Within a year of opening 309 Joe expanded his thriving business to New York. Sigma leased space in the same building that houses the Ed Sullivan Theater. Joe built three studios there. Some of the greatest artist of the 70’s and 80s used them: The Talking Heads, Steely Dan, and Madonna to name a few. Also, Jay Mark and Michael Hutchinson began mixing dance remixes for all kinds of stars on a regular basis. Perhaps the first big one that subsequently brought in a lot more work was Michael’s mix of Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy?”
It is amazing how sometimes little things that happened like that influenced the final outcome of some product. Bobby Eli recently told me that “The Love I Lost” was to be a slow ballad and at some point, Earl Young started playing it at the tempo with the great drum groove that was kept. They never played it slow again.
Earl & Bobby.
During those last months as an assistant, I worked on multiple Spinner’s albums with Thom and a bunch of PIR projects with Joe and Gamble and Huff. I remember working the tracking dates (and most of the album for that matter) of Family Reunion by the O’Jays. Family Reunion included two really terrific songs: “I Love Music” and “Stairway to Heaven”. I remember leaning over the baffle just before we cut the final take of “I Love Music” and saying to Earl Young, “we mic those cymbals for every song but you don’t always use them, I think that they would work in this one”. Earl proceeded to use the crash cymbal through the whole record, especially on the out chorus. I like to think I had something to do with that too. “Stairway…” has the same title as the Led Zeppelin song but the O’Jays tune is a wonderful love song on which they sang their hearts out. I was to later be given my only commemorative albums from PIR for that one. I got a Gold and a Platinum record for Family Reunion. Thom turned around and gave me a Gold single for “Then Came You” by Dionne Warwick and The Spinners and a Gold album for the New and Improved record from which it was released. I’m not sure exactly what prompted either of them to give a staff Assistant Engineer commemorative discs, but I am glad of it in that despite the fact that I worked on literally hundreds of Gold, Platinum and some Grammy nominated and Grammy winning records in my career, they were the only ones anyone ever gave me. So, thanks Kenny, Leon and Thom, I cannot say how much of an honor and a joy it was to work side by side with you at that time!
I have placed the Gold one for Family Reunion on the wall in Studio “G” at Temple University to honor that room as the place where I have met and taught so many people who have meant a lot to me in my life. For example, Jack Klotz Jr. who was my student, then my intern, then on my recommendation, an assistant at Sigma, and then a teacher at the Art Institute of Philadelphia where we both taught. I also was his boss there when I was promoted. Jack later took over my classes at Temple and went on to administrate there and is now my boss.
I am also proud to mention Joe Kraus who was in the very first class I taught at Temple. He also was my student, then my Teaching assistant, was recommended by me to Sigma to be an assistant engineer and later also a teacher at the Art Institute of Philadelphia where we taught side by side until I became his boss too. We both teach at Temple now and Joe continues to teach at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Many other students of mine from Temple and other colleges and Universities that I have taught at have gone on to great careers in the music world, television, film and the world of education. In this shot behind Joe is Bill Dorman.
The most important one of all was another student in my first ever class at Temple: Pam Mammarella. Pam was a brilliant student who stood out in the class and even years later as we would run into each other again and again. About three years after she was my student, I heard her voice on a “music on hold” ad on the phone and was reminded of her. I called her up and asked her out. The story about our first date is great (I’ll tell it later), but the bottom line is that we have been together ever since.