Welcome Back to Legendary Arranger,
It's great to be with You, Charles,
this being Part 2 of our 7 day Interview
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series.
Thank you once again.
As we go through a string of your
let's go to the 1960's production
recording session of
of The Four Seasons' hit record,
"Dawn (Go Away),"
Charles, not only created the
now infamous hook 'chimes' sound
on this song; how were the
vocal arrangements and harmonies
laid out for the Singing Group?
The song was written as a folk song.
It wasn't written like we ultimately did it.
I found Sandy Linzer,
who wrote the song with Bob Gaudio.
Sandy was writing with the student of
my Father's. My Father said that
he had a student who was writing songs,
and would I like to hear the songs.
So, he brought him to my
house. The songs were awful,
but the lyrics were brilliant.
So, I called Frankie. I said Frankie,
I met this guy who I really think is great.
Sandy, I think was about
19 or 20 years old, at that point;
and I brought him to Frankie's house.
We introduced him to Bob Gaudio.
The first group of songs that he wrote with
Gaudio, was "Dawn (Go Away)."
Now, the night before the session that
we were going to record them,
I met with Gaudio, like I did regularly
to be able to go over the songs,
and write out the arrangements,
and he started to play me this song.
Prior to that meeting,
Frankie and I were in the car,
and we heard the Kai Winding record
which is the theme for the movie
Oh yes ...Mondo Cane.
And Frankie said,
"We need to make a record with that
So when Gaudio played me, "Dawn,"
he played it as a ballad, like a folk song.
I heard the song and I said, give me about
20 minutes with this.
I worked on it,
and I wound up putting the whole
record together, on the piano.
Frankie and Gaudio
were in the other room.
When Frankie heard what I was doing,
he jumped off the desk and he said,
"What's that you're playing?" I said,
He says, "Oh my God, that's great!"
I explained to Gaudio
that I was going to use 'bells'
and 'chimes', and I was going to use this
figure from West Side Story
[dong... dong...], all of the ingredients.
I wrote this thing out, and Nick Massi
re-did the vocal arrangement.
They went in to do the vocal
arrangement. At that point,
Nicky was pretty much doing all the
vocal arrangements. Nicky was really
brilliant at that.
He was great at doo-wop, but he was
also great at doing commercial parts.
And what I stuffed them with,
I stuffed them with a whole bunch
of different chords that they had never
thought about using, so it gave them
a lot to work with. Sandy had
never heard any of his songs recorded.
He didn't even know that we recorded
He came into New York one day,
and I brought him to the Studio,
the first time that he was in the Studio and
Tom Dowd was the Engineer on the date
that we cut it at Atlantic Records.
It was the first record that we made on
8-track. So, Tom was about ready to close
I said, Tom, can you put up "Dawn..."
I think he had just finished the vocals.
I heard it, I knew that this would
blow Sandy, away.
So, Tom put up the tracks,
and rolled it back to the top and put up
the voices, and play the record.
Sandy started to cry. It blew him away.
That's interesting, we never knew that,
started out originally, as a folk song.
Well, that's one of the things that
What they do is they take the songs,
and they try to find direction for the song
that could fit into the marketplace.
That's why "Let's Hang On,"
was a little bit of
'Satisfaction' with the fret guitar,
and a little bit of
Motown, as a result of the rhythm section.
I would fit the songs so that they would fit
into the feel, so that they would be
The 'falsetto' signature singing style
is a huge part of the Jersey Boys' sound.
How much did that play into
your ongoing creative arranging direction
for The Four Seasons' celebrated hits
that you Co-Produced?
Well, the songs were basically written for
Frankie. In my opinion,
Frankie was one of the most original
Singers of that era,
because Frankie really had his own style.
And that was something that was unusual
in Pop singing because pretty much,
everybody sounded similar.
The Girl Singers...
You couldn't tell one from another,
although you could tell a little bit,
but it wasn't like they had their own
Frankie had his own sound.
When you heard Frank Sinatra,
you knew it was Sinatra. You knew it was
Nat "King" Cole. You knew those Singers,
right away. I turn on Country Radio,
as much as I like Country Music;
without listening every day,
I can't tell the difference between one,
Singer and another.
