The Glorious Corner: Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, “Eat Like A Rock Star” Author Mark Bego and More

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Glen Campbell cover

G.H. Harding 

LOST CAMPBELL ALBUM — From 1964 to 1968—in between recording sessions with the Wrecking Crew, touring with the Beach Boys, and recording his own albums—Glen Campbell was recruited to record songs for the ‘King of Rock & Roll,’ Elvis Presley. Originally intended for Elvis’s ears only, eighteen of these recently unearthed and unreleased gems have been released together on CD, LP and digitally for the first time, more than half a century later, as the lost album Sings For The King.

Sings For The King includes songs written by the songwriting team of Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne. Weisman is significant for having written the most songs recorded by Elvis than any other songwriter in history at 57. Weisman and Wayne turned to Glen Campbell who had perfect pitch and an uncanny ability to match Elvis’s key and even mimic his delivery, to record fully fleshed out studio versions that they could present to Elvis for his recording consideration. The songs were discovered by Executive Producer Stephen Auerbach who found the fifty-year-old recordings on long-forgotten reel-to-reel tapes in a storage space belonging to his uncle-in-law, Ben Weisman. Of the 29 recordings that have been rescued, there are twelve of Glen’s recordings that went on to be recorded and released by Elvis including “Stay Away Joe,” “Clambake,” “Spinout” and “Easy Come, Easy Go,” which were all made famous with iconic singing performances of the title tracks in his movies.

The variety of the material is striking and ranges from the country-flavored “Any Old Time” to the more rocked-up “I’ll Be Back” to meaty ballads like “I’ll Never Know.” On “I Got Love” Glen begins the song sounding like himself but then subtly shifts into Elvis’s trademark tone. The album opens with the gospel song “We Call on Him,” which features the two legendary voices fused into a duet, giving a real sense of how Glen’s performances teed up these songs for Elvis, and then where The King took them and made them his own. All eighteen songs highlight Glen’s incredible vocal range and guitar skills and draw focus to Weisman and Wayne’s understanding of all the styles of music Elvis could perform.

As noted music journalist and author Alan Light writes in the liner notes, “With their genre-bending musical exploration and rural Southern roots, it’s no surprise that Glen Campbell and Elvis Presley formed something of a mutual admiration society.” ‘Elvis and I were brought up the same humble way,’ Campbell once said, “picking cotton and looking at the north end of a south-bound mule.” The friendship between the Rhinestone Cowboy and the King of Rock and Roll spanned three decades, and they often orbited each other professionally.”

Glen and Elvis first met in 1956, when Elvis performed in Albuquerque, where Glen had recently moved to join his uncle’s band, Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. “I saw him in the rough,” Glen later said. “He was so electrifying.” In 1960, Glen headed to Los Angeles to find work as a session musician and took a regular gig at a club called the Crossbow, where Elvis and his friends would sometimes come watch from a small private room upstairs. As a member of the incomparable group of LA studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, Glen appeared on dozens of immortal hits, from “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ ” to “Strangers in the Night.” In 1963 alone, he added his guitar to almost 600 sessions, including his one and only recording with Elvis, for the “Viva Las Vegas” soundtrack.

By 1967, Glen’s own career was exploding with the release of his breakthrough albums Gentle on My Mind and By the Time I Get to Phoenix, which both reached Number One on the charts, and made Grammy history by sweeping the song and performance awards in both the pop and country & western categories. The following year, By The Time I Get To Phoenix took home the prize for Album of the Year, the first country record to do so. Yet Glen continued to knock out songs for Weisman and Wayne in whatever spare time he had.

The relationship between these two Hall of Famersmight have become more extensive: When Elvis was assembling his TCB band in 1969; his two finalists for the lead guitar chair were Glen and James Burton. But while Glen was riding high as a solo artist following the monster hits “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Wichita Lineman,” Burton was available since his previous boss, Ricky Nelson, had recently broken up his backing band.

As it turns out, though, there was a deep connection between Elvis and Glen that almost no one was aware of—until now, with the release of Sings for the King. This historic collection casts new light on the quiet influence that one musical giant, and an often-overlooked songwriting team, had on America’s greatest rock and roll star.

