The Early EARLY Years: What We Know So Far
1965-66: MB meets Marc Friedland at a party at the home of someone named Jimmy Rozen,
who was apparently a bandmate of Friedland’s in The Sensations in 1965.
1966: Marc Friedland joins a band named The Zyme; had first recording session. Versions of the band included the following members:
Marc FriedlandBobby Goodman
Gary BarnettMichael Hillman (aka Jay Michaels, Hilly Michaels; he co-wrote the song "Every Day Of My Life" with Patrick Henderson)
Band was aka The Outsiders, The Unexpected, The Coconut Conspiracy
Side note: Marc mentioned to me awhile ago that someone else was chosen over MB for lead singer of The Coconut Conspiracy, much to his chagrin!
1968: Friedland joins already-established George’s Boys, which soon became Joy [Question: unclear what year MB actually joined George’s Boys—can anyone help?]. Joy (temporarily) moved to East Oakland, CA, returning to CT by the end of 1968 and renting “Joy House” in Woodbridge, CT. Members (or entourage) who moved to East Oakland:Marc Friedland
Fred BovaBob Brockway
1969: Joy demo session at Syncron Studios in CT, earning a record deal with CBS on Epic Records (Marc Friedland mentions only “Bah Bah Song” and “It’s For You”). Joy rehearses in a loft owned by Bill
Update: I have now learned that “Going Back to New Haven” was written by Tom Pollard. I’m not sure where he fits in, relationship-wise, to
1970: Joy dropped from CBS.
1971: Marc Friedland moves to Venice, CA and received publishing deal (solo or group?) for Dimension Music (he mentions the
Group rehearses in their school bus (Oogy Ahhgy) parked at Helen Bolotin’s apartment complex on Coldwater Canyon Blvd (Helen Bolotin lived in CA at some point? I didn’t know that). The circulated colour photo of MB and his bandmates sitting on the ground with the back of their school bus behind them is from this period in CA.
1971-early 1972: Joy records “album” for Pentagram
Records," he recalls, "and they gave us a $500 advance to do an album. We only got to do four songs though, because the company had to pay us union dues and they couldn't afford to do that and finance the record. We split our dues and the advance seven
ways." [Question: do we know for sure that the songs recorded for Pentagram are the songs on the November[’s] Children soundtrack? Only two songs have been unearthed from the soundtrack: “Running Away from the Nighttime” and “Where Do We Go From Here.” Both features MB’s vocals, and he is credited as sole songwriter of the former song]
Update: I have now learned the following. November Children (no “’s”) is aka Nightmare County and Nightmare of Death, according to copyright document V3054P214-216. The plot synopsis is as follows: “In this 70's drama, the candidate who was supported by a coalition of fruit-pickers finally gets elected in their farming community. But the local law enforcement agency does not like this and begins to terrorize his supporters.” At 75 minutes long in theatrical release in 1971, an 87 minute version was released to video in 1977.
More importantly, for us, is the song information I have finally obtained. There are three songs on the soundtrack performed by Joy: “Running Away From the Nighttime” (words & music Michael Bolotin), “Where Do We Go From Here” (words & music Michael
Gordon, aka Michael Z. Gordon), and “Our Town” (words & music Larry Quinn).
This leads me to an interesting conclusion: we now know the four songs the pre-1971 lineup of Joy recorded: “Bah Bah Bah,” “It’s For You,” “Going Back to New Haven,” and “Cookie Man” (although the last one, to my knowledge, hasn’t been heard). We also know the three songs the 1971 lineup of Joy recorded for the film. What we still don’t know is whether the Pentagram songs are the three November Children songs (plus one more that didn't make it on the soundtrack), or if they are four different songs (in which case songs for which we have no information at all). If it's the first case, what is the name of the fourth song they recorded for Pentagram?
Finally, I now believe the Michael Gordon name Marc Friedland mentions alongside the publishing deal for Dimension Music (see 1971 above) is the Michael (Z.) Gordon who composed material for the film. I’m assuming Steven Lewis was somehow also associated with this film soundtrack project. However, this is even more curious, since a publishing deal implies composition—Friedland isn’t listed as author of any of the songs on the soundtrack, and MB is only listed once. So what exactly was the nature of this "publishing" deal?
1974: Marc Friedland travels to Tulsa, OK with MB to record a four-song demo at Leon Russell’s house (according
The last little tidbit for now—even though Marc Friedland worked for years with MB before his debut solo album, he doesn’t actually play on it. He
should ever be making money off of these things except copyright owners. Plus, Marc is a stand-up guy by all accounts. So I ask you please not to go pestering any of the people I’ve mentioned for photos/recordings etc. I just felt the need to conclude with that, for now!
Jeremy, are you a sound for sore ears! So good to hear from you and I’m really glad you’re keeping an eye on “your baby”! :D Jeremy, I know that you will: you’ve put too much effort in this guy to just drop it. I have complete faith in you kid and I’ll personally wait until you’re ready to continue. You know I love your analysies and I know your novel will be worth waiting for… :D Sweetie, break a leg on all your final exams etc and we’ll be here when you’re ready. Prends soin de toi! Hugs, sincerely, Sylvie from Canada :D
Hey the "Wee One" has arrived - I've just found this thread and what an AMAZING one it is - WOW !! :) All I can say is thanks to everyone who has contributed to this - what a brilliant read and long may it continue !!! :)
Sylvia. Your wee Scottish friend.
Hi Jeremy! Wow! thanks for all this!!! Ilove it!
