Life is Good!
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“Kansas City” / “Trust in Love” / “Falling in Love”
“Moon of Fire” and “I Don’t Wanna Know”
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“Days Go By”
As life went on in my years back in Philly after Los Angeles and New York City, the trajectory of my life went up and up. In my first class at Temple, I met a woman whom I thought was going to be one of the most successful people I had met there. It was Palmina Mammarella. She went by Pam. She was a bit older than most of the other students. I could not help but notice her. Our first real conversation was in regard to an aspect of the class that was interjected by the other teacher teaching the other section of the same class and I was following his lead. Without going too deep into the details Pam confronted me about an issue of sexism in assigning a male to every group for a particular assignment. She was right. I was only concerned for everyone’s safety, but it was a sexist move to assume everyone would be safer just because a male was present. In fact, her group was confronted and robbed of their gear in the streets of North Philly as I feared might happen and the male in her group jumped behind Pam for protection. She was and is a powerful, intelligent and one of the most highly conscious human beings that I have the privilege to have in my life. After she graduated from my class, we bumped into each other a few times again. We spoke at a party thrown by a mutual friend, where I bored her to death talking about myself ad nauseam because I had just graduated and was struggling with what I was about to do next. It was some time after that when I called a Philly music store to buy supplies for 309 and I heard her voice in what was at that time a very new ad-on-hold recording. I had her number and decided I wanted to call her up and ask her out on a date. Now this is more than a year since she was my student, and I knew she could never be my student again as there were no other classes above the class that she had taken that I would ever teach.
I called her up and we talked for a while and I asked her if she wanted to go out with me to a concert. She said no. I was not crushed or anything but still wanted to continue knowing her, so I continued the conversation. I said at one point that it was a shame she didn’t want to go as I was planning to take her to see the Yellowjackets. I went on to say how I knew them from Los Angeles. I of course thought that knowing the band and therefore going backstage to meet them after the show would be impressive. Wow was I wrong. It turned out that Pam’s father, Tony Mammarella, had been as I mentioned earlier the producer of Bandstand and the president of Swan Records. Pam had grown up with world famous pop stars visiting her home as a child. Her father had presented the Beatles with their first American Gold Record for the Swan release of “She Loves You”. My knowing the Yellowjackets did not really impress her. Tony with a friend.
However, as life is sometimes very strange in its twists and turns, she was thinking to herself, “I used music from the Yellowjackets on the last production I made in his class… I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something?” I was chatting away probably because I was a bit embarrassed that she had shot me down when suddenly she said that she had changed her mind and that she would go out to the concert with me. I was happy to hear it and did not think much about why she had changed her mind.
The night arrived for our date and I came to her door in South Philly and rang the bell. Now I must explain something about my appearance. While I was a full-time student and part-time teacher teaching Pam, I did not concern myself with matters of fashion (almost never did actually) and even some aspects of grooming. Being broke I used to have my sister Barbara cut my hair, which she did well but only when I was up in Bethlehem for a holiday visit so that was few and far between and I often looked a bit crazy with my longish curly hair. I also never shaved. I did not waste time on shaving my neck for that entire year. I always have worn a full beard since I could grow one but not the hair on my neck. I wore Velcro strap shoes and other non-fashionable clothes because they were comfortable and quick, and I did not care how I looked as I was not in the market for personal relationships at that time. It was now over a year later I was no longer a student. I again was shaving my neck and cutting my hair more frequently, and I was going out on a date with a beautiful woman, so I had dressed up with nice shoes, pants, a turtle-neck sweater and a sharp sports coat. Pam tells the story that after I rang the bell, she came down the steps to open the door and saw me, and at that exact instant, she knew that she would marry me. She said she knew enough about who I was from our many conversations and having been my student. She knew that I was the kind of man that would be good for her. She all of a sudden saw me in a different light. She saw me as an attractive man and that was that.
