Monday, March 29, 2010
On this day in 1983, the Bee Gees were sued for plagiarism over their hit song : "How Deep Is Your Love. The lesson the group learned is the same lesson that every song writer risks "Write A Hit Song, Risk a Lawsuit". A musicologist is the only answer.
I n case you've been living under a rock for the last forty years, How Deep Is Your Love" is a song recorded by the Bee Gees in 1977. Originally intended for Yvonne Elliman, it was ultimately used as part of the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever. It was a number three hit in the UK. In the U.S., it topped the Billboard Hot 100 on 24 December 1977 and stayed in the Top 10 for a then-record 17 weeks. The song also spent six weeks atop the U.S. adult contemporary chart. The song was ranked #366 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Along with "Stayin' Alive", it is one of the group's two songs on the list. The song also lists at #20 on Billboard's All Time Top 100. It was famously covered by Take That for their 1996 Greatest Hits album, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks. In 1983, The Bee Gees were sued by an amateur Chicago songwriter, Ronald Selle, who claimed that the Gibb brothers stole melodic material from one of his songs, "Let It End," and used it in "How Deep Is Your Love." At first, The Bee Gees lost the case; one juror said that a factor in the jury's decision was the Gibbs' failure to introduce expert testimony rebutting the plaintiff's expert testimony that it was "impossible" for the two songs to have been written independently. However, the verdict was overturned a few months later. Two music videos were made for this song. In one, the brothers are singing while an image of a woman shows throughout the video. Barry Gibb had his beard shaven off in this video, as in the "Night Fever" video. A second video was later made in which the brothers sing while passing by a stream of rainbow lights. In this video Barry Gibb is bearded. This video righted the wrong and proved that the two songs could have been created independently of the other. What had gone badly for the boys in the trial was that Barry Gibb identified Ronald Selle's tune as their own at the trail. Had they lost, the Brothers place in music history might have been put in serious jeopardy. The Spring Break crowds continue unabated at Disneyland where I am working. There is just no let up on the crowds with most of the popular rides demanding a two hour wait. Glad I only work here for now. John and I have finished the libretto to the sequel to "The Brothers Laughter" . It is called "After The Laughter" It's pretty darn funny!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
On this day in 1913-- the same year that my dear mother was born, The Palace Theatre in New York City opened its doors. The Palace is the home of Broadway theatre, but when it opened, it was the hallmark of all of vaudeville. The black and white picture on this page actually show's the theatre's construction. The Palace was designed by architects Kirchoff & Rose, the theatre was built by Martin Beck a California vaudeville entrepreneur and Broadway impresario. The project experienced a number of business problems before it opened. E. F. Albee, one of the main executives for B. F. Keith and his powerful vaudeville circuit, demanded that Beck turn over three-quarters of the stock in the theatre in order to use acts from the Keith circuit-- a powerful organization. In addition, Oscar Hammerstein -- the father of the great lyricist--was the only person who could offer Keith acts in that section of Broadway, so Beck paid him off with $225,000. The theatre finally opened on March 24, 1913 with headliner Ed Wynn. To "play the Palace" meant that an entertainer had reached the pinnacle of his career, and it became a popular venue with performers like Sarah Bernhardt, Eddie Cantor, Bob Hope, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, George Jessel, and the dear and one and only Jack Benny. With the Great Depression came a rise in the popularity of film and radio, and vaudeville began its decline. In 1929 the two-a-day Palace shows were increased to three. By 1932, the Palace moved to four shows a day and lowered its admission price. In November of that year, it converted to a movie house. Appearing on the closing bill when the venue ended its stage policy were Nick Lucas and Hal Leroy. There was a brief return to a live revue format in 1936, when Broadway producer Nils T. Granlund staged a series of variety shows beginning with "Broadway Heat Wave" featuring female orchestra leader Rita Rio. The classic film Citizen Kane had its world premiere at the theatre on May 1, 1941. In the 1950s, the RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) chain tried to revive vaudeville with shows by such names as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Betty Hutton, and Harry Belafonte. While the shows were successful, they did not lead to a revival of the genre. On January 29, 1966, the Palace reopened as a legitimate theatre with the original production of the musical Sweet Charity, although for a period of time it showed films and presented concert performances by Bette Midler, Josephine Baker, Eddie Fisher, Shirley MacLaine, Diana Ross, Vikki Carr, and many others like that between theatrical engagements. In the 1980s, a towering hotel was built above the theater, cantilevered over the auditorium; today, the theater is practically invisible behind an enormous wall of billboards and