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  1. #1
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    Diana Ross not liking where the music business was heading to [[88' interview)

    This is an interview backstage at the Grammy's in 1988. Miss Ross talks about where the music business was headed. Let's look at what she said and dissect it.

    "I'm not crazy about it, myself. I just feel like there's a lot of artists getting lost because of the big machinery that's happening. The family organizations are kinda disappeared like an independent company like Motown. To me, now, they're distributing somewhere else and I feel like a lot of artists don't get to be played on MTV and I, you know, I feel like a lot of things have been lost because of the bigness of it all. Um, I miss, I don't, uh.....I don't think the family kind of relationship is there now to me with RCA now that uh Bertelman's has bought it. I mean, I never know who to talk to there...I mean.....I can say that here. But I mean, you know, and CBS, I heard that SONY has bought that. I mean, you know, it's just, it's so big. I mean, I know that if artists feel like I feel, it's kind of hard to find where your direction are. Who are the people there in management these days? You really don't know."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jqba46ll2M

    She starts this at 5:43

    Try not to get lost in this woman's beauty. She is just stunningly beautiful and radiant. I just KNOW she smelled so good here.

    Now, going by what she said, do you all agree? I think I can see where she is coming from. I think this is so funny that she said this before 1990. She said this in 1988, right after my beloved "Shock Waves", and one year before the Workin' Overtime album. I think she foresaw the end of actually grooming an artist. Working with them not just on music, but what to say in an interview, how to sit, how to speak, how to conduct yourself, etc. We do not have any artists development anymore. Not saying that is bad or good, but nobody really pushes and believes in an artist or a group anymore. The general public want new music so much and so quickly, record labels do not really have the time to invest in an artist anymore. In 1988, Miss Ross saw a storm on the horizon.

    What was happening with Diana and RCA at this time? This was the end of their road together. How could someone as big as Diana Ross feel like she did not know who to talk to at a record label? Did she feel as if there was no support there for her? Were her calls unanswered? Was she being played on MTV. What was happening during this time?

  2. #2
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    There is some truth to what she's saying, but she also had a distorted experience while at Motown. It started off as a small, family company and she always had the interest of Berry Gordy, to the point where she got tired of it by the late 70s and wanted to break free to try her own thing, and understandably so. Certainly many of her colleagues at Motown came to similar conclusions as her much earlier when Motown grew and they no longer had Berry's ear and had trouble getting attention of anyone important who could attend to them.

    My question would be--if she had re-signed at Motown in 1980, but still had a similar drop off in sales/popularity, would Berry and management/leadership of Motown had been willing to take her calls and meet to discuss how to improve the situation, or would they have ignored her after one too many underperforming singles/albums and like RCA let the contract play out?

  3. #3
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    Diana could no longer 'phone the boss' and have her wishes granted. She may have been the leading light for Motown in the 60s & 70s, but was not #1 in the RCA world [[despite that record-breaking deal).

    She squandered her 1980/81 peak with poor decisions while still at Motown [[no video clips, no touring to further promote the 'diana' album) and especially with this those underwhelming next three albums for RCA.

    'Swept Away' and 'Eaten Alive' resuscitated her a little, a few years on, but by the time of RHR&B, RCA were probably happy to wash their hands of her.

    Fate took her back to Motown but she learned, as the Shangri-Las had sung in the 60s "You can never go home anymore".

    If her first RCA album had been another Chic production, backed with music videos and TV appearances/a tour to promote it, she might have continued her ascent instead of beginning a decline.

    Following this up with albums helmed by Ashford/Simpson, Quincy Jones, The Bee Gees, Daryl Hall or Lionel Richie could have kept her at the top for at least another five years.

    She should have focussed, during this period, on the promotional side - not the production side.

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    Yep !^^

    Guess the lesson is , be careful what you wish for!!

    When her dream come true was to at last!, ... do a remake of an old fifties hit ..... well that didn't bode well

  5. #5
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    Yes but WDFFIL still gets some of the biggest response at her concerts and the album was platinum and a big hit as was Mirror Mirror.

    I'm not sure staying at Motown would have been a big saving grace; she was 40 years old, hardly the new kid on the block. What she had to do was morph into the iconic artist that lasted forever - and it seems like she has done that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Yes but WDFFIL still gets some of the biggest response at her concerts and the album was platinum and a big hit as was Mirror Mirror.

