Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ken Mansfield on David Cassidy in The White Book

The White Book
The Beatles, the Bands, the Biz: An Insider's Look at an Era
By Ken Mansfield

Ken Mansfield, the former U.S. manager of Apple Records and American Grammy winning music producer, and strategist behind The Beatles’ Apple label, has written a book titled: The White Book: The Beatles, the Bands, the Biz: An Insider’s Look at an Era.
Ken devotes a whole track (Chapter) to his time working with David Cassidy. Ken kindly granted me an interview to explain further his memories of working with David in the summer of 1978.

Jane: Ken you have recently published “The White Book”, your second book recounting your time as a record producer. You spent a lot of time with the Beatles and there are some wonderful stories in your book about the Fab Four. Your book is also about the music industry and the other singers and songwriters of the time. One of the singers you worked with is David Cassidy. Can you tell us why you were reluctant at first to work with David Cassidy and what changed your mind?

Ken: I had this image in my mind that David was this wimpy teenybopper has been and that his musical fame was a plastic creation by TV moguls and media hype. This was somewhat similar to the opinion I had of the Monkees. After all I had worked with the Beatles, Waylon Jennings and other hard-core artists. I also had a misguided sense that I had to maintain an edge – a hard edge rep. What is so ironic about all this is that I was at a point in my career where I wasn’t exactly happening so big myself. I needed projects but I was looking for the right ones and I wasn’t sure David was it.

Jane: Why did you choose Larrabee studio in West Hollywood to work with David?

Ken: This was not a complicated, creative or a political choice. It was a bit logistical and simply available at the time we wanted to do the sessions. I liked the room from previous experience and my chosen engineer for the project suggested this particular studio as a good atmosphere for the recordings. We negotiated a good rate for the sessions that allowed us to be able to block off the studio on a 24/7 basis for about a month. This way David and I could work as long as we liked and when we felt like it.

Jane: Larabee studio was once owned by Gerry Goffin. There is an interesting connection here as Gerry co-wrote a few songs David recorded for the Partridge Family. Probably the most famous is "I'll Meet You Halfway". David still sings this in concert today and often mentions Gerry's name. Were you aware of the connection when you were recording at Larrabee?

Ken: No - I don’t remember that coming into play in making our decision.

Jane: You of course had a strong connection with the Beatles. The Beatles music had a big influence on David. David does a great cover of the Beatles song “Blackbird” on “A Touch Of Blue” CD. He also did a great duet with his son Beau of a Beatles song ‘Mr Moonlight’ in Concert. He sometimes sings "You got to hide your love away", "Blackbird" and "No Reply" acoustically in concert. In concerts and in his autobiography David speaks very fondly of the times he spent with John Lennon. John Lennon was a mentor for him and someone who understood what David was going through and had gone through. Did David mention John Lennon to you?

Ken: For some reason I don’t remember the Beatle connection coming up on either of our parts. Your question was actually a surprise to me because I don’t remember David sharing this with me. (That doesn’t mean he didn’t) For me this was during the period that I was none conversational about my history with the Fab Four so there may have been a bit of reluctance on my part.

Jane: You refer to both yourself and David as both being Desperate song laden souls. David admits in his recent autobiography "Could It Be Forever" that this was a very difficult time for him personally. Were you aware of this at the time?

Ken: David and I were very sensitive souls and this was a hard time for both of us. We had experienced the highest of highs in our entertainment industry conquests and suddenly we were hung out there in this sort of never-never land - experiencing an unexpected lull in our careers. I think our egos and belief in our abilities wouldn’t let either of us admit that we were a bit nervous about where it was going from there. I shouldn’t be speaking for David here but this is how I look back on that interlude as it concerned me. I think in some odd way we were looking to each other to turn our ships of fortune around. We had both been to the top of the mountain and that meant we both knew how to get there and the odds for the two of us once again taking the climb together increased our future chances by teaming up.

Jane: You say that David was the most delightful performer you ever worked with and you also say that he was most intriguing. In what way was David intriguing?

Ken: We met over dinner and we immediately clicked. David had it all as far as I was concerned. As we progressed into the pre production phases of the album I found myself as the producer standing back and letting him take the creative lead. He knew what he was looking for and he had the talent to back any direction he wanted to go. It took me about ten minutes after meeting him to realize my original opinion was 100% wrong. He had a super sense of material and this wonderful voice that allowed him to take on any vocal challenge. I am not saying we were geniuses in what we came up with but the album reflected our tastes during that specific space we were in and mirrored how we saw things musically. I think we both lifted each other up and in some ways dropped the ball together.

Jane: You worked closely on a professional level with David during this time and you also became close friends. What personal qualities did you like in David? What allowed you to become such close friends?

Ken: I would have to start with the most incredible laugh I have ever heard from any human being. When something struck him funny his laughter came rolling out from deep within and would make me feel good all over. We were young at the time and he made me feel even younger. We experienced a sense of freedom in our predicament and in spite of our serious dilemma we had a good time with our circumstances. Sometimes I wonder if our purpose was more than making a record – possibly something to do with handling a transitional period in our lives.

