Quantcast

WHEN LAVINTHAL MET BEER, PART TWO: LEARNING THE BIZ

I had moved to L.A. a few years earlier to pursue my life’s dream of sex, drugs and rock & roll. I’d spent a whole year trying to get a job at Elektra or A&M, both of which were very cool labels back then—not as cool as Warners, but getting a job at Mo and Joe’s house seemed like such a long shot that I didn’t even try.

I knew most of the top players at the leading indie labels of the time, as I had worked for the big indie record distributor in Seattle. My dad, Lou, had grown that business—starting with a small G.I. loan, post-World War II—into a very prominent distributor, retailer and rack jobber that covered the Pacific Northwest from Alaska through the Bay Area. I’d worked after school and summer hours since I was old enough to push a broom in the warehouse.

When I was 18, I was asked by guys who worked at the labels we distributed if I would help get their records played at the big Top 40 station, KJR, for $25 to $50 a pop. I knew most of the jocks and programming people—it was still a small cottage industry in those days, and we all spent a lot of time together at weddings, bar mitzvahs, softball games and other gatherings.

After college, I was desperate to land a job in L.A. at one of the top labels. I was frustrated; I knew I could do the job, but how could I get it? And then, at the NARM convention at the Century Plaza, Lasker said to me, “Kid, come work for me and I’ll teach you the record business.”


This wasn’t my first choice by a long shot. Dunhill was in a fight with its top act, The Mamas & the Papas, and their other hits were Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” and Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park,” both big novelty records. No Hendrix, Stones, Doors, Kinks or Cream, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I said “I’m in” at 300 bucks a week. I told him I was going to make them and break them.

When I showed up at 449 South Beverly Drive three months later, Lasker looked up from his desk and said, “What the fuck are you doing here?” I said, “You hired me,” and he yelled for Muriel, the office manager, who hustled me into the mailroom. Because of my background in distribution, I got thrown into the sales department, which was OK—my only caveat when I took the job was that I didn’t want to do radio promotion anymore. Before I even left Seattle, I’d grown tired of kissing ass, buying dinner and telling those morons how great they were.

Meanwhile, back in New York... 


To be continued.

Go to Part One.

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?
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)