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Miller London

Music executive Miller London was born on October 13, 1946 in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Estabrook Elementary School and McMichael Junior High School and graduated from Northwestern High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1964. After high school, London attended Highland Park Junior College before he enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where he studied history and English.

While in college, London worked in the sales department at both Star Hickey Ford and then the Bill Markley Chevrolet dealerships in Detroit. In 1969, London was hired as the first African American regional sales manager at Motown Records and was the first African American to work in any major record company’s sales department. London was later promoted as the record company’s executive vice president and general manager for the company. London worked at Motown Records for twenty-one years, before he left in 1990, and joined RCA Records in New York. There, he became the first African American to head a label’s sales division for all music genres. He was later promoted to vice president of product and development, and became vice president of marketing. He then joined A&M Records in Los Angeles, California as executive vice president and general manager of its urban music division, where he worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, CeCe Peniston and Barry White. London then assisted the N.W.A. rapper Ice Cube develop his independent record label, Lench Mob Records. In 1994, London became the president of The Urban Network magazine. When Clear Channel Entertainment purchased the magazine, London became its executive vice president of urban entertainment. In 2003, London purchased The Urban Network from Clear Channel Entertainment and became its president and CEO. In 2017, he joined The Celeb Group as senior vice president.

In 2012, he collaborated with Bert Dearing to form Detroit-based Russell Street Entertainment to bring in young talent and teach them the business side of music. London is the 2016 recipient of The Living Legends Foundation’s Chairman’s Award. He also served on the board of directors of The Living Legends Foundation.

Miller London was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.186

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/18/2017 |and| 10/20/2017

Last Name

London

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northwestern High School

Highland Park Junior College

Wayne State University

First Name

Miller

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

LON05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Atlanta, Georgia

Favorite Quote

N/A

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

10/13/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Music executive Miller London (1946 - ) worked at Motown Records for twenty-one years as its executive vice president and general manager. He also worked as an executive at RCA Records, A&M Records, and as owner of The Urban Network magazine.

Employment

Bert's Ent. Complex

Urban Network

A and M Records

RCA Records

Motown Records

Bill Markley

Stark Hickey Ford

Favorite Color

Brown

Ramon Hervey II

Music executive Ramon Hervey II was born on October 18, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois to Ramon T. Hervey and Winifred Hervey. He attended Lompoc Junior High School and graduated from Cabrillo Senior High School in 1968 in Lompoc, California. He then received his B.A. degree from Whittier College in Whittier, California, in 1972.

Hervey served as a flight attendant for Pan American Airlines from 1973 until 1975. He then entered the music industry, serving as a publicist for Starlite Music Artists from 1974 until 1975, as editor for Hamlett Marsh Publishers from 1975 until 1976, and as a writer/publicist for Motown Records from 1976 until 1977. While at Motown, Hervey worked on the publicity campaigns for artists like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross. Following his departure from Motown, Hervey joined Rogers & Cowan as a writer/publicist, and was later promoted to director of music and vice president of music and talent. During his tenure at Rogers & Cowan, he represented many high-profile clients including; Richard Pryor, Bette Midler, Herb Alpert, Nick Nolte, George Benson, and The Bee Gees, among others. When he left in 1981, he joined The Gibson Group (later named The Group) as a partner and co-president. Hervey remained with The Group until 1986. Some of his most noted clients were; Little Richard, Bette Midler, Vanessa Williams and Rick James. He then founded his own public relations and management company, Hervey & Company, with gospel legend Andrae Crouch becoming his first management client. He has also managed the career of Little Richard, and was credited for successfully revitalizing Little Richard’s career with his best-selling and controversial biography, Little Richard, The Quasar of Rock ‘n’ Roll, in addition to singer and actress Vanessa Williams, songwriter and producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Motown recording artist Zhane, R&B singer Kenny Lattimore, keyboardist Philippe Saisse and acapella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock, among others.

In addition to developing his public relations and management companies, Hervey has been involved in the production of several documentary film and television projects. documentaries. In 2004, he served as executive producer to the documentary Chisholm ’72- Unbought & Unbossed, which won a Peabody Award. Hervey also served as a music supervisor for the documentaries, Free Angela and Hot Flash Havoc. He was also executive producer of televised music specials for Andrae Crouch and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.

Hervey has three children; daughters Melanie and Jillian, and son Devin.

Ramon Hervey II, was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 12, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.087

Sex

Male

Interview Date

04/12/2017 |and| 12/6/2017

Last Name

Hervey

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Whittier College

First Name

Ramon

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HER05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Any place with water

Favorite Quote

Concentrate and focus.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/18/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Good food - all cuisisnes

Short Description

Music executive Ramon Hervey II (1950 - ) served as partner and co-president in The Group & Gibson Group and launched Hervey & Company and managed the music careers of Vanessa Williams, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Natalie Cole.

Employment

Hervey & Company

Favorite Color

Black

Mickey Stevenson

Music executive Mickey Stevenson was born on January 4, 1937, in Detroit, Michigan, and raised by his mother, blues singer Kitty “Brown Gal” Stevenson, and stepfather Ted Moore. From the age of eight, Stevenson performed in a singing trio with his younger brothers. In 1950, the group won first place at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in New York City. However, Stevenson’s musical career halted in 1953 when his mother, the group’s coach and producer, passed away from cancer. Stevenson attended Detroit’s Northeastern High School.

Stevenson joined the U.S. Air Force in 1956, where he was part of a special unit that organized entertainment for the troops. While on furlough in 1958, Stevenson saw a performance by the Four Aims—later known as the Four Tops—which inspired him to leave the military and pursue a career in music. Stevenson joined the Hamptones, touring with famed bandleader Lionel Hampton. Upon his return to Detroit, Stevenson met Berry Gordy, who told him of his plans to start a record label. Stevenson briefly worked as a producer and songwriter for Carmen Carver Murphy’s gospel label, HOB Records, until 1959, when Gordy hired him to head the artists and repertoire department at Motown Records. As Motown’s A&R executive, Stevenson was responsible for talent scouting, auditions, and managing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters. Stevenson was also responsible for organizing and establishing the company's in-house studio band, known as the Funk Brothers. Stevenson worked on Motown’s first number one hit: the 1961 song “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes, and went on to work with such classic Motown acts as Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, the Contours, Martha and the Vandellas, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. Stevenson toured the country with the Motortown Revue, and created the Motown Orchestra to play during the shows, while also serving as the orchestra’s conductor at the suggestion of Smokey Robinson. In 1968, Stevenson was replaced by Eddie Holland of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown’s top production team, as head of artists and repertoire. He then worked briefly as head of MGM’s Venture Records, and recorded his only album, Here I Am in 1972. Stevenson later began producing stage musicals.

