The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

city

Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr.

Tuskegee Airman and radio programming executive Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was born on February 9, 1926 in Chicago Heights, Illinois to Oscar L. and Elizabeth Wilkerson. After his graduation from Bloomfield Township High School in 1944, Wilkerson entered the U.S. Army Air Force’s Aviation Cadet training program in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was assigned to the 617th Bombardment Squadron, where he was trained to fly the B-25 “Billy Mitchell” bomber.

Wilkerson received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant and his “wings” as a B-25 pilot in 1946. In 1947, he graduated from the New York Institute of Photography. Wilkerson also graduated from the Midwest Broadcasting School in 1960. Wilkerson became a weekend disc jockey and community relations director at WBEE-AM in Harvey, Illinois in 1962. As an on-air personality, he was known as “Weekend Wilkie.” As community relations director, he launched a weekly radio show hosted by Chicago Alderman Charles Chew, as well as publicity campaigns for the NAACP, the Chicago Urban League, the Committee of 100 and other organizations. Wilkerson was promoted to the position of program director at WBEE in 1965. Under Wilkerson’s supervision, WBEE launched the radio career of Merri Dee, who became known as “Merri Dee, the Honey Bee.” In 1969, he oversaw the station’s switch to a more jazz-oriented format, and took on the additional responsibilities of operations manager. Wilkerson also hosted his own program, Wilk’s World, on weekday mornings. Wilkerson left WBEE in 1971 to become the public affairs director at WMAQ Radio. In that role, he was responsible for all public service material aired on the station. Wilkerson was named program director at WMAQ in 1973, and served there until his retirement in 1988. Following his retirement, Wilkerson served as president of the Multi Media Ministry at New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, Illinois. He is one of the “Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen” (DOTAs), and is active in the Chicago “Dodo” chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Wilkerson regularly visits schools around the United States to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. He lives in Markham, Illinois.

Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.202

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/22/2013

Last Name

Wilkerson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lawton

Schools

Tuskegee University

Midwest Broadcasting School

Bloom High School

New York Institute of Photography

Washington Junior High School

Lincoln Elementry School

Dr. Charles Gavin School

First Name

Oscar

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago Heights

HM ID

WIL66

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/9/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Tuskegee airman and radio program director Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr. (1926 - ) received his commission as 2nd lieutenant with the 617th Bombardment Squadron in 1946. After his service with the U.S. Army Air Force, he had a long career in radio as a programming executive.

Employment

WMAQ Radio

WBEE Radio

South Suburban Bus Lines

Golden State Mutual Insurance Company

Hammond & Powell Funeral Home

United States Army Air Force

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:46294,555:70240,867:102181,1249:109640,1357:122100,1525:137480,1741:142998,1970:167775,2447:200545,2871:213769,3062:214164,3102:257440,3708$0,0:6624,143:6912,148:11088,239:50514,761:56969,878:73888,1141:74364,1149:80348,1258:80756,1264:122080,1891:183510,2851
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Oscar Wilkerson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his parents' occupations and their move to Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson mentions his older brother and describes the neighborhood he grew up in

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his elementary school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his junior high school and high school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his interest in aviation and in joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Oscar Wilkerson remembers his basic training experience in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about attending church as a child as well as his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his mother's personality and his interest in photography

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes how his family celebrated the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going on family vacations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his older brother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his first flight experience

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his first solo flight

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes Tuskegee's civilian environment

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the first phase of his advanced training at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the additional phases of his training at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about leaving military service

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his various civilian jobs and becoming a radio broadcaster

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson recalls his flight training and the flying accidents that occurred

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes those officers in charge during his flight training and his various jobs after leaving the military

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going into radio broadcasting and his interest in music

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the first radio station he worked for

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues and responsibilities at WBEE Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the entertainers and radio personalities he knew at WBEE Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses competing radio station, WVON

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses going to work for WMAQ Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about former State Senator, Charles Chew, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues at the radio station, WBEE

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about becoming Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about other blacks in Chicago broadcasting

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson compares his jobs at radio stations, WMAQ and WBEE