Palm logo

PALM BURNS OUT — From Crain’s New York: About a week before New Yorkers carve up their turkeys, a family feud over one of the city’s top steakhouses has finally been resolved.

A state judge last week ruled that the owners of The Palm must pay $120 million to family members who claimed they were unjustly cut out of their share of the business.

“We are delighted to bring a long-awaited measure of justice to clients who were denied their rightful legacy for decades,” said Fred Newman, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

The original Palm was one of Midtown’s most popular steakhouses from the time it opened in 1926 until it closed three years ago. Its floors were covered with sawdust and the walls with celebrity caricatures, while uniformed waiters navigated the tightly packed tables with platters of cold seafood appetizers, Stegosaurus-size steaks, monstrous lobsters and cheesecake. But four other Palm restaurants remain open in the city—in Midtown East, the West Side, TriBeCa and at JFK Airport—among 24 nationwide. Indeed, it was that expansion that led to the lawsuit.

Bruce Bozzi

To capitalize on the joint’s popularity, in the 1970’s two of the founders’ grandchildren, Walter “Wally” Ganzi and Bruce Bozzi, decided to open more locations, including The Palm Too across the street from the original on Second Avenue and others around the country. Ganzi and Bozzi controlled 100% of the company they created to launch the new steakhouses and paid family members—who were 20% shareholders in the original Palm—a flat $6,000 annual royalty per restaurant.

The plaintiffs contended in a week-long trial last year that the arrangement vastly undervalued the Palm name. The two dozen Palms around the country collectively generate about $120 million in sales.

Given the significant judgment that must be paid to family members, it’s possible The Palm’s longtime owners will be forced to sell their company to a larger operator. An attorney for Ganzi and Bozzi didn’t return a call seeking comment, but in court papers had argued, “It would be grossly unfair and devastating to them, now well into their 70’s, to revisit that arrangement at the end of their lives, when it is too late for them to protect themselves.”

PR-man David Salidor who for years repped the West Side Palm said: “It’s unfortunate for the chain, but in the last several years, it spiraled out of control as several new faces stepped in to direct its course. When I left … all the PR-people were terminated as well and they decided on a stepped-up direct mail campaign that in my mind killed the exclusivity of the restaurant. As one of the last white-tablecloth restaurants, to me it signaled a hasty endgame. I think the people running the chain no have made some devastatingly poor choices on the direction and this lawsuit, which could have been avoided, may well sound the end.”

“It’s Not Unusual” cover

Mark Bego

Jim Kerr

SHORT TAKES — Legendary New York City rock personality Jim Kerr – heard in mornings on classic rock Q104.3 – visited with the Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program on WOR to talk about his induction into the Radio Hall of Fame; which happened last Thursday.  Pictured are: Riedel, iHeartMediachairman Bob Pittman, Kerr, and Berman … Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam will appear at The Loft @ The City Winery in NYC on Thursday, December 20 (@ 7:30 PM). We’ll have an interview with Mr. Miller in a week … Duane Bett’s “Downtown Runaround” will have its preview on Ditty TV on Wednesday, November 28 … Love that new Elton John commercial which sums up the 71-year-old musician sums up his legendary career in an emotional 140 seconds. High-end retailer John Lewis & Partners reportedly paid Elton $6.5 million to spend four days shooting footage for the wonderful commercial. Speaking of Elton … did you know that as a young-Reg Dwight, he played piano on the original studio version of Tom Jones’ iconic “It’s Not Unusual” that was recorded in 1965 … Sighting: WOR’s Tom Cuddy over the weekend atMy Father’s Place in Roslyn, watching The Stylistics … Author Mark Bego on The Morning Blend, early-AM in Tucson tomorrow, tub-thumping his Eat Like A Rock Star and Aretha books … and, I’ve been thinking about Pete Townshend’s performance at Donnie Kehr’s Rockers On Broadway a week ago today. Simply amazing. With just an acoustic guitar, he was simply outstanding. A rock ‘n roll moment indeed!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Heather Moore; Jane Blunkell; Len Berman; Sue Simmons; Chris Gilman; Paul Undersinger; Gilbert Gottfried; Derek Storm; Bobby Bank; Jeff Smith; Craig Newman; Scott Shannon; Louis Pulice; and, Jim Kerr.

 

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