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THE BERT BERNS TWIST AND SHOUT VOLUME 1 « 1960-1004 STORY JERRY WEXLER: “Bert was an outstanding songwriter and groove doctor. He was also mercurial, and as opinionated as I was. He was my frst protégé. Bert was street, a homeboy. Infact, my father used to wash the windows of his parents’ dress shop in the Bronx. He was intrigued by the wiseguys, loved hanging with hoodlums and trading gangster stories.” CISSY HOUSTON: “Ber'’s songs expressed the pain of loneliness, regret, of losing love and begging for it to return, of missing someone and also pleasure. They were simple songs - not sophisticated like a Bacharach/David tune or funny like a Leiber/Stoller song. But whether they were about pain or pleasure, they were sensual. They were about feeling. They were about being alive, But always, in Bert's songs, the night also encroached. Bert’s songs were howled or shouted or screamed. They were the songs of someone living on the edge, so far out that only a prayer - howled or cried - could bring deliverance.” DOUG MORRIS: “He is responsible for some of the most enduring classics of 60s pop and soul. The artists he fostered cast major shadows across the musie world, On a breakneck seven-year run beginning in 1960, he created some of the most soulful and honest music of his generation, He is truly the lost titan of the American music business.” GARRY SHERMAN: “Bert was the funkiest producer I ever encountered. We'd spend hours listening to records, Bert pointing out trumpet sounds, guitar sounds - ‘You hear that drum figure?’ he'd say. ‘You hear that bass? That's ‘what I want!’ - he taught me what soul was. Bert was my favourite.” BERT BERNS was one of the most gifted, charismatic and successful record producers of the 1960s, on a par with Phil Spector or the Holland/Dozier and Leiber/Stoller teams. As BERT RUSSELL he also wrote some of the era's landmark songs. He even made some recordings of his own using the alias RUSSELL BYRD. Insiders and experts regard him as a legend. Yet, perhaps because he died young, just as his career was reaching new heights, his is not a name with which many are familiar. The aim of this collection of his work - the first of two planned volumes -is to remedy that injustice. He was bom BERTRAND RUSSELL BERNS in New York City on 8 Novemier 1929, the frst child of Charie and Sadie Berns, who named him after the British pacifist and social reformer. The couple's second child, Syvia, was born two years later. The Bernses were hardworking Russian Jewish immigrants: Sadie, known to all as Sid, arrived in the USA in 1901 at the age of one, while Charlie, bor Kisiel Beresofsky in 1891, settled 11 years later. The couple were married on Christmas Day, 1924 and opened a shop selling dresses in the East Bronx. Their business did well. In 1932 they set up Berns’ Dress Shop on the tree-lined Grand Concourse in Fordham, the affluent end of the Bronx - “If its differen, it’s Bers” ran the thriving shop's motto. The family lived around the corner in a comfortable elevator-served apartment, where a doorman attended the main entrance and a nanny tended the children, who were sent away to school as soon as they were old enough. As a youngster, Bert loved sport and showed great talent for art, but at 12 he became ill and was hos times. He was eventually diagnosed with rheumatic fever. The Bernses packed their children off to boarding school in Florida, where the climate was better, but Ber’s health broke down again and he returned home. He was bedridden for a year and wasn't well enough to graduate. The family purchased a baby grand piano and Bert took lessons, He learned quickly and showed great promise. Charlie Berns had hopes of his sickly son following a career in fine arts or classical music, but Bert grew rebellious and had other ideas. Like many hip young Jewish New Yorkers, Bert dug the mambo. Despite his faltering health, he played basketball, went out dancing, dated girls and fostered show business dreams. He got himself a job as emcee at a nightclub, where he also instructed the patrons in the art of the mambo. Every summer the shutters of Berns’ Dress Shop were pulled down for a month while the family holidayed in the Catskills, where Bert entertained the other guests with impromptu performances at the piano and rarely missed an opportunity to see Tito Puente, Machito or Tito Rodriguez play at other hotels in the “Jewish Alps”, Inevitably, he clashed with his father and did a bunk to Florida, where a cousin helped him find a job as a hotel pianist. On returning to New York, he moved into a cheap pad in bohemian Greenwich Village Bert Berns took his first tentati into the record business in about 1950, when he and his friend Sid Bernstein, ‘who ran a mambo joint in the Bronx, scraped together the money to form a label, Magic Records. The logo released a few singles, including an instrumental