Other Samples


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 The Inner Tenor of David Brenner

David Brenner is America's hottest young comedian.[more]

  The Left Reverend McD

The first time I met Eugene McDaniels, he was squatting on the floor of his apartment [more]

Nate Johnson Takes the Plunge (Profile)

This movie photographer immersed himself in his work. [more]

Cheech & Chong: Laughter From On High

"Some day, marijuana will be legal,” Tommy announced. " [more]


Planning  For Impulse

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Happy Talk

In a few weeks you’ll cross the briny to meet prospects  [more]


Management Under Fire: Paradigm of Desert Storm 

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Chapter 1 —Your Home Office

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Ultimate Guide to Indies

Pause for a moment and say a prayer for independent record companies. [more]



Giving Ballroom a Whirl

Was it so recently that ballroom dancing seemed to be a poignant curiosity [more]




Why It's Hard to
Have a Really Cool Revolution 

 "Ben Franklin"
           "Hello Ben, This is Samuel Adams. I just wanted to - -"[more]

The Left Reverend McD Writes Songs.
And Sings Them.
And Produces Them.

 Eugene McDanuels

 The first time I met Eugene McDaniels, he was squatting on the floor of his apartment in the West Side of Manhattan. He partook of some yogurt. Gene's wife, Susan Jane, sat on the bed, the all-purpose piece of furniture in any one-room apartment. It was comfortable. The room absolutely hummed with love.
Gene reviewed his life and art and expressed some hopes for the future. A decade earlier, he was a lionized singer, thanks to his recordings of "A Hundred Pounds of Clay," "Tower of Strength" and "The Point of No Return" Though the dazzle evaporated, the brilliance remained. His singing actually improved and, by the time I met him, he had developed a reputation as a songwriter. His three best-known songs were not merely well-liked. They—"Compared to What" "Reverend Lee," "Sunday and Sister Jones"— were anthems.

Somewhere toward the end of the interview, Gene picked up his guitar and sang a song. He sat on the bed. Susan Jane sat behind him. Her long fingers stretched upward across his back. She was both supporting him and leaning on him. His voice was a sword washed in honey.

Gene had two albums on Atlantic, Outlaw and Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse and was preparing for a tour. He permitted himself a decent amount of fantasizing, income-wise.

"I'm going to go to Montana," he said, "and live up in the mountains—me and my old lady, and some friends if they want to come."
It's three years later and, to tell the truth, Gene never made it to Montana; but he is living in the mountains of California. He's written some more songs. He occasionally travels between Los Angeles and New York.

I remember one time— I think it was eight months ago—-Gene and Susan Jane and their baby Dianqo were in The Big Apple. We commandeered one of the offices in his manager Sidney Seidenberg's suite. We closed the door and Gene put a 45 rpm record on the turntable. The room filled with Roberta Flack's voice, cuddling on a bed of electric piano. . .. "That's the time 1 feel like making love to you, 00000. That's the time 1 feel like making dreams 'come true. "

Gene had written the song and was also co-producer. His guerrilla action against the kingdom of fame was about to turn into total war. His full future seemed to be balancing on that insensate piece of vinyl, revolving mindlessly on the turntable-There were question marks in the hollows of his eyes.

"Feel Like Making Love" has, of course, taken its place as a certified monster. Gene is now rerecognized as a music business heavy. His reputation, already gold, may turn to platinum. Sidney thinks that 1975 is the year Gene joins the ranks of millionaires.

He's produced albums by Tower of Power's Lennie Williams (on Warner Brothers), Melba Moore (on Buddah) and a certain Eugene McDaniels (on Ode). Record Cornpanies-are offering him artists to produce. Singers are asking him for songs, and when he gets a chance he drives his Mercedes Benz along the California country roads.

The last time I saw Gene, he was in New York to work on the Melba Moore album. Traveling with him were Morgan Ames, his production assistant, and Hank Cicalo, a most desired L.A. engineer .

Gene was staying at the Park Lane Hotel. Early on a Saturday afternoon, my wife Jane, my son Jason and I dropped up to say hello to Gene. We took a ritual glimpse at Central Park from his window (his room was on the' twenty-fourth floor). My son who had just bought a harmonica wanted to know if Gene could play the harmonica.