That date was on September 27th, 1989. We started seeing each other often. She and I were both in complicated on again off again relationships with other people. I was seeing a woman named Susan whom I was comfortable with but not crazy about and at one point had had a fling with another woman. That alone was a good sign that it was not a good match. Susan also had recently announced that she intended to have a baby but did not want a husband or partner in raising it. That also was not my idea of what I wanted for my future. This is not to mention the fact that I was really not even over Rory. Soon it was obvious that Pam and I had to make a decision as to where our paths would go. I remember telling my sister Barbara about Pam and saying that Pam could be the best thing that could ever happen to me but that I wasn’t sure. I kept seeing Pam and saying we should stop seeing each other. There would be long talks and goodbyes. Inevitably however since she had made her mind up about me, she would call me back and we were off and talking and seeing each other again. I began to realize that I was in love with her. After one last night with a supposed goodbye, she called again, and we sat down and looked at each other and talked about where we were. Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas we had fallen so in love with each other that we committed ourselves to one another. We both broke off the relationships in which we had been lingering. All of them. I gave her the keys to my place and car, access to my money and made the full pledge of my love. Just before Christmas I met her family and we all fell in love. There is a picture from that night of my being hugged by all her siblings. I remember thinking as that picture was being taken that I could not wait for my family to meet hers that it would be a tremendous love feast! And I was so right! By Valentine’s Day we had both left our apartments and rented a house from a family friend of hers who is more like an aunt really and were living together. We were married two Junes later and have been together ever since.
I have written numerous love songs for her, most of which I have produced and are featured on my CDs and website the least not of which is “Falling in Love” that I talked about earlier but more importantly is “Trust in Love”. I was fooling around with the chords to what became “Trust in Love” since I first learned to play the guitar in 1966. My love for Pam inspired me to use them and finish that song for our wedding. It is the title track of my first CD and was performed at our wedding by my dear friend Bruce Hawes. A video of that moment exists also on my website. Thanks Bruce, thank you Pam and thank God for you changing your mind about that first date! (Wedding video)
As I may have mentioned before I met a lot of phenomenal people as a teacher during my life. Not just the love of my life but some dear long-time friends as well. In the same class at Temple (I earlier mentioned a few of the many talented people I met at University of the Arts) was Joe Kraus. He was one of the best students in that first class at Temple and I asked him to be my teaching assistant in the next semester. His first response was, “Me, teach?” I knew he had learned the material quite well and I also knew he had the patience and communicative skill to do it. He, as (I guess) a twenty-year-old, had never considered it I imagine. Joe Kraus went on to continue being a teaching assistant at Temple until he graduated and then with my recommendation was hired at Sigma as an assistant where he worked with a lot of very cool people both on the staff and as clients. Joe has his own elevator story involving Teddy Pendergrass at that time in his extremely heavy mechanized wheelchair and that notorious ancient elevator. I am sure you can imagine how that went. I had been hired part-time at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and I began advising the new director of the evolving Music/Video/Business program. In doing so I was recommending potential faculty members. Joe Kraus was the first. He was hired almost immediately after I was. I remained part-time for a few years and Joe jumped in full-time as soon as he could. Ironically, that made Joe now senior to me in the union there. Next Joe Kraus came to me a few years later when I was his Academic Director and asked me about becoming a mastering engineer. I called Peter Humphreys and connected them. Joe worked there at Masterworks for Peter for years. At one-point Masterworks was hired to digitize all of PIR’s mix library (after I and every other engineer and studio manager Gamble ever had, including Joe Tarsia, kept nagging him) and Joe Kraus was working Monday through Thursday at the Art Institute for me and Fridays at Masterworks for Peter Humphreys. Joe Kraus would come in on Mondays and on his break come to my office and ask if I remembered mixing such and such a project. I usually said no. After a number of weeks of this with him raving about how great these projects sounded and me saying I didn’t even remember them he finally said, “Damn, Jim, you’ve forgotten more stuff than I’ve ever done!” Joe Kraus is a fantastic teacher and I admire his style greatly. I sometimes sit in on his classes that follow mine at Temple where he is now a full-time professor, just to watch him teach. He’s that good. As his Academic Director, I was required to observe him and do annual evaluations so for years I have gotten to watch him. I nominated him for the Excellence in Teaching Award at the Art Institute (which was created to give to me because I had been there so short a time that they hesitated to give me the big annual Honored Faculty Award over people who had been there for years and I had only been there a few and only part-time at first) he won it deservingly.
