Over half a century since Jerry Goldstein’s co-write of the #1 pop hit “My Boyfriend’s Back” launched the then hard toiling Brill Building songwriter into pop culture consciousness, the legendary producer, performer, music industry executive, artist manager, distributor and (last but not least) entrepreneur has some key words to say about the unspeakable “R” word: “Retire? From what?”
The Brooklyn born maverick is in exciting whirlwind mode this year, spearheading dynamic new projects connected to three of the most prominent associations of his multi-faceted career—War, Jimi Hendrix and The Visual thing, Goldstein’s groundbreaking poster, tour book and album artwork company that became the prototype for all pop and rock merchandising over the past 40 years.
Goldstein, who has co-written and produced every album in War’s catalog dating back to Eric Burdon Declares ‘War’ in 1970 (which included the #1 worldwide hit “Spill The Wine”), is the creative force (with frontman/keyboardist Lonnie Jordan) behind Evolutionary, the classic L.A. band’s first recording in 20 years. The full length recording by the group Goldstein calls “the original jam band” features the famed comic duo Cheech & Chong and the USC Trojan Marching Band (on the lead single “That L.A. Sunshine”) as well as appearances by Tower of Power, Joe Walsh and spoken word artist Malik Yusef, a longtime collaborator with Kanye West who won a 2011 Best Rap Song Grammy for West’s global hit “All of the Lights.”
War, which has performed at least 75 dates per year since their chart heyday, is currently in the midst of the Up In Smoke Tour, an integrated celebration of music and comedy that began last year with Cheech & Chong and included the taping of a popular PBS Special. Evolutionary will be coupled with the first time ever CD release of War’s platinum selling 1976 Greatest Hits collection, which includes such Goldstein co-penned and produced Top Ten classics as “Low Rider,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”, “The Cisco Kid” and “The World Is A Ghetto.” War’s Greatest Hits also features “Summer,” the first song that became a hit via inclusion as a new track on a Greatest Hits compilation.
Goldstein’s longtime company Far Out Productions includes a vast catalog that remains heavily distributed and licensed. In addition to War and Eric Burdon & War, the catalog includes classic works by numerous artists he managed and/or produced during this time, including Robben Ford, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lee Oskar, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Ronnie Laws, Tanya Tucker and Tim Buckley. After a nearly 20 year affiliation with Rhino Records, Goldstein in 2010 signed a new distribution deal with Universal Music Enterprises. They have since re-mastered and re-released various recordings, including a 40th Anniversary edition of War’s The World Is A Ghetto (1972), which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 and was named Billboard’s Album of the Year as the best-selling album of 1973.
In 2013, Goldstein took his entire catalog that was previously published by Universal Music Publishing to BMG Chrysalis. “Low Rider” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends” remain two of the top licensed songs (most recently heard in “Grand Theft Auto V,” the film “The Internship” and Pepsi commercials). A sample from Oskar’s “San Francisco Bay” is featured in the new single by Pittbull featuring Ke$ha “Timber,” which has achieved #1 status all over the world.
Goldstein is currently negotiating with potential distributors for the long awaited 2015 release of “The Last Experience,” chronicling a day in the life of Jimi Hendrix centered around a performance by the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. Goldstein (who calls it “Hendrix’s best concert ever”) shot and also appears in the film, interviewing the legendary singer/guitarist in the high quality musical documentary, which includes footage of the guitarist’s morning sound check, Hendrix in his apartment and an after show party at London’s Speakeasy.
Goldstein’s history with Hendrix extends back to Greenwich Village in 1966, when the guitarist was playing as Jimmy James & The Blue Flames at Café Wha while The Druids, the band Goldstein was managing and producing, were performing as the house band at Ondine’s, then the hottest club in NYC. David Budge, the Druids’ lead singer, asked Hendrix to join the band and the guitarist electrified the place. Goldstein’s friend, bassist Chas Chandler of The Animals, asked him to come see his band, the original Animals, perform their final show ever Central Park, and later Goldstein invited Chandler to see the Druids perform with Hendrix. Chandler was blown away and later took Hendrix to England, signed him and created The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix’ first time hearing his future trademark songs “Hey Joe,” “All Along The Watchtower” and “Like A Rolling Stones” was when the DJ spun them at Ondine’s.
