Unedited expert from The Hidden Years Story - Part 1 by David Marks. Comments welcome
Used Without permission & due for release in 2003 by Penguin Books.
HY Chapter 09c - Let's look up Brother
There's a Hawk in my soup and a French Bread Roll in the Air
If, as the popular saying goes, the Record Industry & the Music Media are always out to lunch, then in the late 60's early 70's you would usually find many of the executives lunching at the Branch Office in Bree Street on the South East side of down-town Johannesburg or up at The Nobleman in Pretoria Street, Hillbrow. The Nobleman was well known for it's excellent food & service - and it's where many of the ad agency & media hacks hung-out to dry in the middle of the day; ordinary musicians could never have afforded to put their tie-dyed sandaled or tacky feet in that posh & plush (if friendly) establishment. These were the daze of compulsory Colonial Yokes & Straight Jackets - collar & tie & whites only - which effectively excluded most of the musicians we knew.
The Branch Office was more of a music & late-night spot & just around the corner from Gallo Africa. And besides, the lighting & attitude was such that one could always sneak in a musician of colour without them having to drink out of an enamel mug in the alley or the kitchen. The back alley incidentally - that split Bree & Kerk Streets apart - was positioned so that musicians who were so steeply inclined could slip out & tune up or whip out for the odd pipe, line or joint...
The Nobleman was a pleasant Laarnie spot in Hippie Hillbrow, owned & managed by the amiable Peter. It was a place in which record industry executives - honorary whites included - would feel comfortable. Away from music & musicians, T-Shirts, Tackies & Jeans. At around the time - early 1971 - Clive Calder's EMI production of Hawk was planning to escape. This was some time after Ben Segal had published & produced his 2nd 3rd Ear Music / SAFMA Cross Section double vinyl album that featured the song Look Up Brother, in mid 1970. It was a really nice recording by Geoff Lonstein.
Audrey Smith (3rd Ear Music's founder with Ben Segal circa 1967/ 68) was dining at the Nobleman with a bunch of record industry suits one evening in 1971 when she noticed with some delight that the song composed by Geoff Lonstein & Dave Ornellas - Look up Brother - was artfully scribed on the restaurant wall. Audrey was impressed & told the manager so. We publish that song she proudly proclaimed to all the guests at the table - written by a member & the manager of this great new band, Hawk.
Audrey would often accompany the Teal management to these places, despite being noted for her dislike of the pompous meatballs who called the tune & paid the pipers. She was more a music industry person in a strictly pale-male record industry & the Mofia dominated broadcast industry. I believe that her bosses at Teal Records (RCA - music publisher Ray Walters & record execs Big Allan Marshal & markateer Izzy Nathan) enjoyed Audrey's company & natural naughty (rebellious) rock & roll streak; and she loved sending the serious suits up. Unlike many of SAfrica's white tribes of musicians - who would pose in their leathers, tattooed & pierced attitude on week-ends - Audrey the genuine rock & roll article.
(Has anything changed in SAfrica today? The suits still believe that contemporary music must be dressed-up & taken seriously - in our spare time, of course. Like a serious hobby. Is this why nobody outside of SAfrica cares to listen to our music, which is usually technically sound, but atheistically boring?)
3rd Ear Music's collective role, from 1970, (Audrey, Ben & myself) was to share the bands of musicians & events that we enjoyed with as many people as we could get to listen; musicians that would have otherwise remained unheard & unnoticed. Master Jack & the Woodstock Sound System - that Bill Hanley had sent out in a loose arrangement for me having worked for Hanley Sound in 1969, USA, played a major part in this ideology. (And if you don't blow your own trumpet or top, who else's lips would kiss the mouth-piece anyway?)
At this point a legendary anecdote about Audrey - making her international mark (or scar?) in the record industry - would also put her part into perspective.
