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Leon Huff

R&B record company owner Leon Huff was born in Camden, New Jersey on April 8, 1942. Huff was first exposed to music through his mother, who played the piano and the organ for the 19th Street Baptist Church choir. Huff began playing the piano at the age of five; he received basic lessons from his mother as well as formal teaching through the school system and private lessons. As a teenager, Huff participated in several “doo-wop” music groups throughout Camden. One of his groups, “The Dynaflows,” auditioned for the popular television show, Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.

In 1950, Huff and Kenneth Gamble came together in a vocal group called “The Romeos.” Huff had already worked in sessions with music producer Phil Spector in New York, including the Danny and the Juniors hit “Let's Go to the Hop.” Returning to Philadelphia, Huff did sessions for local label Cameo who were already successful with Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell. Fellow Romeo, Kenny Gamble, co-wrote a song for Candy and the Kisses on which Huff performed. In 1966, Gamble and Huff formed Excel Records; and, in 1967, they produced the Soul Survivors’ hit single, “Expressway to Your Heart.” They continued working as independent producers with acts like Archie Bell and the Drells and Jerry Butler. They also had their own Neptune Label (through Chess Records) and Gamble records.

In 1971, Gamble and Huff formed their own label, Philadelphia International Records, and secured a distribution deal with CBS. The label produced #1 R&B hits such as The O’ Jays’ “Love Train,” Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “If You Don't Know Me By Now,” Lou Rawls’ “You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” and “TSOP,” which became the theme to the TV show Soul Train. Their signature sound incorporated sophisticated touches like strings, horn sections, and an always-insistent groove. A precursor to disco, when the clubs started playing an important role in the music business, Philadelphia International helped shape the direction with hits like 1974’s “TSOP,” which became the theme to the TV show Soul Train. During the 1980s, Huff continued to collaborate with Gamble, writing and producing tracks for Patti LaBelle, Phyllis Hyman, Lou Rawls, and The O’ Jays.

Gamble and Huff have been awarded the highest accolades in the music industry. In 1993, Huff, along with his songwriting and producing partners Kenny Gamble and Thom Bell, was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Foundation’s Walk of Fame; brass plaques with their names were placed on the sidewalk of Broad Street’s Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia not far from Philadelphia International studios. Gamble and Huff were inducted into the National Academy of Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1999, they received the Trustees Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Musician Leon A. Huff was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 26, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.085

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/26/2013

Last Name

Huff

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Charles Sumner Elementary School

Cooper B. Hatch Middle School

Camden High School

First Name

Leon

Birth City, State, Country

Camden

HM ID

HUF01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Miami, Florida

Favorite Quote

The Beat Goes On.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

4/8/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Moorestown

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Rice, Broccoli

Short Description

Music producer Leon Huff (1942 - ) cofounded the Philadelphia International Records label, which produced #1 R&B hits like The O’ Jays’ “Love Train,” Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “If You Don't Know Me By Now,” Lou Rawls’ “You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” and “TSOP,” which became the theme to the television show Soul Train.

Employment

Delete

Philadelphia International Records

Excel Records

Golden Fleece Records

Uncensored Records

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leon Huff's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leon Huff lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leon Huff describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about his early exposure to music

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leon Huff remembers his mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leon Huff describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leon Huff talks about his paternal family's migration to Camden, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leon Huff talks about his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leon Huff describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leon Huff describes his earliest child memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Leon Huff remembers playing drums in the school band

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Leon Huff recalls playing piano at the Tenth Street Baptist Church in Camden, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leon Huff describes his mother's role in his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leon Huff remembers his father's barbershop

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leon Huff recalls playing in the marching band at Camden High School in Camden, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leon Huff remembers his early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leon Huff describes his neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leon Huff describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leon Huff talks about his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leon Huff remembers forming The Dynaflows

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Leon Huff remembers watching 'American Bandstand'

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Leon Huff remembers the music venues in Camden, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leon Huff remembers Lola Falana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leon Huff recalls the entertainment of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leon Huff remembers the music of The Dynaflows and The Lavenders

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leon Huff remembers the black radio stations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leon Huff remembers his aspiration to become a studio musician

