EDIT: I have attached a Word file of an updated version of what appears below. Please feel free to download it to your computer. Cheers, Jeremy


I'm in the process (in between work and studying) of gathering/assimilating the tiny threads of information out there surrounding the Joy years. I must preface this by saying that in no way to I want to step on anyone's toes. Buy Michael's music as before, and support him in the wonderful ways you all do. But given his iconic status (well, at least to me, anyway) as a vocalist and composer, it's only right that this history be as complete as possible for those of us who are fascinated by his musical journey. This is quite long, but I'm pasting it from a Word document for you to browse and contribute to as you will/might/are able. For questions I still have, I have indicated them in italics. For updates and information that is new (at least to me), I've indicated so with "Update" in bold. Enjoy!


The Early EARLY Years: What We Know So Far


1965-66: MB meets Marc Friedland at a party at the home of someone named Jimmy Rozen,
who was apparently a bandmate of Friedland’s in The Sensations in 1965.



1966: Marc Friedland joins a band named The Zyme; had first recording session. Versions of the band included the following members:

Marc Friedland

Bobby Goodman

Gary Barnett

Michael Hillman (aka Jay Michaels, Hilly Michaels; he co-wrote the song "Every Day Of My Life" with Patrick Henderson)
(others included Jeff Coopersmith, Mark Magin)

Band was aka The Outsiders, The Unexpected, The Coconut Conspiracy


Side note: Marc mentioned to me awhile ago that someone else was chosen over MB for lead singer of The Coconut Conspiracy, much to his chagrin!



1968: Friedland joins already-established George’s Boys, which soon became Joy [Question: unclear what year MB actually joined George’s Boys—can anyone help?]. Joy (temporarily) moved to East Oakland, CA, returning to CT by the end of 1968 and renting “Joy House” in Woodbridge, CT. Members (or entourage) who moved to East Oakland:

Marc Friedland
Michael Bolotin

Fred Bova

Bob Brockway
Richard Friedland
Denise (?)
Chip (?)


Update: George's Boys soon became known as The Bram Rigg Set, according to various new sources. The band itself did not morph into Joy. Another local band, The Shags, had Orrin as a roadie, and they took The Bram Rigg Set under their wing around the time that Joy was first rehearsing.

 

1969: Joy demo session at Syncron Studios in CT, earning a record deal with CBS on Epic Records (Marc Friedland mentions only “Bah Bah Song” and “It’s For You”). Joy rehearses in a loft owned by Bill
Haughwout. Joy plays the Electric Circus in New York, The Exit in New Haven, and various “Yale mixers.” [Question: when/where did Joy record “Going Back to New Haven” and “Cookie Man”? It’s possible that it was at the same session, but this needs to be verified]

 

Update: I have now learned that “Going Back to New Haven” was written by Tom Pollard. I’m not sure where he fits in, relationship-wise, to
the Joy musicians, but I’ve heard his performance of the song and it’s definitely the same song.

Also, Syncron Studios, by 1969, was already known as Trod Nossel Productions Recording Studio. Syncron, which was originally a microphone testing business, was purchased by Dr. Thomas Cavalier in 1966 and renamed. It still exists today, and has become quite famous on an international level. Its location is 10 George Street in Wallingford, CT. Dr. Cavalier was a dentist who switched careers to manage The Shags.

 


1970: Joy dropped from CBS.


 

1971: Marc Friedland moves to Venice, CA and received publishing deal (solo or group?) for Dimension Music (he mentions the
names Michael Gordon and Steven Lewis in conjunction with this, but I have no info on these names). Several New Haven musicians join him. The roster now includes:

Marc Friedland
Michael Bolotin

Michael Hillman (aka Jay Michaels, Hilly Michaels)
Fred Bova

Glenn Selwitz
Orrin Bolotin
Tony Corolla (?)

Group rehearses in their school bus (Oogy Ahhgy) parked at Helen Bolotin’s apartment complex on Coldwater Canyon Blvd (Helen Bolotin lived in CA at some point? I didn’t know that). The circulated colour photo of MB and his bandmates sitting on the ground with the back of their school bus behind them is from this period in CA.