While at the Monterey Pop Festival, as a thank you for putting Chandler and Hendrix together, Hendrix was the first artist to sign an exclusive merchandising agreement with The Visual Thing, Goldstein’s rock music merchandising company (driven by cutting edge photography driven posters, tour books and album covers) that became one of the most successful of its time – and proved to be the prototype for the now multi-billion dollar merchandising industry. Some of the artists who signed exclusively with the company include Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Blind Faith, Bee Gees, Sly & The Family Stone, Joe Cocker, Cream, The Beach Boys, Burdon, The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Steve Miller Band, Donovan and Frank Zappa and most of the rock greats of that era.
Goldstein recently made a deal to bring back The Visual Thing (whose original years of operation were 1968-1972) as a contemporary company, run by Goldstein, his son Jeremy Levine and longtime business colleague Glenn Stone. Its first projects will be including reproductions of an original Led Zeppelin tour book in the new re-issue package of Led Zeppelin II, producing a coffee table book featuring the company’s best artwork and photography (by famed rock photographer Ron Raffaelli) and putting classic rock posters as well as fine art photography up for sale.
Jerry Goldstein’s wild scattering of music industry successes in many different arenas rolls like a joyfully schizophrenic romp through rock history. The glorious, era defining hits he wrote and/or produced (many in collaboration with Bob Feldman and Richard Gottehrer) include “My Boyfriend’s Back” (The Angels), “I Want Candy” (The Strangeloves), “Hang On Sloopy” (The McCoys), “Giving Up On Love” (Jerry Butler), “Ten Lonely Guys” (Pat Boone), “I’m On Fire” (Jerry Lee Lewis), The Osmonds (“I Can’t Stop”), Every Mother’s Son (“Come On Down To My Boat Baby,” “What Time Is It” (The Jive Five) and The Monkees’ “It’s Nice To Be With You.” Forming FGG productions, Goldstein, Feldman and Gottehrer became top producers of other people’s songs as well. Their songs have been recorded by everyone from David Bowie to Dion and The Belmonts and George Thorogood & The Destroyers.
Chart success aside, Goldstein can also measure his life by the anecdotes attached to that early-to-mid 60s era. Like the ones with Neil Diamond, who stored Goldstein’s drum kit in his parents’ basement, then later—when the trio was on staff with Roosevelt Music--did a demo for “Ten Lonely Guys” that was essentially Diamond’s first gig in the business as demo singer, songwriter and guitarist. Another classic story is the way Goldstein and his partners (three guys from Brooklyn) made up a whimsical fictional story for The Strangeloves when they wrote and recorded the Top Ten hit “I Want Candy,” pretending to be three musical brothers raised on an Australian sheep farm. While on tour with the Dave Clark Five, The Strangeloves discovered The McCoys in Dayton, Ohio, brought them back to New York and recorded “Hang on Sloopy.” Both groups went on tour that summer, starting with The McCoys supporting The Strangeloves; by the end of the tour, “Sloopy” had reached #1 and The McCoys were the headliners.
While living in San Francisco during the Summer of Love era, and helping Chet Helms at the Avalon Ballroom create a mail order poster business called The Family Dog, Goldstein was hired by MCA Records in Los Angeles to help start their Uni Records label. While working as the Head of Production, he opened his own poster company (with the retail rights from The Family Dog) in the back of the office on Sunset Boulevard. His time with Uni was brief but eventful, as the label signed Diamond, The Osmonds, The Foundations, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Elton John, Hugh Masekela and Marcia Strassman (later known as an actress on “Welcome Back Kotter”), who recorded a song whose title defined an era: “The Flower Children.” Goldstein and his DJ friend Tim Hudson have been credited with coining the terms “Flower Power,” “Flower Children,” “Flower Music” and “The Flower Generation.”
While continuing his involvement with War, Goldstein turned his focus to management and distribution while also producing new artists. He produced Tanya Tucker’s 1978 rock-oriented TNT project (featuring their co-write “I’m The Singer, You’re The Song”) and Tim Buckley’s Greetings From L.A. (1972), which featured two Goldstein co-writes “Move With Me” and “Make It Right.” One of the artists he signed was songwriter Linda Creed, well known for her hit collaborations with Thom Bell; Goldstein’s friendship with Clive Davis led to Creed penning (with Michael Masser) “The Greatest Love of All,” first recorded by George Benson, and later, more iconically, by Whitney Houston. During this time, working with then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, he helped produce the popular L.A. Street Scene music festival, which ran from 1978-85.
