PROMO TRIP TO EUROPE - BOB MORRITT
by Bob Morritt
EUROPE PROMOTIONAL TOUR- May 1963
In London, I met with well-known British record promoter Bunny Lewis who was a promotion manager for Decca Records. He was also well known also as a composer. He wrote, "A Voice in the Wilderness", which appeared in the Cliff Richard movie, ‘Expresso Bongo’. Lewis also wrote a handful of popular ‘hit’ songs released in Britain only in the 1960s for pop star Helen Shapiro; "Kiss 'n' Run", "Let's Talk About Love", "Little Miss Lonely", and "Marvellous Lie" Craig Douglas' cover version of "Oh Lonesome Me" (1962) was also produced by Lewis.
He critiqued the records produced by Don Bennett of Phoenix, Arizona, I presented to him. Among those was one recorded by Alvie Self of, ’Young Singer”. Lewis listened to it and said that he liked it but added ”Too bad this was recorded a year ago, as it is similar to ‘The Folk Singer’ by Tommy Roe.”Unfortunately, ‘Young Singer’ was written before Roe’s record was ever heard!)
In London I went into the Abbey Road Studio at E.M.I. Records, (Famous four years later when the Beatles did their walk across the pedestrian Crossing outside the Studios).I met with Recording Engineer Roland Rennie. (Many years later he became the Managing Director of ‘Polydor’, he was the first to record the ‘Bee Gees’ in Britain.)
Roland said that he liked my own compositions (recorded in Arizona) especially the acetate recorded by Don Bennett and myself of “Blackmail” b/w “The Crash” in Phoenix, June 1962.He advised me that the Don Ray material was” a bit late” as they had just recorded “From Me To You” (in April 1963) by a new group ‘The Beatles’ Their next recording he released was “She Loves You”(in August 1963) He later became a key figure in breaking The Beatles into the U.S.A. when he was sent to New York by George Martin .(All EMI product was channeled through him for distribution by EMI's American partners.)
Note:It was Rennie who struck the deal to license the first three Beatles records to the ‘Swan’ and ‘VeeJay’ labels, rather than to Capitol. Capitol at first had no interest in the group. Later, Rennie returned to Britain where he had great success producing recordings of bands like ‘The Who’, the ‘Bee Gees’ and ‘briefly’ with Jimi Hendrix.
Promotion Trip Europe (continued ).....
I had a pre-arranged interview (Announced in ‘Billboard’ magazine ) with Barclay Records.At Barclay they were enthusiastic about my Arizonian repertoire, but during my presentation, I found they were pitching me!
They offered me an opportunity to release in the U.S.A,their recording issued on their subsidiary label ‘Palette’ records, “Hawaiian Tattoo” by the ‘Waikikis’ at a royalty of eight cents a record royalty per record sold, IF we (Don Bennett and myself) would release it in North America.
Bob Morritt – Promo Manager (continued)...
Six months later, KAPP Records in New York (famous for the earlier release of “Here Comes Summer” by Jerry Keller.) released ’Hawaiian Tattoo’. It ‘took off!’That summer people in new suburbs all over Canada and in the USA, danced to it around their patios and backyard Barbecues. The record “Hawaiian Tattoo” sold over a million copies that year!I still feel uncomfortable when I still see the record glaring back at me in the record bins of used record stores of “Hawaiian Tattoo” by ‘The Waikiki’s’ on the KAPP Label.
My next stop in Europe was to visit BFN Radio, (British Forces Radio Network) in Cologne, Germany.
DJ -Bill Crozier greeted me. He was an amiable person and showed genuine interest in the ‘Don Ray’ recordings.I gave him some copies which he played them over the Radio internationally whilst I sat in on his radio program.
His show reached a large audience of British Families of Soldiers in England and at the same time, Soldiers at bases then stationed in Aden, Cyprus and other far-flung regions, could send messages back home to their families. Crozier became a very prominent Radio personality in Britain some years later.