 

1971-early 1972: Joy records “album” for Pentagram
Records. Marc Friedland phrases it as such: “[1971 & early 1972]: Recorded album for Pentagram Records. Did sound track for the movie ‘November’s Children.’ Plays gigs – ‘Image’ in Van Nuys etc.” Michael Hillman does not mention the film, and specifies the conditions of the contract: “We had an LP deal with Pentagram

Records," he recalls, "and they gave us a $500 advance to do an album. We only got to do four songs though, because the company had to pay us union dues and they couldn't afford to do that and finance the record. We split our dues and the advance seven
ways."
[Question: do we know for sure that the songs recorded for Pentagram are the songs on the November[’s] Children soundtrack? Only two songs have been unearthed from the soundtrack: “Running Away from the Nighttime” and “Where Do We Go From Here.” Both features MB’s vocals, and he is credited as sole songwriter of the former song]



Update: I have now learned the following. November Children (no “’s”) is aka Nightmare County and Nightmare of Death, according to copyright document V3054P214-216. The plot synopsis is as follows: “In this 70's drama, the candidate who was supported by a coalition of fruit-pickers finally gets elected in their farming community. But the local law enforcement agency does not like this and begins to terrorize his supporters.” At 75 minutes long in theatrical release in 1971, an 87 minute version was released to video in 1977.



More importantly, for us, is the song information I have finally obtained. There are three songs on the soundtrack performed by Joy: “Running Away From the Nighttime” (words & music Michael Bolotin), “Where Do We Go From Here” (words & music Michael
Gordon, aka Michael Z. Gordon), and “Our Town” (words & music Larry Quinn).



This leads me to an interesting conclusion: we now know the four songs the pre-1971 lineup of Joy recorded: “Bah Bah Bah,” “It’s For You,” “Going Back to New Haven,” and “Cookie Man” (although the last one, to my knowledge, hasn’t been heard). We also know the three songs the 1971 lineup of Joy recorded for the film. What we still don’t know is whether the Pentagram songs are the three November Children songs (plus one more that didn't make it on the soundtrack), or if they are four different songs (in which case songs for which we have no information at all). If it's the first case, what is the name of the fourth song they recorded for Pentagram?


Finally, I now believe the Michael Gordon name Marc Friedland mentions alongside the publishing deal for Dimension Music (see 1971 above) is the Michael (Z.) Gordon who composed material for the film. I’m assuming Steven Lewis was somehow also associated with this film soundtrack project. However, this is even more curious, since a publishing deal implies composition—Friedland isn’t listed as author of any of the songs on the soundtrack, and MB is only listed once. So what exactly was the nature of this "publishing" deal?


1972:
Joy (according to Marc Friedland) now consists mainly of Marc Friedland and MB. Marc Friedland and MB open for Leon Russell (3 concerts, one of which is performed in Philadelphia, PA, with an attendance of around 10,000 at each).

 

1974: Marc Friedland travels to Tulsa, OK with MB to record a four-song demo at Leon Russell’s house (according
to Marc Friedland
). [Question: do we know for certain that this occurred in 1974? MB began recording tracks in New York for the “Michael Bolotin” album in late 1974. Stephen Holden mentions hearing MB’s demo of “Dream While You Can” in his office before signing him to RCA. Between the recording in Tulsa, the meeting with Holden that took place with MB and Orrin, who was acting as his manager, and the recording of the album, that’s quite a bit happening in the space of less than a year]

 

The last little tidbit for now—even though Marc Friedland worked for years with MB before his debut solo album, he doesn’t actually play on it. He
moved back to CA in 1974 after getting married, and wanted to explore other opportunities. Gotta respect that! I also respect that he does not circulate items in his collection relating to MB for obvious reasons: while many folks, myself definitely included, are interested in these items from a musical history perspective, they could very easily fall into the wrong hands. No one

should ever be making money off of these things except copyright owners. Plus, Marc is a stand-up guy by all accounts. So I ask you please not to go pestering any of the people I’ve mentioned for photos/recordings etc. I just felt the need to conclude with that, for now!
Enjoy!