    I'm not sure staying at Motown would have been a big saving grace; she was 40 years old, hardly the new kid on the block. What she had to do was morph into the iconic artist that lasted forever - and it seems like she has done that.
    JRob, as usual, your reply is EVERYTHING! I hope you are well in the cold, snowy north. AND ... killin' your workout classes.

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    So true. The single was a top ten gold record. So it did actually bode well. Lol.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    .

    She squandered her 1980/81 peak with poor decisions.

    'Swept Away' and 'Eaten Alive' resuscitated her a little, a few years on, but by the time of RHR&B, RCA were probably happy to wash their hands of her..
    I’m sure they helped pack her bags and held the door lol.
    Lucky for Diana she had two decades of classic Motown hits to her credit and was already an established icon.
    In the real world, her rca years will always be viewed as a string of uneven albums and missed opportunities.
    Last edited by Ollie9; 07-10-2021 at 04:39 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    I’m sure they helped pack her bags and held the door lol.
    Lucky for Diana she had two decades of classic Motown hits to her credit and was already an established icon.
    In the real world, her rca years will always be viewed as a string of uneven albums and missed opportunities.
    They were relieved to see her go. She had become an albatross around their necks. She made a lot of money out of rca, but left with a very underwhelming catalogue of hits, misses and atrocities.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    Diana could no longer 'phone the boss' and have her wishes granted. She may have been the leading light for Motown in the 60s & 70s, but was not #1 in the RCA world [[despite that record-breaking deal).

    She squandered her 1980/81 peak with poor decisions while still at Motown [[no video clips, no touring to further promote the 'diana' album) and especially with this those underwhelming next three albums for RCA.

    'Swept Away' and 'Eaten Alive' resuscitated her a little, a few years on, but by the time of RHR&B, RCA were probably happy to wash their hands of her.

    Fate took her back to Motown but she learned, as the Shangri-Las had sung in the 60s "You can never go home anymore".

    If her first RCA album had been another Chic production, backed with music videos and TV appearances/a tour to promote it, she might have continued her ascent instead of beginning a decline.

    Following this up with albums helmed by Ashford/Simpson, Quincy Jones, The Bee Gees, Daryl Hall or Lionel Richie could have kept her at the top for at least another five years.

    She should have focussed, during this period, on the promotional side - not the production side.
    In America, Eaten Alive [[single and album) didn't help her career and was likely another setback in terms of her relationship with RCA.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Yes but WDFFIL still gets some of the biggest response at her concerts and the album was platinum and a big hit as was Mirror Mirror.
    Exactly. Her albums Silk Electric and Swept Away were also certified gold in the States. Her overall international sales during that time were pretty solid as well. For instance, the Swept Away album was also certified gold in Canada, and All of You was a big radio hit on the Canadian airwaves. The album was also a top 10 hit in Sweden and the Netherlands, and charted in a handful of other countries. Similar cases can be made for her other RCA singles and albums, all of which had differing success in other countries.

    It's always irked me that there is a specific sect of fans within the Ross fan base who consistently make it their mission to voice their dislike for her RCA material and then support their opinion by generalizing that she lacked success during this era, which really was not the case at all. Sure, I guess when you compare each RCA album's sales to the sales of her album "Diana" in 1980, which was the highest selling studio LP of her entire career. However, she still sold in solid numbers during the 80's.

    For the record, I love all of her RCA output

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    They were relieved to see her go. She had become an albatross around their necks. She made a lot of money out of rca, but left with a very underwhelming catalogue of hits, misses and atrocities.
    I’m sure that was very much the case Mr B. When all is said and done, rca must have lost a stack of money on her. It would be interesting to know Diana’s true feelings regarding those rca albums. At least from a a 2021 prospective.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Yes but WDFFIL still gets some of the biggest response at her concerts and the album was platinum and a big hit as was Mirror Mirror.

    I'm not sure staying at Motown would have been a big saving grace; she was 40 years old, hardly the new kid on the block. What she had to do was morph into the iconic artist that lasted forever - and it seems like she has done that.
    So she was 40 years old and not a new kid on the block and she and RCA thought the perfect solution for making her relevant in the 80's was for her to re-record an oldies song even older than her well-aged career

    ....oh kay!