Gene owned up to his lack of training.

We all bundled up and headed south to 1650 Broadway; the home of Antisia Music, Inc. Bill Eaton, who is an arranger, opened the office door. When he saw Gene, his mouth dropped an estimated four feet. He knew Gene was in Los Angeles so how could he be here. Gene and Hank had the master of Gene's new album, Natural Juices. A tape recorder was found and the master was set up. Percussionist Ralph McDonald buzzed in. 

As the first chords of Gene's own version of "Feel Like Making Love" commenced, we all looked at each other, happily.

"I love a second look," said Eaton, "when you take something familiar and make it new again."

We listened to about a dozen songs and the time went by too quickly, It was damned good. The galloping question marks, like a childhood disease, were long gone.

The following Tuesday I dropped back up to Gene's suite:
The first session with Melba Moore had been on Monday, and by all accounts, it cooked.

On Thursday night, actress Sally Kellerman, an old friend of Gene's, dropped in to the studio to say hello.

While I was there, Vince Mauro came up. Vince is Morgana King's manager end producer, and he was looking for some songs for Morgana's next album.

"I want to present Morgana as she really is," said Vince:
"She's no kid. She's in her early forties. She's an earth mother."
"Earth mother," Gene repeated softly. "That might be a good song."

Vince was also interested in "River," a song that Roberta Flack had recorded. Somewhere during the conversation, Gene opened a guitar case and removed the instrument. He tuned up and then casually began to strum.

"There's a river somewhere and it goes through the lives of everyone, "he sang.

Vince smiled.

"Yeah," Vince said. "Morgana likes to sing lyrics that have some depth to them."

On Friday, I returned to the Park Lane Hotel for a slightly more formal interview. Gene was getting ready to go home the following day. His bags were already packed and he kept saying, "I miss my family. I miss my Susan Jane."

He picked up a newspaper from the floor next to the bed.

He wanted to see what was playing in the movie theaters Somehow or other it was said that Gene, who occasionally calls himself The left Reverend McD, is really a middle American.

"It's true. I'm part liberal, part radical, part conservative and mostly middle- American. It's weird. I've got a home, a family and I like nice clean sheets and shit. I love my family. I love my Susan Jane so much. She's so sweet, so sweet. I mean. She isn't just sweet. She's got a lot of fire."

When Gene moved from New York to Los Angeles in February, 1973, his fortunes changed dramatically. It used to be cute old Gene McDaniels. He's so deserving' and so neglected. Wouldn't it be nice if somebody did something for him. Whammo! It became we need something really super monster heavy. See if Gene McDaniels will consent to do something for us. Don't forget to say pretty please. I wondered how this shift came about. 

"Wasn't that-something," Gene asked. "It's weird. It was an astrological move: Now, check this out. What I did was get this swelling feeling in 'my soul, Get out of New York. Now's the time. A year ago, Susan had read my horoscope. She said, in a year if you buy some property, you'll get a fantastic deal.

"Sure enough, we got an $86,000 home for 39.5. It's got three bedrooms and it's in the woods—gorgeous redwoods that you rarely ever see. It's got three fireplaces. I had to borrow $10,000 for the down-payment. It took me four days to rustle it up. I paid it back in four months. Business has just been like that."

He snapped his fingers. "California has always been like that," he added. "I went there before and bingo they loved me and I had a hit record. I worked with all the top people right away, and it happened this way again.

"I'm Just thankful that I lived long enough to understand some things. I used to see things from a very closed point of view; but I thought I was open. It was before I met Susan, up until I was about 27. And in the past couple of years, I've grown so much in strange ways. For instance, I was lacking in business acumen.' I didn't- have my business shit down to where I could function without feeling ripped off.

"People can do their business properly, without worrying about getting ripped off. You can tell me such and such is a rip-off artist. That doesn't mean anything. If I know my business and my work, you can't rip me off. Really! It just works that way; but it takes time to find out. I was learning it when I was here. When I left, I put it more into operation. The pace of New York enabled me to really know how to attack business when I got to L.A. They're so laid back there—which is good—that a person like me who is minimally aggressive-(he paused) .No, I'm very aggressive-(he smiled).

