MP3 Al Hazan is B. Bumble - Volume II - ROCK: 60's Rock
Volume II presents five of Al’s favorite piano instrumental arrangements played in the style he performed as lead artist on the classic recording Nut Rocker along with songs he sang and produced in the 1960s including a demo recording by Terry Melcher.
26 MP3 Songs
ROCK: 60''s Rock, POP: 60''s Pop
Al was privileged to know and work with icons of the 60’s such as Herb Alpert, Lou Adler, Sonny Bono, Jack Nitzsche, Leon Russell, Glen Campbell, Phil Spector, Ritchie Valens and many others. However, he had a special relationship with Terry Melcher, son of Doris Day, and wrote the following about their times together.
Remembering Terry Melcher
By Al Hazan
It was in the early 1960s when I found myself sitting at a piano in a beautiful home in Beverly Hills going over some new songs I’d written. I recall being somewhat nervous as I played because I couldn’t help but realize that somewhere else nearby was Doris Day, one of the most famous entertainers of the day, and that at any moment she might choose to speak to me.
Actually, the reason I was there was, not because of Doris Day, but because of her young son, Terry Melcher, whom I’d met a few days before. Terry and I hit it off immediately due to our mutual love of Top 40 music. I had been lucky enough to have some success as a songwriter during the late 1950s, having my songs recorded by popular stars of the time such as Russell Arms, Jimmy Darren, Ritchie Valens, Yvonne De Carlo, and Gail Robbins, among others.
I had recently been discharged from serving a two year stint in the Army and was trying to get back in the music business when a mutual friend introduced me to Terry. He was good looking, rather tall with light skin and looked somewhat like a typical Southern California surfer. He also impressed me as being very mature for his eighteen years and we seemed to enjoy a compatible sense of humor.
After we chatted for a while, he was kind enough to invite me to his house so we could practice some of my songs and just hang out together. It didn’t take me long to recognize Terry had a great talent for music as he would easily harmonize to my singing and seemed to have near perfect pitch. One day I asked him if he ever thought about recording as a vocalist. Since I had already done some independent record producing, we agreed it would be fun for me to produce him singing a song of mine that he liked entitled “That’s All I Want”.
That very day I scheduled three hours of studio time at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood and asked my friend, Jack Nitzsche, to do the arrangement. Within a couple of weeks we were in the recording booth of studio A, listening to the final version of the background music. Stan Ross, the legendary studio engineer, was at the controls doing the playback. It was an up tempo rhythm track with a strong back beat performed by Hal Blaine on drums, Carol Kaye on Fender Bass, Glen Campbell on guitar, Al DeLory at the piano, and punctuated by a talented group of horn players.
Terry and I were happy about how the recording was turning out, but now it was time for him to get into the studio itself and over to the vocal microphone. Stan began playing the background music once again and Terry started singing along with the female vocal group we hired. I was impressed with his natural ability using the microphone and Jack, Stan and I agreed he had a terrific style and everything was coming together beautifully.
Before the night was over, we had a finished record. I gave Terry an acetate copy of the recording, which he took home to listen to and get some opinions. A few days later I received a phone call from his step dad, Marty Melcher, who was known as a very successful movie producer and businessman. He seemed very excited about our record and said he wanted to get it released by a big record company.
Columbia Records, who also had Terry’s mother Doris Day on their label, soon accepted the recording and put Terry under contract as a singer. A few weeks later Columbia scheduled a session at United Recorders for me to produce Terry on another of my songs entitled “I Waited.” The session took place at night and, besides the engineer and me, a couple of executives from Columbia records sat in the booth apparently to oversee everything. A few days before the session, Jack Nitzche told me he had a few new ideas he wanted to try out. I trusted his talent so implicitly that I simply replied "Go for it". Now I was looking forward to hearing the results of my confidence in him. His arrangement featured an unusual drumbeat at the beginning combining the snare with the tympani. He then added sustained voices where Terry was scheduled to begin singing. The horns began to come in at the start of the second verse and then just kept building up to an exciting climax at the end.
Terry was dressed casually that night as usual, wearing a pull over sweater with a pair of denim jeans and some loafer shoes as he paced nervously just outside the recording studio in the hallway. While I was working on the background track, I knew he could overhear everything that was going on from there and I guess he just felt more comfortable being by himself. When I finally went out to get him, he was munching on part of a pizza he had ordered so I told him to put it away until after his vocal was over. Once the musicians left and he started singing, he settled down and once again displayed his versatility as he added his vocal touches to the melody. Afterward, I helped Terry finish the pizza outside in my car. He seemed to feel confident about how the session went and I couldn''t have been more pleased about the entire session.
I don''t remember hearing much about the recording after it was finished and released by Columbia. I''m pretty sure it sold a bit but I think being released on a major label was not the appropriate vehicle at that time. I think it would have had a better chance of succeeding on a label like Rendezvous or Challenge or Smash or some other smaller label which was better equipped for promoting Top 40 material. I never spent much time being concerned about a record once it was finished. I was always writing and thinking what I could do to try to promote my next production. After all, this was my part of the business … producing the product. I made the product and then turned it over to the people in charge of marketing it.
That might have been the end of the story except that Columbia ended up hiring Terry as a record producer. For months we hung out together at his new office, practicing songs and thinking up ideas for future projects. I remember noticing when Terry would receive his pay checks from the front office, he would simply store them in his desk drawer. Since I looked forward to any check that came my way at the time, I was fascinated by the fact he didn’t need the money and would just let it pile up before banking it. Those were fun days and sometimes we would go for lunch at this little BBQ place a few blocks from the studio.
Eventually Terry and I went our separate ways and he went on to become one of the most successful producers, songwriters and vocalists of the decade. Although we lost touch through the years, I continued to keep track of his career and was very sad and shocked to hear about his premature death in November of 2006. However, his passing recalled those days of Terry’s first steps into popular music history and the time we shared together making his first record over forty years ago.
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