The International Music Publisher's convention - which is held annually at Midem in the South of France - attracts record industry executives who wheel & deal & barter in intellectual property rights. Buying & selling songs like carrots & potatoes at Market. But SAfrica, remember, was just beginning to feel the grip of isolation through the international cultural boycott; not that this affected the record or broadcast industries or our political masters' voice in the slightest. In hindsight we can safely say that the opposite was true. Sure, the boycott made many people aware of what was going on in South Africa, but it marginalized music & musicians within the country & made it easier for the SAfrican government (at the time) to control these subversives & for the record industry to import ready-made recorded music at the expensive of local music & at a fraction of what it would have cost to focus & develop musicians who stayed to face the music. (Has anything changed?)
And unlike executives in other businesses who were involved in the boycott busting steal, guns & gold industries, the managers of the folk & rock & roll poets & the jazz exiles were not so easily fooled. These suits (at Midem) knew all about fascist white South Africa through the songs they were selling. Besides a few genuine moral high-grounders, the cultural boycotts played into the hands & heads of the white government & into the pockets of the American & British pop industries. They didn't have the expense of sending their bands into distant dark & expensive & unstable Africa to promote product; they could control the royalty & advance intake from their offices in London & New York & the SAfrican record industry & the SABC would do the rest. Just as long as the Midem suits were not seen to have connected directly with the SA exploiters, doing business at arms-length over intellectual property rights seemed OK. It wasn't easy to understand the thinking of these music publishing & record industry hustlers. They would go to extraordinary publicity lengths to prevent their recording artists from performing in segregated Southern Africa, but they seemed to have no problem in wheeling & dealing for lucrative publishing & record industry contracts.
Record labels would sometimes parade a token loin-clothed musician in front of this increasingly hostile international music circus. But this was expensive. McGrath insisted that Audrey - a woman with a Township attitude - go to Midem. (3rd Ear Music was only establishing itself in the early 70's; a small part-time embryonic dream; a platform for isolated alternative musicians, feeding the commercial industry; more of a service to the musicians - so we thought - than it was to the bottom-line. Audrey couldn't live off 3rd Ear anymore than we could.)
At a particular early 70's Midem, Audrey found herself armed with a few 3rd Ear tunes - Look Up Brother included - seated in a Laarnie French Restaurant at the same table as Bob Dylan's manager & music publishing representative, Albert Grossman. - director & owner of the legendary Bearsville Record Company. Bert was obviously out for a good deal for Bob & the other revolutionaries in his Bearsville stable - Janis Joplin & The Band - regardless of the moral & political cultural issues. He apparently didn't get the sort of deal he wanted, and at this supper said something to Audrey about her being a white racist & what were they (Ray Walters, McGrath etc) doing at Midem anyway?
Grossman wouldn't have known about Audrey's involvement in South Africa. Although employed by Teal Records, she was also working on behalf of many musicians who would not have been represented in Midem at that time; Malombo, Count Wellington Judge, The Dorkay House musicians etc. She took exception to Bert's remarks & grabbed the nearest bit of food to let him know how out of line he was. It just happened to be a seemingly harmless French bread-roll.
But just like Italian bakers, the French can also bake their rolls as hard as rocks & as heavy as clay bricks at the best & freshest of times. The missile struck the legendary Grossman just above one of his huge imposing thick grey eyebrows & the blood trickled down. Legend has it that this usually docile bear of a mountain-man with his long gray hair, panicked thinking that he'd been assassinated. Knock knock knocking on Heaven's Door? Seated at the head of the table, Bert upended it like a wounded bear with a scream, a groan & a grunt. It took a whole load of suitably wined music executives to restrain him from tearing a few SAfricans apart. Audrey just smiled & waltzed away. I suppose a deal for any 3rd Ear Music, Look Up Brother included, was out of the question?
Fast forward back to Hillbrow at The Nobleman. That song of yours, remarked Peter, the Nobleman Proprietor, was not written by the band Hawk; I paid a sculptor, Frank Cassell, to inscribe it on the wall… as far as I know it was written by a young poet from Yeoville, named Lesley, sighed Peter. (read also Josh Spencer >>) Audrey was stunned & clearly embarrassed; those around the table who knew of her rock & roll reputation cringed. Waiting for the Bread Rolls to fly?
