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WHEN LAVINTHAL MET BEER, PART ONE: THE FIRST ENCOUNTER

It’s often been said, not without reason, that if you lived through the 1970s, you don’t remember them. Surprisingly, we’ve somehow managed to dredge up detailed recollections of that wild and woolly decade in this recounting of the sequence of events that led us initially to start the indie promo outfit MusicVision and eventually to launch the left-of-center trade rag HITS.

The story begins, fittingly enough, in a men’s room stall at an iconic West Hollywood watering hole…




The first time I met Lenny Beer was at Dan Tana’s in 1974—and if you haven’t had the steak or the chicken parmigiana, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Lenny was the new guy in town, the head of Record World’s chart department. He was a Carnegie Mellon grad and an NYU MBA; kind of nerdy, with a near-genius IQ, he’d come up with a new system of calculating airplay and sales to make up their charts that was driving label guys crazy. His methodology was based on actual sales and spins, as opposed to the Billboard system of people reporting sales and airplay as poor, fair, good or very good.

Billboard’s approach was so far removed from reality that Beer’s system of real information was making the VPs of promotion who had control of the Billboard charts want to kill him—guys like Capitol’s Al Coury and Atlantic’s Dickie Klein, whose basic form of communication was screaming at the tops of their lungs. They were furious because some of the nation’s top radio programmers were paying close attention to Beer as he exposed the man behind the curtain.

I didn’t care that much about the charts. I worked for a guy named Jay Lasker, the president of ABC/Dunhill, who cared how many records we were selling, but my team’s lane was working the charts to try and get bullets on our records, which could help you get your records played. Getting records played was the name of the game, and my team was super-hot: We always had a few hits on the radio.

I didn’t meet Lenny in person until that night in ’74, but I’d spoken to him on the phone a few times about his new chart bullshit, which had us all trying to figure out how to manipulate it. When we ran into each other in the men’s room that night, the first thing I said to him was “Wanna do a bump?”

To be continued.

This chapter from the forthcoming memoir High and Inside was originally published in the HITS 30th Anniversary Issue

DUO TO RULE ISLAND
Two heads are better than one. (6/18a)
GUETTA GOES GLOBAL WITH WARNER MUSIC
Bugs is dancing in the street. (6/18a)
REVENUE CHART:
LIL BIG BUCKS
Pull up the Brinks truck. (6/18a)
TOP 20: POLO MATCH
Looks like we have a horse race. (6/17a)
MUSIC’S HOTTEST FIRMS: GREENBERG TRAURIG
Myriad lawyers, no waiting. (6/18a)
RHYTHM, BLUES AND THE FUTURE
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
WHO'S NEXT?
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
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