Re: The Arista Book

Hi Bob,

Thanks for putting a good word in for Mitchel Cohen’s book “Looking For The Magic”. Clive and all the music freaks at Arista tried hard for me back in 1980 when my first album came out. I’ll always be grateful to all of them for that. I was discovered playing at Kenny’s Castaways on Bleecker Street in NYC in July of 1978 when Robert Palmer of the New York Times came to review the headliner. I was opening the show and Don Hill, bless his RnR heart, told Robert he should come early and see the opening act. He came early and wrote a great review that got me signed to Arista.

For me, it was always about the music. I wasn’t looking to get famous. That was never my goal. Fame is a joke. I was just looking to make a living making music. Fame didn’t do Whitney or Michael Jackson any good. And how much fame can you get? And who cares anyway. We’ll all be forgotten at some point down the road no matter how much fame any of us have.

Make no mistake, I’d love to be stinkin’ rich. But surviving and getting to make music and make a living with it was always my goal. I’ve put out 9 albums in the last 12 years on my own label, River House Records. Wall Street doesn’t lose any sleep over how well they do but with the support of great fans and refusing to give in, I’ve been able to make albums I’m really proud of, tour in Europe and the states all these years, pay my bills, and have more fun than ever with all of it.

In 1980 I got to open a tour for The Who across the U.S. It was incredible. If you told me when I was a teenager that I’d get to see The Who from the side of the stage night after night and get to open for them and be able to make albums and a living from the songs I wrote I’d have thought you were smoking too much crack. Now, 42 years after my debut album on Arista, I’m getting to open for The Who again in Bethel, NY on May 28. It’s full circle for me. You can’t make this stuff up. God bless their manager, Bill Curbishley, and Pete and Roger for all their support and generosity.

As I said, for me, it was always about the music, not the glory or the fame. At the end of the day, if the music can bring a hint of redemption, salvation and some joy, to me and others, while being alive here on this earth in these troubled times, count me in. It’s more than worth it.

Here’s to passion. Here’s to believing in what you do no matter what the cost. And here’s to more music and magic on the road ahead.

Well done Mitchell on your fine book! And thanks Bob for shining a light on it.

All best,

Willie Nile


Subject: Skunk

Hi Bob

Thanks for the great interview with Jeff Skunk Baxter. He went to the Taft School in CT as mentioned on your interview. He didn’t mention he ended up donating to the school a small but incredible recording studio that featured a 16 track tape recording console and some solid outboard gear that lived in the basement of the school library.

When I visited the school in 1988 on my tour of boarding schools that was the main draw for me. I ended up choosing to go to Taft because of Skunk and ended up practically living in that studio during my time there having fun making music 


Josh Gruss

CEO-Round Hill Music


Subject: Re: Re-The Skunk Baxter Podcast

I don’t know how many people I’ve told about the Skunk Baxter podcast.

I’ve known him for several years and have played the D.C. event. 

You did a masterful job of giving him the reins. It’s hard to believe that people as compelling and diverse as Skunk exist. There wasn’t a dull moment.

Well done,

Ronnie Dunn


Subject: Re: Capitalism

I was in the record distribution biz when The Bee Gees Sgt Pepper album was released, and we were shipped a bunch of pallets , all “on wheels”, to be returned before the bill came due.  This let  RSO report huge sales based on product that never stuck, but gave all the RSO honcho’s their sales bonuses on a “hit” album that never was, and let us hit our sales goals.  So many games were played and so much unneeded product crated that ultimately went into cutout bins or landfills somewhere.  The whole business was constructed so that a few “moguls” could prosper and leave the creators in the dirt.  Has it changed, or are we still dealing with the wheels and the  road they run on?

Marty Jorgensen


From: Charlie Brusco

Subject: Re: Re-The Arista Book

Hey Bob …. I look forward to reading the Mitchell Cohen Arista book as the Outlaws my client in 1974 was the 1st rock act signed to Arista Records. Bob Fieden an Arista A&R ma found the band through Peter Rudge who managed Skynyrd at the time suggested Bob see the band. Bob saw the band play with Skynyrd in Orlando and next thing you know Clive was in Columbus GA and soon after we were launching a career. Many battles with Clive over song selection for records but some of the best and most dedicated people I have had the pleasure of working with in my 47 plus years… Bob Fieden, Rick Dobbis, Michael Klenfner, Michael Lippman, Rose Marino Richard Palmese all the mention of still bring a smile to my face. I look forward to reading the book.

Now back to the biggest touring summer in history.