Stevenson was honored during the opening of Detroit’s Motown Museum in 2003.

Mickey Stevenson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.136

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/17/2016

Last Name

Stevenson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northern High School

First Name

Mickey

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

STE17

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Learn All You Can, Can All You Learn.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

1/4/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Jamaican Fish, Goat

Short Description

Music executive Mickey Stevenson (1937 - ) was head of artists and repertoire at Motown Records, working with the Funk Brothers and the Motown Revue’s orchestra as well as with Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Martha and the Vandellas.

Employment

United States Air Force

Meadow Larks

Tamla/Motown

Jobete Music Co., Inc./Motown

People's Record

MGM - Venture Records

MGM

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mickey Stevenson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson remembers visiting Alabama with his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his mother's performances at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mickey Stevenson remembers The Stevenson Trio

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his early exposure to music

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mickey Stevenson remembers winning the amateur competition at the Apollo Theater

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson reflects upon the success of The Stevenson Trio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson remembers the riot of 1943 in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson talks about the working conditions for African Americans in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson describes his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson describes his experiences in the Detroit Public Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson talks about singing with the Meadowlarks

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson remembers Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his criminal activity

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson talks about the working conditions for African Americans in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his stepfather

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson recalls his experiences at church and in the Boy Scouts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson remembers joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson describes his experiences in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his decision to pursue a career in show business

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his early work as a producer

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers singing with the Hamptones

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson remembers joining Bobby Day and the Satellites

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson talks about discrimination in the music business

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson remembers performing on the Chitlin' Circuit

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson talks about the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his divorce

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson remembers managing black acts at white clubs

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson talks about negotiations in the music business

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson recalls the discriminatory conditions at factories in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers the Paradise Valley district of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson remembers meeting Berry Gordy at Benny Mullins' barbershop

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mickey Stevenson remembers becoming the head of artists and repertoire at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his role at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson remembers assembling The Funk Brothers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson describes the Motown Records recording studio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his rapport with Berry Gordy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson remembers James Jamerson

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson remembers Benny Benjamin

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson remembers meeting Marvin Gaye

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers working with Marvin Gaye

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson talks about marketing the Motown sound

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mickey Stevenson talks about Marvin Gaye's interest in jazz music

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Mickey Stevenson talks about The Funk Brothers

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Mickey Stevenson remembers Earl Van Dyke

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

10$8

DATitle
Mickey Stevenson remembers becoming the head of artists and repertoire at Motown Records
Mickey Stevenson remembers working with Marvin Gaye
Transcript
From what I read here, you were thinking that you were gonna get an entertainment contract. You were gonna become an entertainer with Motown [Motown Records] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was gonna be the next Jackie Wilson, yeah. I, when he [HistoryMaker Berry Gordy] called me for the meeting I said, "Okay." I gathered up all my songs in my little briefcase and went over and he said, "Okay let me hear some of your songs." I opened and I started singing them and, of course, he, he didn't have a piano or nothing in his house. As a matter of fact, he was what we call the ghetto fabulous apartment building you know where you had to push the button and grab the door before it closed and all that, you know what I mean (laughter). So, but when I, when I started singing my songs I, I, of course I was looking for a piano so I can play my songs and sing, but he didn't have none of that in his place, terrible apartment. And I was saying to myself, man this guy sure is cheap, you know. You know what, where's all this Jackie Wilson money coming from; it wasn't there. And so anyway I did my song and I did one and I did two and maybe around six or seven songs he said, "You got some good stuff man, you got some good songs," and so I said, "Okay let me put, let me play--." I said, "That's my general stuff, now let me play the record I think we ought to go with." I'm trying to tell him now how, who, what he gonna produce on me as a singer, and that's when he told me he said, "Hold it man I'm, I'm not talking about you being a singer or artist," you know. I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah man your music is great, but your voice, your voice is for shit, that ain't--," you know what I mean. I said, "What?" You know I'm, I'm now mad, I'm ready to go. I grabbed all my stuff. I'm ready to walk out the door, put my songs back in my briefcase and I'm heading out the door. He said, "Where you going?" I said, "Man I didn't come here to, I come here to be an artist." He said, "No, so," you know he said, "you gotta be honest if you gonna be the A and R man for my company, you gotta, you gotta be, be, be honest." I said, "A and R man, what is that?" He said--$$This is the first you ever heard that huh?$$Never heard, I didn't have no idea what an A and R man was. He said, he said that's you know run the music, you know you handle the artists and the musicians and all that.$$So A and R actually stand for artists and repertoire.$$Artists and repertoire, right.$$It has come to mean more than that right?$$Yeah, yeah, yeah. In, in my case I took it to another level. I took it to another level 'cause I didn't know what A and R meant in the first place so (laughter) I just, I just took it for what I thought it, what it's supposed to mean to me. And he, he said to me that that's what he wanted me to do, and I'm saying, "I don't, that's not what I came here for and, and I'm mad." He done told me my voice was terrible, and I thought my voice was great, you know what I mean. I'm walking out the building, and he said, "Where are you going?" I said, "Man I'm, this, unh-uh." And on my way out and walking down the hall going back to the door and he's standing in his door, I could see him you know when I turn around he's still standing there, I'm leaving going to the, getting out the building and I thought about my mom [Kitty Stevenson] and about how she said, "Whatever you do you gotta go after it, if you believe in it you gotta go after it 'cause if you don't, you don't know if you could have made it happen or not and if you don't try nothing happens." And I said, so I stopped and turned around and walked back I said, "Now what's this A and R thing man, what is this, what is this?" He said, "Well you handle the musicians and everything and the singers." I said, "I'm in charge?" Which I've always loved to be, and he said, "You're in charge." I said, "Well who do I report to?" He said, "You talk to me." I said, "Just you?" He said, "Just me."$Marvin [Marvin Gaye] would stay with me. We worked around the clock. And a matter of fact we'd be working in the studio from say six till about nine o'clock at night, then I'd, he and I would go to my house, we'd eat and I had a piano there and we'd write something there and then we'd go back to the studio, and it was like that, you know. And, and in the process, pardon me, in doing that I had, in the building, in the Hitsville building [Hitsville U.S.A., Detroit, Michigan], we had rooms with pianos and tape recorders so that the producers if they had an idea they could tape it so they wouldn't lose the concept and then play a tape back and keep writing and every, every room we had that going on. And Marvin and I would, you know, go right back into the same thing and then, and creating songs for other artists. I would record everything. I'd record my verses, record his verses, you know, and within--Marvin was a reasonable piano player as well, and I'm chording, but he was much better than I was, so we kept something going so we could find the moment of the song. And what I did was I taped everything that we recorded and when I was ready and I thought I had enough going on I eliminated my voice, edited and closed the tapes up and had only his voice running and I had him at the right time. I said, "Come here I want you to hear something," and I played the tape, and he heard himself singing these R and B songs that we were giving to someone else that we were writing. 'Stubborn Kind of Fellow' was the first one and that was the one I had recorded. And he heard himself and I said, I said, "That's what you should be singing," and he said, "Yeah man that, that, that sound pretty good." And I said, "If you will do me a favor instead of this why don't you, you record this song and you'll take me off the hook with Berry [HistoryMaker Berry Gordy], 'cause we got a hit, he'll be satisfied, and then we'll go in and do some jazz." So Marvin said, "You'll do a jazz album with me?" Now he knew I was with The Hamptones and we sung jazz 'cause I was, at the time I was showing [HistoryMaker] Smokey Robinson and The Miracles some jazz songs for their show, so I had a separate gig with them. So Smokey will say, "Why you wanna sing jazz man you're doing great." I said, "Man well you just wanna be able to sing other kind of songs," and he said, "You know come on Mick [HistoryMaker Mickey Stevenson], why won't you show us?" So, I said, "Okay." And then said, "Well we'll pay you. We gonna give you fifty dollars a song," you know. I said, "You don't have to pay me." I said, "Okay I'll teach you how to sing a couple of songs, but I think you're really wasting your time because you're doing great what you're doing." But, they had this idea in their head they wanted to be more than just you know R and B singers and so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That seemed to be a pervasive idea at Motown [Motown Records].