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about WMAQ Radio's shift into country music

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes WMAQ under Charlie Warner's leadership

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson explains what radio taught him and why he was successful

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the community leaders he met during his radio career and his work with NBACA

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses positive highlights from his career in radio

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his participation in local organizations and his retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about pilot, Jim Tillman and the differences between Chicago Heights and Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his military emblems

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes what it feels like to fly a plane

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about performing a prohibited plane maneuver in his hometown of Chicago Heights

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Oscar Wilkerson recalls his flight training and the flying accidents that occurred
Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ
Transcript
Now you said 9,000 were trained to fly?$$Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety two.$$Were flo--were trained to fly.$$Yeah.$$Okay. And so how many people were on the ground then?$$Ten times that, plus.$$Ten, okay. So you're saying the whole, whole contention of, of Tuskegee Airmen is about--that would be almost 50,000.$$Yeah, whatever the math comes to be, yes.$$Okay.$$This, this is support people that keep that plane in the air.$$And for each--so what, what did it take one to fly and how often were you flying when you were flying? Even the, the practice drills. How--what, what was that regiment like?$$Flew virtually every day. And when you're early in training, your instructor every day. Then you'd go out after you've soloed and you'd fly and practice those things that you were taught by the instructor. So you flew every day. And for most of the time you also had ground school courses to take every day. Learning flight, learning about the aircraft you were flying, and the many facets of keeping you in the air so that emergencies come along, you'll be able to take care of 'em and all of that is bound together to make one pilot.$$And so during the time that--were there any accidents that happened?$$Yeah.$$Okay and do you remember like the worse accident that happened?$$I remember there were in--not in my advanced class, but in some advanced class the cadets were flying T6's, the aircraft that I mentioned that was the first one with the retractable gear. Flying formation and somebody got too close and they clipped wings. The--one of the pilots was able to get out and ejected and I don't, I don't mean eject like in the jet when you pull a handle and you get shot out. You had to put the canopy back, get your harness off and get out of the plane. He didn't manage to do so and he went down with the aircraft. I don't recall who that was or what class it was, but that did happen, may have happened more than once. I, I know about that one. There have been other lesser accidents and people weren't killed. I was involved in one myself, but obviously I was not killed.$$You mean when you say you were involved in one, you were involved an accident and you came, and you came down with the plane.$$We were flying in advanced training and I was, we were doing night landings. Part of the training involved flying at night and they put you in the air and they would give you a segment to fly in until it was your time to come back to the field and land. So you'd circle in that quadrant and they would call you in to land. Well there was somebody--when they finally called me in to land, there was somebody ahead of me as there always is. You land and you do what they call touch and goes. You make a--what would be a perfect landing except you don't stop. You just pull the coat on and you take off and you go around again in order to save time; you're not taxiing on the ground. The guy ahead of me landed and was supposed to have taken off to go ahead and he didn't. And then the--I believe the tower told him to clear the runway, but he also didn't do that. And in the meantime they had cleared me to land and I didn't know that he was still on the runway. And when I landed, I see this guy ahead of me and I attempted to pull up to get a--away from hitting him. My landing gear clipped his--part of his canopy and both planes went over upside down. But I--both of us survived that. He got a big bump on his head and they had to shave part of his hair off, which was his major injury. And nothing happened to me. That was the crash I was involved in. But I'm sure there were others. I was about to say many, but probably not many; there were others.$What was your, what were--what did they say they wanted you to do and what did they want you to accomplish?$$Well I was responsible for making sure that we met all the federal requirements for a broadcasting station to stay on. You don't just come on the air and stay on the air cause you want to, you got to fulfill certain obligations so far as responding to community needs, determining what they are, programming toward response to those needs, and prove that you did. And the percentage has to be whatever is required at the time, eighteen percent or whatever it was, of programming that responded to those needs. And my responsibility was to make sure we're doing that; keep record of it so that when it came time to apply for license, you could prove that in paper and you did so, in sheaves of paper. That was my primary responsibility at that point.$$Well that's a good job for a black person to have at network station.$$Yeah, it was a good job.$$I mean, I mean a, a very good job. And so the question I have: Were they under any heat at that point that they hired you? Was [W]MAQ--were there any challenges about not doing certain things for the community or not?$$Not--I don't think so, no.$$Okay, so what you then do with the--with your, your, your job then? What are, what are the programs you put on, and--$$Well we did a number of discussion types of programs, specific ones I can't remember. And we were involved in the various community activities. I was like the face for the station at various banquets and stuff. I ate royally and attended a lot of things I would not have gotten a chance to see on my own. Went a lot of places that I would not have been able to go to on my own because I was in D.C. [District of Columbia].$$What were some of those places?$$Oh well New York City, the home headquarters, went there a number of times and we were located and still are as far as I know, located in the Rockefeller Center Building there. Had lunch in the Rainbow Room like the big dogs did and things such as that. I became the Treasurer for the National Association of Broadcast--$$National Association of Broadcasters?$$No, no, no.$$NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists]?$$NABA [North American Broadcasters Association] I think it was. Anyway the org--national organization of those who were in my kind of job and across the nation. And we had a couple of--$$You became what?$$The Treasurer.$$You were the Treasurer.$$Yeah, and NBACA [National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs] maybe, National Broadcast Association of--I've forgotten the rest of that title, but it was people who were in, in public affairs at stations across the nation. And we had several meetings in, in Vail, Colorado and that was nice. And all kinds of stuff like that, that I would not have been able to do on my own.