In 1989, Goldstein reconnected with old friend Sly Stone, whom he once helped negotiate one of the biggest recording deals in history. The two formed Even Street Productions to try to re-launch Stone’s career and catalog and clean up a huge tax problem. In 2002, they renegotiated his Sly and the Family Stone record deal with Sony which gave birth to a reissue of the catalog, a box set (The Collection) and Different Strokes by Different Folks, a remix and the all-star remix and cover album paying tribute to the music of Sly and the Family Stone. The version of “Family Affair” by John Legend, Joss Stone and Van Hunt won a 2007 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Also featured on the recording were will.i.am, Maroon 5, The Roots, Big Boi, Cee Lo Green, Buddy Guy & John Mayer, Isaac Hayes, Steven Tyler & Robert Randolph and Janet Jackson.
In the 90’s and 2000s, Goldstein once again showcased his ability for recognizing exciting new music trends and talent. While continuing to manage and produce War, he managed Isaac Hayes and signed, managed and promoted the successful three man pop/rap group LFO (best known for their hits “Summer Girls” and “Girl on TV”). During this time, Far Out productions signed its distribution deal with Rhino Records, which included working with the Avenue Jazz label. The Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy,” which had been a Top Ten UK New Wave hit for Bow Wow Wow in 1982, reached yet another generation via teen sensation Aaron Carter, who recorded it on his 2000 release Aaron’s Party (Come Get It). The song also appears on Carter’s 2001 DVD release Aaron’s Party: Live in Concert.
“When I saw the movie ‘Forrest Gump’,” Goldstein says, “I related the main character’s experiences to my own, just the idea of magical things happening by being in the right place and the right time. After all these years, the joy of music continues to keep me going, more involved and excited than ever. It’s just in my blood and something very positive that I need to be part of. I like to say that I love the creative side of the industry and have been involved in the business side out of self defense, but all in all both aspects have made for a very interesting career. I love the good feelings I get making music, and it’s always been wonderful to realize that so many people have not only noticed my contributions but have been positively impacted by them. I’m most excited now about the new War album and Hendrix film, both of which reflect the enduring power of great music.”
After years as a first call studio and touring backup singer, sharing her powerhouse vocals with audiences around the world and as a versatile force on the Nashville studio scene, Wendy Moten makes her highly anticipated return to center stage with her Woodward Avenue Records debut Timeless: Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting. Produced by two time Grammy winning urban jazz hit maker Paul Brown, the equally sensual and swinging 10 track collection celebrates the legacy of a 20th Century songwriting giant – whose works have been recorded by everyone from Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett – while showcasing Moten’s keen, crafty and often sassy musical storytelling abilities.
While Whiting (1891-1938) is best known for his enduring classics “Hooray For Hollywood,” “Ain’t We Got Fun” and “On The Good Ship Lollipop,” Moten explores the deeper artistry of his songbook that helped define the Jazz Age of the 1920s and the film musical era of the 1930s. Her goal was to pay homage not only to the man behind the songs – whose name is sometimes overlooked when people talk about the Great American Songbook era – but also to the thousands of vocal greats and musicians who have recorded them over the decades. These include easily recognizable master works like “Too Marvelous For Words” as well as more obscure gems (“My Ideal,” “I Wanna Go Places and Do Things,” “True Blue Lou”) that Moten brings a fresh emotional urgency to.Timeless was recorded live in the studio over the course of two days with a handpicked ensemble of some of contemporary jazz’s most renowned musicians.
Complementing guitarist Tommy Kay and drummer Sinclair Lott, who perform on every track, are Mitchel Forman and Tracy Carter alternating on piano and Roberto Vally and Brian Bromberg switching off on bass. “Too Marvelous For Words” features Brown’s lead guitar and special guest saxophonist Dave Koz taps into his intimate side on the opening track “My Ideal.”“The seeds of what truly evolved into a Timeless project were planted one night when I was having dinner with Paul, and telling him how I always loved and wanted to do an album paying tribute to Julie London and Doris Day,” says Moten, whose previous work with Brown (also an artist on Woodward Avenue) includes “All I Do,” the Stevie Wonder cover she recorded with Grammy Award winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum’s 1998 album For You.
“He knew me best as an R&B singer and thought it was just a whimsical kind of idea. But that conversation allowed me to share my love of standards with him. A few months later, the Richard Whiting Family and Mark Nordman, the owner of Woodward Avenue, commissioned Paul to produce a tribute album. He kindly thought of me and at first we were considering having me as a featured vocalist on an otherwise instrumental recording. But soon it evolved into a full vocal project that allowed me to tap into this other side of my musical life that I had been dreaming of for years.”