Joe Kraus was among a group of faculty and friends that I had asked to help me move from South Philly to New Jersey. When the day arrived none of them showed up but Joe. By the time we were unloading the truck (thank God for one of the greatest forces in this universe – the Mammarella women) Joe stopped with me for a break (as we had done all the really heavy lifting and Pam and her sisters had done all the rest, which was a lot especially my vinyl collection – records and books by the way, ARE very heavy) and said, “Jim, you know how you got me into teaching. And you got me my first job in the business, and you got me into mastering too?” I said, “Yeah?” “Well, Jim, We’re even!” I laughed and laughed. Joe has a tremendous dry sense of humor and I am happy to be his friend and still see him often after my classes at Temple… even now.
The semester after I taught Pam and Joe, I got to teach Jack Klotz Jr. Jack played guitar quite well and brought his band in to record as an in-class production. Jack’s first love in music is Jazz. That was one of the reasons I had asked him to play on the Grover tribute song where he met and has subsequently often worked with Gerald Veasley. After teaching Jack, I think I asked him to be my teaching assistant at Temple too. I also recommended him for a job at Sigma which also happened. I recommended Jack be hired at the Art Institute as well. He was one of the last of my former students to get hired there and never quite made it to full-time status since so many others had proceeded him. However, when I was promoted to Director, I gathered all of the audio faculty together at one time and said, “As I will be full-time administrator here, I will no longer be able to teach my classes at Temple…” They all knew I meant for one of them to run up Broad Street and grab them. Jack, not being full-time did it. He has been there ever since and now runs the department where I teach. I love that my dear friend is now my boss. Jack and I have a few things in common. We both married former students. We both married women named Pam. We both are huge lovers of The Beatles, London, Shakespeare, the (as Jack refers to them, “The Fightin’s” (Phillies that is) and much more. I am usually disappointed when Jack is too busy with meetings or his own classes to talk after my classes. We both wish we could spend more time together. We collaborated on a number of musical ventures including his writing music to a set of lyrics I had written back when I lived in Los Angeles that I knew might make a decent song someday. It was called “Turn It Around” from my first album. It is one of my son’s favorites in the many I have written or co-written and then produced. I love how Jack is embracing life. He has also played on every album I have made and others I have produced too. During the summer of 2017 he and his brave family embarked on a fantastic adventure. They moved to Tokyo while Jack taught a class at the Temple campus. It takes extra-ordinary people to uproot themselves and suddenly immerse themselves in an entirely different culture halfway around the world, where you do not even speak the language. Especially with two children under twelve. I tip my hat to them all!
Around 1991 as Pam and I were getting married I left PIR and was lucky enough to have Ted Greenberg step aside from becoming full-time at the Art Institute of Philadelphia (AIPH) allowing me to do so. He was to become full time later anyway. It was at that point in my life when I had taken a big step away from being a full-time audio professional and part-time educator (at three colleges) to a Full-time educator and a part-time audio pro. This was huge. I then was teaching full-time at AIPH and part-time at both Temple and University of the Arts. It freed up a lot of my time really. Seldom was I ever doing long overnight sessions followed by classes etc. I was living a practically normal nine to five lifestyle for the first time since before I was in the music business. In only a year or so I realized that I had sold myself short when I was hired at the Art Institute and could not get a raise in pay because the Human Resources director who hired me never let me know about the union. So, I had thought, “Oh, I’ll get a raise later on merit…” Ouch.