Johnny Pate

Jazz bassist, rhythm and blues arranger John W. Pate, Sr., “Johnny Pate,” was born December 5, 1923 in blue collar Chicago Heights, Illinois. Pate took an interest in the family’s upright piano and learned from the church organist who boarded with them. He attended Lincoln Elementary School, Washington Junior High and graduated from Bloom Township High School in 1942. Drafted into the United States Army, Pate joined the 218th AGF Army Band where he took up the tuba and played the upright bass in the jazz orchestra. In 1946, after his tour of service, Pate moved to New York City where bassist Oscar Pettiford helped him get started.

Pate played with the Red Allen - J.C. Higginbotham Combo and jazz violinists Stuff Smith and Eddie South. Returning to Chicago, he arranged musical numbers at the Regal Theatre with Red Saunders. Pate studied at the Midwest Conservatory of Music from1950 to 1953 and continued to perform in the 50s with Dorothy Donegan, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams, Count Basie and Ahmad Jamal. Forming the Johnny Pate Trio and Combo in 1957, he was also “house bassist” for Chicago’s Blue Note. Johnny Pate’s bass solo on “Satin Doll” is featured on the album Duke Ellington Live At The Blue Note (1959). Pate continued to perform, and appeared on albums featuring James Moody, Phil Woods, Shirley Horn, Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Smith and Monty Alexander as producer and arranger.

Contacted by Carl Davis of Chicago’s Okeh Records, Pate arranged a Curtis Mayfield song, “Monkey Time,” which was a big hit for Major Lance in 1963. Pate’s collaboration with Curtis Mayfield produced most of the well-known Impressions tracks including “Amen,” “We’re A Winner” and “Keep On Pushin.” He produced B.B. King: Live at the Regal and also arranged for Betty Everett, Gene Chandler and Jerry Butler. In the1970s Pate orchestrated and arranged Shaft In Africa, Brother on the Run, Bucktown, Bustin Loose and others. He continued to arrange in the 1980s for Peabo Bryson and Natalie Cole. Retiring to Las Vegas in the 1990s, Pate was honored in 2003 as the “Unsung Hero of Popular Music”. Pate’s son is well known bassist, Don Pate and his cousin is saxophonist, Johnny Griffin.

Accession Number

A2004.188

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/30/2004

Last Name

Pate

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Bloom High School

Washington Junior High School

Lincoln Elementry School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago Heights

HM ID

PAT03

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

None

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

It Is Never Enough.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

12/5/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Jazz bassist and music arranger Johnny Pate (1923 - ) formed the Johnny Pate Trio and Combo, and was house bassist for Chicago’s The Blue Note. Johnny Pate’s bass solo on “Satin Doll” is featured on the album "Duke Ellington Live at The Blue Note," and he has collaborated with Curtis Mayfield, produced the Impressions’s hits “Amen,” “We’re A Winner” and “Keep On Pushin’.” and arranged for B.B. King, Gene Chandler and Jerry Butler.

