The Beatles have a fantastic feel for the market in addition to everthing else.
That's commercialism; that's what is not existing in today's music. That's the shuck that I think is going on whereby everybody is susceptible to being fooled so much that, and they jive so much that . . . you see these people in music don't realize that they are really forming the tastes of the young people of America. If they keep going in that direction they're going to bore themselves out of existence. It's going to get boring.
What are you gonna do with the stuff you're workin' on now? How does that differ from the last work you did with Ike and Tina Turner?
Don't know. I will go in many directions – some experimental – some not. Today "River Deep – Mountain High" could be a number one record. I think when it came out, it was just like my farewell. I was just sayin' goodbye, and I just wanted to go crazy, you know, for a few minutes – four minutes on wax, that's all it was. I loved it, and I enjoyed making it, but I didn't really think there was anything for the public . . . nobody had really gotten into it enough yet; it really hadn't exploded the way it's exploding today with all the sounds and they're really freaking out with the electronical stuff. Today "River Deep" would probably be a very important sales record. When I made it, it couldn't be – so, I don't know. I got what I wanted out of it.
You see, I don't have a sound, a Phil Spector sound – I have a style, and my style is just a particular way of making records – as opposed to Lou Adler or any of the other record producers who follow the artist's style. I create a style and call it a sound or a style; I call it a style because it's a way of doing it.
My style is that I know things about recording that other people just don't know. It's simple and clear, and it's easy for me to make hits. I think the River Deep LP would be a nice way to start off because it's a record that Tina deserves to be heard on – she was sensational on that record. A record that was number one in England deserves to be number one in America. If so many people are doing the song today, it means it's ready.
How did your association with Ike and Tina first come about?
They were introduced to me. Somebody told me to see them, and their in-person act just killed me. I mean, they were just sensational.
Have you seen it lately?
Yeah, I saw them at the Factory, of all places. They were . . . well, I always loved Tina. I never knew how great she was. She real-ly is as great as Aretha is. I mean, in her own bag she is sensational, and Joplin and all that, but I couldn't figure how to get her on record, and then the Righteous Brothers pulled that nonsense, walked out, which cost them. (MGM had to give me a ridiculous sum of money to get them. That was the stupidest . . . I mean it was really dumb. It doesn't matter leaving me; fuck that, that don't mean nothin'. The dumb thing was to leave and suck MGM into that stupid deal, and then die as an act! I made a deal that I would not . . . we can't tell the figures of, you know, for publication, I mean they have to give me so much money. I mean it's ridiculous).
Why couldn't the Righteous Brothers make it without you?
I don't know if they couldn't have, but they really should have. I would imagine for the same reason that Mary Wells and Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers all had only temporary success, if any, when they switched. The Righteous Brothers in particular were a strange group in that they really were non-intellectual and unable to comprehend success. They couldn't understand it and couldn't live with it, and accept it for what it really was – they thought it was something that could be obtained very easily, and once it was attained, it could be consistently obtained.
I think managers in the tradition of Allen Klein came in and jived them – it wasn't Allen, but men like that – jived them. The boys' ability to really dissect, in a sophisticated way, what people were saying was so limited. They didn't have that ability; they could be swayed to other forms of thinking easily. I think that's what happened and I really don't think that they had the ability to do it by themselves.
If anything the reason they should have been successful is because they were accepted by black and white, and that's a big plus. Then they blew that because they tried, I think, to copy and emulate and use whatever it was that I did, and they didn't know how – not that they should have known how, but they shouldn't have even tried.
Really, they were not sophisticated enough to present themselves honestly. We really didn't bring them out honestly, except on the album. I mean those records were made, those songs were written, "Lovin' Feelin'" was not just a song. It was a song song, and you just can't go into the studio and sing "He Can Turn the Tide" and expect everybody to fall down.
I think people who don't realize their limitations can never really comprehend their ability. You have to know what you can't do much more than what you can do, because it's obvious that you know what you can do by doing it. But to fool yourself by thinking you're a tough guy and go out and just fight cause somebody's gonna come along who's really good.