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A couple of old interviews for you.

The Seattle Times
March 16, 1998


Live TV concert lets Michael Bolton answer requests of fans
by Jean Prescott ,Knight Ridder Newspapers
The haircut's an improvement, to be sure. But Michael Bolton wants to talk about something more substantial than his makeover, and despite the fact that he's having "a business day from hell," he grants 20 minutes to talk up his appearance on A&E's popular live-music series, "Live by Request" (6 p.m. tomorrow). "What you could write on a piece of paper is not what's valuable about classical music," the pop icon begins a bit defensively. Bolton undoubtedly anticipates questions about his recent CD release, "My Secret Passion: The Arias," a collection inspired by his concert turns with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Critics have savaged "Secret Passion," though that hasn't kept it from topping Billboard's classical charts. "The dots on paper are the form, like a computer," he says with unexpected passion. "The masters created an incredible wellspring for people who love the way the music makes them feel." After his interviewer confesses to an ignorance of opera, Bolton seems to relax. "When it comes down to it, I fell in love with these arias because I was invited to sing with Pavarotti, and I had only a few days to prepare. "So I started listening, and I couldn't tell you - I basically learned like an infant - touching, feeling, observing. "I was totally blown away." Apparently the pressure's been building for decades. "What I did was I fell in love with music when I was 6 or 7," Bolton says. "I was the kid people would ask, `How does this song go?' I listened to radio, to records, my brother's collection, my mother was very much into music, and we all sang when we were kids." He's been writing songs for years, he says, but by ear - it's been "on feel. That's what makes people come and sit for two or three hours. It's about what moves you." Unfortunately, he says, many people miss out on powerful, beautiful music because they're intimidated. "And the composers didn't want that," he says. "These people dreamt it, thought it, lived it." To make the masterpieces he interprets on "Secret Passion" more accessible to the average Bolton fan, he insisted that a booklet be inserted in the CD. "I decided if Sony didn't want to pay for it, I'd pay, but I thought it was important for people to have the moment set up. "And the art work, the beautiful art work. I found out that the artist was an opera fan, and he knew every aria I did." He won't speculate on how many requests he may get for arias tomorrow night, but the whole idea of a live show is something else. "Daunting? Yes," he says. "Performing live is one thing, but performing in a format that can throw you a curve ball - I've been trying not to think about it." He says he hopes to be able to talk with some callers on the air, "even by e-mail, to find out more background, find out what moves them about the music they're requesting. "Music plays such an important part in people's lives," Bolton says. "People need to know - I need to know - beyond being entertained."

----------------------------------
The Sunday Times
(South Africa)
November 29, 1998
(from a '97 interview)




