As a band, Wax fell short of its dreams and expectations. As individuals, the band members went on to enjoy a remarkable amount of success in a variety of music-related ventures.
For Rick Chertoff, the recording experience at the Record Plant (see main story) turned out to be a life-changer.
“The foray into the studio completely hypnotized me,” he says. And as he watched session drummer Rick Marotta through the thick studio glass, he had an epiphany.
“I couldn’t even hear him playing,” says Chertoff. “I could only see him, but I was mesmerized. The way the stick rebounded off the drum, the way his hands worked, I knew I would never hit a drum that way. I intuitively realized that the studio was somewhere that I could contribute, where I had something to say.”
After Wax he promptly landed a job working for Clive Davis, president of Columbia Records, and followed his boss to the fledgling Arista Records. There he brought Barry Manilow the song “Mandy,” which would be the young singer’s first hit record. Chertoff then went on to produce such landmark records as Cyndi Lauper’s iconic She’s So Unusual, Joan Osborne’s classic debut Relish, and Sophie B. Hawkins’ smoldering “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover.”
In all these cases the artists were previously unknown to the masses, and it was Chertoff who heard something special in their music and helped them find the tools to connect. Though his resume as a producer is surprisingly light in terms of quantity, his success ratio is astonishing. He has received five Grammy nominations in such categories as Producer of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year.
One of the bands he produced with Arista was Baby Grand, the post-Wax incarnation that featured David Kagan, Rob Hyman, and Eric Bazilian. While Baby Grand released two albums, they didn’t sell well.
“I grew tired of searching for the holy grail of rock and roll success,” says Kagan, and when Baby Grand folded, Kagan called it a day on his music career and happily moved into magazine publishing.
Hyman and Bazilian decided to go in another new direction, mixing reggae with rock in a new band, the Hooters. After building up a huge local following, and releasing an excellent indie LP, Chertoff produced the Hooters’ second album and helped them reach multi-platinum status. They are one of the biggest-selling groups in Philly history and continue to play regularly, especially in Europe, where they just completed a 30th-anniversary tour. Hyman and Bazilian have also contributed key songs to some of Chertoff’s most successful projects, earning Grammy nominations of their own. Hyman, for example, wrote the classic “Time After Time” with Cyndi Lauper, and Bazilian penned “One Of Us,” Joan Osborne’s Grammy-nominated mega-hit.
In the early 1970s, after Beau Jones finally received a Conscientious Objector discharge from the Army, he and Rick Levy immersed themselves in Transcendental Meditation and became TM instructors. Levy and Jones also stayed active in the music business, working mainly with oldies acts. Levy has played with and/or managed Herman’s Hermits, Jay & the Techniques, ’60s pop idol Tommy Roe, and the Box Tops. Jones also played with Jay & the Techniques, as well as Little Eva and other artists. Jones and Levy played through the decades with the Limits, whose old recordings have been licensed by Cleopatra Records and are coming out as Garage Nuggets ’65-’68 and Songs About Girls. Levy (ricklevy.com) has also produced music education DVDs for elementary-school children, and is on the board of the National Association of Musicians, Vocalists and Entertainers (NAMVE), an organization dedicated to securing health-care coverage for musicians.
After graduating from Penn Law, Arnie Holland moved west and started working his way up the record business. He eventually took over RCA Video Products and turned it into Lightyear Entertainment. Best known for movies (Aria, Godspeed) and videos (The Jane Fonda Workout, Lou Reed Live In New York), Lightyear has also released scores of albums by artists as diverse as jazz singer Nina Simone and classic rockers Mountain. —Geoff Ginsberg
Sept |Oct 2010 contents