Love Eileen xx
Hi everyone, thanks to our friend Joy, I just found out that Michael’s old band Blackjack has a Wikipedia page. There’s really nothing on it that the long-time fans don’t know, but there are 3 archival articles listed on the page, so I thought it would be pertinent to bring the links over here. I was told these were PDF files and I’ll need my son to retrieve them, but thought at least I could share them here, enjoy!
Barbosa, Susan (14 August 1979).
"Blackjack thrills audience".
The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida, USA: Lakeland Ledger Publishing Company): p. 17
Gerber, Lisa (13 August 1979).
"Frampton came alive to knock 'em dead at Lakeland Saturday".
St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL, United States: Times Publishing Company p. 37
Hawes, Peter S. (6 August 1983).
"Michael Bolton struggles for recognition, success".
Schenectady Gazette (Schenectady, NY United States)
Happy reading, take care and hugs to all, sincerely, Sylvie from Canada :D
Wow! Cool. Haven't seen this thread in eons. Boltonnut from L. A. CA
Hey Robin, if you check dates, this thread hadn't been touched in a whole year. I'll send you the articles as soon as my son retrieves them, okay? Take care girl. Hugs, sincerely, Sylvie from Canada
Yeah, girl saw the dates. Send them when yyou can. :D
Hi everyone, I've just posted this interview/article in the "older magazine articles" thread, but since it dates some and I feel it's relevant to this thread, I'm posting it here as well. Hope you enjoy! Take care and hugs to all, sincerely, Sylvie QC Canada :D
Michael Bolton songwriter interviews Songfacts
Go behind the music with some of the world's best songwriters
By Bruce Pollock
Shortly before he became Michael Bolton and released six multi-platinum albums in a row between 1987 and 1995, but after he was Michael Bolotin, going nowhere as a generic heavy rocker, Michael Bolton was following the career path of the songwriter, collaborating with everyone and stalking his contacts at the labels if there was a chance he had a shot at a single. His crowning moment was scripting the #12 hit for Laura Branigan "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" in 1983. It was at this heady juncture that I caught up with him to glean his hard-won insights.
Anybody who says they're not trying to write hits is either in the wrong business or lying, because once you realize what you're up against - the odds of even getting a song on a record - then you'd better write a hit, or it's not gonna be on the record. Hit songs are the life blood of the industry. Every company is screaming for songs; the hit song is what keeps the industry alive, because that's all that radio wants to play. I didn't realize that until all of a sudden I started writing for other people. I've got a list right here of about 70 artists and producers who are looking for songs. Right now I've got songs on about 12 or 13 albums. I have no idea whether they're gonna be sung well, whether they'll be produced well, whether any of them will even be singles. But I'm hoping for hits.
Letting the Songs Go
I didn't know anything about the publishing world until about three years ago. I was between record deals, between managements. A friend of mine, Patrick Henderson, had written "Real Love," with Michael McDonald, so I asked him if he had any more things like that hanging around. I flew out to California and we wrote three songs, with the attempt being to put together a record deal for me. The next thing I knew was that his publishing company said they could place those songs instantly. I needed the money, so I said, let the songs go, and all the songs were gone in a matter of weeks. One of those songs - the very first one I wrote, has been recorded seven times. It's called "Still Thinking of You." Larry Graham did it, Fran Jolie, Rachel Sweet. Through Larry, George Duke became a big fan of the song, and I suddenly realized how it's great to have producers really hot on a song. They're just gonna keep cutting it until they have a hit.
Words and Music
I write everything - music, lyrics, melody - and I don't like writing just one of those things. I have been offered assignments to sit down with a piano player and write lyrics, but I won't do that. I like to be there during the conception of the song. I like to sit down and start fumbling around with a melody, or some idea, until the song starts revealing itself, where the lyrics and music are creating each other at the same time. I don't go anywhere without a pen and paper and my tape deck. If I get an idea I write it down.
About 60% of the time somebody has an idea and they say, 'Michael will be real good with this one.' Once you've had a hit record, people start calling you up. I don't care if a guy's involved with a hit. What I'm interested in is knowing what he contributed to the song. Is he a melody person? Does he come up with a theme? There are a lot of writers who can come up with a song that sounds just like their last hit only sideways. The writers I enjoy working with want to write songs that will be around ten years from now. I just started writing with Randy Goodrum ("You Needed Me"). I felt a little intimidated by his success. But he's the kind of guy who writes forever songs.
First you hear they're gonna cut your song. Then you find out they never did cut it. The next level is that they cut it, but never put a vocal on it. Then they cut it, put a vocal on it, but it didn't make the record. Usually when I'm told the song is on hold it winds up on the record. But I don't believe it until I hear it. Then they tell you it might be a single. When they tell you it's going to be a single, that's the only time I feel really comfortable that the song is going to be on the record. I don't believe it's really going to be a single until I hear the version of it. Once I hear the version of it, I can start making noise myself and have whatever friends I have at that label go to see them every other day and say, did you hear that track yet? I don't hype my work actively, but if I think there's a single there, I don't want to lose it. If it's not good enough to be a single, then I hope it's bad enough to be the b-side of a single. If it looks like it may be a single, they'll never put it on the b-side.
Then, if it does get released as a single and it makes the charts, that's like going to the races. And they're off....
Bruce Pollock has written ten books on music, including By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock Revolution of 1969. In his column "They're Playing My Song," Susanna Hoffs, Jules Shear and many other songwriters tell the stories behind the one song that most impacted their careers. Visit Bruce at brucepollockthewriter.com.