The Sweet Life
It took Michael Bolton years of struggling to reach superstardom and now he's unashamedly enjoying the fruits of success. The trademark rock star locks have gone and the famous balladeer has cemented his image change with a move into the world of opera, but what does Michael Bolton do when he's home alone? In that distinctively low, husky voice, Bolton gestures to his bedroom, grins and says: "A sad commentary on the single life - a bed full of books." Wrapping a black silk dressing gown around his lightly tanned, six-foot frame, the newly shorn superstar pushes a pile of reading matter out of the way so he can stretch out.It's seven in the evening, but despite the cosy atmosphere Bolton's not really going to bed. He's got to fly to Philadelphia later tonight for some breakfast TV shows, tomorrow lunchtime he'll be flying on to Detroit and then its Miami.Still, he's just had a shower and is in an amiable enough mood to show us what he'd be up to if this was an evening when he was going to be at home. "I guess it would be another exciting night of going through work tapes for the next album and trying to get this right," he says wryly, indicating the sheets of music spread out on the bed. His latest album has only just hit the shops but he's already close to finishing the next - operatic arias, inspired by the benefit concert for Bosnia at which he sang with Pavarotti. He's having to learn the Italian lyrics phonetically. Like most of the other rooms in this sprawling house, which stands on the bank of a wooded lake in rural Connecticut, his bedroom has pale walls and is decorated with a mix of modern pieces and antiques, many of which he's found while on tour. There's a big, highly polished darkwood bed, a swing mirror and a mantelpiece in the same wood, a fireplace with logs ready to be lit, an antique Persian carpet, a tape and CD player within arm's reach of the bed, and books piled everywhere. In the adjoining bathroom, just visible through a half-open door, there's a deep bath and piles of white towels. According to his assistant, Bolton is forever moving the furniture around and bringing in new things, but, more than any other room, this one feels genuinely lived in. It seems to reflect its owner, too. Bolton may be rich and successful, it says, but he's still striving. Look more closely at those books, for instance, and you will see 10 volumes of The World's Best 100 Novels Condensed. "I was a high-school dropout," Bolton admits. "I'm still catching up with a lot of reading. When you come late to stuff, you appreciate it more." Which is probably the key to Bolton. It's exactly 10 years since he became seriously successful. It was on 1987's The Hunger that he finally took the advice of his management company's secretaries and forsook the heavy rock sound that had never gone anywhere in favour of the ballads he'd been churning out for other singers. Despite the record contract that prompted him to leave his New Jersey school at 15, there were many times in his twenties and early thirties when his rent cheque would bounce and he'd have to borrow the money from friends to feed his wife and three small daughters. "That was such a hard, bleak time. It's still vivid, still embedded in everything thing I am. It was only in about 1991, 1992 that I understood I wouldn't be poor again," Bolton confides later when he is downstairs, dressed again in black Armani jeans and a T-shirt. "But I've seen people like Meatloaf, who's a good friend, go from tremendous success to a very dry spell when they've had to sell off property. I work hard at maintaining all this and do not take anything for granted. Bolton quickly demolishes some pasta and salad - he's been a vegetarian since his teens - and we move into the formal lounge-come-screening room. After he's pointed out the giant Scrabble set - "I love that game!" - and jumped up to demonstrate the film projector that drops down from the ceiling - "Isn't that neat? The record company gave it to me!" - Bolton settles down to answer some questions. First, the obvious one. What prompted him to cut off his long hair? Critics have been sniping at him about it for years, but he's always maintained he'd never cut it except for a film role."I had a photoshoot coming up, so I had to make a decision quickly, and I got it done in Los Angeles, by Chris Macmillan who cuts hair on movie sets," he says. "We made a home video of it. At first it looked shorter than I thought it was going to be but then I thought OK, I can get into this. And now it takes me two minutes to shower and shampoo, which is great." Still, that's not the only major change for Bolton now. His career is expanding in all directions, with a children's book coming out soon, the opera album next March, and concert dates worldwide. In his charity work, to which he devotes considerable time and money, he is planning a food project that will funnel income into his causes along the lines of the pasta sauce and popcorn business run by his "mentor", Paul Newman, who lives five minutes away. Most importantly, though, given the emphasis he puts on family, is that the youngest of his three daughters left home a few weeks ago to join her sisters at university. The girls, Isa, now 23, Holly, 21, and Taryn, 18, have lived with Bolton since he gained custody of them in 1991 after his 15-year marriage disintegrated. "It was strange. Suddenly they had all flown the nest. I felt as if I'd only just got them. But they come back at weekends," Bolton says. "But those were hard years, sometimes! In some ways a man is quite helpless dealing with teenage girls, because besides the fact you're outnumbered, and these girls know they own you, you're clueless about what goes on in their heads. But I look at them now and without wanting to brag I think I did a pretty damn good job with them. They've turned out so great." When he moved into the house in 1990 it was initially to be near his ex-wife and the girls. A few months after they'd moved in with him, Laura, the wife of the man who built the house, became the girls'nanny. She is now Bolton's right-hand person. To protect his privacy, and also simplify his life, Bolton has since bought the houses on either side. One is for his daughter Holly when she is at home. The other has become his recording studio and office, decorated with platinum records, awards and photographs. In the hall hangs one of Bolton with Bill Clinton which has a message from Hillary Clinton scrawled on it: "Bill wants to play with your band so badly!" And is there any chance he might marry? Over the years Bolton has been linked with a series of glamorous women. These days Bolton is often photographed with actress Ashley Judd, who's also in his new video. Is there any likelihood of that particular relationship becoming more permanent? Head on his forearm, Bolton gives a teasing smile and says: "We're very close, but that's all I'm going to say. I am trying to keep my private life private, however futile an attempt that is. The next serious relationship I have I want to be "The One". I can't afford to go down a long wrong road again. There are no guarantees, but I feel that the quality of the relationship is more important than the status of the relationship. I don't discount marriage, but I just want to have the ultimate relationship and partner to share my life with - I mean the chemistry, the deep powerful friendship, the romance." Although reticent about his love life Bolton is quite happy to discuss his family. His parents, who he describes as working-class strivers, have always been fully supportive of Bolton and his two older siblings. Bolton also happily reveals that he firmly believes in therapy - "it's helped me clarify a lot and I'd recommend it to anyone" - and that he enjoys nothing more than muffins and peanut butter for breakfast. By the time the interview is over it seems far too late for Bolton to be catching a plane to Philadelphia. What time is the flight? But the question is met with a raised eyebrow and a grin from Bolton. Of course. There's a private jet. As if he didn't have enough going for him.