Jane: As a friend of David's what did you do other than work in the studio?

Ken: Partied and rode hard herd into the Hollywood nights. We laughed a lot. We did the theme song for his TV series “Man Undercover”.

Jane: What was the main idea about the album that you and David worked on?

Ken: The album was less conceptual and more what we felt like doing. We both had this root love for the music that came out of the Buffalo Springfield era and the writers and artists of that font of new music. Maybe as a producer I should have put a finer point on the focus of the album. I also should have been more aware of the political surroundings of the production company he was signed with. We didn’t include them as much as we should and I think that is why they didn’t back the project when it was completed. In the music business it wasn’t always the artist that had the big ego. David and I were into making music and not shmoozing the execs that were paying the bills. Our bad – their problem.

Jane: The material you and David worked on didn't get released at that time. We know that some of that material was later released on the “Best of David Cassidy” CD in Japan. In fact this wasn't a "Best of" CD at all. Did all the songs that you and David worked on appear on this Japanese CD?

Ken: Yes, every one! The first 10 songs on the album were the ones I did with David, not the last three.
Jane: David was not very happy about the release of this CD when it was released in 1991 in Japan. David said that these songs were not what he was standing for in 1991, and therefore he would rather not see them released at this time. Do you know why the material that you worked on with David wasn't released at that time?

Ken: I think I answered that already – but I don’t think either of us would like to entertain the idea that it wasn’t good enough. It was simply improperly titled and ill timed in its release date. He had gone well beyond that product in his musical progression when it was released over a decade later.

Jane: The songs that are on the “Best Of David Cassidy” CD are as follows. 1. All I Want Is You- 2. Crazy Love- Rusty Young3. Half Heaven, Half Heartache - Aaron H. Schroeder and Wally Gold4. I Can See Everything - Timothy B. Schmit5. I Never Saw You Coming- 6. Save Me Save Me- 7. Dirty Work- Barry Allan Gibb and A. Galuten8. You Are the First One - Barney Robertson9. Strengthen My Love- Tim Moore10. Junked Heart Blues- David Cassidy11. Once A Fool- Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter12. Hurt So Bad- Teddy Randazzo, Bobby Hart and Bobby Weinstein13. It Should Have Been Me. The liner notes that come with the CD do not give any credit to songwriters, musicians or the producer. Can you please fill in the missing songwriters?

Ken: It has been so long – sorry I don’t have a clue.

Jane: Can you tell us why those particular songs were chosen to record?

Ken: Looking back I think our criteria was very simple in that we picked songs we liked and wanted to record – some brand new and some underground standards.

Jane: Ken, as you are a very experienced person in the music industry, I'd like to know your opinion on how huge David could be in this day and age had he devoted himself completely to show business. Today his horses are his main passion/business and showbiz is a sideline.

Ken: In your life you meet people like David who can do about anything they set their sights and mind on. I think David follows his heart a lot and for me that is the key to success – not necessarily in the worldview but in the street sense. He has proved out in time and I applaud his success. I think the life he has selected is to be admired for its balance.

Jane: If you could work with David again what type of songs would you like to produce considering today's market?

Ken: I can’t speak for him but I would probably suggest we do a romantic, smoky cafe, jazz-club album with some lesser-known standards. Songs that would allow us more room for gentle creativity and less comparison to other artists. I think David always has the potential to break new ground and our maturity would probably give us greater wisdom in fine-tuning a concept now.

Jane: You mention your son, Kevin in the book. In fact Kevin took the photos of David at the studio. Did your son follow you into the business?

Ken: Yes and no - he dabbled in it for a while because of me but migrated into other things and is doing well in other areas.

Jane: Thank you for your time Ken. I wish you all the best with your book – “The White Book.”
The White BookThe Beatles, the Bands, the Biz: An Insider's Look at an Era Trade Paper with French Flaps By Ken Mansfield
Through exclusive photos and personal stories, former US manager of Apple Records and Grammy Award winning producer Ken Mansfield offers a compelling memoir that delves into his life in the 1960s and '70s and his unique partnership with the Beatles and other musicians who orbited their world. As observer, friend, and colleague, Mansfield sat in their recording sessions, partied in their swimming pools, took their irate calls, and publicized their successes. Entertaining, historically accurate, and illuminating a side of the Fab Four known only to a few like Mansfield, The White Book shines fresh light on the true characters behind the cultural phenomena that revolutionized a generation. As the former Head of Apple Records International, Jack Oliver, has said of Ken, "He is one of the few insiders left that bore witness to the highs and lows of those insane days when we ruled the world."From: www.thomasnelson.com

ISBN: 1595551018ISBN-13: 9781595551016 Publisher: Thomas Nelson Format: Trade Paper with French FlapsTrim Size: 7 x 9Page Count: 272
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From the US
More details on “The White Book” can be found here:http://www.fabwhitebook.com/http://acedmagazine.com/content/view/680/31/http://marshallterrillbookbuzz.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html

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