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    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    Exactly. Her albums Silk Electric and Swept Away were also certified gold in the States. Her overall international sales during that time were pretty solid as well. For instance, the Swept Away album was also certified gold in Canada, and All of You was a big radio hit on the Canadian airwaves. The album was also a top 10 hit in Sweden and the Netherlands, and charted in a handful of other countries. Similar cases can be made for her other RCA singles and albums, all of which had differing success in other countries.

    It's always irked me that there is a specific sect of fans within the Ross fan base who consistently make it their mission to voice their dislike for her RCA material and then support their opinion by generalizing that she lacked success during this era, which really was not the case at all. Sure, I guess when you compare each RCA album's sales to the sales of her album "Diana" in 1980, which was the highest selling studio LP of her entire career. However, she still sold in solid numbers during the 80's.

    For the record, I love all of her RCA output

    Don't fall for the hype regarding FOOLS . A LOT of effort was put into making this seem like a hot release.
    Diana Ross was coming off the most successful record of her career and Motown's history , she had just signed an amazing new contract providing her credibility in the business and with the public, she got a lot of press and the music business was generally rooting for her [why not?) to succeed. Especially RCA.

    What they got with FOOLS was nothing terrible ....just nothing spectacular.


    Look up Donna Summer's THE WANDERER lp .....very similar situation ....new label, new sound, new era ....hot artist .... much hype ....THE WANDERER single reached #3 and was a million seller.

    Do you ever hear that turkey ???
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 07-10-2021 at 12:26 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    Exactly. Her albums Silk Electric and Swept Away were also certified gold in the States. Her overall international sales during that time were pretty solid as well. For instance, the Swept Away album was also certified gold in Canada, and All of You was a big radio hit on the Canadian airwaves. The album was also a top 10 hit in Sweden and the Netherlands, and charted in a handful of other countries. Similar cases can be made for her other RCA singles and albums, all of which had differing success in other countries.

    It's always irked me that there is a specific sect of fans within the Ross fan base who consistently make it their mission to voice their dislike for her RCA material and then support their opinion by generalizing that she lacked success during this era, which really was not the case at all. Sure, I guess when you compare each RCA album's sales to the sales of her album "Diana" in 1980, which was the highest selling studio LP of her entire career. However, she still sold in solid numbers during the 80's.

    For the record, I love all of her RCA output
    Thank you Carlo. I also love all her RCA output. Those were some exciting years. Too me she was at the height of her career. Huge arena tours an album a year. She was at this time a mega superstar. And I loved it.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Look up Donna Summer's THE WANDERER lp .....very similar situation ....new label, new sound, new era ....hot artist .... much hype ....THE WANDERER single reached #3 and was a million seller.

    Do you ever hear that turkey ???
    I love the Why Do Fools album and The Wanderer album In fact, I heard the Wanderer being played on the radio not so long ago.

  17. #17
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    very cool!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by vgalindo View Post
    Thank you Carlo. I also love all her RCA output. Those were some exciting years. Too me she was at the height of her career. Huge arena tours an album a year. She was at this time a mega superstar. And I loved it.
    I agree with you, vgalindo. I think there are just some Ross fans who have a strong and strict preference for only her Motown output in the 70's, which is fine. I attribute it to different individual music tastes. It's just funny how passionate some of them get with wanting to say certain albums were crap and the reason why. I enjoy her entire catalogue of music and I am allowed to feel that way, just as much as they're allowed to strongly dislike certain songs or albums.

    You're right, Ms Ross certainly turned up the camp and glitz factor in the 80's. I love how much she experimented with different styles and sounds. Her style of singing even evolved over the years. Christmas in Vienna anyone? How about Lady Sings the Blues? Or Fool For Your Love? Even the Ross '83 album is very pop rock oriented. She's dabbled in every genre and I don't think she gets enough credit for that and for her versatility.
    Last edited by carlo; 07-10-2021 at 01:11 PM.

