I started my musical career in 1975, working for a man named Marvin Fass. He owned fifty pulp magazines, and his offices were based on Park Avenue in New York City. Fass was notorious for wearing a huge revolver on his hip at all times. He was convinced that the staff was stealing his ideas and funneling these to Stanley Harris, Fass' former partner. I entered into Fass' world as a copy editor, and I had the opportunity to edit True Confessions, Horse Mags, Puzzle Magazines, etc. Marvin Fass also owned two rock'n'roll magazines. The chance to copy edit these publications far outweighed the allure of working on horse and puzzle magazines. I edited these two rock'n'roll magazines that were the worst possible publications one can imagine; they were devoid of viable content, and paper they were printed on was one step below high class toilet paper. Though these publications were out of touch with the rock'n'roll world, they offered me the chance to conduct interviews and write reviews. The publication of my work got my name out to record company publicists, independent publicists and well-known photographers.
After two years under the employ of Fass, he, under the delusion that I was colluding with his ex-partner, fired me. These accusations, once playful and eccentric, became ludicrous, as I never had any relationship with Harris. Nevertheless, Mr. Fass would not allow any debate. There, in front of his desk I stood, while he sat. Then he pulled out the .44 revolver. Fass forced me from the offices with the gun at my back. All the fury he could muster could not match the fear in my soul. I was out of the music magazine business just after a two year stint with Fass. In an effort to continue the career I had become obsessed with, I spent the good portion of a month in the lobby of Publisher Carl Ruderman's office on 44th St. and Second Ave. I had met a number of publishers during my time with Fass, and I knew that Carl Ruderman wanted to start a rock'n'roll magazine. However, it took me a month to convince him to begin publishing a new rock'n'roll magazine named Grooves.
In 1978, Grooves was born. I decided, with Ruderman's approval, to create a series of "one shots." These "one shots" where Grooves Magazine devoted solely to one band at a time. Kiss became the first in the series. I was so worried about the initial sales that I went to every magazine store in New York City and New Jersey to see how Grooves was selling. We were fortunate to have been distributed by CBS. The first issue sold eighty percent of the print run, which is an outstanding achievement for a new magazine. Successful magazines sell fifty percent of their printed copies. Mr. Ruderman was ecstatic, and knew that this intial success would carry over into the future. The staff and I were elated to still have jobs after the first issue, and looked forward to a long run with Grooves. Carl Ruderman called me into his office, and let me go from the Grooves organization, where I was the editor. Though I was now twice fired, I had made a name for myself as an editor in the rock'n'roll world. Magazines took notice, and soon I was receiving offers for employment from the likes of Hit Parader and Rock'n'Soul. These were established magazines that stood out from the others. Mr. John Santangelo, of the the well-known Connecticut Santangelos, called and asked me to meet him at New York's Santinos in Little Italy. Over the course of dinner, he hired me on as editor-in-chief of both Hit Parader and Rock'n'Soul magazines. Both magazines were located in Connecticut.
Carl Ruderman called me into his office, and let me go from the Grooves organization, where I was the editor. Though I was now twice fired, I had made a name for myself as an editor in the rock'n'roll world. Magazines took notice, and soon I was receiving offers for employment from the likes of Hit Parader and Rock'n'Soul. These were established magazines that stood out from the others. Mr. John Santangelo, of the the well-known Connecticut Santangelos, called and asked me to meet him at New York's Santinos in Little Italy. Over the course of dinner, he hired me on as editor-in-chief of both Hit Parader and Rock'n'Soul magazines. Both magazines were located in Connecticut.
The first directive I enacted upon assumption of these magazines was to open an office in New York City. The new home of Hit Parader and Rock'n'Soul was on Fifth Avenue. Therefore, the publisher and the magazine staff were located in two different cities. This allowed me to have a free reign over the content, yet every month a package had to be sent to Derby, Connecticut.