under the skyscraper, and only the marquee is visible.The Palace is somewhat infamous for having an enormous and difficult-to-sell second balcony in which nearly every seat has an obstructed view. The theatre recently housed Legally Blonde: The Musical, a stage adaptation of the 2001 film, which played its final performance on October 19, 2008 after 595 performances and 30 previews at the Palace.The Palace Theatre is currently owned and operated by the Nederlander Organization and Stewart F. Lane There is also a grand legend of a Palace Theatre Ghost. The ghost of acrobat Louis Borsalino is said to haunt the theatre. According to various versions of the story Borsalino "fell to his death in the 1950s" and that "Stagehands say that when the theater is empty, the ghost of Borsalino can be seen swinging from the rafters. He lets out a blood-curdling scream, then re-enacts his nose dive." However, in reality Borsalino who was a member of the Four Casting Pearls was only injured when he fell 18 feet during a performance on August 28, 1935 before 800 theatre goers. Borsalino's act was not a trapeze but rather fixed towers in which the acrobats are "cast from one to the other." Comedian Pat Henning started his act after the accident before the curtain was pulled. John and I dream of having our first Broadway show here, although my memory of the Palace was grand (I got to see "La Cage Aux Folles" here in 1984, this was the theatre in which I was robbed. My wallet, my credit cards, everything. I remember it happened when I tried to exchange my seat for "La Cage" My 1984 $50 seat was up in the nosebleed section. As i was in line seeing about exchange (which they just don't do) someone lifted my wallet. It remains the only time in my life that I have been physically robbed. Getting home on the airplane was a real challenge-- today, it would have been impossible. Ah, the days before 9/11!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Fess Parker was a true gentleman who portrayed one of the best known characters in a Walt Disney Movie. Yesterday, on his dear wife's 84th birthday, Fess Parker left this weary world for Eternity. Fess had two children, eleven grand children and a great grand child and was perhaps the gentlest giant of all time. He was 6 foot 6 inches tall and won the role of Davy Crockett over veteran actor James Arness of "Gunsmoke" fame. Believe or not, Fess was actually allergic to the buckskin material that he wore in those movies and had to be well covered in salve in order not to break out. His success in real estate and the wine business was unequaled. A window in Frontierland at Disneyland was dedicated in his honor in 2004. Everyone who met Fess called him a true gentleman without a bone of ego in him. His other famous role was that of Daniel Boone in the 1970's for NBC television than ran for six years. He will be dearly missed. Something else that was not widely known was that his buddy in the Davy Crockett franchise , Mr. Buddy Ebsen was actually once considered for the lead, itself. The series was broadcast on the ABC television show "Disneyland", but was wisely shot in color and not in black and white. Walt Disney decided later to splice the episodes together and release them to the movies. But who would go and pay for a movie that people had seen for free on television? Walt knew that in color, people would and he was right as usual. The film did landfall business when released to theatres in 1956. Work at Disneyland continues for me. I've been working at the Candy Palace. You can not believe how much sweets people buy and the amount they spend is unbelievable. What recession? Candy apples here are as much as nine dollars each! Wow! My work continues finishing my latest musical with John Nugent. It's called "After The Laughter" and so far it is so much fun.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I've now finaly returned working regular hours at Disneyland and become a "casual regular cast member" which means I am getting about twenty-eight hours a week and sometimes a little more especially if I call in. Big crowds at the resort. There is no recession here, dear friends. people spend money on trinkets and "Saint Patrick Day Mouse Ears" like there is no tomorrow and no financial hardships. Today I work 3:45-to 10:45 in a new store "The Disney Clothiers" so we'll see what that's like. The tribute to the Sherman Brothers last Wednesday was absolutely wonderful. Richard Sherman was on hand to receive the honor. Robert remains in London where he recovers from gout and other old age infirmities. But they had a recording of his voice for all the people to listen to which was great. The amazing thing to understand is that this is very first time (except for Walt Himself) that any artist or group has received a entire doorway tribute on Main Street U.S.A. So the fact that a couple of songwriters who made good receiving such a honor was absolutely remarkable. The Sherman Brothers of course have written most of the songs for the park including "It's A Small World", "The Tiki Room Song" and "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" The Sherman are my personal heroes next to Walt himself of course. The window itself is absolutely the finest tribute I have seen created for a songwriting artist of any kind. The resort is very crowded this week and I'm being offered lots of shifts to choose from. Our friend Tim Doran has finally sold the trailer he has inherited and we are very happy that this burden is finally over for him.