We at 3rd Ear Music – Audrey, Ben & myself - had been told by Geoff Lonstein - Hawk's manager – back in early 1970 that he wrote the poem. Did the band believe him? Anybody who could compose words like that couldn't have been half as bad as the boy who got expelled from Highlands North for setting a cat alight!
Dave Ornellas (RIP) was so impressed with his then new manager’s poetic skills, that he carved Look up Brother into a melody. I'm sorry insisted Peter; that's not the way it should go; I was so impressed with this poem, that I asked Frank to leave it up there. So Hawk's claim to have written the tune was only a half-truth? Half a Hawk composition? Half a Lonstein steal? And the band didn't know?
As it turned out there were a lot of things that Hawk didn't know about the Lonstein management of Geoff & Molly and a lot of things they would soon get to learn… the hard way. Money doesn't talk it swears...screamed the reluctant Bard of Rock, whose manager, Bert Grossman had a SAfrican launched French bread-roll scar for life; hidden by a monstrous eyebrow & perhaps the secret that he almost made a deal with the racist SAfrican pale-faced devils. Look Up Brother indeed!
Hawk 1970 - Braam Malherbe, Dave Omellas, Mark Spook Khan, Keith Hutchinson and Richard Johnson on Paddock Farm
(Photo by Tony Cambell)
As 60's musicians we never doubted Geoff Lonstein's claim that he wrote that poem; one phony false alarm claim among many, we were soon to found out. Dave Ornellas and Spook Khan were proud of their new manager. So much so, that to this day the denial seems to continue. No amount of telephone messages, emails & courtesy demo CDs has solicited a response from the band. So as far as mainstream commercial history is concerned 3rd Ear Music had nothing to do with the band or that song; so it seems. Don Williamson & myself included. The tapes, journal entries, rent & PA hire accounts will not change the minds of the retro-academics. So what? It makes a good story! And remember, it's rock & roll so it's not that serious! Or isn't it? When we think of what happened to Solomon Linda's Mbube & Jake Lerole's Tom Haak, & the countless royalties that have gone missing over the years, then maybe it's time to get serious? After all Rock & Roll is now considered a serious specialist & marginal music genre - like Classical Music & Jazz. Serious music indeed! The stories become as important as the music.
Don't Give Me That Independent Zomba Jive
Match The Music! Catch The Sound!
3rd Ear Music was most probably one of the very first independent alternative record label & music publishers anywhere - the first dedicated Music Sound System, the clubs, the Free Concerts & Township jorls. So a unique & naïve open-ended lady & gentlemen agreement was struck with almost all of the labels who would dare listen to those PA mixes - Teal, GRC, EMI, RPM & eventually WEA. We had no idea what alternative musicians were doing in Britain & the USA outside of the commercial labels that distributed them. Folkways, Vanguard & Elektra Records in the USA were most probably independent labels - but they at least had some popular media support, student involvement & broadcast outlets.
There was no such thing in Southern Africa for 3rd Ear Music or anybody else. Unless we handed the musician directly over to one of the established (usually USA & UK licensed) labels, the music would not be heard. In that respect, 3rd Ear Music was independent in the true sense of the word.
Graham Beggs had formed ARM in a deal with TEAL Records in 1967 - & ironically his first recorded productions were two 3rd Ear Music songs by Folk & Blues guitar legend Mike Dickman .Johnny's Gun was written by Colin Shamley - his first recorded composition; an anti-gun & anti-war song - and my miners' love lament, Denver Idleman. Neither song ever got a minutes airtime.
The In Crowd - Peter Vee, Ivor Back, Ron Jubber, Roy Naturman and Clive Calder. Photo courtesy the Peter Vee Collection
Music publishing in the 60's was a very new thing in South Africa - given that SAfrican publishers were basically collection agents for international songwriters & publishers. The Solomon Linda story, once again bares this out. When Master Jack became an international hit in 1968, there was no reciprocal tax or publisher's split agreements between South Africa & other countries. By the time the mechanical royalties reached South Africa, 3 or 4 countries had taken their cut & deducted taxes. It didn't pay local record labels to get involved with publishing original indigenous contemporary music.