Red Light Atlanta


Subject: RE: Re-The Arista Book

Dear Bob,

In 1988 When most a&r men could have cared less about me or what I had done (play on the Rolling Stones’ METAMORPHOSIS, produce Alex Chilton’s 1st solo album, play in the Jim Carroll Band) or was about to do (produce B.B. King, Frank Black, Little Milton, Steve Cropper etc.), Mitchell Cohen took a song my wife and I wrote with Keith Reid (lyricist on all of Procol Harum’s work), “River of No Return,” and put it on the Jeff Healey Band’s debut album SEE THE LIGHT. When it sold over 2 million copies and jump-started my stalled songwriting career, I experienced the Arista Magic first hand without ever having to sign anything over (I kept all my pub). In a business full of goniffs and schnorrers, Mitchell stepped up without asking “What’s in it for me?” so at the very least he deserves gratitude and respect. Thank you, Mitchell, from me, my wife, my songwriting partners, and all of the artists I got to work with because of “River of No Return.” Best of luck with LOOKING FOR THE MAGIC!

Warm regards,

Jon Tiven


Subject: Re: The Arista Book

Hello Bob –

I met Steve Backer in the late 70’s while working as the jazz buyer at the Harvard Coop in Cambridge, MA. Steve would always check in for a sales update on his artists and he graciously invited me to participate on a panel hosted by legendary WBUR DJ Tony Cennamo during the Boston Globe Jazz Festival. After leaving the Coop and moving to NYC, I had the opportunity to work closely with Steve in the late 80’s when he was head of the RCA jazz division for the Novus and Bluebird labels. Along with the lesser known masters of the avant garde, he championed many new lions of the jazz world that otherwise might never have been recognized. Steve was the epitome of cool, a true record guy who gave his all to the artists he signed and his passion for music was infectious. Thanks for the tip, I’m looking forward to reading the book. 

Bob Anderson


Subject: RE: Capitalism

At Capitol-EMI we didn’t just load out excess tonnage at year’s end.  Rather, we dumped it all out there at the end of each quarter.

The practice seemed to intensify in the 1990s.  Our ability to clog the retail pipeline was limited, but one-stops and rack jobbers always had warehouse floor space available for rent, so that’s where most of the stuff went.

While our loading propensity may have stood out among the majors, we definitely weren’t the only ones hiding shopping carts piled high with unsold LPs behind the furnace in retail stockrooms.


From: Brenda Hoffert

Subject: Lighthouse – One Fine Morning – Horn Playlist

Dear Bob,

I’m reaching out to thank you, both as Lighthouse’s manager and as its number one fan, for including One Fine Morning in your horn songs playlist. 

Lighthouse had several reunions but permanently reunited in 1992 and have been rocking it out, with mostly the same line-up, ever since. We celebrated our 50th Anniversary in 2019.

Lighthouse performs mostly in Canada but have been performing on the fabulous Moody Blues Cruises – now titled the On the Blue Reunion with Justin Hayward. 

Love the Lefsetz letter. Lighthouse was honoured to be included!

Very best,



Subject: Re: Re-Desperado

Bob –


Every time I see an Eagles post, I can’t help but think…I was 15 years old working at a little rural radio station in southern Indiana. (I’d been hired simply because my Dad owned a local grocery store and they thought if they hired his kid to be a DJ, the father would buy more commercials…)


Given my radio job, the County Fair asked me to introduce the evening’s entertainment for a show in front of the grandstand…Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band touring for an album, “Rudy the Fifth.” I had heard of Nelson, obviously…and had even heard of the steel guitar player, Tom Brumley, because he played on all of Buck Owens’ hits like “Together Again.” Now I realize that they were on the vanguard of country rock…


The bass player and I were chatting before the gig…cool guy…he noted that he was from a small town like this one, only in Nebraska. Mentioned he only had a couple more dates with Rick Nelson, then he and some friends were starting their own band.


He said, “So, if you see anything by Eagles…I hope you’ll play us on the radio.”  Randy Meisner…who is often forgotten among Henley, Frey, Walsh…but his soaring vocals established the distinctive sound as much as anyone in the original lineup. His contribution to creating music royalty should never be overlooked.


Scott McKain


Subject: Felix Cavaliere, etc.

Hi Bob, 

I’ve been enjoying your emails and podcasts, even when the subject matter is not quite up my alley.  You come from a time and a place that connects with me.  Our lunch several years ago reaffirmed my initial first impressions.  You have strong opinions, eloquently and vividly expressed.  Sometimes I agree with you, sometimes I don’t, but I am always stimulated.  A good thing…..