Marie Dixon

Nonprofit executive Marie Dixon was born on August 1, 1937 in Oxford, Mississippi. Her mother was Amelia Booker and her father was Fred Booker. Dixon comes from a family of fourteen brothers and sister. Her family had deep roots in Oxford, as both of her parents were born and raised there. Dixon attended New Hope, the school at her local church in Oxford, and then Oxford Training School. Then, in 1954, Dixon left Oxford and moved to Chicago.

Dixon first worked in retail and attended the Red Cross School in order to become a nurse. Then, in 1956, Dixon met the legendary blues musician, producer, and her future husband, Willie Dixon. In the late 1970s, Willie had a vision for a blues foundation, and, in 1984, he established the organization as the “Blues Heaven Foundation,” a non-profit designed to promote the blues and to provide scholarships, royalty recovery advice, and emergency assistance to blues musicians in need. After her husband’s death in 1992, Dixon purchased the building of the legendary Chess Studios in Chicago in 1993 in order to house the Blues Heaven Foundation. She then went on to serve as the foundation’s president. Through the efforts of Dixon, her daughter Shirli, and others, the Blues Heaven Foundation and museum finally moved into the restored Chess Studios in 1997.

In 2003, after her daughter Shirli’s untimely death, Dixon’s other daughter, Jacqueline, joined in order to help in running the Blues Heaven Foundation as the new executive director. In 2012, Sugar Blue, a famous blues harmonica player, presented Dixon with the Blues and Spirit Award at the third biennial Blues and the Spirit symposium held at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. Then, in 2013, she was honored with the Willie Dixon’s Legendary Blues Artist induction, as well as the induction of the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation, into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation provides an annual Muddy Waters Scholarship to a full-time Chicago college student studying music, African American studies, history, journalism, or a related field. The foundation also sponsors and performs harmonica workshops.

Marie Dixon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2013.

Dixon passed away on November 20, 2016.

Accession Number

A2013.228

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/25/2013

Last Name

Dixon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Central High School

First Name

Marie

Birth City, State, Country

Oxford

HM ID

DIX02

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Take What You Got And Make What You Want Out Of It.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/1/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/20/2016

Short Description

Music executive Marie Dixon (1937 - 2016 ) was the widow of legendary blues musician Willie Dixon and the president of the Blues Heaven Foundation in Chicago.

Employment

Blues Heaven Foundation

Neisner Brother's Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6212,141:10964,196:32138,422:32603,428:33719,439:34091,444:51726,635:52122,640:53607,656:54003,661:57270,694:69125,810:74030,863:74590,872:75070,880:81588,993:92037,1108:93525,1136:95478,1167:95943,1173:97431,1203:100872,1274:108002,1331:112133,1409:112538,1415:112943,1421:113267,1426:113834,1434:116264,1478:116588,1483:116993,1489:123760,1543:124234,1553:124629,1559:125103,1566:129738,1618:131870,1653$0,0:6024,34:11813,114:16031,195:32020,389:34036,452:35884,548:53872,697:64256,893:69960,970:71460,998:72135,1009:72585,1016:73035,1023:83872,1198:89396,1245:92100,1283:93920,1324:105362,1398:106046,1412:107718,1458:108934,1485:109314,1491:112560,1526:139438,1918:139710,1924:139982,1929:153025,2038:153357,2043:153689,2048:155680,2061:162680,2198:163280,2210:167372,2248:168529,2265:169063,2272:169953,2279:172830,2306:183346,2465:187358,2530:200132,2641:212772,2805:223840,3009:236164,3207:237198,3222:238232,3246:239266,3260:243522,3375:279340,3583:280620,3683:283180,3727:296130,3852
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marie Dixon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon talks about her mother's life in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon talks about her parents' elopement