They are all pretty much starting to
sound alike to me, because the same
musicians make the records.
Back at that time,
if you recorded in New York,
well, the musicians made the
same records. So if the arrangements
were different, and the singer wasn't
different. It's hard to tell the difference
between the artists.
But the Four Seasons basically had their
It was a throwback of doo-wop,
but they really had their own sound.
Did Frankie always sing in falsetto?
Yeah, the first time that I ever heard him,
he sang in falsetto. He's not really a Tenor.
He's really a Baritone, strangely enough.
He's got a very strange voice,
because he could like turn a little knob
in his throat, and sing in a Tenor range,
and go in and out of his falsetto,
without you ever hearing the difference.
So, we'd go to record a song,
and he'd say that it's in the wrong key.
And I would say, no Frankie,
that was the key that we rehearsed it in.
Until we found the slot where vocally he
would put it, he would have
to play around with it until he
found out where he was going to place
Ah, we see...
You yourself, Charles,
were once an actual performing
member of The Four Seasons,
which were formerly known as
The Four Lovers.
How did this come about,
and what were the different
musical styles, as the group evolved into
The Four Seasons?
When the Four Seasons recorded up
until 1965, Nicky was with the group.
So, 62, 63, 64 and part of
65, Nicky was in the Band.
I got a call after I cut the track,
for "Lightnin' Strikes."
I cut it on a Friday and I was going
to do the background vocals that
We finished it on a Friday night.
That Monday I was going to go
and finish the record,
and I got home and I got a message
from Tommy DeVito.
He said, "Charlie, you've got to come to
Pennsylvania, and finish this Tour
with us." So, I called Tommy back,
at the hotel. I said Tommy,
I can't do it. He said,
"What do you mean, you can't do it?
You better be here." And if you saw
you'd know that when Tommy said that,
you better be here, you better be here
They sent a car for me.
I didn't even have a Fender bass,
at that point. I didn't own an instrument.
But most of the songs that I did since they
made the records, I knew all of the
vocal parts, and all the parts.
Since I was a Four Lover member,
I knew the previous repertoire...
So, for me to perform the half of dozen
or so records, it's not really
that difficult. They knew that
I could just step in,
without even rehearsing.
The rehearsal took place in a car,
on the way to Ohio.
The first gig we played was the one in
where you see they get arrested?
We were working a State Fair,
and we were at a
Race track. At the end of the show,
the paddy wagon
showed up. Frankie walked off the stage,
he says, "Are you Frankie Valli?"
They put handcuffs on him.
"Are you Tom DeVito?"
They put handcuffs on him.
"Are you Bob Gaudio?" Handcuffs.
"Are you Nick Massi?"
I said no, I'm Charlie Calello.
He said, "Where is Nick Massi?"
I said, he's no longer with the Group.
So, they let me go, I never went to jail.
That was my first gig with the Seasons.
I actually stayed with them
for about a year,
and then I replaced myself with
Joe Long. We finally got Joe back,
because I was running
back and forth to New York,
making records, and it was just
too big of a responsibility.
Okay, being on the road,
and making records, sure.
My real focus, I was a Record Maker.
I wanted to Arrange and Produce Records.
so you wanted to stay on that path...
but we're sure that the experience
must have been terrific for that year.
What was different about it,
was that we were doing
Concerts. Prior to that,
the only real jobs that I played were
weddings, bar mitzvahs, and nightclubs.
We were doing Concerts in Colleges,
and Performing Arts Centers.
So, as far as that was concerned
that was really a lot of fun.
Now, we come to the one and only
Your producing arrangement
on her classic, "My Heart Belongs To Me,"
is truly one of the most beautiful of her
It has melancholy feel to it.
In working with Barbra
and Songwriter Alan Gordon
on this recording,
can You walk us through that
I was in California, recording
Engelbert Humperdinck. I got a call from
Michael Lang, who was representing me
at the time; and he said that he just
spoke to Charlie Koppelman,
who was running the
He called me to find out if
I wanted to co-produce some songs
from the movie that she had made,
"A Star Is Born..."
because she wasn't happy with some
of the records.
