If I’ve learned anything in my lifetime, it’s that dreams have a mind of their own and that dreaded reality keeps getting in the way. My dream was simple: Go to Los Angeles and become a famous singer/songwriter. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I had a small taste of “fame” when the single I recorded on a small label in Sacramento became the “Battle of the New Sounds” winner. It stayed on the KROY playlist for several weeks. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had when I turned the radio on and heard my record. Armed with that success, I packed my bags and set out to conquer L.A. I had enough money to survive for six months. I couldn’t imagine it would take longer than that.
It didn’t take me long to realize that no one was impressed with my “fame” in Sacramento. In fact, it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t going to make it as a singer. I was now really in the big leagues and the talent in L.A. was incredible. Six months flew by. I got a “day” job at Dot Records which kept me alive to see another day of struggle in the business…and I really wanted to stay in the business.
Miraculously, I managed to stay alive with varying degrees of success for ten years while working as a recording engineer, (not so successful) record producer and small record label owner, manager and (very successful) concert promoter. A call from an artist I had produced ten years earlier led to my real career. Christopher Cain was producing and directing a series of independent films and asked if I could produce the music. I did four films for him and as they say, the rest is history. Don Perry Music became the largest independent music supervision company for film in Los Angeles. In a ten year span I was music supervisor on nearly 150 films, TV Movies and Series. I was in the business to stay, although it took a little more than six months! The down side of that success in film was that I was out of the record business and the chances of hearing a record of mine on the air diminished day by day.
In 1976, those dreams with a mind of their own intervened. I was hired by Sunn Classic Pictures, an independent company from Salt Lake City, to do the music for a film, “The Adventures of Frontier Fremont”, starring Dan Haggerty. This was a follow up to a successful low budget film, “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” starring Dan. With the addition of veteran actor Denver Pyle, this film became the pilot for the NBC TV Series of the same name. Singer/Songwriter, Thom Pace had done the music for the original film and it contained a song he had written for another film. When it wasn’t used for that film, it was used for the end titles for “Grizzly”. Lucky for me. The song, “Maybe” was a natural theme for the TV show that ran for two years.
When the show hit the air, we started getting letters forwarded to us from NBC from viewers asking where they could get a copy of the theme. We tried unsuccessfully to get the production company to work with us on a soundtrack LP ( most episodes featured new songs performed by Thom) and couldn’t get a single released by a major label. When the show starting airing in England, we started getting letters again. We went into the studio and with arranger, Bob Summers, cut a commercial single version of the song. RSO records released it and it was an immediate hit in England and all over Europe. In Germany alone it sold over 800,000 singles , was #1 for nine weeks, stayed on the charts for an incredible six months and was “Record Of The Year”. I was floored when our first royalty check was for over 2 million singles sold. In all the record sold close to 3 million units. I wasn’t the artist, but I certainly had the hit record I dreamed of nearly 15 years earlier when I left Sacramento. The reality of that hit home in a hotel room in London. As we were getting ready to leave for an appearance by Thom on the legendary show “Top Of The Pops”, the song played on the radio. What an amazing experience.
This is the last of my blog series “Magic Moments”. I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing these songs and memories that inspired me and kept me going on the path to my dreams. These are just a few of the songs in the soundtrack of my life. There are so many other songs that trigger personal memories of the important moments for me… songs that were there through happiness, love, laughter, sadness and every other emotion that songs can trigger.
I hope you have a library of songs that trigger magic moments for you.