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon describes her likeness to her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon remembers her siblings' migration away from Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marie Dixon describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marie Dixon talks about segregation in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marie Dixon describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marie Dixon recalls the music at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marie Dixon talks about her early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon recalls moving to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon recalls the importance of church to her family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon remembers her childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon remembers enrolling at Oxford Training School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon remembers the Oxford Training School in Oxford, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon recalls caring for her younger brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon remembers her introduction to blues music

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon talks about the themes of blues music

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon talks about her early exposure to live music

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marie Dixon remembers attending high school in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marie Dixon recalls a lack of opportunities for women in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Marie Dixon talks about her decision to move to Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about her decision to move to Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon describes her early employment in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon remembers the nightlife on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon remembers how she met Willie Dixon

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon talks about her relationship with Willie Dixon

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon talks about Willie Dixon's songwriting career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon talks about the movie 'Cadillac Records,' pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about the movie 'Cadillac Records,' pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon talks about Willie Dixon's lawsuit against the Arc Music Group, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon talks about Willie Dixon's lawsuit against the Arc Music Group, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon describes the importance of music publishing rights

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon describes Willie Dixon's role in the founding of the Chicago Blues Festival

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon remembers establishing the Blues Heaven Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon describes the Blues Heaven Foundation's education initiatives

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon describes the Blues Heaven Foundation's assistance programs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon talks about the blues scene in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about the closure of blues clubs on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon talks about white musicians' interest in the blues

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon remembers the popularity of blues in Chicago's Jewish community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon recalls Billy Branch's involvement in the community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon remembers a Thanksgiving story about Willie Dixon

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon remembers acquiring the Chess Records building

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon describes the operations of the Blues Heaven Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon talks about the Blue Heavens Foundation building

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marie Dixon talks about the funding for the Blues Heaven Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon reflects upon her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Marie Dixon talks about the themes of blues music
Marie Dixon remembers how she met Willie Dixon
Transcript
Now that doesn't sound so bad, "Baby, please don't go."$$ Well, it's the facts of life. You beg your baby, "Don't leave me." You beg your baby, "Turn your lamp down low," (laughter). Turn the light down, you know, put the dimmer on. You know, I can demonstrate to you many songs that my husband [Willie Dixon] wrote. He wrote a song which I feel is very true, many of his songs. But one was 'Spoonful.' And you've heard people say that people will kill over a dime or a nickel. And he wrote the song (singing), "It could be a spoonful of coffee, it could be a spoonful of tea. Just a little spoonful of your precious love is good enough for me. Some people lie about spoonful. Some people die about that spoonful. Everybody fight about a spoonful," (laughter). These are the things that he wrote about. Why would that be the devil's music? People will lie about a penny. They will lie about a spoonful. And then he goes on to tell you, "A spoonful full of--filled with water will save you from the desert sand." And if you're in the desert and you don't have any water, just a spoonful of that may help you live, you know. But then he did say one thing that I wasn't sure about. He said, "A spoon filled with lead will save you from--a spoonful of lead from my forty-five," that's what he said, "will save you from another man." (Laughter) So, you know, but other than that he tells the story about what happens with a spoonful of nothing, really. People kill about nothing. And the true word about the song is killing people is about little things, small things, instead of looking at the big picture and not harming each other.$Tell us how you met--I mean about meeting Willie Dixon.$$ Accidentally, I met him. (Pause) My thing was I loved music, and it didn't make a difference who played it. But how I met him is your question. Well, I was out with a lady friend of mine and her boyfriend, and we stopped in this, in this particular club called the 708 Club [Chicago, Illinois]. And there was very few peoples there. And we was going--because the advertisement was saying that Howlin' Wolf was there, was going to be there, and we was going to stop in and see Howlin' Wolf. Unfortunately, Wolf did not perform there that night. Willie and the Big Three performed there.$$So, were you disappointed that Howlin' Wolf wasn't there?$$ Not really. It really didn't make a difference, because I was just hanging out with her and her boyfriend until my boyfriend got off from work. Because he worked nights, and we were just hanging out until Chris [ph.] got off from work. And when we went into the club, it was maybe fifteen or twenty people there. I think it was on a Wednesday night, and it was like, okay, two is a couple, three is a crowd. So, I'm going to go sit over here on the bar and flirt with the guys. That normally was not me; I never flirted with musicians or anything like that. But that particular night, I guess it was my night. I did, and I didn't even know who Willie Dixon were. I had heard about the Big Three Trio, but I really didn't know who they were, and that was the Big Three Trio.$$Okay.$$ That was the group that was on the stage.$$Who was in the trio besides Willie?$$ It was Willie, Ollie Crawford, and Leonard Caston, who they called Baby Doo, who was the piano player. And I think I heard Willie say--and I know I read this--Ellis--Alec Hunter [sic. Ellis Hunter]. And I don't ask me what he played. I believe he might have been a guitar player. But Ollie Crawford was the guitar player for many, many years. And Willie was the bass. Leonard was the piano. Also, I believe he played the guitar as well. And they went from the Big Three to Four Jumps for Jive [sic. Four Jumps of Jive], and then it became four people. And then the Five Breezes, but some of the same people, you know, like Willie, Ollie, and Leonard which we--he was always called Baby Doo, Leonard Caston. They was always--the beginning of that second group, the Four Jumps to Jive or the Five Breezes.$$Okay, okay.$$ So, I really didn't know who I was talking to when I was just flirting with the guys on the bandstand.$$Okay. What happened?$$ Do I have to tell (laughter)? Okay, I said--I sat on the bar, and I said, "Which one of you guys are single?" And it really didn't mean anything to me. And they said, all three of them said, "We're single, we're all single." I said, "Oh," and I thought nothing else about that. Because I was waiting on my boyfriend Chris to get off from the post office [U.S. Post Office Department; U.S. Postal Service] and we was going to hang out, because I was off of work that particular night. I was working nights at this point as a clerk at 47th [Street] and Prairie [Avenue] at a drugstore called the Star Drugstore [ph.]. And I was off, so I was enjoying my night off from work, because I used to work from six o'clock in the afternoon until two in the morning. And I thought nothing about this, but Willie Dixon did, and he found me at the drugstore. And I'm looking at this giant and saying, "Unh-uh," but he was kind, he was gentle. So, it was easy to let Chris go.$$Yeah, poor Chris was too late that night, I guess.$$ It was time to let Chris go. Chris had his thing, and I had mine. But however, that's how I met him, not knowing who this person were when I flirted with them. And I say I did the flirting. I said, "Which one of you guys are single?" And the three answered: "We all are."