by flautist Esy Morales and a novelty number Bert had written entitled ‘M & X’ (as in ham and eggs) sung by Bob Manning and Eydie Gorme. He worked up an act as the piano-playing straight man in a duo with Howard Storm, a comic he'd met at Hansen's, a showbiz hangout on Broadway, and in 1955 another of his compositions was recorded by Micki Marlo, He fell in love with and wed a young lady from Philadephia named Bety, but the mariage vas sorcived, - @_ LAURIE 3067 Crestfallen, in the winter of 1957 he skipped town again, embarking on a pilgrimage to the home of the mambo, Cuba, with another pal, Mickey Raygor. The two Bronx homeboys revelled in the decadent atmosphere of Havana and toyed with the idea of opening a nightclub, but their money ran out after a few months. It was brief, but Bert's stay on the Caribbean “Isle of Pines” consolidated his interest in Cuban music and spurred him into greater creativity. On returning to New York, together with two fellow Bronxites, drummer Herb Wasserman and songwriter Ray Passman, Berns rented a sixth floor office at 1650 Broadway, a hive of music business activity across the street from the Brill Building, Don Kirshner, Dick Clark, Aaron Schroeder and George Goldner ran their various operations from the same building. With songwriter Ethan Goldstein, he cut a couple of duets at Allegro Sound in the basement of 1650: one they released as by the Beatniks, the other as Bert and Bill Giant. He struck up a romance with glamorous nightclub singer Rita Constance, produced a single on her and wrote songs with characters like Ersel Hickey and Mickey Lee Lane, but security came for Berns when he was signed by Robert Mellin Music as a $50-a-week song plugger. “PUSH PUSH: @ AUSTIN TAYLOR e@ He began collaborating with songwriter Phil Medley, the pair first registering with ‘Push Push’ a small hit (#90) for Austin Taylor on Laurie Records late in 1960. Other early songs co-written by the two were recorded by Hoagy Lands, the Top Notes, Arthur Prysock and Jimmy Jones, while Laurie was also the outlet for the first Bert Berns solo single, “The Legend OF The Alamo’, His follow-up 45 - ‘You'd Better Come Home’, released under the pseudonym Russell Byrd on Wand Records out of 1650 Broadway - reached #50 in the summer of 1961. The Jarmels, another Laurie act, went all the way to #12 (#7 R&B) with Bert’s composition ‘A Little Bit Of Soap’ a couple of months later. With three hit songs in less than a year, he was finally on his way. Late in 1961 Berns was enlisted by Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records to work with Solomon Burke, a liaison that begat the hits ‘Cry To Me’ (#44, #5 R&B), ‘Down In The Valley’ (#71, #20 R&B), ‘'m Hanging Up My Heart For You" (#85, #15 R&B) and ‘I Really Don't Want To Know’ (#93) in its first year and would last until 1965. But LOOK AWAY Bert’s biggest success as a songwriter and producer n 1962 arrived in the shape of the Isley Brothers’ “Twist And Shout’, which reached #17 (#2 R&B). ‘The year also yielded the Isleys' follow-up ‘Twistin’ With Linda’ (#54), ‘Beach Party’ by King Curtis (#60), both of which he produced, and Gene Pitney’s ‘If I Didn't Have A Dime (To Play The Jukebox)’ (#58), which he wrote Bert began 1963 with “Tell Him’ by the Exciters at +#4 (45 R&B). The quartet scored with another of his, songs, ‘Get Him’ (#76), a few months later. Baby Jane & the Rockabyes charted with ‘How Much Is ‘That Doggie In The Window’ (#69), which he produced, and the Four Pennies registered with ‘My Block’ (#67), another Berns co-write. He wrote ‘Killer Joe’, a #16 hit (#7 CB R&B) for Filipino boy band the Rocky Fellers, and produced a new slow arrangement of Cry To Me’ on Betty Harris, which reached #23 (#10 R&B), plus four more charters for Solomon Burke: Words’ (#36 CB R&B), ‘If You Need Me’ (#37, #2, R&B), ‘Can't Nobody Love You’ (#66, #37 CB R&B) and “You're Good For Me’ (#49, #8 R&B). His greatest achievement of the year was a song he wrote and produced with Jerry Ragovoy, Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters’ ‘Cry Baby’, which reached #4 Pop and #1 on the R&B lists. Bert and Ragovoy also worked together on ‘For Your Precious Love’ (#26, #9 CB R&B) and ‘Baby Don’t You Weep" (#30, #11 CB R&B), both sides of the group’s follow-up single. In October 1963 Bert flew to the UK, where he produced a handful of acts for Decca Records. His personal life took an upswing too, ‘when he met and fell in love with Ilene Stuart, a fashion model and twister at posh New York niteries like the Peppermint Lounge and the Roundtable. The couple married in 1964 and set up home in his penthouse on the East Side. 1964 was an even more successful year. He wrote and produced Betty Harris’ second hit, “His Kiss” (#89, #15 CB R&B), and penned ‘One Girl’ (#67, #31 CB R&B) and ‘Look Away’ (#73, #14 CB R&B) for Garnet Mimms. Assuming

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