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leon Huff recalls joining Kenny Gamble and the Romeos

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leon Huff talks about his time with Kenny Gamble and the Romeos

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Leon Huff remembers meeting Kenny Gamble

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Leon Huff remember working with Phil Spector and The Ronettes

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leon Huff describes his challenges during his early recording career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about his income as a songwriter and musician

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leon Huff remembers writing 'Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about developing Gamble and Huff's unique sound

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leon Huff recalls writing for the Soul Survivors and The Intruders

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leon Huff remembers producing records for Archie Bell and the Drells

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leon Huff recalls writing songs for Jerry Butler and Dusty Springfield

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leon Huff describes his songwriting process, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leon Huff talks about Thom Bell's work with The Delfonics

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Leon Huff recalls writing 'Drowning in the Sea of Love' for Joe Simon

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Leon Huff remembers meeting The O'Jays

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Leon Huff describes his songwriting process, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Leon Huff remembers discovering Teddy Pendergrass

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leon Huff describes the music of Melvin and the Blue Notes

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about The O'Jays' album 'Ship Ahoy'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leon Huff remembers producing the MFSB orchestra

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about the songwriting process at Philadelphia International Records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leon Huff describes the formation of Philadelphia International Records

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leon Huff recalls working with Wilson Pickett

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leon Huff remembers recording with Michael Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leon Huff remembers Patti LaBelle

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leon Huff reflects upon his favorite group to produce

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Leon Huff talks about his favorite composition

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Leon Huff recalls recording the long cuts of 'I'll Always Love My Mama' and 'Wake up Everybody'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leon Huff remembers Teddy Pendergrass' car crash

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about his mentor, Quincy Jones

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leon Huff remembers signing a production contract with Columbia Records

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about the challenges of songwriting

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leon Huff describes the impact of rap on his record sales

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leon Huff talks about the recording sessions at Philadelphia International Records

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leon Huff recalls the effects of his career on his family life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leon Huff reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Leon Huff talks about contemporary music

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Leon Huff talks about his favorite music

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Leon Huff reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Leon Huff talks about his interest in producing a Broadway musical

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Leon Huff remembers meeting Berry Gordy

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Leon Huff talks about his admiration of other black music producers

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leon Huff remembers the payola investigations

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about the founding of the Black Music Association

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leon Huff reflects upon the impact of his music

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leon Huff describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leon Huff narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