-------------------------
Busboys and bar bands - life before rock stardom
By MICHAEL MEHLE
Michael Mehle is a reporter for the Denver Rocky Mountain News in Colorado.
(May 9, 1999 9:26 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Summer is drawing near, school is ending, and, as The Offspring sings, "Why don't you get a job." Mind you, there's nothing sexy about the minimum wage opportunities that await this year's batch of teens seeking steady employment for the first time. As the Barenaked Ladies sing in a paean about bad jobs ranging from forestry to retail: "Never is enough. I never want to do that stuff." But it's also a rite of passage, and everyone has had a bad job or two. Even musicians who now get paid big bucks being on stage or in the studio have flipped burgers or dug ditches sometime in their lives. We asked some of them to relate their least-favorite jobs:
Michael Bolton: "I worked at a car wash when I was 17. I remember I wanted to buy my girlfriend a gift, and it was right before Christmas. I didn't have any money and a friend of my father owned a car wash. I did that gig for three weeks. It just had nothing to do with anything I wanted to do. I was just so removed from everything I loved and what I wanted to do with my life."
Michael Bolton makes
a pitch for charity
A story by Tom Knapp,
September 1993


Superstar pop singer Michael Bolton and a bevy of local radio celebrities might have sore throats for the next few days. That's what happens to people who get caught -- and continue playing ball -- in a torrential downpour.

Bolton was scheduled to perform at Hersheypark Stadium Friday night, but the concert was postponed because of the stormy weather. However, he did get some swings in as an afternoon charity softball game matched Bolton's Bombers against the Central Pennsylvania All-Stars, a team culled from the softball teams of several local radio stations.

The masses who packed the Bob Hoffman Stadium in York, Pa., appeared to be there more for Bolton than for ball. They clustered at the gate where he was expected to enter, screamed madly when his limousine appeared and did their best to push past security to touch the singer in his cap and softball togs.

The crowd went wild whenever Bolton walked onto the ballfield, whether he was up at bat, manning third base or coaching his team's runners on first.

Wearing a lucky No. 7 on the back of his uniform and hefting a black, 30-ounce Louisville Slugger, he also wore a knee brace which prevented him from running out his hits. The brace, he said during a pre-game interview, will keep him from rounding the bases for another two months. But it won't keep him from the field.

An avid ballplayer in his youth, Bolton said the recording industry is rather unforgiving when it comes to other interests. "When I turned 17 I didn't have time for anything else but music," he said. Responsibilities crowded in, he said, "whenever you try to squeeze in any reasonable facsimile of a life."

That changed, he said, when he realized that several members of his band enjoyed softball as well. So he put together a softball team and began challenging local teams on his concert tours.

"What we found out was that we could have a lot of fun and raise money for charities at the same time," Bolton said. "It's a win-win."

When Bolton's new album is released in November, the singer said he will launch another world tour.