Known affectionately in various industry circles as “The Voice,” Moten launched her multi-faceted career as a hit R&B/pop singer in the early 90s before becoming one of the industry’s premier backing vocalists and first call guest duet artists. The multi-talented Memphis born performer launched her career with a self-titled 1992 EMI album that included the ballad “Come In Out Of The Rain,” which reached the Top 5 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and later hit the Top Ten on the UK singles chart. The singer opened for Michael Bolton on his North American stadium tours and became popular in Japan when she performed sold-out concerts at the famed Budokan, hosted by David Foster and friends.
Foster produced two songs on Moten’s follow-up album Time For Change, which received rave reviews in the U.S. but was an even bigger hit in Japan and Europe. During this time, she also recorded the Grammy nominated “Whatever You Imagine” for the animated film “The Pagemaster” starring Macauley Culkin. After recording the holiday album Christmas Time, she returned in 1996 with her I.R.S. album Life Is What You Make It. She then diversified and launched a new phase of her career recording guest duets with everyone from Michael McDonald (“No Love To Be Found”) and Whalum to Peabo Bryson (“My Gift Is You”) and Larry Carlton (“I Still Believe”).
In 1999, she launched one of her most enduring ventures as a backing and featured duet vocalist touring the world with global superstar Julio Iglesias an average of nine months every year through 2011; she also recorded the duet “Just Walk Away” with him as a bonus track on his 2006 album Romantic Classics. An opportunity to sing with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on a TV show in 2006 led Moten to another long term gig working behind country’s power couple. While her time with Iglesias wrapped in 2011, the singer is still going strong with Faith & Tim, including tours and multiple performances at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Moten’s subsequent renown in Nashville has made her a first call session singer for a multitude of top genre artists – including Brooks & Dunn, Hank Williams, Jr., Neal McCoy and Martina McBride, whom Moten will also be touring with in 2014. Her diverse range of studio credits includes Dave Stewart, Michael Lington, Alice Cooper, Bonnie Tyler, Buddy Guy, John Oates and Orianthi. Moten also released the independent holiday album Tis The Season in 2009.
Journey To The Soul
You’ve heard him on “The Voice.” Now get ready to hear the true voice of Geoff McBride as he takes a deeper, more expansive Journey To The Soul on his new independent full length recording.Two years after the powerhouse singer blew away millions of viewers – and judges Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, who quickly swiveled around - with his explosive twist on Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” during the blind auditions phase of NBC’s mega-hit talent competition, McBride delivers on the promise and praise while taking listeners on an adventure that goes beyond strict genre boundaries and showcases the depth of his artistry.
“With this album, I want to convey the essence of who I am as a vocalist and an artist,” the singer says, “and my love for a variety of different kinds of music, from pop and R&B to gospel and rock. I connect deeply with each of these songs because they convey true life facts about love, happiness and human relationships. Though my foundation is in soul music, I am not just a soul singer. I believe that all music transcends together.”
McBride, whose rough video demo of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” got him in the door and who sealed the deal singing “Drift Away” for the show’s executive producers, never viewed his time on the show as a competition - but rather an opportunity to share his gift. Having only returned to singing live professionally a few years ago after some years away from the industry, McBride’s rekindled passion inspired his exciting decision to become a recording artist once again. A key part of this was the on-screen encouragement of Aguilera, who snagged McBride for her team in the Battle Rounds after a mini-battle for him with Green, and guest mentor Lionel Richie, who helped him master “Chain of Fools.”
Immediately after the singer wrapped “Higher Ground,” Aguilera enthused, “The very first note you hit blew me away!” She also emphasized her amazement at his “amazing level of energy” that brought the audience to its feet. Richie was also dazzled by McBride’s incredible vocal abilities. “When Geoff walked in…BOOM!” Richie exclaimed excitedly. “His delivery was unbelievable. It was not coming out of a microphone. There was no speaker. I love it.” Judges Blake Shelton and Adam Levine echoed their colleagues with admiration for McBride after each of his appearances.