So, Michael put the deal together,
and I went back to New York,
and a week later we flew out to L.A.,
again, and we met with Barbra.
Alan Gordon played this song for Barbra;
she loved it. So originally,
we were just going to do songs from
the movie, but then Alan came in with
this song, and I went to the piano
and I started to rehearse her.
I laid the whole record out on the piano.
It was really fun working with her.
She's an amazing talent.
There is not a note that goes by that
she doesn't hear.
Her standards are as high as you can get.
I found her a piece of cake to work with,
because I realized that the only reason
why she had somewhat of a
bad reputation with people,
was that she worked with people that
really couldn't deliver
what she wanted...
but if she worked with people
that really could deliver
the quality that she was looking for,
she was a piece of cake.
She's very, very creative.
I laid out the whole record.
The intro that I played on her piano,
at her house, is the intro to the record.
I put a tape recorder up;
I taped her singing the song,
and I laid out the whole record.
I took it back to the hotel,
and wrote the arrangement.
But what was really funny about it,
while I was in the hotel writing the
arrangement, she called about every
half an hour.
She'd go, "Charlie, Charlie, Charlie,
you could've been a contender,
"How are the strings. Charlie?
I love strings. How are the strings coming?"
She was like motivating.
As I was writing the arrangement...
when you write for an Artist like that;
it's almost like you're not
pushing the pencil.
They're over your shoulder,
watching you write every note.
So, it is a give and take thing, right?
Yeah, and as a result of it,
I wrote the arrangement.
I went into the studio,
and I think it was the second take of the
rundown. I ran the arrangement down,
she pressed the talk back button,
and she said,
"That's gorgeous, let's record it..."
and when we recorded it, I think it was the
second take that we used. And then,
the insert where the girls come in
and sing, she wanted to use the Oreos,
who were in the movie.
She called the Singers in,
and at the session, I gave them the parts
to sing that one section, where the girls
come in. When I came up with the idea
in the studio, she said,
"How did you do that? How did you
come up with that?"
So I said, that's my background,
working with the Four Seasons,
coming up with the background parts.
She was really a lot of fun.
Wow, that's wonderful!
I'll tell you a little bit about the session.
We went to record the tracks at 7 o'clock
at night. At 4 o'clock in the morning,
we were still recording.
She was relentless. "Let's do one more,
let's do one more!"
Finally, the Drummer had a
9 o'clock date, crawled out of the Studio
on his hands and knees,
so that she wouldn't see him,
and he went home. She said,
"Come on; one more."
And then somebody said, well,
Jeff Porcaro was the Drummer.
He was the drummer in the Group
Oh yes, we certainly know of the great
Barbra was calm about it.
Then the next day,
I wrote the sweetening arrangement,
and we went in and recorded it.
That's a wonderful story, Charles.
Thanks for sharing that with us.
We listened to that song all of the time,
it's just gorgeous,
what you did with it.
It really is.
his warm and emotional take
on the Bob Gaudio / Jake Holmes
"Michael and Peter,"
from his acclaimed '69 "Watertown" CD,
is something to behold.
We love your legato-styled
on this track, Charles.
Was this session recorded 'live',
with Mr. Sinatra?
Yes, we did it at Columbia 30th St.
I'll tell you this interesting story about
that Studio. I was 18 years old,
and the Singer in my first Band,
was friend's with D. Anthony,
who managed Tony Bennett.
Tony was doing an album with
Count Basie, at
Columbia 30th St.
I was invited to the session,
through this Singer.
What was really exciting about it;
I had never been to a real
There was Count Basie's Band.
Tony Bennett's singing in the middle
of the room, and Mitch Miller
was producing the record.
As I was watching this, sitting at
Columbia 30th St.,
I said to myself,
this is what I want to do.
The guy that was conducting the
Orchestra, was a guy by the
name of Ralph Sharon, who was
Tony's Arranger at the time.
I said, this is what I want to do.
11 years later, I was in that same Studio,
recording Frank Sinatra.
I never expected him to show up.