10$8

DATitle
Leon Huff describes his earliest child memory
Leon Huff describes his songwriting process, pt. 1
Transcript
Do you have an earliest childhood memory?$$An earliest?$$Um-hm.$$Yeah, yeah, being curious about that piano that was sitting in my living room. I sort of, like--because I was, I was, I started being curious about that piano. And my mother [Beatrice Alberta Huff] used to tell me, she used to pick me up--because the piano stool was so high, she used to pick me up and put me on the piano stool. And she used to tell me I used to like bang on it. You know, I was a kid, just banging on it. But, so the way I look at it, I must have got curious with the sounds that was coming from out of those white and black things I was beating on as a child. And I figured the more I did that, the more I developed that gift of wanting to play it. I started playing by ear. And five years old, six years old, I was playing the boogie woogie. I was playing, I was playing, I was playing stuff that I was just making up. And then my mother took me to the Apollo in New York [New York], and she, and she took me to see a young guy named Sugar Chile Robinson who played piano. And he just tore the house up, Apollo Theater. And that was an experience I never forgot. And I was learning (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Sugar, Sugar Chile Robinson?$$Yeah.$$Okay. And how old were you then?$$Oh, I was like a preteen. I must have been like seven or eight years because my grandfather [Herbert Alberta] had a sister that lived in Harlem [New York, New York], and my mother used to visit my aunt [sic. great-aunt]. And she would take me and my sister [Jean Huff] to the Apollo when we would go there and visit, and that was wonderful. I got a chance to experience that Ha- Harlem, Apollo vibe early; and it was fantastic, those shows.$So during this period of time it seemed like there's so--how many--back to the songwriting process. I've read that in a day, you all would maybe write ten songs in a day.$$So- yeah, sometimes it was like that sometimes. What we used to do is--okay, we're going to plan a writing session. Say, we're going to, going to plan a writing session for, say, Thursday. So we'll compile a lot of titles, ideas, you know, put them on paper. Then we'll, we both will bring them to the session and we'd just compare notes. I had, I might have about maybe fifty titles, and Gamble [HistoryMaker Kenny Gamble] the same thing. And we'll pick, out of those fifty we'll pick which we think is interesting to write about and--$$So you picked them by--you choose the title first of all?$$Yeah.$$And then you try to flesh it out?$$Then we just--I started playing it. Sometime, sometimes, you know, sometimes I'd come in Gamble's office and I'd just start, just playing. I could sit down, I could just play whatever comes to my head. I'd just play it. And Gamble might say, "Oh, that sounds good. What is that?" I'd say, "Oh, no, ain't nothing, really." And the next you know, we're sitting down and we done put some meat to that music. And, or we'd both sit down and I'd just start jamming, Gamble would just start free styling. But at the same time we're doing that, the tape recorder is running, so everything is recorded.$$Okay. So you can always run back to whatever--if you miss something (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, we'd get into a zone. Just say--well, say we're in a writing session and we're going to write a song, and 'For the Love of Money' was on that list. And we'll get into a jam, for the love of money, you know, and I'd come up with a bass line or whatever kind of groove I'm going to get into. And Gamble would start free styling a song about for the love of money. And the next thing you know, we're in the studio cutting it with The O'Jays.$$Okay.$$That's how we was rolling, you know. The studio was right next to--after we bought that building--that at one time we weren't allowed to go in, on 309 Broad Street [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]--the studio was right next to Gamble's office. So, we'll rehearse and go get the musicians, and it was like this (snaps fingers). It was like (snaps fingers) a process that just--from Gamble's office to the studio and then record the record.$$Okay.$$That was the process.$$Now another white artist you worked with was Laura Nyro.$$Laura Nyro.$$Nyro, okay.$$It was great.$$Yeah.$$Laura was, she was different. And we also had Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles doing the background, and that was a great, great album. It's a classic album. Working with Laura was, I learned a lot from her songwriting--$$This is 'Go- Gonna Take a Miracle' ['It's Gonna Take a Miracle'].$$--structure. Yeah, it was great.$$Nineteen seventy-one [1971].

Larkin Arnold

Entertainment lawyer, music executive and talent management chief executive Larkin Arnold, Jr. was born on September 3, 1942, in Kansas City, Missouri to Larkin and Annie Arnold. When Arnold was in elementary school, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, for his mother's health. In Kansas City and Phoenix, Arnold attended Catholic schools. He received his B.S. degree in political science from American University in Washington, D.C. in 1966, and graduated from Howard University Law School in 1969.

In 1970, Arnold became one of the first African Americans to be hired as an attorney by a major record label when he joined Capital Records. Four years later, he was promoted to vice president of Capitol Records, creating and heading the company's Black Music Division. In 1975, Arnold signed Natalie Cole to Capitol Records and, in 1977, he served as the executive producer for Caldera’s record Sky Island. That same year, he signed Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, the former backup band for Marvin Gaye. In 1978, Arnold left Capitol Records for Arista Records. As senior vice president, Arnold ran the West Coast office and was in charge of bringing in new artists and products. Arnold held this position until he was hired in 1980 by CBS/SONY Music as senior vice president. There, he spearheaded the marketing and promotion of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album that sold over twenty-five million units worldwide. Arnold also represented Teena Marie, Luther Vandross, Surface, Peabo Bryson and The Reflections. In 1988, Arnold founded Arnold & Associates, one of the few wholly integrated legal and management teams in the record industry.

Arnold co-founded the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, serving as its chairman for eight years. He has served on the boards of the Los Angeles Board of Governors of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Executive Committee of XI Boule Fraternity, the United Negro College Fund Ladders of Hope Program, and the Los Angeles Zoo Commission. Arnold has received numerous honors and awards including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Executive of the Year Award, Outstanding Graduate Award of Howard University School of Law, the Distinguished Graduate Award of Howard University, the Congressional Black Caucus Outstanding Citizen Award, the Langston Bar Association Lawyer of the Year Award, the NATRA Award for Record Executive of the Year, Pollstar Award for R&B Manager of the Year, the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Award for Outstanding Community Leadership and a 100 Black Men Honor.