Clive Calder (EMI & later CCP) & Graham Beggs (TEAL & ARM) who were both musicians & songwriters themselves at the time, told me years later that they heard the music publishing gap. Graham was the first producer / publisher to pick up on an unknown Swedish band in the mid 70's, ABBA - at Midem. Clive's Zomba Jive is the worlds' largest (so called) independent record & publishing company. Why then did they sign those late 60's early 70's SA bands - Hawk, Freedom's Children, Suck and Abstract Truth etc - to international music publishing houses in Johannesburg? It made no sense. Or didn't it?
At the time that Clive signed Hawk to EMI - he had already produced Freedom's Children's Astra and Suck's Time to Suck. He was also playing sporadically with Peter Vee in The Outlet; basically a studio outfit that recorded well-produced bubble-gum covers for the local market. (Peter Vee - Vocals; Clive Calder - guitar & vocals; Robert Schroeder - keyboards; Neil Herbert - guitar; Greg Brown - Bass; Howie Jones - Drums; later to be replaced by Ivor Back). Clive Calder was also recording & producing the likes of Charles Jacobie, Groep 2, Carike Keuzenkamp, Dickie Loader & the Blue Jeans among many others.
3rd Ear Music was very impressed with Freedom's Astra; not with the recording - which, like the Hawk recordings later, didn't catch the magic of the band in concert - but because a company such as EMI had ventured to distribute this music. EMI were involved with & connected to the South African Defense Force & the Nationalists war effort on the border in Angola & elsewhere. They even had a label called Brigadeers & later became known as EMI - Brigadeers SA.
EMI's general manager was the son of Brigadier Venter - head of the SADF. Freedom's Children on the EMI label had a revolutionary ring to it. The Beatles, on the Parlophone label, were also part of the EMI stable as well! Talk about revolution, hypocrisy, capitalism, communism, terrorism & expediency? And John Lennon was banned in the RSA for saying he was bigger than Jesus?
Ramsay was a little put out by my criticism of the Astra album I think. I said that those Hawk & Freedom's albums (and later Otis Waygood & Abstract Truth) were dreadful recordings of very talented & good bands. To say so today is heresy within SAfrica's nostalgic Rock circles; with me being accused of sour grapes. Maybe there's just something wrong with my taste of studio recordings - given that I preferred the technically faulty live desk mixes. But I know what I saw & heard on stage. These bands were far better than they sounded on record.
Freedom's Children & Hawk in concert was often a magic experience & the EMI studio recordings were a stoned cold sell-out, I thought. Soulless by comparison. Clive's local alternative music studio productions perhaps suffered from the grip of a very tight studio budget; with his eye on the bottom line it must have made it difficult for him to hear those bands & those songs as they could have been recorded; It seems as if he recorded on a tickey & EMI kept the change.
When Clive joined up with Mutt (Robert John) Lange in London in 1975 it was a different story I believe. Not that he was any less as budget conscious as he was in Africa I hear, but the musicians he was dealing with were more experienced in the ways of technology, concert & management / musician relationships. In SAfrica it was a free-for-all & a bit of a busk for everybody concerned.
Clive did contribute to the alternative Rock scene & took a (relative) chance in trying to go the commercial route with some of those bands; but what good was that really, without mainstream media & marketing support? Clive's experience with Richard Jon Smith & The Miracles in South Africa & his signing of Mutt Lange in London must have taught him a good deal.
Today Clive's Jive Records & Zomba Music control about 6% of the world market, with a rash of 90's & new millennium bubble-gum, Hip Hop & Rap bandits - from Brittany Spears & Westlife to Shaggy & Boyz to Men among countless others. He turns over more income than the GDP of most countries in Africa.
Mutt, husband & producer to Canadian country singer songwriter Shania Twain, is considered to be the most successful pop & rock record-producer of all time. Anyway - enough name dropping. Let's lower the story a peg or two.
