinking, 'Why do we need 16 tracks? What are we going to do with all the extra tracks?" It wasn't until we all started using that new format, did we realize how really great it was. Not quite sure about that vocal take? Just switch tracks and do another take, and another, etc. We all became Scarlet O'Hara's i.e. "I just can't think about that vocal now. I'll think about it tomorrow!"

    So as it turned out, CC and the J5 were the first very 2 artists to get transferred from 8-Track to 16 track. Since RCA was a bit costly, we worked out a deal with Guy for some block booking of time at DCP. It was a good situation for both of us. We got a better rate and DCP got a decent steady cash flow. The one small room upstairs was functioning for overdubs, but the big room downstairs was still under construction. Guy was the perfect 'guy' to have around. We needed someone really sharp and with experience, and he fit the bill to a "T". So, the overdub work load got shifted to DCP, but until Guy was totally set up, I would still do the final mixes at RCA. [[I did the final mixes for CC, the J5 single Want You Back", and Diana Ross and the Supremes final single, "Someday We'll Be Together" at RCA.) I had already completed half of CC's dubins and punch ins at RCA. I did the remainder at DCP. By this time CC and I were getting along great. She began to really trust me and working with her was easy. CC didn't have a big range so I just couldn't go too wild with the melodies. I don't have a big range myself, so I tried to keep her parts as natural as possible, without making her sound like she was reaching for notes she had no business reaching for. The few times you do hear her on the edge was the result of her bout with Streptococcus. God, I worked that girl so hard, and she stayed and took it without a complaint.

    I'll never forget the night we were doing 'Get Back'. CC was sick as a dog and could barely stand up. Her sister Jane, had driven her her to the studio that night. It was too late to see her doctor, so if she got worse tonight, she'd have to go right to the hospital. It was the last tune to do and I knew I had to get this LP finished, like yesterday. We were at DCP and she was singing the notes, but that's about all. There was no fire, no life. I was merciless. I kept going, pushing her harder and harder. She never let out a whimper. Then, I could see was starting to fade, so I told Guy to quickly set up another mic across from hers, pointing in the opposite direction. "Put the input on another track and put out an extra set of phones. I pushed the talk back button, "Chris", I said, "I know you're sick. From the way you sound, you're probably going to be down for a couple of weeks in bed. Without this song finished however, we're dead in the water. So, I want you to concentrate on the melody and look at the words. You may only have one more shot at this. You have just GOT to give it every ounce of energy you have left. Now, you also have a choice. You can stop now and we'll just wait until you get well. It's your call, but keep one thing in mind. Once we start, I will NOT stop. Understand?" CC glanced up at me in the control booth with a sheepish look, but said, "Hell, let's do it."

  29. #29
    I started the tape again from the top. CC started to sing. Just about then Berry walked into the control room. There couldn't have been a worse time for anyone to walk in, much less BG. The control room was dark, so CC didn't see him come in. CC started to sing again. Line after line was painful. I turned to Jane and quickly said, "You better call an ambulance, unless you are going to take her to the hospital". I started out the door of the control room and turned and said, "Berry, cover me here." He didn't know what I was up to and I didn't have time to explain. I hustled out of the control room and into the studio. I put on the headphones and said, "Guy start the tape again." I looked over at CC and said, "I'll gonna be right here with you, OK?" CC smiled, and she started to sing. I jumped in and started to sing with her. I was trying to keep her focused and at the same time, keep her energy level up. I sang with her, under her, over her, around her. As we got near the end I could see she was losing it. She was getting weak in the knees and dizzy. She fell back a little and then down on one knee. I reached over and lowered her mic. As we approached the finale she was screaming 'Get Back' with everything she had left to give. However, she was now down on both knees. I grabbed her mic stand and swung it down closer to her. She slowly fell back on her behind and went on her side, and I got on the floor beside her just barely balancing the mic to her face. The whole scene was like a sic parody of a James Brown live performance. The only problem was, Chris was not going to jump up, throw off her cloak, and go into 'Please, Please, Please". The track ended. I let go of the mic, [[I knew Guy was wincing) grabbed her in my arms and pulled her up to a sitting position. Her head was on fire. It felt like her temperature was 150 and I thought her head was going to explode. '"You were absolutely fantastic," I said. "We're gonna get you out of here now". CC looked up smiled in a pathetic sort of way. Her voice was gone. Just then, the door to the studio swung open and there was Jane. CC was out of it. She tried to stand up, but started to weave so we helped her up and Jane took her off to the hospital. [[NOTE: Now, this is weird! Even though my old notes simply say 'Jane took here to the hospital", I still remember having visions of an ambulance driver arriving at the studio and coming through the studio door with Jane. I don't know, maybe that was just a bad dream I had.)

