Most lives do not matter to the POTASSWIPE and his hooligan enforcers, especially black and brown lives. In my specific case black lives mattered to me a great deal in a personal way. In particular there was Solomon Linda, Ronald Mack, Judy Craig, Barbara Lee, Sylvia Peterson, Patricia Bennet and Robert Guillaume. Years before I was born in 1942 Solomon Linda composed a melody which in 1961 paved the way for the creation of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the vocal group The Tokens of which I was and still am a member. The enormous success of that RCA recording led our group to produce a slew of gold records for other artists. Enter more black lives.
So in 1962 due to the success of the “Lion” and the fact that we gave the impression that we were involved in its production which ddid have a kernel of truth. Nevertheless, we were sought out by Joe Csida of Capital records and negotiated a production deal. Mr. Csida knew we were not seasoned record producers but he believed that we had some magic in us. We were given an office at Capital Records on Broadway and for most of 1962 we plodded along and recorded anything and everything most of which was nothing. However, we were learning. After we blew our entire recording budget we realized that we were staring the end of our recording careers. Then, on a summer afternoon, Millie the receptionist rang our office and said that there was a vocal group and their manager waiting in the lobby hoping to audition. They had no appointment but we decided to see them anyway because we had the experience of knocking on doors and not being let in without having an appointment. Professional courtesy if you will. Now show business might have had many pitfalls and prejudices but talent did always count. It was a girl’s group, Judy Craig, Barbara Lee, Sylvia Peterson and Patricia Bennet know collectively as The Chiffons. We led them and Songwriter Ronnie Mack who was also their manager into the “music room” a conference room with a phonograph and piano). Ronnie sat down at the piano and played the intro. The girls sang:
DO LANG DO LANG DO LANG
DO LANG DO LANG
HE’S SO FINE
He’s So Fine was our first production hit and many followed and among them were:
One Fine Day, Denise, See You in September, I’ve Go Rhythm, Go Away Little Girl, Candida, Knock Three Times and Tie A Yellow Ribbon.
Without going into the specific details I met Robert Guillaume in 1978 at the Osmond’s studio in Provo, Utah. He had been on Broadway in Guy and Dolls and Purlie and had debuted in September of 1977 as Benson the butler on the ABC comedy series “Soap.” He mentioned was between managers and his career revving up. As we spoke and he learned of my background he asked if I would I be interested in becoming his “associate.” I told him that I had relatively little experience in management but he said that he saw something in me and believed I could do the job. Due to my revered association with Robert I became: a writer for television movies and sitcoms; went to the White house twice, stood next to him when he won his first Emmy and was in the audience when he won his second Emmy.
I will save the bulk of what we did for each other for another time but I must mention that when we first started together we spoke of racial relations. at that time in my naiveté I had believed that things were very much improved. He said, “Not even close.” He was right and that still holds true today.