Old Roots & New Directions / Music of the Spirit & The Folk Process
3rd Ear Music eventually let the Hawk thing go - with Lonstein involved it looked like a can of maggots; he wanted control of all the bands we had introduced him too, including - & surprisingly - Venda drummer, Julian Bahula & his Mamelodi trio, Malombo; with Lucky Ranku Guitar & Abe Cindi Flute. (Phillip Tabane had split for the USA in 1968 with Venda drummer Gabriel Mabi Tobejane & Cathy & Darius Brubeck's apartment floor in Los Angeles.)
The John Meyer portrait - Malombo 1970. Lucky Ranku, Julian Bahula and Abe Cindi. 3rd Ear Music's first label production which featured a track with Freedam's Children from Tribal Blues, Wits Great Hall - August 1971
3rd Ear Music was in the process of putting Julian Bahula's Malombo together with Ramsay & Ken E Henson's reformed Freedom's Children in the summer of 1970, up in the Valley of a 1000 Hills - rehearsing with Colin Pratley (African drums) & Brian Davidson (Vocals) for Ramsay & Ken E's Orang Outang project & 3rd Ear Music's Tribal Blues; which we eventually presented at Wits - 11th & 12th August 1971.
Lonstein saw stars & made sure that we would never want to be part of Hawks' flight-to-freedom, as he so cleverly & opportunistically called it. There's no question that Hawk became mightily influenced by meeting Malombo. Now this wouldn't be necessary to even mention, had this country's contemporary musician's & media some idea of where we come from; without which, as they say, how would we know where we are going?
There's this strange envious, some say selfish phenomena, which seems to befall so many contemporary artists in SAfrica, because of our past collective black-out. Without trying to find escape routes or excuse hatches or to justify the negative side of the international arts boycott, what seems to have happened is that our international isolation & internal exile has left us playing with ourselves for far too long. (As I've pointed out before, it makes us deaf as well, don't you know?) Point is, that only suckers are brought up in vacuum. The creative arts can't survive like that - no matter how much money, PR & technology we throw at it.
Music especially, can only grow from roots & tradition - whose ever they may be - and whether we like it or not for any band of musicians to refute that basic truth is a lie. Without roots we die. No DJ, MP3 file or hidden history is going to save us. That's the human nature of music however & where ever we hear it!
Anyway, Ben Segal had recorded Malombo live at a Wits Great Hall Folk & Jazz Concert in 1966 - the same tapes that I had taken over with me to Arthur Gorson at Elektra Records in New York, 1969. Audrey Smith was among the judges who voted The Malombo Jazz Makers (Phillip Tabane was still on guitar then) the best band at the EMI / Castle Larger Jazz Festival at Orlando Stadium, Soweto in 1965. And so the Folk process goes.
Besides, I had worked in the ILAM archives for Doc Hugh Tracey in Roodepoort for some time in 1968 (after leaving the Gold Mines), & with the Doc's permission made tape copies of his wonderful Music For Africa Series, that included the Guitar, Penny Whistle & Drums of the Malombo Jazz Makers (Phillip, Abe & Julian). These tapes were made available to the Folkies at the Troubadour & the 3rd Ear / Malombo (and later Freedom's Children / Malombo) concerts were a great success in and around Johannesburg & Durban City.
Wheels on Deals & No Double Colour Cover
Given this background Audrey suggested that the minimum 3rd Ear should expect in return for making the connections & feeding the record companies, producers & managers, is the retention of the publishing rights - for one song per album at least. This was a fair & sound suggestion we thought. Clearly no money was going to change hands in terms of advances & the royalties from record albums that got little or no air play or media support. In Hawk's case for example we agreed - with Calder, Lonstein & the Band on Look Up Brother. Seen as how it had been originally credited as a 3rd Ear Music song on the double Cross-Section album. (Audrey hadn't been exposed to the song on The Nobleman wall at that stage and Geoff was certainly not going to invite her out to lunch).
Through the years we had made similar publishing arrangements with a number of artists; and when things became a little more sophisticated in the mid 70's, we even opted for a small percentage over-ride; something that we hear from knowledgeable record company researchers today, was not possible, because it had never been done before. As always, there was a first time. A farmer makes a plan!
