That's What Friends Are For Part 2: Tom Perry
My brother, Tom was there from the beginning. He was still in high school when he was “recruited” by brother Bill to play bass in his band, The Invadors. That was the band that played on my local “hit” record, “I’m Leaving You”, which was the record of the week on KROY in Sacramento. Armed with that record, I set out to make it big in Hollywood. It didn’t quite work out that way, but it was a beginning.
In 1965, I got my first real music business break. Jesse Hodges asked me to help him open Hollywood Sound Recorders. I became the first engineer in that legendary studio. When I decided to move on in 1967, I recommended Tom to take my place. I told Jesse that with his music background, I thought Tom would become a pretty good mixer…what an understatement!
Hollywood Sound first became known as a great place for publishers, singers and songwriters to cut “demos” of new songs to pitch to artists and Tom worked with some legendary writers like the Addrisi Brothers (“Never My Love), Kim Carnes (“ Bette Davis Eyes”) and other singer/songwriters signed to producer, Jimmy Bowen (Don Henley, Glenn Frey, J.D. Souther etc.). Jimmy became one of the first to discover the sound and the brilliance of the two mixers: Tom and John Guess and the hits started flying out of the studio.
Tom’s first chart records were: “Late For The Sky” by Jackson Browne and “No Way To Treat A Lady” by Helen Reddy. From there it exploded. In 1976, Tom mixed the most successful album in Boz Scagg’s career, “Silk Degrees”. Four hit singles came out of the album which stayed on the charts for 115 weeks and was nominated for 4 Grammys. The single “Lowdown” won the Grammy for best R&B song. He has run out of walls for his gold and platinum albums and singles and has had #1 hits in pop, rock, r&b and country, with artists such as: The Jacksons, Earth,Wind & Fire, Diana Ross, Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson (Say, Say, Say), Deniece Williams, George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Lacy J. Dalton, Conway Twitty, Glen Campbell and nearly 100 other hit artists over his years in the business.
All this is to say that my “little” brother was a very busy man. Since I had found my niche in producing music for film and TV, we didn’t have as many opportunities to work together as much as I would have wanted to. Not to mention that film music budgets usually didn’t allow for an engineer who made as much as the guys mixing records. Having said that, Tom was somehow always available for me when I had an important project and sometimes well below what his hourly rate was. In my career, I was fortunate enough to have five chart records…Tom mixed all five including: The single “Maybe” by Thom Pace, the theme from the TV series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and the album of the same name that sold nearly 3 million units worldwide, “Hello Woman” by Doug Kershaw that became the highest chart single in his solo career and two songs from the film, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”. He also mixed the scores for three films for me that have since become cult classics: “Girls”, Wizards” and “Night of the Comet”.
Tom was there for me from the beginning, but he was also always there for me whenever I needed him over the years. Like the words to the song say, “Knowing you can always count on me…for sure…that’s what friends are for”….Thanks, Tom.