Arnold is married to Cynthia Arnold and is the father of two children.

Larkin Arnold was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 10, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.202

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/10/2007

Last Name

Arnold

Marital Status

Married

Schools

St. Monica's Catholic School

St. Mary's Catholic High School

American University

Howard University School of Law

Howard University

First Name

Larkin

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

ARN02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Life Is Tough, But I Am Tougher.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/3/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Talent management chief executive, entertainment lawyer, and music executive Larkin Arnold (1942 - ) started his own legal and management firm, Arnold & Associates. He was senior vice president for Arista Records and CBS/Sony Music, where he marketed and promoted Michael Jackson's album, "Thriller."

Employment

Capitol Records, Inc.

Arista Law

CBS

Arnold & Associates

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Larkin Arnold's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold talks about his family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold remembers his community in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold recalls his community in Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold talks about his move to Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Larkin Arnold remembers his mother's illness

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Larkin Arnold describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Larkin Arnold recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold remembers studying math and physics

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold recalls the mentorship of Percy Lavon Julian

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold remembers his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls his first impressions of Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold recalls his civil rights activism at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls his involvement in SNCC

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold remembers losing his scholarship to Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold recalls being hired by Senator Stuart Symington

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold remembers working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold describes his experiences as a U.S. Capitol Police officer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls attending the American University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold recalls his challenges as a U.S. Capitol Police officer

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls his decision to pursue a law career

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold remembers his mother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold recalls his admission to the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold remembers the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold recalls his decision to become an entertainment lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls his struggle to find work in the entertainment industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold recalls being hired by Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold describes his position at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls his start at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold describes his work at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls his advocacy for black artists

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold recalls being offered a position at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold recalls conducting market research for Capitol Records, LLC, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold recalls conducting market research for Capitol Records, LLC, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls his transition to management at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold remembers signing artists to Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold recalls signing Natalie Cole to Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls the success of his marketing initiative

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold remembers the black artists at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold talks about his marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold recalls his decision to leave Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold recalls his experience at Arista Records

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Larkin Arnold remembers his decision to leave Arista Records

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold describes his role as senior vice president of CBS/Sony Records Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold talks about the Columbia Records and Epic Records labels

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold talks about the jazz division of Columbia Records

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold talks about the racial discrimination in the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold remembers signing Michael Jackson

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold describes his career at CBS/Sony Records Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold describes his career at CBS/Sony Records Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' album

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold reflects upon his success at CBS/Sony Records Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold recalls founding the law firm of Arnold and Associates

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold describes his hopes and concerns for the African American music industry

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold describes his advice for young business executives

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold reflects upon his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$6