I’m writing to ask a favor of sorts.  I listened to your Felix Cavaliere podcast and I would like to contact him, not just to tell him how much I enjoyed his thoughts and, of course, his music but to remind him of a very significant time in my life.  You see, I was on the Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars that you discuss with him early in your podcast!!!!  It was my first job in Show Business and I was the main program seller….I went out in the audience during the show and sold programs with photos and bios of the stars.  I traveled on the tour bus overnight to the next gig, places like Waycross GA, Eldorado ARK, Wheeling WVA.  As Felix mentioned, the Rascals traveled on their own van but I ended up on it a few times.  I was always impressed with Felix…..not just his talents but his intellect and maturity.  Most of all, he was a gentleman and one time he let me play the maracas when they played an impromptu set in a hotel lobby, as I remember it.  I learned a life lesson on that tour that shaped my career:  The tour bus would pull into the parking lot of our next motel/Holiday Inn and a cluster of the town’s young ladies would gather around the door of the bus, waiting for their heroes to come out.  I came out and they asked for my autograph and asked if I was available later.  I said that I was only the program seller and the musicians hadn’t come off the bus yet.  They would say to me that it didn’t matter what I did because I was “on the bus”.

I resolved then and there that I would have a career in which I was “on the bus”.  I went into the William Morris mailroom after Wesleyan and started a run of 40 years in the agency business at WMA and CAA and then on to managing and producing…..Lots of fun, lots of memories and always happy to be “on the bus”.  That tour gave me the taste of what I wanted to do, and I did it.

I’d appreciate it if you would give me his email address or a way to contact him so I could tell him how my brief interaction with him literally influenced my life.  He won’t remember me but I sure remember him.

Thanks, Bob.

Rick Nicita


From: Nick Lawson

Subject: Re: Mailbag

I got the new beats to listen to spatial audio and its amazing. 

For months i had a reminder to cancel spotify and could never do it.  Their personal mixes and suggested listening is so good.  They also added an “enhance” feature you could do to your own playlists and the additions are awesome.

Apple music feels more like radio, you pick a genre and that’s really all you can do. Spotify still feels like its my music, personally.

Still paying for both, the spatial audio really is amazing.  Its like the old days – i hit play and close my eyes and drift away.   But its the same as my turntable – its amazing for when and where the situation is right to listen.

Spotify still the go to for every day, working, driving, etc…


From: Greg Upham

Subject: Re: The Coachella Backlash


Looking at this from three different levels

1,000 ft – I have teenagers and all they care about is what’s happening in the digital space.  EVERYTHING is documented and posted because if it wasn’t captured, it didn’t happen.  Which means everything is a backdrop for your documented life.  Coachella isn’t unique but maybe a salient illustration.  I don’t care about influencers and if you do…and you don’t have something to sell…you are wasting your time.  Influencers are a scam.  Why?

10,000 ft – “influencer” is basically somebody who has an audience you can identify demographically and sell to.  Nobody cares about the influencer as a person.  Not their audience or the sponsors.  What matters is what they are selling.  Here’s a test: if Jake Paul dies are people going to be sad or riveted?  Would his brother capitalize and…wait for it….monetize?  Bad luck is gold for this crowd because it gives them content and a storyline.  Their poor coachella experience can be turned into inflated outrage and drive impressions.

100,000 ft – this country has turned into a giant shopping mall.  I defy you to find anything, anything that hasn’t been monetized.  The United States is nothing but a giant marketplace.  Nobody gives a shit about anybody else, unless they are rich or can make you money.  Or both.

In this country money is all that matters.  Values are something used against you by the political opposition (can you believe they believe that?) so some guy can get elected, wield power and influence, and control money.  For that matter, so is the consumer internet.


From: Carl Gunell

Subject: Re: The State Of The Union

The US fixation on taxation is irrelevant.  Sure, taxes in Sweden (where I was born) are somewhat higher than the US.  But so is disposable income which is a more relevant measurement.  Scandinavians have higher disposable income because they do not have to worry about paying for healthcare and education.

That’s why many people can use some of their five weeks vacation to travel and see the world.  Travel have contributed to the the general public having a much more insightful and balanced view of the world.  Few Americans may have visited Scandinavia, but a lot of Scandinavians have visited the US.   The views of America in Scandinavia is not only based on hearsay.


From: Robin G

Subject: Re: Re-Abortion

I concur with Pam Arnold who replied here…regarding the hypocrisy. Certainly I am aware this is not an earth shattering surprise yet it really is off-putting to be face to face with it in a clinic setting.

The hypocrisy.

The moms, the grandmas, the women seeking abortion care themselves who “don’t believe in it”.

As a counselor at a clinic, for many years, I saw this often.

We used to say amongst ourselves that we were the clinic of choice for the antis.