Vivian Scott Chew

Music executive Vivian Scott Chew was born in the Queens, New York neighborhood of Far Rockaway to Mamie Murphy and William Scott on May 14, 1958. She attended Georgetown University from 1976 to 1977. Chew then entered into the music business as an office assistant for entertainment attorney Louise West. Chewalso served as a personal assistant to singer, songwriter and producer Kashif, renowned for producing music for notable artists such as Whitney Houston and Evelyn “Champagne” King. From there, Chew was named president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1985, the first African American woman to head the organization. While at ASCAP she created the Rhythm & Soul Awards, an event that has been in existence for more than twenty years. She was then hired as the head of artists and repertoire (A&R) for Polygram Records in 1987, where she signed internationally acclaimed reggae band Third World. After two years with Polygram, Chew was named vice president of urban music for Sony/550 Records. She was then named vice president of artists and repertoire (A&R) for Epic Records from 1991 to 1997. While at Epic she signed reggae artist Shabba Ranks, a then unknown who rose to international superstardom under Chew. Ranks’ debut album for Epic became the first reggae album to top Billboard’s R&B chart and snagged him the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991.

Chew went on to launch her own music company, TimeZone International, three years later. Through TimeZone Chew markets urban music acts to global audiences. Her clients have included notable R&B acts such as Jill Scott, Brain McKnight and India.Arie. Through Chew Entertainment, a company she co-owns with her husband, arranger, producer and musical director, Ray Chew, provides direction and musical support for new and emerging artists.

Vivian Scott Chew is also recognized for her advocacy of juvenile diabetes careand prevention. She serves on the board of directors for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of North Jersey and Rockland Counties. In 1993, she co-founded the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Music Industry Dinner, which raised $2 million for research for a cure. Additionally, Chew serves on the Board of Directors for the Black Rock Coalition and is a former board member of the Winston Preparatory School in New York City. Chew is married and resides in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Vivian Chew was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.117

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/18/2012

Last Name

Chew

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Scott

Occupation
Schools

Georgetown University

Woodmere Academy

P.S. 197 The Ocean School

First Name

Vivian

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

CHE05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

God Is Able.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/14/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Music executive Vivian Scott Chew (1958 - ) is an industry fixture in the areas of artist development and international marketing and has the distinction of being the first African American female head of American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Employment

TimeZone International

Epic/Sony Records

550 Music/Sony Music

Polygram Records

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:7394,85:12529,150:12845,155:16110,163:28606,418:30360,427:40594,628:45828,675:55696,860:56164,868:57022,886:66117,1036:72070,1125:81961,1327:82363,1334:83100,1357:83502,1364:92053,1497:97090,1552$0,0:5463,74:8290,84:8594,89:10494,139:11482,183:12546,210:14598,247:16042,276:16422,282:18170,309:19082,327:19538,334:33642,550:37242,612:37818,621:39618,662:40050,669:51590,836:52805,854:61476,952:72582,1099:75338,1152:93736,1463:94528,1499:95320,1515:99808,1612:102448,1662:111028,1895:122595,2010:123175,2015:130970,2067:151034,2415:154202,2486:154706,2494:155642,2505:156866,2526:157442,2535:161114,2604:162050,2624:170366,2707:170654,2712:175150,2792
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vivian Scott Chew's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls discovering the true identity of her biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her upper middle class upbringing in a lower middle class neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her brother, Lawrence Murphy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her mother's affair with her biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about being the survivor of rape and incest

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her childhood in Far Rockaway, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her love of sports as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls her grade school years and her experience at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew remembers her first day at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls her memory of the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her formative experiences at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her activities at First Baptist Church of Far Rockaway

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew describes meeting gospel stars and her church's gospel choir

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her extracurricular activities and academic performance at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her decision to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about being a young mother and her family's refusal to acknowledge that her brother was gay

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about the injury that ended her aspiring volleyball career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her physical similarities to her biological father

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her divorce and her daughter's birth

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her first job in the music industry

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about working for producer Scott Sanders

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew describes working for Kashif

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about working for ASCAP

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about working at PolyGram Records as the director of the A&R Department

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her relationship with the island of Jamaica

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls learning about the international music industry after recruiting Sa-Fire to PolyGram

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her decision to join Epic Records and the ascent of black women in A&R during the 1990s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her mentor at Epic Records, Hank Caldwell

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her role in the rise and success of Shabba Ranks

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about the success of Shabba Ranks and Patra

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about the controversy surrounding Shabba Ranks' anti-gay sentiments

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew describes being forced to stay at Epic Records and signing George Clinton

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her marriage to HistoryMaker Ray Chew and the founding of her company, TimeZone International

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls the beginning of TimeZone International and the success of A+

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about Chew Entertainment and the mission of Power to Inspire

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her clients and her work around the world

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew shares her aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew reflects upon what she would do differently