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    I would certainly never give her credit for recording something as awful as “Fool For Your Love” lol.
    So your passionate if you dislike an album, but what if you like one?. Just giving an opinion.
    I happen to quite like some of her rca stuff, including ross 83 and RHR&B.
    Not matter how you dress it up, two of those albums were very badly produced and she made some very poor choices during those years.
    Why do you think the record company wanted shot of her?. Being versatile apparently wasn’t enough.

  20. #20
    RCA was also a crap box of a record company. They spent all this money on established artists and really didnít do much to generate returns on their investment. Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow were also tremendously dissatisfied and disappointed with their stays there.

    Bluebrock, has mentioned that it was RCA that was demanding product and were the ones that couldnít wait for Quincy Jones to produce Dianaís RCA debut. They are just as responsible as Diana for the contract not being more successful. I would never give the record company the benefit of the doubt over the recording artist regardless of the artist being difficult or sweet as candy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deepdishus2001 View Post
    RCA was also a crap box of a record company. They spent all this money on established artists and really didn’t do much to generate returns on their investment. Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow were also tremendously dissatisfied and disappointed with their stays there.

    Bluebrock, has mentioned that it was RCA that was demanding product and were the ones that couldn’t wait for Quincy Jones to produce Diana’s RCA debut. They are just as responsible as Diana for the contract not being more successful. I would never give the record company the benefit of the doubt over the recording artist regardless of the artist being difficult or sweet as candy.
    The record company certainly didn’t select the songs she was to record. I had always believed Diana had relative control while at rca. Are you saying the record company forced her hand over the next six years making them equally culpable for a less then satisfactory tenure?.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    The record company certainly didn’t select the songs she was to record. I had always believed Diana had relative control while at rca. Are you saying the record company forced her hand over the next six years making them equally culpable for a less then satisfactory tenure?.
    I didnít say they selected the material but they still had some type of control. Quincy was slated to produce the debut but it was RCA that couldnít wait.

    Also, by that time RCA was pretty much known as the Elvis Presley Catalog Recording Company. They made huge investments in Diana, Kenny and Barry. The only major acts they had were The Pointer Sisters-which was brought to them via their purchase/distribution of Richard Perryís Planet label and Hall and Oates who were self contained huge hitmakers. After that, it was pretty much nothing.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    I love the Why Do Fools album and The Wanderer album In fact, I heard the Wanderer being played on the radio not so long ago.
    I loved The Wanderer too!. Looking Up should have been a single. I did see Donna several times after the album came out and she never performed The Wanderer while Diana to this day still performs WDFFIL. Remember, Donna also recorded a remake with There Goes My Baby that made it to no. 21 pop in 1984.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    In America, Eaten Alive [[single and album) didn't help her career and was likely another setback in terms of her relationship with RCA.
    Yes, to me, that was her biggest mistake at RCA. I donít hate Eaten Alive but after Swept Away, it was the perfect time for a new Nile Rodgers produced album, not 1989 with WO. Lol He was the biggest producer in the world with Madonnaís Like a Virgin and his work with David Bowie, Duran Duran, Grace Jones, etc. I would have loved to hear Diana sing Victor Should Have Been a Jazz Musician or Iím not Perfect [[But Iím Perfect for You) from Graceís Inside Story or Now I Know You Know from Debbie Harryís KooKoo. I loved his 1985 Sheena Easton production Do You.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deepdishus2001 View Post
    I didn’t say they selected the material but they still had some type of control. Quincy was slated to produce the debut but it was RCA that couldn’t wait.

    Also, by that time RCA was pretty much known as the Elvis Presley Catalog Recording Company. They made huge investments in Diana, Kenny and Barry. The only major acts they had were The Pointer Sisters-which was brought to them via their purchase/distribution of Richard Perry’s Planet label and Hall and Oates who were self contained huge hitmakers. After that, it was pretty much nothing.
    I believe one of the conditions of Diana signing with rca was that she be given complete control of her recordings. Allowing for that first album, if otherwise i find it hard to believe they would have continued to sanction the release of so many subpar albums.
    It was she who selected the songs, cover art, producers etc.
    I do agree rca might not have been the best label for her, but feel sure many an rca exec were left dismayed by some of the decisions she was making and product she was churning out.

