Surprisingly, as long as I’ve been in radio, I’ve only known four record guys, Doug Chappell, and Al Mair in Canada, and Jerry Brenner, and Charlie Minor here in the States. Unfortunately, both Jerry and Charlie are already gone, but I’m sure that we all would agree that “Good Time Charlie” was the most exciting and colorful of them all.
Tragically though, on March 19th, 1995, Charlie (pictured above) was gunned down by a jealous stripper named Suzette McClure who lay in wait at his Malibu home.
When I moved to California to start my own company, Charlie would spend the occasional weekend at my place in Coronado, and I’d stay at his home in Beverly Hills if I were in LA. However, the problem with doing a sleepover at Charlie’s was he liked to socialize until the wee hours but would be the first one up in the morning, ready to rock.
Charlie was a dream friend, hey, who else would always have a spare ticket with your name on it for sold-out events? Oh, and did I mention that he hired my daughter Candis straight out of UCLA when he was President of Giant Records?
He taught Candis how the record business worked, which led to her becoming the Licensing Director of WEA (Warner Brothers, Electra, & Atlantic Records).
When our Class/Classy format was on in over forty markets, we came up with a concept for nights called “Pillow Talk.” The show, which aired seven to midnight featured love songs for lonely ladies plus a few requests and dedications.
Delilah later took this part to a whole new level when she added relationship advice to the mix.
When the concept took off rating wise, I remembered that when Jim Hilliard was at WFIL in Philly, he had an oldies album, so I thought, why not a love song album? The way I saw it working was that we’d sell the love song album at places like Safeway and Publix using the promos on our client station to drive traffic.
The radio station, of course, would sell the package of spots and promos to its clients, and we’d split the profit from the album sales with the station. Now all I needed was the music and the only guy who could help me with that, was my old pal, Charlie Minor.
Charlie was the V/P of A&M Records, and when I told him about my idea, he set up a meeting for me with his boss, Herb Alpert. (pictured above) I was very excited because A&M Records was the perfect place to start because they already had all the love songs I needed.
I was delighted to discover when I arrived at A&M that it was on the old Charlie Chaplin movie lot. (Being from Canada, anything Hollywood always makes me “star flinch.”)
I’d arrived early, so I got to hang out in Charly’s office and watch him work the phones. I’d been on the other end of a lot of calls and always thought that it was just a casual call because he sounded like he had all the time in the world to talk with you.
However, watching him making those calls was an exhausting experience; he had at least seven conversations going on at once and was still yelling at one of his assistants to get him someone else on the phone. After a half-hour of it, I needed a nap. Charlie always had a reputation as being a bit of a scoundrel, but at work, I could tell that he was all business.
Years later, when my daughter Candis ended up working for him, she successfully defended him against a sexual harassment suit. Charlie was the President of a record company back then, and the company owner was trying to use his reputation as a womanizer to get out of their contract without having to pay him.
The company lawyers, hoping for a quick and cheap settlement, were pressuring Candis to say that the work environment was toxic. Candis, who doesn’t take this stuff lightly, was offended by their tactics, so she threw them out of her office.
As Charlie and I walked across the lot to meet with the ‘A’ of A&M Records, I couldn’t help but wish that my father was still alive. He would have been so proud of the fact that his son was meeting with one of his favorite artists. Barely a day went by growing up in Transcona that my father wasn’t blasting the Tijuana Brass out of his stereo system.
Herb’s office, which was on the far end of the lot, was in a Quonset hut, but ya gotta love Hollywood because once inside, you felt like you’d just entered Camelot. The floors were stone as were the walls with what looked like real torches hanging from them. The dark wooden furniture was massive, and immense black steel chandeliers hung from the ceiling.
When we entered Herb’s office, I couldn’t help but notice that his desk appeared to have been carved out with an ax and was so large that it could have easily accommodated the Knights Of The Round Table.
After the introductions, Charlie told Herb that I had an interesting concept worth hearing. Herb was not only charming, but he also asked all the right questions.
The meeting lasted about an hour, and as we walked back to Charlie’s office, I asked him how he thought it went. He said that he could tell that Herb liked me, so the meeting went as well as could be expected. When I asked him what happens next, he said, “Absolutely nothing. What you’ve got to understand is what you want Herb to do takes an enormous amount of work, he has to research who wrote the songs, who published them, who performed them, and then try to get them all to sign off together on the project. It’s easier and much more fun for him to just walk across the lot to one of the recording studios and record a new group.”
“George,” he continued with, “This is the only industry in the world where the owners are wrong nine times out of ten, but they’re still all billionaires.”