I kept going back to Dan Levinson my Director as a full-timer asking how I could get a raise and he just kept telling me the same sad but true reality, it was out of his hands. Dan was brilliant by the way. He programmed the song “Trust in Love” for me for my first CD. During that he said to me that he thought the song was great but that it needed a bridge, and could he write one for it. I said yes, and he did. I immediately took it home and wrote the words to the bridge. He even got the female vocalist to record it. I added the male vocal and finished it as a duet. Dan wrote the string arrangement for “Falling in Love”. Dan got hired on my recommendation even though I did not know him. Pam did. She was right, as usual. So right in fact, that Dan became the poster boy for the AIPH ladder of success. He was first hired as a part-time faculty member, may have ascended to full-time quickly but my memory was that he was hired as the Academic Director of our department after the guy running it was literally “taken out the door by security”, and fired on the spot for extremely unprofessional behavior. Dan was our boss for a year or so at the most and in no time, was promoted to Dean and moved to Phoenix to help open a new school. He went on to be a president in Los Angeles I think and eventually the Executive VP (or some such title) of the whole Southwest quarter of the Art Institute system overseeing four or more colleges. Good call Pam. Here’s a shot of everyone who played on the live session of “Falling in Love”.
When Dan left AIPH for Phoenix, the Academic Director position opened up and I was asked by a number of people on both the faculty and the staff to go for the job. I hesitated for a minute but then came to realize whom I might end up with as my boss if I didn’t. I threw my hat in the ring and was almost instantly hired. My role as Treasurer of the union was over and one faculty member in particular came up to me and said, and I quote, no kidding, “You sold your soul to the Devil!” There was obviously a not too friendly relationship between the administration and the upper membership of the faculty union, to say the least. In fact, one time I said to one particularly vehement member of the union hierarchy that his department head position was open, and he should consider it. He said to me and again I quote, “I’d rather slit the throats of my own children.” I’m not making that up. I swear. That relationship was so tumultuous that in later years after the corporation had trained me to be able to climb the corporate ladder by preparing me and others in the system to me capable of becoming Dean, I was approached repeatedly over the years to be Dean. I always said no. I would not be Dean anywhere else in the country as my wife was doing so very well in Philly and we weren’t leaving that, and even as two or three different Deans of Education came and went during my years there (despite even many faculty members asking me to step up) I never wanted to be the one who sat in the center of the union’s bullseye, never.
Obviously, I had moved my career path from the music business to that of education. I am proud of the fact that I won both teaching awards in the first four or so years there and was a respected administrator for the next seventeen years. My token Gold and Platinum Records and my Grammy Nomination Plaque are displayed in my basement studio (The Vinyl Room). My teaching award is prominently displayed in my living room. I believe in education as the truest and surest way to solve the world’s ills. I am proud that I have helped so many people with all the work I have done.
Additionally, I am proud to have been a founding member of the Philadelphia Branch of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences). We in Philly for years had to be members of the New York chapter of the Grammys organization. In 1991, we changed that. I sat on that board with Joe Tarsia, Kenny Gamble, Teddy Pendergrass and Patti LaBelle to name a few. We were very successful. Within one year we raised the membership numbers to full chapter status and established ourselves in the organization for good. I served for two 2-year terms as the by-laws allow. I was then asked to be among half the board to stay on again until the next elections so that the entire board would not be entirely replaced every election. After that term, I had to step down for the mandatory year but was re-elected for two more terms right after that again. This went on with NARAS for over almost a decade. I did not run in 2000 as I was returning to school to get a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. I did return to the Board again for a few more terms after I graduated. I have not been on it again now for some years but am still an active participant in its activities and a promoter of the organization to my many students. I am still voting in the Grammys every year since I first had enough credits to qualify during my first year at Sigma. If you are a music professional, it is THE organization to belong to. It does so much more than simply the once-a-year show. Look into it and see at Grammy.com. In particular I love the “Grammys on the Hill” program where we members, board members (from all over the country) and pro lobbyists descend on Capitol Hill every April (around the 15th) and invade the real halls of Congress, the Sam Rayburn Building where their offices are, and lobby for issues relevant to our members. Legislation regarding copyrights, royalties, national and international radio play issues and much, much more have been fought for and won. I have been there myself at least three times.
Stay tuned for Part 2!