"It worked out well, that right combination of aggression and business understanding that I gathered here in New York being kicked around by experts." He laughed.

"Well, I dig it," he continued. "It's worth it to learn Education is the name of the game. We are in life for the experience of life, for the education of life, and there ain't nothing else. Anything else is a byproduct because life is a transitory condition. It is not any kind of permanent real estate. Yes I noticed."

A very subdued glint of triumph hinted that Gene had found the film section.

"Flesh Gordon is just as cute as it can be. Return of the Dragon I saw." His voice dropped in disbelief. "Chain-Saw Massacre. My God! Attack of the Kung Fu Girls, Enter the Dragon, Airport 1975, Dynamite, College Girls, Deep Throat, Devil in Miss Jones. I saw them both three times. Earthquake, Little Prince. Please! Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes in A Woman Under the Influence. That probably is good. I'm sure sorry Bruce Lee died. Really, he was an artist. I love to see this guy's physical abilities. Just awesome! The Savage is Loose I want to see that. But I want to see that when I can see it. I can't just walk in and out on it. I love George C. Scott and I got to support him in his big venture."

We decided to get a little food and Gene called room service for some soup and coffee. I asked Gene, during this lull, just who has recorded "Feel Like Making Love."

"It has been recorded by Roberta Flack, of course, and Bobby James, Roy Ayers, Johnny Mathis, Vikki Carr, the guy that has a singing group —makes elevator music basically —Ray Coniff! They did it. It's good. They did a good job. I like it. I always said that if I ever reach the elevator I’m in. Once I make it to the elevator I'm making dough..

The powerful talent of Roberta Flack has been an aphrodisiac to Gene's career. One of his songs is on each of her albums. And then of course, there was last year's big hit~"Feel Like Making Love."

 There seems to have been some kind of recent trouble between Gene and Roberta. Gene refused to say what it was but he did have a message for her.

"The message is lovin' feeling. You could ask me how I feel about Roberta and I could say I love her very much. I'm indebted. I' m deeply and forever in' debt to her for what she's done for me; but slavery is over. Nobody owns anybody and we're all supposed to be friends. We're all supposed to be exchanging-not just taking and not just giving. I'm not saying this necessarily because she needs to hear it but because I do say it. Roberta's a little possessive of her friends and music people and she takes it a little far sometimes."

Gene reached over to the television set and turned on the radio.

" ... The younger brother of the New Jersey college student who died earlier this week after a fraternity initiation was offered a scholarship," declared the news announcer. "General Motors is closing a Vega plant in two weeks in Ohio. Former President Nixon is spending his first day at home, following a-"

Off went the radio. On went the television and in walked Hank, returning in victory from a shopping errand.

"Hey Hank," called Gene. "Did you do good?" Hank nodded with a broad smile.

"I packed my bag, already," said Gene. "I figured I didn't lave anything to do so I might as well do that."

Gene looked at his watch.

"Aww shit, I'm not going to get to the movies."

Room service had arrived. The bowls of soup were quite elegantly rolled in.'.

Gene noticed Mae West on the tube.
"Hellooo, Mae," he said. "How you doing, sugar?" I asked Gene to make a statement about his new LP,

"The album is called Natural Juices," he said, "and basically it's an album to make love by. Hopefully, everybody will be inspired to get it up (he paused significantly) and get it on. What I really mean is it's a, soft-core pornographic album."

Last night, weeks after Gene went back home, I called him.

"I've been relaxing with my family, today," he said. "Taking time out from working my ass off. The Melba Moore album is coming along just fine. The vocals are gorgeous. I just love them. She's such a great singer. But it's nice to be in my home, today. I was just sitting upstairs and I was just thinking this sure is a nice place.

"Tell your son," said Gene, "that Gene said hello. He won't remember who I am. Just tell him the big black fellow who always says hi."

It's morning, now, and I noticed that dawn. like fog, creeps in on little cat feet. I'm thinking about Gene. The images rush in like a free-for-all foot race. I see a man, a. woman, a guitar, a home and a world full of music like foliage.