"We're going to challenge the champion in every city" to a ball game, he said. "We'll try not to let the shows get in the way of our games."

The game Friday raised $3,000 for the Child Abuse Prevention Committee of Central Pennsylvania and another $3,000 for the Michael Bolton Foundation. The foundation provides funds nationally to assist women and children at risk from poverty and abuse, and expand opportunities for youth across social, economic and cultural lines.

"It's a great way of life, and it's a great way to give something back," Bolton said. "There's no reason why celebrities ... should not be doing fund-raising on a regular basis ... The government is tapped out."

The game started shortly before 2:30 p.m., and it was obvious from the start that the crowd was behind the Bombers.

But the radio All-Stars had its share of supporters too, and they shouted lustily in the team's support. Of course, everyone has a soft spot for the underdog.

And underdogs they were. The game was a rout as the Bombers prevailed, 22-7.

It wouldn't have been so bad for the All-Stars if they had just skipped the first inning. But that inning buried the disc jockeys at the onset and they never managed to dig themselves out.

The Bombers were first to bat and, after one easy pop out to right field, the team strolled around the bases with little opposition. Bolton, who batted second, hit a shot to left field and his pinch runner made it easily to third base.

The team batted around and Bolton came up again. Although his pinch runner was tagged out at first, the Bombers ended the inning with 10 runs.

The All-Stars went three up, three down.

Bolton held his own throughout the game, popping out in the third inning and hitting a double to left field in the fifth. On defense, he snared a line drive in the third.

Thunder started to rumble in the distance midway through the third inning. The rain began, along with a general exodus of fans, in the bottom of the fifth. Moments later, a grand slam by the radio stars brought them within 10 runs of the Bombers.

Midway through the sixth inning it started to pour, and Bolton -- perhaps worried about his singing voice that night -- was slow to take his position. But the teams slogged through another inning, making it into the seventh before calling the game.
The good ol days of the Bolton Bombers softball games. We went to quite a few. Yes he had Mickey Mantle's #7. MB is a NY Yankee fan and a fan of Mr Mantle's.

Robin :)
I know I just finished reading all the articles and my eyes are all crazy I can hardly read anything else! But it was so worth it!!! This was great I could read about him all day and nite! This afternoon I had to clean the living room and Dining room so I dug out my VHS tapes of Michael and had them on all afternoon!! was in love!!!
Love Eileen oxox
Thanks Jennifer I enjoyed reading them so much!!!
Love Dianna xxx
Paten thanks for that.
I had tears in my eyes reading some of that
And I have read all the teary parts before gosh I'm a sook!
Hormones they must be working overtime today!
Love Dianna xxx
AHHHHHHHHH!!! I wanted to cry it was a wonderful piece. You can feel how he felt and it was so sad what feeling he had to deal with!
Eileen oxox
very cool. I have a few more I can type out when I have a bit of time. I wish I could cut and paste them :(
Stardom may be in reach this year for Michael Bolton
by: Elaine Jarvik
Desert News staff writer

Michael Bolton's face and his singing voice hardly seem to be related. The face looks like it belongs to rock'n'roll by way of a daytime soap opera. It's one of those chiseled faces, framed by long curls.

But the voice is somthing else. His publicist likens it to " a 50 year old bluesman's" and that's no hype. You may have heard him earlier this year on the radio, rasping ot a soulful melody calle, " That's What Love Is All About," or more recently on a remake of Otis Redding's "Dock of The Bay."

Bolton says he has been drawn to the blues since he was a little boy in New Haven, Conn. Listening to his big brother's Motown records. The black rhythms appealed to him more then anything else he heard on the radio, and by the time he was 11 or 12 he had figured ut how to make his skinny, boy's larynx sound powerful, throaty and a lot older.

"When I was about 12 I went for a physical and the doctor remarked that I had an unusually large neck," Bolton recalled in a phone interview earlier this week while on tour in Tennessee. The doctor wonderd if maybe the youngster was lifting weights or playing a lot of football, and it took Bolton a minute or two to realize that all that singing had changed his anatomy.

By the time he was 13 he was already singing in bars. By the time he was 15 he had signed with a record company.

