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MAYBE, JUST MAYBE: PART 2

Presenting the latest missive from HITS Editor in Chief Lenny Beer, who transmitted it from his sealed bunker in the Oaks of Sherman. It's a friendly reminder that in this age of self-quarantine, we could all use a hearty "Hey, Buddy" now and then. You can read LB's previous message here.

Promotion is in my blood.

The sheer joy of being able to make a tangible difference has always been the ultimate goal for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have been on both sides of the give-and-take for most of my time in the business. I started out in the ’70s, running the national charts for Record World, and was worked (and mostly lied to) by a series of Damon Runyonesque characters on the streets of Manhattan. Later on, when I moved to head promotion at a label, I became friends with some of the all-time greats in the radio era. Scott Shannon, Randy Kabrich, Steve Perun, Mason Dixon, Michael St. John, Bruce Stevens and former Jefferson Pilot President Don Benson.

It was Mr. Benson who texted me last night to remind me that today is the 25th Anniversary of the murder of Charlie Minor. Charlie is on my list of the greatest promotion people of all time, along with my fellow HITS co-founder, Dennis Lavinthal.

Dennis, Charlie and I were partners when he was killed. Before we banded together, he was the brilliant head of promo for Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss at A&M. Like many legendary promo people, he had a larger-than-life personality. There are lots of great stories I can share about him, and on this anniversary it’s hard not to think about his big dinners at Le Dome—he loved to bring people together and couldn’t be happy unless everyone at the party was having a good time. But that’s for another story.

Hearing about Charlie just made me think about the contacts I still have every day with our promotion family. So, here’s a little piece of my Wednesday, 3/18/20, self-isolated and in constant contact.

Peter Gray, current top promotion gunslinger at Columbia, calls to check in. We talk, less hurriedly than usual, about our loved ones and what we’re doing to stay safe. He discusses his joy at being back in action, having had a hiatus after his stint at Warner (when it included the Bros.). Then he listed the multiple hits they were working and the conveyor belt of quality product coming his way from the Ron Perry express. His goals include teaching his young staff to work multiple hits simultaneously (a classy problem if ever there was one).

Greg Thompson calls. Greg is another all-time great promotion man who is currently managing and promoting inside the Maverick system. He’s riding high with Doja Cat, enthused about his recent signing, Brandy, and considering release dates for her new single featuring Chance the Rapper. We check in, discuss the options and agree that decisions right now are a moving matrix. We’ll talk again soon.

Scot Finck from Hollywood Records checks in. He unfortunately faces the short-term difficulty of not having hits, but he’s been doing this for a long time and knows A&R waxes and wanes. He’s calling to thank me for helping friends when they’re between jobs. We all must stick together, give work to those in promo who need help right now. Scotty started at A&M working for Charlie Minor. He always brings back memories when we speak.

Later in the day, I have an extended FaceTime chat with Daniel Glass, owner of Glassnote Records, who is hunkered down in his home and gathering his family in one place for the days of isolation ahead; I met his granddaughter Rose on the chat. We discussed the industry, plans for releasing records, the difficulty of getting projects finished and the best ways to gain exposure in difficult times. Daniel, for those of you who don’t know, ranks for me as one of the greatest promotion execs that has ever lived. He had a level of triple sincerity that’s unmatched to this day. (He also worked in the early days, with Monte Lipman, who’s risen to a higher point on the current music pyramid than any other promo exec—and is always texting proudly about his top-of-the-line promo team, headed by Gary Spangler.) 

I will always, always, always remember when Daniel tried to convince me that “Living in a Box” by Living in a Box was not only a smash but an important addition to our music history.

I consider this idea in retrospect and it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, he was right. For now, we’re all living in a box.

 

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BERNIE
Can he crash on your couch?
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