I just figured that we would cut the
tracks and Gaudio would go out to
California, and put his voice
on it. At 7 o'clock,
and I got on the podium,
and I brought my hands-down and
I started the session. I was halfway
through the first rundown,
when the air in the room changed.
He walked in, and I didn't see him.
The only thing that I could tell you,
is that the music went from
black and white to color.
That's what happened when he walked
into the room.
It was like something that you can't
explain that happened. All of the sudden,
the music came alive.
The Musicians saw him walk in the room,
and everything changed.
I was almost finished with
writing the arrangement down,
and I feel a tap on my
leg; I was at a podium,
maybe about 18 inches off of
the ground... I turned around,
and I looked, and there was
Frank Sinatra, face-to-face.
I had never met him.
Gaudio got the music keys,
and I never expected him to show up.
He looked at me, and he says,
"Are you Calello?"
I turned around to say hello to
him, and nothing came out of my mouth.
I said, oh my God, this is Frank Sinatra,
what am I doing here? My idol.
The experience was overwhelming.
I actually became pretty good friends
with him, later on. He was really
a great guy to hang around with.
One of our favorites of all time...
We love him. That's great.
Okay... How spread apart in time,
was the recording date for the
for Mr. Sinatra?
He didn't sing the song.
He had to learn the song.
We cut the tracks,
and we cut them on three different days.
I think we cut them over a period of a
couple of weeks.
He came in for the sessions,
and then Gaudio went to California,
and worked with him on the vocals.
When the record came out...
because they weren't from the
American Songbook, the public,
or the Record Company didn't support the
concept. But over the years,
it has become a lot of
his Fans' favorite record.
We love the poignancy that You
brought out on Frank Sinatra's
"Michael and Peter" track, Charles.
It has a very reflective thought about it,
and it brings out his intimate side...
There's nobody who could sing a song
Being in the Studio with him,
and watching what he
does to a song; it's hard to explain.
He was able to live every word he sang.
He put himself emotionally into the music.
And it was like, when he told a story,
he told it from the bottom of his heart,
and you believed him.
That was the secret of the way
that he put songs together.
He just spoke them in a musical fashion.
Of today's Crooners, and in terms of
sound and swagger,
who do You feel that would
best reflect the golden age of the
of yesterday... from Frank Sinatra,
to Dean Martin, Al Martino & so on?
About the only Singer that I heard,
was a Pop Singer, that actually
sings the music. well...
was Bobby Caldwell.
I made a couple of records with
Joe Bwarie, whose actually the
lead Singer in Jersey Boys,
on Broadway right now.
Joe really has a handle on this music.
Of course, there is a couple of people
that have high profiles,
that are doing the music right now,
that I'm not really a fan of the way
they sing the music.
But the only real one, that I felt
was able to stylize it,
and add his personality to it,
was Bobby Caldwell.
We saw Bobby Caldwell 'live',
years ago, at the time, it was called the
Westbury Music Fair,
in Long Island.
It was great to see him 'live'.
He has such a clear, crisp sound.
I am not a fan of Michael Bublé,
or Harry Connick's
version of this music,
because it sounds like it's not
real to me; but Bobby's versions of them,
really sounded real to me.
I'm sure there are other people.
I don't really listen that much,
anymore... but he's really one that
comes to mind.
I just recently did a duet with
Deana Martin, and her
Father. And what was really interesting,
I got a copy of the voice track, from
Capitol Records with Dean's
voice on it, for us to do the duet.
The Engineer called it off, and it was
take 2... So the final vocal was the
They used to record them 'live' with the
band. Today, that doesn't happen anymore,
with the singers.
They spend days on getting the
performances. Someone like Dean Martin,
was magical. His performance was magical.
He just stood in the Studio and sang!
He's another one of our favorites.
We are a big Fan of Dean Martin!
Is the duet actually happening now?
It's out now on iTunes.
Okay great, will definitely look to get it.
It's called "True Love."
Okay, thanks for that.
Mr. Calello, all of us here at OL,
join a long list of those,
as having over 100 Top "Billboard" Hits,
spanning over a period of 50 years!
To spotlight some of the
Top Billboard Hits,
that You Produced and Arranged
for none other than
one of the most successful
Pop Country Female Singers of
the 80's...Juice Newton.