Many excellent writers and photographers knew me, and they were glad to work for me. Before I assumed the magazines completely I went to a well-known publicist, Howard Bloom. He represented people like Bob Marley. I invited him to lunch, and asked him, very pointedly, "What should I do?" I knew that Howard had been the editor for several music magazines, including Creem. I came to my friend Bloom to help me solve problems with the lackluster Hit Parader magazine. At that time, it was selling only twenty-five thousand copies a month, and Rock'n'Soul was only selling fifteen thousand. Bloom looked across the table from me and earnestly said that I should place a reader survey in each magazine in order to find out what the fans wanted to read about. Hit Parader was covering acts like Rod Stewart and Elton John. The surveys said that rock'n'rollers wanted to see a music magazine focused on Heavy Metal. AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss and many other heavy metal bands became the new focus of Hit Parader. The surveys in Rock'n'Soul were heavily focused on Michael Jackson and Prince. The magazine staff and I adjusted the format of our magazines to reflect the needs of our readership.
After a few hours spent kissing Howard Bloom's feet, I wiped my chin and took off to our offices. Both the staff of Hit Parader and Rock'n'Soul worked feverishly to integrate the new suggestions from the fans. The next ten years saw sales of Hit Parader and Rock'n'Soul rocket sky-high. The sales and ad-revenue could not match the capital that the fans put in the magazines through these surveys and feedback.
Hit Parader formed hotlines for interviews and news from the world of heavy metal. The magazine even spawned a television show on the USA cable network, which ran from 1983 to 1990. This program featured concert footage and music videos. The ABC radio network soon took notice of our successes, and we formed a radio program. The top 21 heavy metal hits were played there each week.
The inclusion of other media resources allowed some of my personal goals to be fulfilled. Thanks to my publicist, Ida Langsam, I debated priests, and right-wing wackos. These pundits insisted that heavy metal music was the Devil, and I rebutted them by insinuating that they, through their closed minds and prejudice, were, in fact, the Devil.
As editor-in-chief I saw an opportunity to create a heavy metal record label. After pitching the idea to Arista and MCA, Atlantic Records leapt on the opportunity. This created the Atlantic Records subsidiary, Titanium Records, with the successful Badlands as our flagship artist.
In 1990, I realized that fluffy hair metal had reached its peak. The boom of the late eighties was over. At the time, I did not realize the power that hip-hop music was developing. Rock'n'Soul was not able to adapt quickly enough to the new mainstream energy of the hip-hop world. As a result the magazine enjoyed its last issue in 1991.
I made a decision to leave New York City in 1991, and I left the Hit Parader organization to continue under the guidance of my protege Andy Secher. The magazine has remained in print, and it is now owned by Frank Paretta, of the well known New Jersey Paretta family.
I settled in the Bay Area of California, and Frank Paretta contacted me with a job offer as the editor-in-chief for Country Song Roundup, another well established magazine. I could not imagine that a New York City boy would become editor for a legendary country music magazine. I must say, that, though the task was daunting, I did a superb job. Under my guidance the quality of articles, photos and sales all increase exponentially.
In the late nineties, during the Napster boom, the music industry, from the local retailer to nationally distributed magazines, and from radio to tour attendance, experienced a nose dive. Country Song Roundup was downsized by the publisher and eventually was pulled from distribution.
Every day of my life, since I was a little boy singing in Aames pool hall, has been focused on music. I had the opportunity to experience the world of rock'n'roll, country and soul from inside the industry. For the last four years, I have produced my own Top 21 albums each and every week in an effort to bring the cream of the crop of new releases to my readers. Now that I am basking in the California sunshine and rolling in dough, I have put together a team to bring, to the internet, the most experienced independent voices on music, today.
I have only a few intentions: to expose the joys of a wide variety of music through the trained eyes of a life long music aficioniado, to display views on music through the exuberance of young writers, and to create a space on the internet where the capitalistic intentions of the music industry, and the music media, are unheeded.