Employment

Verve Records

King Records

ABC-Paramount Records

Club DeLisa

Favorite Color

Blue, Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:884,18:1360,26:2860,102:18228,355:24780,468:32865,539:39590,590:40080,598:40780,612:41270,625:41690,632:44860,652:45259,660:45487,665:45886,672:46228,683:46570,690:46912,697:53855,765:55606,791:62087,867:62561,874:63193,887:64062,906:64378,911:67933,984:69829,1010:88664,1209:97836,1336:104492,1389:106976,1431:107321,1437:108149,1456:108701,1465:111184,1496:111804,1509:112300,1519:114010,1529:114310,1534:114760,1541:116520,1556:116916,1563:117444,1578:124968,1754:140362,1979:141930,1999:145504,2026:155692,2180:161953,2258:162245,2263:163680,2279$0,0:291,4:1161,183:15516,502:30052,644:32552,667:33098,674:37193,754:49394,924:56241,1023:75720,1312:76273,1320:77695,1341:86025,1427:87093,1448:91721,1663:109076,1939:109610,1946:118398,1984:125408,2067:127904,2110:134544,2188:135040,2198:135474,2207:136652,2234:136900,2239:141777,2282:142272,2289:151630,2387:152170,2395:166132,2581:169500,2600:169908,2607:178137,2744:192718,2879:193456,2889:194030,2898:194440,2904:198130,2963:199278,2979:199770,2986:200180,2995:206534,3021:206944,3027:210306,3091:213012,3133:213504,3140:216020,3156
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Johnny Pate's Interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate describes his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Johnny Pate recalls the churches his family attended during his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Johnny Pate describes his mother's personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Johnny Pate remembers childhood trips to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate talks about his maternal relatives

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate describes his childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate describes his experiences at Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate remembers his early love of basketball

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate describes his favorite childhood bands

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate talks about playing basketball at Bloom High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate talks about his musical education and his graduation from Bloom High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Johnny Pate talks about playing music in the United States Army during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Johnny Pate describes learning to play the tuba for the United States Army during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Johnny Pate talks about playing in a band for the United States Army while stationed in Europe

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Johnny Pate talks about starting his musical career after World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate describes touring with Stuff Smith and Eddie South

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate explains how he became musical director for Club DeLisa in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate talks about working with Sammy Dyer

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate remembers highlights of his career from the late 1950s to early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate recalls writing arrangements for Curtis Mayfield

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate remembers some of his hit songs from the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate talks about his reception in Europe and the lack of regard for musicians in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate describes working on 'B.B. King Live at the Regal'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate talks about working on the soundtrack for 'Super Fly'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate talks about his television and movie scores

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate talks about producing for Peabo Bryson in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate talks about arranging music and his favorite musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Johnny Pates shares his opinion of hip-hop music

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Johnny Pate reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Johnny Pate reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Johnny Pate remembers celebrating his success with his mother

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate talks about working as a producer for Verve Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate talks about his work with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada and the UNLV Jazz Ensemble

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate talks about his radio show on KUNV