With a rich vocal palette that taps as deeply into the church music traditions of his youth as it does the romantic power of legends like Seal, Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye and Al Green, the North Carolina raised, Florida based singer brings his uncanny storytelling ability – in the tradition of another of his heroes, James Taylor – to a collection of ten hand-chosen songs that convey where his musical heart thrives in 2014. Showcasing a multi-layered sense of artistry that McBride only hinted at on “The Voice,” these songs speak to the heart as celebrations of life, love, the human spirit while exploring the inner complexities of our relationships. In addition to creative re-imaginings of the Todd Rundgren penned “Love Is The Answer” (currently a rising sensation on urban jazz radio), “At Last” (which sneaks in a cool segue to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”) and “Feelin’ Alright” (originally by Traffic, later popularized by Joe Cocker), Journey To The Soul features a sparkling batch of originals penned by Grammy winning songwriter Jerry Peters (the inspirational ballad “Wipe Away Your Tears”) and two time Dove Award winner Sam Mizell, who wrote “Angel,” “You Got Lips,” “When You Got Love,” “Walk Away.”
McBride, who lives with his wife Lisa and four children in Santa Rosa Beach on Florida’s Panhandle, has been working with the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center for a number of years, performing at various benefits, including one with Oscar winning actor Morgan Freeman. Founded in 1998, the Center – whose mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children and restore the lives of child abuse and neglect victims – is using “Wipe Away Your Tears” as a call to action song, posting McBride’s video on its website; proceeds from the track will benefit the organization. McBride will also be giving away copies of Journey To the Soul and T-shirts to those who donate $35 or more – with a goal towards getting a million people to donate in 2014.
Journey To The Soul was produced by renowned music industry studio veteran, keyboardist and recording artist Trammell Starks, owner of Studiomagic Recording Studios in Alpharetta, Georgia. Nearly two decades after they had last worked together, Starks reached out to McBride to sing on his cover version of “Summer Breeze.” Their work on the track, which was released as a single early in 2014, led to a deeper collaboration that accelerated with the singer’s appearances on “The Voice.”
When the two decided to start a new album for McBride, the singer originally wanted to record some material he had written. Ultimately, in the service of choosing the best potential hit songs, he opted to “step out of the way” of his own ego to choose a group of songs that would best highlight the depth of his talents.
If McBride seems very confident, self-assured and seasoned for an emerging talent, it’s because he brings a unique history as a onetime Arista recording artist to the mix. After spending his teens in his small town near Lexington, North Carolina as frontman for the popular Top 40 band Whisper Wind, he was inspired by a performance by the legendary Al Jarreau at a local venue called The Mosque to forgo college (and his initial dreams of being a pediatric surgeon) and head to Atlanta to pursue a musical career.
A demo he worked on with producer Sammy Knox found its way to the brass at numerous labels, and McBride soon had offers for recording deals from Motown, Atlantic and Arista. Signing with Clive Davis’ label, he soon found himself mingling with a roster that included Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Teddy Pendergrass and Lisa Stansfield. He also appeared on the competition juggernaut of its time, “Star Search.” The lone album he recorded for the label, Do You Still Remember Love? was produced by the late Gerald Levert and spawned the Billboard R&B chart hit “No Sweeter Love.” The singer later began recording a second project in the studio at Eddie Murphy’s Bubble Hill mansion. Ultimately, however, McBride chose to leave Arista when he realized his vision for where he wanted to go as an artist wasn’t matching up to the label’s commitment.
During a handful of years outside the industry, McBride worked at an Ace Hardware store, then started his own construction business. As if a talent like his could ever be on the sidelines for long, he eventually found his way back to music and started doing jingle work while performing regularly at Café 290 in Atlanta – a venue that was frequented often by member of Earth, Wind & Fire and jazz/gospel singer Jonathan Butler. The most important change in his life was meeting and marrying Lisa (in 2001) and starting a family. An opportunity for McBride to sing with the youth group BigStuf led him to move his family to the Panhandle in 2006. Since then, he’s performed for locals and tourists alike at popular elite restaurants and clubs, including regular gigs at the The Vue, La Playa, The Ocean Club, 723 Whiskey Bravo and the Old Florida Fish House.
“Looking back on those early career experimentations,” McBride says, “I was probably more interested in finding myself than the type of music I would eventually claim as my own. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, those years of personal and professional discovery were a necessary part of my growth as an artist that, only now, I find paying off in this season of my career. My dad passed away when I was very young, and he was a gentle soul who used to sing to my mom in the kitchen. I learned from them about the power of music to heal and inspire as the universal language. With Journey To The Soul, I want to get back out there and tell the world that there is still real music sung by real singers. We’re still around and still have the chops – so brace yourselves!”