But it has taken many, many years -and seven albums- since then for Bolton to begin to be a star. He's still hardly a household name, but in 1988 stardom appears to finally be within reach.

Bolton will be in Salt Lake on Saturday, openig for Heat, in concert a7:30 pm at Park West.

While total success as a singer eluded Bolton for years, he says he never got discouraged.

"My first two albums with RCA were an education," he explains. "My second two albums, with the group Blackjack, were encouraging and more education. And I kept making fans in the (recoring) industry. There always seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel."

One of the brightest lights was Bolton's success as a songwriter. Although his own early albums were hardly cartbusters, some of the songs he wrote were. Laura Brannigan's version of his "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" was a No 1 hit. Jefferson Starship did very well with his "Desperate Heart."

Such diverse stars as Kenny Rogers, The Pointer Sisters, Gregg Allman and Eric Carmen have recorded his songs. Cher's new album includes two Bolton songs, including Cher's comeback hit, " I Found Someone."

Bolton was asked to produce both of the Cher songs, a sign that he has made it both as a songwriter and a record producer -- andinsurace that the songs he writes will be recorded the way he wrote them.

Everything seems to be falling into place finally for Bolton, who was named "best rhythm and blues male vocalist" this past spring in the New Youk Music Awards.

His latest album, "The Hunger," has been getting good reviews. "This talented rock belter, who has been struggling for12 years to have a hit, fuses the frnzy of Joe Crocker with the sweet passion of James Ingram," wrote the New York Times. "The new record's centerpieces are two gargantuan heart-tuggers. 'That's what Love Is All About' and 'Walk Away,' in which the singer pulls out every emotional stop.

Bolton says that "Walk Away" will be released in about a week as a single. He wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album except for the Redding cover.

Bolton usually writes about 30 songs a year, but he says that since he has been on the road with Heart he as been "in more of a promotional frame of mind then a creative frame of mind." The only thing he has had either the time or the emotion for while on tour has been to jot down some song ideas, he says, butby the end of the month he will be back home, ready to finish writing the songs for his next album.

The next time he goes on tour, he says he hopes it will be as the main act.
An Ex-A&R Man Reflects On a Not-Quite-Overnight Hit
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: December 20, 1987




. .AT ONE TIME OR another, I imagine, every pop critic has entertained fantasies of changing the course of music by going to work for a record company and discovering the next Beatles, Prince or Whitney Houston. The record executives entrusted with acquiring new talent are known as A&R people (the initials stand for artists and repertoire). And during their often short terms of employment, they are given free rein to exercise a mixture of personal taste and commercial savvy -to prove whether they have so-called ''golden ears.'' The late John Hammond is widely considered to have been the consummate A&R man, having brought Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, among other greats, to Columbia Records.

More than a decade ago, I had my chance to prove I had golden ears and muffed it. I had to wait more than 13 years - until now - for one of my discoveries to have a hit record.

For a year and a half, from mid-1974 to early 1976, I worked as an A&R executive for RCA Records. When I began the job, I naively imagined that all that was required was the application of my own exquisite taste. Sooner or later, RCA's pop roster would bulge with moneymaking geniuses, all discovered by me. My job was simply to find the talent. Others could attend to such matters as choosing a producer, overseeing logistics, budgets and album art and mobilizing company enthusiasm. I knew that my artists would be so talented that massive company support would automatically pour down on them.

Initially, the work was exhilarating. I spent part of each day meeting with managers and entertainment lawyers peddling talent, and the rest of the time attending staff meetings and evaluating the hundreds of demonstration tapes (known derisively as turkeys) that flooded RCA's offices each week. At night, fortified by an expense account, I would descend on clubs around New York, and occasionally fly to other cities, to check out aspiring young singers and rock bands.

Then, as now, the odds against any act getting signed to a record contract were at least 100 to 1. And even among these artists, the chances of having a successful career were slim. From the beginning I resolved not to sign any act that didn't strike me with the musical equivalent of a lightning bolt. And happily, one afternoon, after a month or two on the job, I had my first epiphany.