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
Vivian Scott Chew describes her love of sports as a child
Vivian Scott Chew talks about Chew Entertainment and the mission of Power to Inspire
Transcript
So now what did you like to do growing up besides--now you liked athletics you said, like handball?$$Uh-hum. Handball started at--but when I went to high school, because there were only fifty-eight kids in my class, you sort of got forced into doing everything and because I was really, really good at sports, I was the captain of the basketball team, the softball team. I actually was going to try out for the 1976 Olympics until I injured my knee and couldn't. I was everything my brother [Lawrence Murphy] wasn't and it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that I was so competitive, sports-wise, 'cause I couldn't compete against him academically and there was always the underlining, "Why can't you be as smart as your brother?" thing. Why aren't you taking piano lessons? So I took piano lessons. I hated piano lessons. I went and broke my finger, literally, took a rock and broke it, my left hand, not my serving hand for volleyball, my left hand, so I couldn't play but I could still do this and do that. I could still shoot basketball.$$You actually consciously broke your finger?$$Oh, absolutely. I just did not want to play piano. So you couldn't play piano with one hand but I could do everything else with one hand. So that's how I got away with it. And lots of awards and accolades and all the things that my brother got in things that, my brother couldn't even jump rope, he had no desire to. He was very much about school. So when it went time for me to go to college, that was a big point when I didn't want to go.$And I think innately because I do love the live aspect of music more than anything, just watching my husband [Ray Chew, HM]being a musical director, it was like, you know, we can own that, we can produce these shows as well. So he and I formed a company, Chew Entertainment, which produces events from small string, you know, string quartets to huge, huge things. My husband was the musical director for the Neighborhood Ball which was the first gala that President Obama went to with his wife after, you know, with Beyonce singing and Ray did the national convention, the Democratic Convention and we've done Carnegie Hall and we've done--we did a tribute to George Clinton at the Apollo [Theater] and we've just had, we've done Carnegie Hall twice, actually, as producers. And I love that part of my life. My heart is in anything that involves the evolution of music in whatever form that is. And now for me, my newest thing is, we've started a foundation called Power to Inspire. I am clear that I am on the other side of the fence now in my career, and it's time for me to create some new shoulders for new blood to step on and stand on just like people like Louise West did for me. I was a young twenty-three, twenty-four year old girl with no direction and she gave me some and now it's my time to do that. So that's what Ray and I are doing together, it's called Power to Inspire. I'm excited.$$Okay, now, what does Power to Inspire do actually?$$Power to Inspire, we're just, we're just getting it together. We are, you know, getting our 501(c)(3) status and what we will be doing is mentoring children, Ray from a very creative standpoint and myself for kids who want to be in the business, and for me being in the business now, is absolutely being an entrepreneur. People can say what they want to say about hip hop. Let me tell you what I love about hip hop. Hip hop has spawned more black entrepreneurs than any other genre of music. Jay-Z, Puffy [Sean Combs], Russell [Simmons, HM], Cash Money, Master P, just amazing. Nobody even went to Atlanta [Georgia] before, now Atlanta's a hotbed for music and, and I mean, they've done it and they employ their own and it's, it's empires and it's gone from music to clothing to vodka to an arena. Jay-Z is building an arena in Brooklyn [New York City, New York]. How huge is that? So, I just think that we have the responsibility. Ray and I look back, music is no longer in the schools, it's not mandatory. Our program will go in schools and we'll be teaching children their craft as well as I will then be reaching to all of my colleagues, all the people who were in the graduating class before me, myself, right underneath me, to come help and mentor a new generation. That's what "Power to Inspire" will be doing.

Clarence Avant

Music executive Clarence Avant was born on February 25, 1931 in the small town of Climax, North Carolina. He went to school through his junior high years in a one-room school house before attending James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina. At the age of sixteen, Avant decided to move to New Jersey to live with his aunt and cousin. He began working as a manager at Teddy P’s Lounge, owned by Teddy Powell, where he met the blues artist Little Willie John. Little Willie John was so impressed by Avant that he asked him to be his road manager, and more clients soon followed. In 1967, Avant helped sign William Stevenson with MGM, engineering the first joint venture between an African American artist and a major record company with the incorporation of Venture Records, Inc into MGM Records in California.

Avant was known in the business world as a great deal-maker, and in 1968, Al Bell enlisted his help to sell Stax Records to Gulf & Western. The deal was finalized for $4.3 million. The next year, Avant founded Sussex Records and bought the KAGB-FM radio station in 1973, both ventures closed in 1975. However, Avant had realized his passion for the music business and founded Tabu Productions in 1976. In 1987, Avant helped to promote Michael Jackson’s first solo tour which grossed $125 million. He was named Chairman of the Board of Motown Records in 1993. One year later, Avant worked with a group of other notable African American investors to create a $20 million investment partnership in South Africa called New Age Beverages. New Age partnered with PepsiCo to build a bottling plant in South Africa, which would be completely run by South Africans.

Avant, along with Quincy Jones, received the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College in 2003 and received the Living Legends Foundation Award in 2007. In 2010, he was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame. He has become known as the “Godfather” in the music business because of his willingness to aid newcomers in the industry. Through his mentoring, many of these people have become very successful and prestigious leaders in the business. Avant currently lives with his wife, Jacqueline, in Beverly Hills, California.

Avant was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 14-15, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.101

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/14/2012

Last Name

Avant

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

James B. Dudley High School

First Name

Clarence

Birth City, State, Country

Climax

HM ID

AVA01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

No Favorite Vacation Spot

Favorite Quote

Any Song Written By Bill Withers

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/25/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Music executive Clarence Avant (1931 - ) known as the “Godfather,” is one of the most influential African American music executives in the world.

Employment

Teddy P's Lounge

Delete

Sussex Records

Avant Garde Broadcasting

Tabu Records

Motown Records

Urban Box Office Network

Interior Music

Favorite Color

Black, Blue, Gray, Orange, White

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

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
0,0:6160,195:6600,201:17072,413:19360,454:20152,464:23672,613:31900,690:32740,712:33300,722:36520,791:41000,917:42540,951:46110,1030:57525,1162:57833,1167:60759,1249:71462,1491:74388,1546:76544,1593:78315,1621:97422,1947:98727,1977:102555,2165:106209,2306:121140,2476$0,0:13098,454:16206,542:29599,748:29954,764:31090,779:34711,873:40533,1040:46071,1137:46355,1142:59642,1309:60281,1321:60920,1341:63973,1405:64399,1412:64683,1496:66600,1548:87630,1867:88134,1876:88998,1890:90798,1930:91230,1937:92526,1958:92886,1964:93606,1986:96198,2048:98142,2090:98502,2096:111798,2336:112782,2351:118850,2469:119670,2676:132490,2821:132810,2826:133850,2860:136650,2925:138410,2963:144090,3079:146810,3138:159186,3250:163476,3345:167766,3529:168312,3537:169248,3562:177516,3796:184860,3905
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.

Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong

Actor and record executive Aki Aleong was born on December 19, 1934 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Henry Leong (Aleong), a cook from Hong Kong, and Agnes Vera Gonsalves from St. Vincent, British West Indies; he was originally called Assing Aleong by his father and Leonard Gonzales by his mother. Aleong attended Progressive Education Institute in Trinidad as a youth. After moving to Brooklyn, New York, with his mother in 1949, Aleong graduated from Boys High School; in 1951, he started taking classes at Brooklyn College while working in a hardware store.

Responding to a casting call for an Asian character, Aleong was cast as the Goat Boy in the 1954 Broadway production of Teahouse of the August Moon on Broadway. In 1956, Aleong made his first live television appearance in The Letter, an episode of NBC’s Producers’ Showcase. In 1957, Aleong was cast in the movie Motorcycle Gang. Throughout his career, Aleong performed in over than 200 different television programs, including: Ben Casey (1961); The Outer Limits (1963); The Virginian (1967); L.A. Law(1986); Babylon 5 (1994); Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1996); and Curb Your Enthusiasm (2001). Aleong’s movie credits include: Never So Few (1959); The Hanoi Hilton (1987); Farewell to the King (1989); Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993); Tidal Wave: No Escape (1997); A Breed Apart (1998); Missing Brendan (2003); House of Sand and Fog (2003); and Sci-Fighter (2004).

Also a musician, Aleong wrote the hit songs Trade Winds and Shombalor; in 1963 he formed Aki Aleong and the Nobles. Leaving the movie business in 1967, Aleong worked as the west coast R&B sales and promotion manager for Capitol Records; an assistant vice president of promotion for Polydor Records; an assistant vice president of sales for Liberty/United Artist Records; the president of Pan World Records and Pan World Publishing (BMI); and a record producer for VeeJay Records. Aleong worked with The 5th Dimension, The Ojays, and Bobby Womack, and produced the Roy Ayers album Red Black and Green. Aleong also managed Norman Connors in 1976, and produced Connors’s gold record You are My Starship.

Onetime chairman of the Fraternity of Recording Executives, Aleong returned to acting in 1983. Aleong served on the boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans and was the executive director for Asians in Media.

Accession Number

A2005.108

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/26/2005

Last Name

Aleong

Middle Name

Leonard Gonzales

Schools

Boys High School

Brooklyn College

First Name

Aki

Birth City, State, Country

Port of Spain

HM ID

ALE01

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/19/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

Trinidad & Tobago

Favorite Food

Peas and Rice

Short Description

Television actor and music executive Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong (1934 - ) appeared in numerous television and film roles in a career that spanned almost fifty years. In addition to his accomplishments in the realm of visual media, Aleong also served in a variety of executive roles within the recording industry, and released hit records as an artist.

Employment

Capitol Records, Inc.

Polydor Records

Liberty/UA Records

Pan World Records

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers immigrating to Brooklyn, New York City from Trinidad

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers his childhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes how his father processed opium

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his exposure to opium

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his father's family background and the history of Chinese immigration to the Americas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers moving to Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the culture shock he experienced upon immigrating to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers attending Boys High School in Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers joining a street gang

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers gang activity and policing in Brooklyn, New York City in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers being involved in a street fight in Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his friend, Bolero Martinez, from Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls dancing at Brooklyn College in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls his focus on dancing at Brooklyn College in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his dance studies at Henry Street Settlement House in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his audition for 'Teahouse of the August Moon'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the jobs he held while attending Brooklyn College in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers watching a Broadway play for the first time

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his role in 'Teahouse of the August Moon'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his friendship with Marlon Brando

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers his time in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes acting in the television production of 'The Letter'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong shares an insight he gained from acting in 'The Enemy'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls housing discrimination in California during the 1950s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes working with Frank Sinatra

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls disputes in Hollywood that impacted his career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the legacy of Bill Cosby and HistoryMaker Berry Gordy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about the relationship between Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the limited roles for actors of color

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the Asian community in Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recounts his efforts to increase diversity in advertising

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about record companies' exploitation of the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls record companies' exploitation of black employees and musicians

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the systemic discrimination against black disc jockeys and black record labels

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes big record companies buying out black labels

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about why he quit acting

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his promotional work with Liberty UA Records and PolyGram Records

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his friendship with HistoryMaker Reverend Al Sharpton

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about leaving the record business and working as an ambulance driver

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes managing jazz musician Norman Connors

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about promoting jazz musicians Norman Connors and Pharaoh Sanders

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his presence in the doo wop scene

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his sales and promotional work for Capitol Records

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes working with Ray Charles

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes working as an ambulance driver

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers his return to acting

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his TV roles and joining the National Board of Screen Actors Guild

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about promoting diversity in Hollywood

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes promoting diversity with the SAG Ethnic Minorities Committee

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong explains the need for writers and producers of color

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon his work as an activist

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon the challenges of representing Asian Americans in the media

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes undermining stereotypes of Asians in his roles

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about being perceived as Asian rather than black

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon his life

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his film, 'Chinaman's Chance: America's Other Slaves'

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the need for more diverse stories

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his relationship with his children