Only an unsophisticated person would go out and start fighting everybody, and the Righteous Brothers are comparable to that because they really got fooled.
Now I don't know what the situation was with Roy Orbison or Mary Wells. I heard there were a lot of different things, but for the Righteous Bros. I just think it was a great loss, because the two of them weren't exceptional talents, but they did have a musical contribution to make. I loved them, I thought they were a tremendous expression for myself. I think they resented being an expression. I think now if they had it to do again they never would have left. Two or three years later it never would have happened. In those times there was a lot of bullshit talk going around which influenced artists.
Why did they go to MGM?
Because, if you'll notice, MGM bought Roy Orbison, bought Mary Wells, bought the Righteous Brothers, buys a lot of them. MGM has to make big billings, and they figure they can eventually settle any lawsuit. Now stockholders really don't care about it as long as you get the gross billing, so I think that's why they went with MGM; 'cause MGM opens the door to these kinds of things; they opened it to Wells, Orbison and the Righteous Brothers.
I'm curious now about Holland, Dozier & Holland, represented by Allen Klein, who is the major stockholder in MGM, what's going to happen to them. . . . It's funny that I always believed that the Motown organization was really not colored, in that sense. That only recently they got involved with all that, Martin Luther King . . . But that Holland, Dozier & Holland should ever wind up with a Jewish white cat as their representative is realy weird. He probably told them "You made Motown." Which is what the Coasters told Atlantic seven or eight years ago: "We made Atlantic Records." If you tell a guy enough, he'll believe you.
I'm sure that when Motown lost Holland, Dozier and Holland they got a little nervous for a while, and then they shoved it right up 'em by making four number one records in a row with every one of Holland, Dozier and Holland artists, including the ones that were buried like Marvin Gaye. So Allen Klein has got to do a lot of talking now, and I'll bet he tries to sell them to MGM. I just have a feeling that they'll end up in a deal with them.
Now God knows how many tracks Motown has on Holland, Dozier and Holland, but certainly nobody is responsible, no one thing . . . the Righteous Brothers were not Phil Spector. Holland, Dozier and Holland are not Motown. I mean something happens to people's minds, and they start thinking – I guess it's normal – you have to start thinkin' maybe you are the cause of everybody's money and financial success, but I don't know the inner workings, and I think the Righteous Brothers would admit it today if they were together, that they were wrong (and the settlement, although I can't tell figures, is evident). They didn't even want to take it to a court of law. The very fact that they settled meant they did not want to go to court. I think Bill Medley, in an honest moment, which he has said since, would say, "We really shouldn't have left Phil, and also we really had no right to."
They just walked out on the contract, and I just sat back and said "Well, the courts will eventually go with me." They have to. Like if contracts get broken and I mean if they'll let people kill each other, then there would be no laws. So eventually, even if it's in the Supreme Court, you get justice for what you put in.
I even ran into Bobby Hatfield one night about a year ago, and he had every reason to be apologetic, you know, he's really a strugglin' cat now. I mean he's not doin' anything of worth now. It's a shame. I really feel funny. I didn't get hurt; I really came out smelling like a rose in that situation, but I was very upset that they blew their talent. I was selling more records in the colored market than I was in the white market, and yet they had a tremendous fan club of white teenie boppers.
I mean they had it made. They could have been around for three or four years solid with big records. Instead they go and make . . . well, let's face it – Roy Orbison for years made hit records before he left. Mary Wells was big, but the Righteous Brothers only had three or four hits and then goodbye. They weren't around long enough to sustain with junk. If they had like two or three years of hits they could have put some junk out for awhile. I mean they went to everybody to produce their records and everybody didn't really know what to do with them, because they in themselves were not extraordinary talents. They were just just great commercial talents – they were like Sam and Dave, only more commercial. I mean what is the business today if not commerciality. You know, you can write 10,000 things out there, but if they're not commercial very few will make it.
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