Three young men - a singer and his two managers - arrived in my office with a tape that gave me chills from the moment I put it on. The young singer, Michael Bolotin, came from New Haven. He was 22 and good-looking and had the lung power of a junior Joe Cocker. But along with a rock-blues ferocity, his singing had a heart-tugging sweetness. I was enraptured by his version of an original ballad, ''Dream While You Can,'' that during the hundreds of times I listened to it always seemed to float mystically out of the huge speakers in my office.

Michael's managers, one of whom was his older brother, were almost penniless hippies, and they were even more awestruck by him than I. At our first meeting, they explained to me in hushed tones that they wanted him to be known simply as Michael, a suggestion I vehemently rejected.

On the wings of my boundless excitement, Michael was quickly signed to the label. But the moment he was signed, the day-to-day realities of the music business began to burst my bubble. Invited to sit in on the contract negotiations between a company lawyer and Michael's hard-nosed attorney, I witnessed an apoplectic cockfight over a piddling - by record-company standards - $10,000 advance. The budget for the first album was a modest $40,000 (today $100,000 is considered modest), and to satisfy union requirements, the record had to be made in RCA's New York studios. Very quickly I found myself running interference between the artist and the record company, prying checks out of a vast bureaucracy so that Michael and his managers could put food on the table.

Michael requested that the producer of his first album be the same man who had supervised his demos, a talented but inexperienced promotion man. And to save time and money, I agreed. Instructed to play financial watchdog, I attended recording sessions at which a pressure-cooker atmosphere prevailed because of the limited budget. There I discovered that musical magic doesn't come easily, no matter how talented the singer. An attempt to reproduce the sound and mood of ''Dream While You Can'' failed dismally, even though most of the same musicians who had played on the demo version were recruited.

Once the album was finished, I was unable to muster enthusiasm within the company for a finished product that I only half liked. And I found myself having to face the political facts of corporate life. Because Michael had been brought to the label by a low-echelon A&R man rather than a top executive and because the album represented a relatively small investment, it was not a company priority. Less than 10,000 copies were pressed, and while there was some initial enthusiasm from rock radio, interest quickly faded.

From that moment, I understood that, barring a miracle, my A&R fantasies would never be realized. And though I helped bring two more acts to the label - both commercially unsuccessful - by then, I had given up hope. The final blow was being thwarted in my effort to sign another lightning bolt, the punk poet Patti Smith.

Since Michael had been signed to a two-album deal, he went on to record a second album for the label. It was released just as I left the company feeling too discouraged to want to continue working in the record business. The album sank without a trace.

Though I quickly lost touch with Michael, others in the business recognized his talent. In the late 70's, he led a heavily promoted hard-rock quartet called Blackjack, but success eluded them, largely because his talents as a ballad singer went unused. With his name changed from Bolotin to Bolton, Michael was then signed to Columbia as a soloist.

In the last four years, he has released three albums for the company. His songs have also begun to be recorded by other people, including the Jefferson Starship, Laura Branigan and Cher. And this fall, he finally scored his first hit single with a big dramatic ballad, ''That's What Love Is All About,'' from his latest album, ''The Hunger'' (Columbia 40473). The song, which reached No. 19 on Billboard's Hot 100 last week, is the kind of material he always should have been singing, and his raspy-sweet holler hasn't lost its plaintive undertone. The album's second single is a feverishly urgent remake of the Otis Redding soul standard ''(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay.''

Last summer, before the record came out, I ran into Michael for the first time in more than a decade and asked him how things were going.

''This is going to be the album,'' he said with total confidence.

''Ballads! It's got to have ballads. You were always a ballad singer!'' I told him.

''Just wait until you hear,'' he said with a smile.

Michael Bolton is not yet a major pop star, but he has finally registered a hit. Last week, while shaving, I noticed in the mirror that in a certain light there was a faint golden aura around my left ear.
Hey Payten, an oldie but a goodie! It's one of my favorite articles too and believe it or not, I often quote from it to my kids too! Thanks for sharing for those who haven't read it! Take care. Hugs, sincerely, Sylvie from Canada

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