    I walked back into the control room, looked at Berry and said, "Did you get it?". Berry was in a trance, a mild state of shock, but had a semi-smile on his face. "Yeah, it was great. Jesus Deke, you and Jim Brown and women.", he said. [[Note: BG was referring to the actor/football star Jim Brown, who had recently gotten some bad press over his treatment of women or his girlfriend, I can't remember.) "You kill yours off in the studio", he said. "I know, terrible, wasn't it?", I said. "CC wanted to go for it. I told her she didn't have to. I gave her a choice. She's one hell of a trooper." When it was all said and done, I used most of that performance in the final mix. However, when it got closer to the end. it was just too brutal. You could hear me banging the stand holding the lyrics and moving the mic. I tried recording a few of her earlier lines over to a 2-track and then punching them back onto the master 16 Track in those spots. I was going to erase my track totally, but CC wanted me to keep it. I know I redid a few of my lines as well, where there was too much banging and clanging. It was all over. Time to mixdown.

    CC was now at home recovering from a serious case of Streptococcus. During the next couple of weeks as I mixed, I also worked on the graphics and layout for the album. The one funny note is: the shot in the LA River. Unbelievable. As great as it looked that day, it just didn't come out with the effect I had hoped for. So, I experimented I had 4 more slides made up with the hue adjusted to the colors: Blue, Red, Green and Yellow. I ended up using the blue and a green like filters. I put them on top of the original slide and shifted them just a bit to make it look a little psychedelic. CC almost looks like she's sitting on the Moon. After going through tons of slides, checking exposures, making color corrections, etc., I completed the layout. Now, I had gambled again. I did a mock up of the LP so BG could see it. I had never told him of my plans to go with a double jacket. I just figured once he saw what it was going to look like, he couldn't refuse. I knew he would like most of the images, if not all of them. There would just be no way to show them all, unless she had a double jacket. He thought it was weird and strange, but at the same time he liked it. So, Berry told me it was OK to go ahead. The layout and double jacket had been approved.

    While I was there at the house, Berry told me there he had another meeting scheduled after ours he wanted me to attend. "This meeting involves you, Deke", Berry said. I was really feeling great about everything with the CC LP. In fact I was feeling downright cocky. I had accomplished a major feat. Just then, Phil Jones and Tommy Noonan from the Sales Department showed up. Now, I never was really in on any of these sales meetings, so I thought this would be good experience for me. I was always out to learn as much as I could. I sat quietly while the meeting began. Soon, it became quite clear what was going on. Sales had come up with a new label for white acts. It was going to be called "Rare Earth". Now what does this mean?, I thought. What the hell are these 'wise guys' up to? They went on to explain that the first group to be signed was going to be called of all things, "Rare Earth". Now, I didn't say anything, but I just couldn't believe my ears. Here, I had come up with a total different concept for a new label, a white label to boot. Now, here come these clowns and they have an idea for a white label. I just sat, listened and bit my tongue. I really knew this was not the time to get emotional about what was going on in that meeting. I do have to say, I believe Berry was secretly getting a little kick out of it all. After about 10-15 minutes of laying it all out for Berry, they turned their attention to me. Phil explained how he was quite aware of the 'CC Rides Again" LP and the "Weed" label, and commended me for the work I had done. I nodded back as if to say 'Thanks, sucker'. However, it was the next batch of garbage that came from his mouth that really got to me. "We'd like you to join us and bring CC over to Rare Earth.", Phil said. WHAT!!! Now, I was really fuming, but I stayed cool as an ice cube. Berry turned to me and said, "What do you think, Deke". Now, I was on the spot. I felt like I should be asking them to convert. So, that's exactly what I said. "Hey, why don't you guys bring your acts and come over to "Weed'? After all, "Your Favorite Artists Are On Weed"? Berry, looking at me, smiled and lightly chuckled and then he turned to Phil and Tom waiting for a reply. They came back with a sardonic smile and explained how they could appreciate my feelings, etc. However, they said they had already spent a certain amount of time, and money, getting the concept and label ready to go. What the hell did they think I'd been doing all this time? I returned with, "I understand guys, but hey, so have I." Berry never said a word. His head just went back an forth as if he was watching a Tennis Match. Now, I was almost sure he was loving this exchange. It was definitely 'the kid against the system'. Phil and Tom also told me how the Sales Department was already prepared and geared up to promote the Rare Earth label. I kept thinking to myself, "What a pisser!" Here, I had come up with this total concept, the artist, label etc., and I had more that likely made the big boys in Sales look like they had just sitting around the campfire. So, they decided this 'golden boy' was not going to make them look bad. God forbid my WEED LP would come through, be a hit and make them all look silly. Well, after our verbal exchange had no place left to go, Berry said to me, "Well, it's up to you Deke. It's your baby. What do you want to do?".

    Well, my friends, I just couldn't, and I wouldn't give it all up. "No," I said. "Thanks, but no thanks. I'm going to stick with WEED. Just barely 25 years old and I was so-o-o-o-o smart. Well, in reality, I was dead man. I just wrote my own one-way-ticket to Hell. I was surely going to suffer, crash and burn for the decision I made that day. What in the world was I thinking? Did I really believe that after I rejected the offer to go over to Rare Earth, that Sales was going to promote CC and Weed Label without hesitation? Obviously, I guess so. Fair is fair, right? We're all in the same family, right? WRONG! How could I have been so dumb after all of the great moves I had made? The funny thing is, it never even dawned on me what I had done. I never even saw the punch coming. I was just too confident and too cocky. Like. . . "I don't need you guys. I'm D-E-K-E!"? What a joke. Was I going to hit the trail in my car with boxes of LP's in my trunk? I don't think so.