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    Okay... I'm gonna say something that could be deem controversial here [[or not) but I feel like that "family atmosphere" that existed in the independent labels like Motown, Stax and Philadelphia International, for example, was toxic because you had CEOs promising you the world without lawyers and attorneys and that's how groups and acts in Motown got destroyed because "hey we're a family here!" [[Gladys Knight & the Pips didn't play that lol)

    Diana herself admitted Motown stopped being a family once the success kicked in. As for the RCA deal, I think it was 50-50. Like yeah, the label didn't really promote her but Diana also released records that, to me, sounded uninspired, like she was phoning it in on some of the songs. Plus her being 40 didn't help matters especially as the musical market was changing. Plus as one of the Motown historians pointed out on her E! documentary, she wasn't the preferred artist at RCA like she was at Motown, she was just another cog in their system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    Okay... I'm gonna say something that could be deem controversial here [[or not) but I feel like that "family atmosphere" that existed in the independent labels like Motown, Stax and Philadelphia International, for example, was toxic because you had CEOs promising you the world without lawyers and attorneys and that's how groups and acts in Motown got destroyed because "hey we're a family here!" [[Gladys Knight & the Pips didn't play that lol)

    Diana herself admitted Motown stopped being a family once the success kicked in. As for the RCA deal, I think it was 50-50. Like yeah, the label didn't really promote her but Diana also released records that, to me, sounded uninspired, like she was phoning it in on some of the songs. Plus her being 40 didn't help matters especially as the musical market was changing. Plus as one of the Motown historians pointed out on her E! documentary, she wasn't the preferred artist at RCA like she was at Motown, she was just another cog in their system.
    Not at all controversial. You talk great sense. I agree with pretty much everything you say. Ms Ross herself became quickly aware she was not deemed as being anything special to the rca executives. They handed over almost complete creative control to her. She thought she was ready for that but she quite clearly was not. When i was working for her i had to carefully choose my moments to ask her questions i was desperate to put forward to her. I hope i am not speaking out of school here, but one wonderful summer evening following a wonderful concert in Manchester, England i asked her if she ever regretted signing for rca. She responded by saying the only positive thing that came out of that deal was the massive paycheck. She did say more, but i am sure i would not be permitted to say anything further.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    I believe one of the conditions of Diana signing with rca was that she be given complete control of her recordings. Allowing for that first album, if otherwise i find it hard to believe they would have continued to sanction the release of so many subpar albums.
    It was she who selected the songs, cover art, producers etc.
    I do agree rca might not have been the best label for her, but feel sure many an rca exec were left dismayed by some of the decisions she was making and product she was churning out.
    Well, that unfettered control was their first and biggest mistake. Also, as posted later by Bluebrock and Midnightman, why would you invest $20 million dollars in an artist and then not give them the appropriate attention such a huge contract deserves? Same with Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow. Iím not saying Diana isnít at fault for the musical choices but an invested label could have maybe persuaded her to do things differently. I am not a record executive but I would have combined the best of Fools and Silk into the first album, Ross 83 next, Eaten Alive in 1983 [[same year as Dionneís Heartbreaker) then Swept Away in 1984 then a Nile album in 1985. Again, the music was not all perfect but nowhere near as dire as some here make it out to be and if the label had done their job as well, things could have turned out better for everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deepdishus2001 View Post
    Well, that unfettered control was their first and biggest mistake. Also, as posted later by Bluebrock and Midnightman, why would you invest $20 million dollars in an artist and then not give them the appropriate attention such a huge contract deserves? Same with Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow. I’m not saying Diana isn’t at fault for the musical choices but an invested label could have maybe persuaded her to do things differently. I am not a record executive but I would have combined the best of Fools and Silk into the first album, Ross 83 next, Eaten Alive in 1983 [[same year as Dionne’s Heartbreaker) then Swept Away in 1984 then a Nile album in 1985. Again, the music was not all perfect but nowhere near as dire as some here make it out to be and if the label had done their job as well, things could have turned out better for everyone.
    And you honestly believe Diana would have taken direction at that point in her career lol.
    From everything i have ever heard and read about that period in time that is the very last thing she would ever have contemplated. Having been told what to do for most of her career, she was now relishing being her own boss.
    I agree, she certainly should have been listening to someone.

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