Some musicians, who did become well-known, without 3rd Ear Music, bitched about this arrangement years later. But the 2 or 3 exceptions only prove the rule...which was a fair arrangement considering our input. It's interesting to note one or two lonely 3rd Ear Music copyrights on the debut albums of some very high-profile musicians in the 70's, 80's & 90's. It may be true though that 3rd Ear have been as bad as the majors. Although some albums often never left the factory - or if they did they were taken off the record shop shelves by the security police - (Foot soldier for apartheid). 3rd Ear Music went through a patch were we apparently did not distribute royalties. Besides never doing our own collections & administration, if there were sales, there must have been a few hundred units. However we remain as guilty as the majors non-payment it's not relative; be it one sale or a million - and we trust that the copyright investigations that are going on (Ref Solomon Linda's Mbube among many) will help sort the matter out. We also need to be paid in order to pay.
Bad business or not, we were piously proud to have assisted for the labour of love & not just for the money of music; with a twist in the tale of Hawk. Lonstein & Calder concluded the EMI deal without us. Speaking from experience I appealed to the band; don't sign to Lonstein or EMI guys. Ooops!
No problem said Lonstein & Calder - Look Up Brother would remain a 3rd Ear Music copyright. Voetstoots! It was the one song that would get no airtime anyway Clive continued to boast through Geoff. They were right of course.
When African Day was released we noted that Look Up Brother was signed to Ardmore & Beachwood & that the composers were registered at SAMRO as Geoff Lonstein & Dave Ornellas. - although on the album cover only Dave is credited. This was before The Nobleman discovery. There were no 3rd Ear Music credits whatsoever. And as usual, the rest of the credits are illuminating.
Firstly, not even the members of the band were credited. The photographer - 3rd Ear Music's Tony Campbell & the basic sleeve design were done by Tony's partner Leslie Mackie. They were credited as were the recording engineers Leo Lagerwey & Jeremy George. Clive got his name in caps & lights. We said nothing to the band. They were our friends. Don Williamson was hurt & Ben just shrugged it off, as if to say, what did you expect? Honestly! Audrey wanted to sue everybody. What can one say about ambition? The Judas factor will always be at work - even if the silverware is only big talk.
As usual I grouched at both Calder & Lonstein. Their rationale, at the time was completely plausible to a sucker like me. If EMI Brigadeers did not control all the songs on the album, through their publisher, Ardmore & Beachwood, Lonstein explained, Hawk would have not got a double colour cover. And I believed them.
How could we be so callous as to stand in the way of our friends getting a double Album Colour sleeve, suggested Clive via Lonstein in his inimitable persuasive manner?
To add insult to injury when the sleeve came out it was an aberration of Tony's moody photo & Leslie's design. This was one of those typical cheap & nasties reserved for (so called) local productions (see White Vinyl Bantu Vinyl) - where the album sleeve would fall apart after a year. But what was worse was the actual printing & final design. Many international cheap & nasty arty album sleeves & content in the 60's & 70's - rock, pop & folk - were so badly over the top & in such poor taste, that they were brilliant. They have since become standards, years down the line. But this seldom happened with SAfrican albums. Hawk's African Day - the cover & the content - despite some wonderful songs & photography - was so excruciatingly cheap & nasty, that they have became totally forgettable.
Who can tell when last we heard a Hawk song on the radio, other than George Harrison's Here Comes The Sun? And that is sad. Kissed by the Sun & Look Up Brother as poorly as they are recorded, should be playing as many times as any of the equally poorly recorded international pop songs from around that era.
And then finally - more injury to insult - members of the band Hawk have apparently never smelt a cent from the sale of the album, which seemed to have sold reasonably & relatively well. (Relative in SA for a white rock record of that kind would mean no more than maybe 2000 sales. 5000 units tops.)
How anybody can claim that we - the musicians, the producers & publishers were all in it for the money, is plainly ridiculous. But then why did Lonstein, Calder & EMI get involved? Who made their fortunes & who didn't?
(To Be Continued : We Have Seen The Future & It's Sound! HY Chapter 09c)