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Johnny Pate talks about working with Sammy Dyer
Johnny Pate recalls writing arrangements for Curtis Mayfield
Transcript
And I worked very closely with the producer name--his name was Sammy Dyer. You probably--sometime or other, the old-timers will probably remember a dance group called The Dyerettes.$$Right. Sammy Dyer is still well-known in Chicago [Illinois]; there's a school of dance, a (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Sammy Dyer was a--Sammy Dyer had a, I think, a school of dance, and he did so much, but Sammy produced the shows at Club DeLisa. So I worked closely with him, working out whatever production numbers we did. And during this time, this is when I met Lurlean Hunter and Joe Williams because they were the male and the female singers at the club because they kept a male and a female singer because whatever production things that Sammy Dyer came up with, he utilized the male and the female singers, and one of the things that he did with Joe Williams, and we talked about it for years; in fact, so many people talked about it. Sammy Dyer came up with an idea, and he had Joe singing "Vesti La Giubba" from 'Pagliacci' [Ruggero Leoncavallo]; Joe did it in Italian in a big clown suit. He wore this clown suit right on stage and he sang it in Italian--legit, and after he had finished this legitimate rendition that Sammy Dyer had choreographed a swing arrangement of it, and I had written this swing arrangement on 'Pagliacci' that the girls danced to at the--'course I wrote the shows at Club DeLisa for, I think, two or three years, and I can't remember because at that--that's when I really had a chance to really do some really arranging that really also helped me really start getting better and better at it.$$Now that's really some challenging stuff going on (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, yes.$$--opera to be-bop.$$Oh, yeah, goin' from opera to swing, swing and be-bop, and we did so many different type things. Sammy, Sammy Dyer was, you know, always on top of everything. He knew all the Broadway shows that were going. I remember 'South Pacific' had come in around that time, and we did one whole production about--on 'South Pacific' at the time, and 'course we were taking, you know, the well-known tunes from a lotta these shows and, and giving the swing treatment with, with the girls dancing, you know. So that was a lot of very good experience.$Now this is like in the '60s [1960s] now. We're like talking about '63 [1963] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) We're, we're, we're probably getting up to the '60s [1960s] now.$$Yeah, this is nineteen--I remember it was the fall of '63 [1963].$$Sixty-three [1963], okay.$$When 'Monkey Time' came out, I was in high school, a freshman, that year.$$All right.$$And Major Lance became this big star. We'd never heard of him before.$$All right. Well, 'Monkey Time' was written by Curtis Mayfield. Curtis wrote 'Monkey Time,' and Curtis [Mayfield] was, was an associated producer with [HistoryMaker] Carl Davis, and so he was doing quite a bit of work with Carl, and of course after 'Monkey Time' got to be a hit, we did an LP on it, and some other things, with Major Lance. And then Curtis approached me; he said, "Well, you"--he says, "We're on the ABC-Paramount [Records] label." And he said, "I've got a group called The Impressions," and he said, "We, we've gotta, we've gotta record pretty soon," and he said, "I sure like the arrangements that you are writing," and he said, "Would you," you know, "arrange for us?" Well, by that time, I'd began to--I was getting so much work arranging until I just put the bass fiddle aside and I stopped playing completely because I was getting all this work writing. Because after I recorded The Impressions on a few things, ABC-Paramount Records approached me and they said, "We'd like for you to come work for us as a record producer--working for ABC-Paramount Records."$$Now, let me--before we go to the producing aspect of it, I mean--now The Impressions--a lot of the songs were written by Curtis Mayfield, but I don't think a lotta people who're gonna be watching this--and maybe they do understand and I'm--I assume that they don't understand what's--what an arranger does to a, a song that's written.$$All right. What an arranger does is--we'll go back to Curtis Mayfield; we'll take Curtis Mayfield as our guide. Curtis was an excellent composer-songwriter. Curtis would sit down with his guitar and actually create a song. He couldn't put it down on paper, couldn't write a note of music, but he could do the basic song, and he would sit down and play the basic song into a tape recorder and bring it, bring it to me, and what I would do would be take this basic song and put instruments, musical instruments, around it and do what we call write an arrangement. There's a fine line between a orchestration and arrangement, yeah. When an arranger writes, he writes for these instruments which--and it turns out to be an orchestration, and that's what an arranger does; he takes instruments--'course, Curtis would sit down and he says, "Well, I think maybe I can hear some strings on this one." He could hear the strings on it but I would have to write them, and this is what arrangers do. So singers and songwriters basically have the basic melody of a song, but a lotta people say a lotta times the arrangement can really make the record. So, with Curtis' basic idea and with, I guess, my arrangement, then it turns out to be something, something special, but the two really need each other.