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers gang activity and policing in Brooklyn, New York City in the 1950s
Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recounts his efforts to increase diversity in advertising
Transcript
So, where I used to live, there's Prospect Park [New York, New York], you've heard of Prospect Park, right? And you have heard of the famous Empire roller rink [Empire Roller Skating Center, New York, New York], we integrated the Empire roller rink, that was my first confrontation with the law and with whitey. Now the roller rink was on the other side of the park which was heavily Jewish, so Bolero [Martinez (ph.)] and I and three of the guys used to go skating there. And Bolero was my idol, man; he was like 5'10" about a hundred and sixty pounds, thin, wiry, good looking man, looked like Romeo, man. And this guy man could skate, he did this you know wow, man. After a while all the girls used to come over to him, right, and then I was skating so then you know now and then I wouldn't ask anybody to dance but they would come over and grab me you know so I was, hey man, I was starting to integrate, right? Lo and behold, one day I'm skating, all of a sudden the girls coming over and they're passing me, we used to call it the knives were called shivs or putting--they were passing me these shivs, I put it in my pocket, what's going on? They had called the cops so there's only three black guys, man you know myself, right so what they did was they stopped Bolero and everybody and they frisked them, right? They frisked them you know to see what they had, right? I walked right by the cops, they never bothered with me (laughter) I walked right by, man. I (laughter) you know, so I used to carry this shivs whenever there was any problem, I would separate myself because I would be carrying either a marijuana cigarette or I'd be carrying the knives in my pocket you know what I'm saying? And smiling at the cops (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) They didn't think you were black?$$No, no, they never thought I was black, which is another story why I peep whitey and we'll talk about that later (laughter). But--so that-so---but Bolero man we used to--as a matter of fact I remember when Cher went to the Empire roller rink it was a big volt thing about how she went there skating blah, blah, blah. It was tough, man, so when I used to go to Brooklyn College [New York, New York] about six--about twelve blocks up, was the natural boundary. The natural boundary and it's always the train, Atlantic Avenue was there the train would come in from Long Island [New York] and I never went passed that boundary, I lived in my little ghetto, I never went. However, to go to Brooklyn College, I had to take the bus and everytime the bus would pass Atlantic Avenue I would get paranoid (laughter) because I was going into foreign territory. Now isn't that a shame, isn't that a damn shame to think about that? The college was in the other side, but because of this, we couldn't go past, I mean it was like an unwritten code. I used to feel scared but I had to go to school, right, so we used to take the Nostrand Avenue bus and go past that way to go to school. Anyways, so at Brooklyn College and at that point, with the gang activity you know what I'm saying, I was starting to fine my--a little bit of acceptance. I remember one night Bolero and I went down to Greenpoint [Brooklyn, New York, New York] to go to this party, I'm going to a party man, man I'm feeling good man, I'm going to this party. It's an all black party, man and you know and I can't dance, man (laughter) so I'm sitting down you know some guys come and say, "Hey what's the matter, don't you want to dance Bro?" "No, no, no, man I can't dance you know." So finally Bolero comes to me and said, "Hey man you in a lot of trouble." I said, "What are you talking about a lot of trouble?" "Man, these guys they don't like you man, they think you stuck up." I said, "Man but I want to dance man, I wanna get with the ladies but I can't dance, I'm embarrassed." So well we got a problem, I had to climb out from the second floor out of the bathroom window (laughter) and hang out and get out because they were going to kick my ass (laughter) because they thought I was stuck up, man. Imagine that man, had to climb out the back window.$And the percentages which will tell you because sitting on the board--in 1982, blacks represented four percent, four percent, man, four percent, okay? As the national chair of Screen Actors Guild [SAG; Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)], co-chair of the [SAG Ethnic] Minorities Committee, Minorities Committee [Ethnic Equal Opportunities Committee], right? I found that there were like--while I was in New York [New York], I organized the program and I got over four hundred kids of color, blacks, mostly blacks, Asians some Native Americans, some Latinos. And I went to Madison Avenue and I said you know what, they're not in commercials, we were in even fewer commercials back then. I said we need a program, so being on the board of SAG, they said oh fine, well he can't do nothing. So I arranged the--a program wherein they would come in and audition these four hundred kids over a period of five months. And what it would be after they negotiate that they would--the kids would come in and they would already have a commercial they can read. But at the night of the audition, Madison Avenue, which controls everything, would then bring in a commercial in and then they can read and we'll tape it. So what I did was that I got some of the members of the board then I--then we videotaped. And I interviewed each kid, you know and most people--most actors you know they have--they don't even know what they look like their pictures don't represent them, it what they think it would be you know. Their hair is out of place, the whole nine yards, so I school them for like two months, then I put them on camera, and then I had them do commercials and they got in sync with what themselves would be, and then eventually Madison Avenue came in. Now during that period of time, we were negotiating contract for commercials. They said, the Madison Avenue said, you know what, we're not gonna pay you on a hundred percent of a commercial because you already lost 25 or 30 percent of the market. Because VCRs were coming in, people were taping; they were knocking out the commercial, so why would we pay you a 100 percent of the commercials? So being the chair of the Minorities Committee and I understood that, what was interesting was the fact that if you took 75 percent of the target audience now right, and most of that 25 percent that slipped away were mostly white--$$That had that kind of VCR.$$That's right that had that money, right? So now we're at 75 percent looking at it, right? Now if you have at that point 30 percent, okay, you had Latinos you had blacks, you had Asians, right, which could represent 25 percent, right? Now that 25 percent out of 75 percent, pretty healthy chunk, how much is that, 30 percent, right? So now you have 30 percent so your target audience is now 30 percent. All of a sudden SAG didn't do anything, so Madison Avenue--so my program was just coming in place. When they came and saw these kids, kids were doing Tetley Tea commercials, right, the brothers would pick up the cup, yo brother man, hey man, this good Tetley Tea, and they, they didn't one like traditional Tetley Tea, you know I mean they brought so much pizzazz and a different way of doing things. They brought their own soul to these different things that people were blown away, right? So what happened is that we started to get more jobs in commercials because, not because SAG was doing anything, but because they were targeting at 40 percent of the market. Interesting, it was nothing to do with anything else, except pure dollars, okay? So now today African Americans are 18 percent from '82 [1982] to today 18 percent of the jobs at Screen Actors Guild, 18 percent and rising rapidly. Latinos, a year ago, were 5.7 percent and they represent almost the same as African Americans. They've now risen 6.7, Asian Americans were 2.2, 2.4 percent for the last four years. And Native Americans had one slight gain last year from like 0.1 percent because they had a TV series that ran three days, a miniseries, there were more actors, so that's why it raised. They're microscopically out of the picture. Now, there are reasons why we can talk about why this increase and whatever, whatever. But it wasn't because of Screen Actors Guild; it was because of the fact that the demographics and the money and what you're looking at is the fact that they were targeting certain markets.