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Larkin Arnold describes his career at CBS/Sony Records Inc., pt. 2
Larkin Arnold recalls Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' album
Transcript
So you got Michael [Michael Jackson] and you have, you have Marvin [Marvin Gaye] now.$$Right.$$Okay.$$And Luther [Luther Vandross], right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And Luther, you, you got three black male artists--$$Um-hm.$$--all different.$$Right.$$So what's your next plan of action?$$Well you know I mean my, my main (laughter) problem was basically you know Quincy [HistoryMaker Quincy Jones] and, and Michael basically took care of the whole recording process on that. I, I, you know I had little and no involvement you know just to go by and see that you know progress was being made you know. And that the bills were being paid and you know and everything was done, but you know I didn't have to really do anything. Quincy bas-, basically shepherded that whole project from beginning to end so.$$Now, how about Luther and Marvin (laughter).$$Well Luther you know Luther, I'm, I'm, I'm going over his material I'm picking you know the songs out of his repertoire you know. And, and I'm, I'm overseeing that, that that whole project. Marvin, and but, but Luther is pretty dependable you know, we go in we; you know he comes in he plays me some, some demos you know. I pick the ones that I want, you know, he goes in the studio and records it you know and, and now I just oversee the marketing promotion of that you know. Marvin in the meanwhile, is like I don't know you know, progress is not being made. And you know money is being spent you know, he, he's not you know recording you know 'cause he's you know having marital difficulties you know. So you know I'm flying back over to Belgium and we have a number of little conflicts. I'm saying, "Marvin you know you got to get this done, my ass is on the line you know," I had a battle, so you know. So that's just, and then Natalie [Natalie Cole] comes over you know and she, she's, she's disenchanted with Capitol [Capitol Records], so she comes and so I'm dealing with that. Not to mention all the other acts that I was you know dealing with that were already on the, Earth, Wind and Fire and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) [HistoryMaker] Dianne Reeves was she coming over--$$No, not when I was there, no.$$Okay.$$You know, Deniece [Deniece Williams], you know.$$Um-hm.$$The Emotions, you know, all the other acts that were, that I kept you know trying to get them to go and, and keep it moving you know.$$Teena Marie, was she ever there?$$Not yet, you know (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay.$So Michael [Michael Jackson] and Quincy [HistoryMaker Quincy Jones] bring you 'Thriller'?$$Right.$$And you listen to it?$$Right.$$"Billie Jean" is on there--$$Right.$$"Billie Jean" is on there, "Thriller" is on there.$$Right, "Beat It" is on there (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) "Beat It" is on there, what do you think?$$Huh?$$Yeah he had "P.Y.T." ["P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$So what do you think about this when you hear this music for the first time?$$Well first time I heard it, it wasn't mixed properly so I was like you know little dis, disappointed. But I been there enough during the recording sessions to know but, but I, I had violated one of the company's [CBS/Sony Records Inc.] rules. That is that you don't release a single until you have the completely finished product and in hand. But in order to make the, the time schedule 'cause Christmas release, I had to take a chance and go ahead and, and release it you know. And I had an argument with you know, well not argument, discussion with their managers to which, which record should come out first you know. They wanted "Beat It" you know, I, I definitely wanted "Billie Jean," you know, so I was in position. So I was able to get "Billie Jean," 'cause you know I, I'd listen to some of the other material that that Michael had done and that The Jacksons had done. And they didn't seem like they, the company or the people had released the right singles you know. Like on that 'Triumph,' the song, you know, I think that song "Heartbreak Hotel" ["This Place Hotel"] was, was, was the classic song. But they wouldn't release it as a single, so.$$Right.$$So anyway I persuaded the management to allow me to make that as the second single, the first single we went out was "The Girl is Mine."$$Um-hm.$$You know because you know, by this time you still had all this you know musical and political and racial unrest you know with taken place you know in the country. The white pop, the pop stations, the white stations stopped playing black music, stop playing disco music you know. Remember they had the, the burning of the records, disco records?$$Oh right.$$In Chicago [Illinois], Comiskey field [Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois] and running them over with you know 'cause you know they were concerned about you know women and the whites coming you know. And blacks and so the male disc jockeys sort of rebelled.$$So there's a lot of tension.$$Yeah exactly you know busing was going on you know with the, you know.$$The Reagan [President Ronald Wilson Reagan] years (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, exactly.$$We're going into.$$Right, exactly.$$So, so--$$So they released "The Girl Is Mine," 'cause it has Paul McCartney you know to get on the pop play you know and so you know. That works to, to a degree to get some situation. But 'cause to show you that the, the problem that we have you know, when I finally did get Michael, I mean Marvin's [Marvin Gaye] album released you know, and you know we released "Sexual Healing" they, the company you know wouldn't cross the record over to the pop stations you know. They, they refused to take it to pop stations, they said the record was too black you know, it's too dirty or whatever you know. So I, you know we, I had lot of disagreements with, with some of the other management in the pop side you know with regards to Marvin. But, but the record was so strong, they couldn't stop the record.$$Right.$$I mean it's just you know, it crossed over by itself you know, people calling, banning the record and everything so.$$So you got it rolling now, you got Marvin's out, he finally got the record to you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$'Thriller's' out and it's taken off.$$Right.$$It, it's, it's (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And Luther's [Luther Vandross] becoming the male balladeer of all time.