    The label and group, Rare Earth debuted in the later part of June 1969. The groups first big single "Get Ready", was only the beginning of a successful string of hits for the group. It was like a warning, "Get Ready, Deke". Weed's debut album, "CC Rides Again", was held back and not released until late November 1969. Although it was ready long before November, it's release date kept getting pushed forward. Sales wanted to make sure that CC did not interfere or conflict with the release of their Rare Earth product line. What finally became of "Weed Records"? Well, the last I heard in the later part of 1970 was, "CC Rides Again" had sold a little over 200 copies. Yes, sales were definitely picking up in Puerto Rico.

  30. #30
    Well, motown01, it took me twelve hours, but I just finished reading through Mr. Richards' memories. I, for one, really appreciate you taking the time to collate all this rich material. This kind of post really represents the very best of what this forum can and should be all about.

    Richards was a very engaging storyteller; I particularly relish the "Love Child," Farewell, and Chris Clark escapades! Speaking of Farewell, does anyone know who, during the "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" audience participation, is the wag who says to Diana after his jivey chorus, "I'm talking more and more like this every day; I gotta stop hangin' out with you!"? The voice sounds familiar, but I've never been able to place it. Thanks again!
    Last edited by sansradio; 07-29-2015 at 09:45 PM.

  31. #31
    Thanks for doing the legwork! I don't have time now, but I plan to read this thread. I put it all in a text file for reading off-line.

  32. #32
    thomas96 Guest
    Where am I going to find the time to read all of that?

  33. #33
    Just a quick reminder that Deke Richards's first works for Motown were credited under his real name of Dennis Lussier.

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas96 View Post
    Where am I going to find the time to read all of that?
    If you take the trouble, it's well worth the effort.
    Last edited by 144man; 07-30-2015 at 12:41 AM.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    Just a quick reminder that Deke Richards's first works for Motown were credited under his real name of Dennis Lussier.

    If you take the trouble, it's well worth the effort.
    Deke sure took the trouble - with everything - he was a great man and I was really proud to have met him and conversed with him over a period of 4 or 5 years before his passing and I have to thank a certain boyfromxtown for introducing me to him.

  35. #35
    supremester Guest
    THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! Deke Richards is my hero - I LOVE his work - I enjoy or at least admire every one of his productions. Also, I love the minutiae about the creative process. For all of those who recall putting the Love Child 45 on the turntable that first time, RIP Deke... xo THANK YOU for taking the time to post this!!

  36. #36
    Thank you for reposting all of Deke's great stories--he was really quite an engaging storyteller!

    Does anyone know whatever became of his book/auto bio that all of this was written for? I, for one, would love to read more about Deke's "Adventures In Motown"! Rest in peace, Deke!

  37. #37
    Thank you so much for posting this motown01. It has taken me a while to read it all, but it was well worth it. He sounds like a really nice guy. His style of writing is very fluid and easy to read. What a great shame there was never a book.
    Last edited by Ollie9; 07-31-2015 at 04:28 AM.

  38. #38
    I'm glad everyone is enjoying it. I knew at the time that these stories were something very special and needed to be preserved in some form. Can you imagine a whole book of this kind of stuff?

  39. #39
    RossHolloway Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by motown01 View Post
    I'm glad everyone is enjoying it. I knew at the time that these stories were something very special and needed to be preserved in some form. Can you imagine a whole book of this kind of stuff?
    I can only imagine the stories that Smokey Robinson or HDH could tell...

  40. #40
    Yes, thank you for the repost. I didn't copy them the first time around but they now reside in a lovely document on my computer. These stories just make you hope Deke had a first draft of his book, but I fear he did not. Still, very happy to have these. This is the kind of stuff I love hearing about regarding Motown and the way it worked.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by RossHolloway View Post
    I can only imagine the stories that Smokey Robinson or HDH could tell...
    Thanks so much for posting, missed this first time round. I think Dennis Coffey has told us something of a typical Snakepit session on this forum and in his book. But this gives an all too rare nuts and bolts view of a recording session.
    Smokey and HDH could provide the same insight but I,ve never read or seen any video from them in such detail, nor many more from the 'inside'

  42. #42
    Deke had some very interesting stories. I read "The Magic and the Madness" [[the book on MJ and his family) and Deke mentioned interesting studio sessions with the brothers [[in fact that's when I read about how Marlon and Tito hardly were called for studio sessions and that only MJ, Jackie and Jermaine did most of the harmony vocals) and how he and BG [[and the Corporation) decided on songs. The story about how Maybe Tomorrow was originally gonna be for Sammy Davis, Jr. and how BG convinced him it was a J5 track was really interesting lol


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Ralph Terrana

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