Groan, I know.

The only reason anyone was turned away was for hostility, racism, non-compliance.

As far as actions not meeting their stated position on abortion …we put together a plan for decision making and would possibly r/s their appointment for another day, many would leave and return to have an abortion.

In almost 20 years only one family didn’t return and we heard later they went to another clinic…after some medical records were shared between providers.

All this to say, the force to not be pregnant when you don’t want to be is powerful…

it’s such a shame that those who protest and have a public persona of religious opposition don’t/won’t support and vote for what they DO not what they say.

The privilege, the selfishness…it’s exhausting and oh so painful to watch.

Robin Gelberg


From: Randy Dawson

Subject: Re: Re-Abortion

Bob, as usual i am late to the table. lotta shit going on in my life since Christmas.. bin sick all winter…wanna start off by saying i am in a way responsible for three abortions. Pressure. Not proud of it. The first was when my ex wife went behind my back and had a DNC and while admitting it just had to tell me it was a boy. She destroyed my only chance of a son. Got two girls! They are now successful women. Very proud of them. Not very proud of myself that she didn’t feel that she could come to me and say we could be expecting another child. Pressure. We were both working very hard at decent jobs. Why do women have to hide important decisions?..The answer? Men are assholes.  Plain and simple.. That was not a deal breaker. I took my disappointment on the chin as stunning as it was. I will never marry again.because i’m not up to the task.. Women should have the right to their own bodies. The injustices they have and still endure is a disgrace to mankind. A smart man walks away from an unworkable situation with a spouse. Ya don’t stick around and beat them into submission.   That’s a coward. It’s incredible from a Canadian perspective that a country as progessive as the USA is arguing about something that was decided decades ago for the betterment of society. Very sad.. Keep up the good work pal.


From: Erin Dineen

Subject: A Little More Abortion

Hi Bob,

My two careers just collided in a fantastic way: I worked for 25 years in the music business in London, and I’m now working for Erwin Chemerinsky, leading the alumni relations team at Berkeley Law. I encourage any and all to read Erwin’s op-eds.   He is also the author of fourteen books, including leading casebooks and treatises about constitutional law, criminal procedure, and federal jurisdiction.  His most recent books are Presumed Guilty:  How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights, and The Religion Clauses:  The Case for Separating Church and State. He is one of the – if not THE – most influential people in legal education in the United States. And he just happens to be the best boss I’ve ever had – by a mile – and talks with me as passionately about baseball as he does about constitutional law. He’s so incredibly awesome that I forgive him for being a Dodgers fan. 

Thanks for quoting his piece.

Erin Dineen (lifelong San Francisco Giants fan)


From: Steve Storms

Subject: Re: Spotifty Changes

Date: April 27, 2022 at 11:35:23 AM MDT

Hi Bob. I hope you’re doing well.

It’s been nearly a month since you sent this April 1st email. Yet I have not seen nor heard anything more about all of the Spotify changes you mentioned.

Certainly no evidence of Neil returning to the service.

Perhaps these things take time but it is a bit surprising that there’s been nothing further about this to the best of my knowledge.

It seemed like you had a huge exclusive scoop on the story but now wondering if your information was I error?

Hope to hear more from you soon in an upcoming email!

All the best



From: Mike Gormley

Subject: Dave Robinson..

I’m listening to your Dave Robinson interview and it’s so great to hear his voice after many years lacking communication.

Story, if I may.  It’s mid-70s and I’m in London on business, staying at a very nice hotel. Upon waking up one day I felt funky..a touch of the flu is how it felt so I cancelled a couple of appoihtments. At some point there is a knock on the door of my room and it’s Dave Robinson. With a bag of bananas. We sat on the bed watching TV, emptying the bag. I felt fine by mid-day.

Great guy.

Mike Gormley


From: Mike Bone

Subject: Re: Dave Robinson-This Week’s Podcast

I enjoyed your interview with Dave Robinson.  I thought your readers MIGHT like to hear some other stories about Robbo.


Dave and I worked together at American Recordings in the early 1990’s.  Dave worked in London, I worked in LA.  We had a band, the Jayhawks, that was set to tour Britain.  They had brought a woman keyboard player with them and she wanted a Hammond B3 organ for the tour.  Dave put in a check request from our partner label and was told that there was a “warehouse full of equipment” that the company owned and to just go over and pick up a B3 for the tour.  This was the WRONG thing to say to Dave Robinson.  


Dave was given a key to said warehouse.  He immediately went to a locksmith and had a copy of the key made. Dave then went over to the warehouse and tried his new key.  He then went back to the partner company, returned the original key and said there was nothing in the warehouse that could be used on the tour.  Later, that night, he returned with a truck and loaded up a Hammond B3 with Leslie speakers all in Anvil cases.   Dave gave to the keyboard player the organ, speakers and cases for the tour and to “take home”, a gift from American Recordings. The partner company never missed it.


Some months later American Recordings went through an amazing lawsuit with the partner in London.  Dave played a big part in our success in this lawsuit.  He was relentless.  


The partner label was headed by a CEO that went home every night sharply at 7PM to have dinner with his family.  He was rigid about spending dinner time with his family.  One rainy night in London, his chauffer driven Jaguar pulled up to the entrance to the company headquarters in Hammersmith to pickup said CEO.  When the CEO got into the back right seat, a soaking wet Dave Robinson got into the back left seat.  Needless to say, the CEO was more than a little unnerved by this.


The lawsuit was dragging on in court in London.  The British legal system is different from the US system.  There are barristers, Queens counsels and solicitors.  The judges, barristers and Queens counsels still wear the powdered wigs you see in movies.  It is OLD SCHOOL and regimented.  Your place to stand in the court depends on if you are a barrister or a Queens counsel.  The opposing sides refer to each other as “My learned friend” or “My esteemed colleague” while they really mean, “that idiot over there”.  It is all very interesting. 


During the case, the opposing side attempted to introduce into evidence an unauthorized tape recording of a privileged telephone call between American recordings executives and our solicitor.  When this happened, the judge, who had been almost comatose for the entire proceedings, sort of woke up from his nap on the bench and suddenly became VERY interested in this tape….who had made it, how it was obtained, was it bought, how much did it cost etc.   


“Persons unknown” had made the tape, it was bought for 500 pounds sterling in cash in a plain brown envelope delivered on railroad platform…..almost spy quality stuff!


Needless to say the opposing side realized that they had screwed up BIG TIME by letting anyone even know they had the tape, much less trying to introduce it into evidence.  The person at the company responsible for this debacle was a nasty bit of work I will call Mr. X.


Once the lawsuit was resolved, American made a new much bigger, better deal.  Dave and I had lingering animosity for Mr. X.  We wanted to send him a message.  Dave said, leave it with me.


Big TVs were just coming into favor in London.  Dave arranged for a MASSIVE TV, the largest available in Great Britain, to be delivered to Mr. X’s office.  The box had a huge metallic bow on it and balloons.  There was a large sign on all 6 sides of the box that said “Thank you Mr. X from your friends at American Recordings”.  We had the box delivered to Mr. X’s office at 11AM so that everyone in the company could see that Mr. X was getting a gift from American Recordings.  By 11:05 everyone in the company was talking about Mr. X and him doing a favor for American Recordings.


A couple of years go by, as they tend to do.  Dave and I were no longer at American Recordings.


My wife Lori was pregnant with our daughter Mica in 1996, really pregnant.  She was, as they say, heavy with child.


Dave calls the house and inquires about Lori….how was she doing, when was her due date, was she having any illness, that sort of thing.  After a couple of these questions, Dave gets down to business.


It seems Dave was directing a video for the American punk band, The Descendents. The song was titled “I’m the One”.  The story line of the video had to do with the members of the band being donors at the local sperm bank.  Dave needed a pregnant woman to be in the video.  Lori certainly fit the bill!


On the day of the taping Lori and I waited and waited.  Finally, late in the day, Dave and the band roared up like madmen in front of the house in 2 vans.  Dave was frantic.  “Get in. Get in. We are losing the light.”  The Milos Forman of punk was frantic to get the scene shot before sundown.  


Near the end of the video, the Descendents dress like sperm in white suits and skateboard down the streets of Santa Monica. 


Years went by and the phone rang and it was Dave.  We picked up right where we left off.  His kids were grown.  His marriage was over.  Life.


It seemed that one of his boys was coming to Los Angeles for a wedding and needed a place to stay.  DONE!  He stayed with us.


Over dinner I told the Jayhawks/Hammond B3 story.  Dave’s son laughed and said…”That explains it.”


It seems that one night Dave returned home from work and it was this son’s birthday. Once Dave realized that he had forgotten this important occasion, he apologized, saying he had left his son’s gift at the office.  Dave left to “retrieve his gift”.  


45 minutes rolled by and Dave returned home with a Gibson “Les Paul” guitar in a road case complete with band stencils and stickers.


Years later, in my dining room, Dave’s son wisely surmised that his father had made another trip to the equipment warehouse under cover of darkness to “retrieve” his son’s birthday gift. 


The music business was full of characters………but few as colorful as Dave Robinson.


Mike Bone

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