To highlight a few of her hits
that You arranged...
"Angel Of The Morning," and
"Queen Of Hearts," these two hit songs,
having sold more than 1 million copies;
and let's not stop there...
"Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me,"
and "Break It To Me Gently."
Charles, in the making
and arranging of a song,
at what point in a production,
do You often have that
"this is going to be a hit" feeling begin,
and what are the essential ingredients
that are needed to come together
and make this happen?
Well, when we did "Angel In The Morning,"
the record really sounded good,
but the guitar player
that we hired, we cut the record at
Capitol Records in California.
I like to work with three guitars.
I was one of the few arrangers that did
three guitars, and I used to write for
all three guitars. Most Arrangers
just gave guitar players chords sheets,
unless they had something specific
for them to play.
But growing up making
Four Seasons records, working with
Bob Crewe; working with three guitars,
gave us a lot of flexibility.
So the night before the session,
I requested a guitar player,
there was a new kid in town, in L.A.
His name was George Doering,
a very talented Guitar Player.
He wound up playing on all of
One of the things that I wrote in the
track was... I wrote this drum figure,
which was like [di di di dum...],
Which was almost like a march,
to make it a little more 'rock'.
George was trying to get a sound
on his guitar, and used power chords
to go [ji-gi-ta dang!]...
and when he did that, I heard that
on the track. I said to myself,
this is going to be a huge record.
Every time I made a record;
if the record got to me,
if it blew me away,
I knew that somebody else would hear it
the same way...
Because we all have feelings;
if it invoked a feeling in my heart,
then I knew it could reach
That was one of the things that was
really exciting about that record.
"Queen Of Hearts,"
was very unique, because we used
four guitars on it, "playing with the
Queen of hearts..."
Those were four different guitar players
just overdubbing that [ji-gi-ta dang!]...
Just to get that sound,
we used the 12 string,
we used a tenor guitar,
a regular acoustic guitar,
and a gut string, like a Spanish guitar...
Four different guitars that were
And it played with those kinds of sounds.
All of the combinations of those guitars,
brought that one sound?
Yeah, you know it was fun to be able
and have the ability to be able to do that,
with those kinds of records.
You've arranged a total of
10 Top Billboard Hits
for Singer Juice Newton,
of which these were also successful
on the Country Music charts,
as well as the Pop Music Charts.
How much does the 'genre' type of
music play into your
thought arranging process?
When we did, "Break It To Me Gently,"
I heard Juice sing...
Juice, to me, was a Saloon Singer.
What I mean by that is;
she would sing like the kind of person
who was in a saloon,
having couple of drinks,
pouring her heart out.
She really, really knew how to get down.
She had a soul about her,
that was different,
and although we made pretty
pop-styled records; when she did,
"Break It To Me Gently,"
she actually won a Grammy for the
performance. But when we were
making the track, for some reason,
the track wasn't sitting the way
I wanted it.
I figured that the only way
that I could get the sound that I wanted,
was that I had to bring in the guy
that played on "Native New Yorker,"
and some of the other hits that
I had in New York... Who played keyboards,
was Richard Tee.
Now Richard had his own style of
playing. But Richard,
he knew how to play music like
a gospel piano player.
He overdubbed the electric keyboard
part, which made all the difference
in the world. Then when we put the
I thought that was one of the
best records that we made together.
You gave her such a great sound,
and she had so many hits.
She was always on the Radio.
Juice was fun to record,
because it was like a Studio
kind of record. We had the best players.
We had the ability to spend time
on the record, to make them good.
It was a lot of fun.
Thanks for that!
Lastly, in this segment, Charles...
In your days working with
as a Staff Arranger and Producer,
how did it compare to working with the
Capitol Records Artists?
My experience with Columbia Records,
how can I phrase this?...
was sort of like bitter tears.
What I really went to
Columbia Records to do;
I really wasn't able to do,
because of the politics.
It was the first time that I was
introduced to a big Company,
and at the time I went there...
There was a regime change
that was taking place.
I was hired by the wrong regime.
One of the first artists that I wanted to sign
was Valerie Simpson,
who I had worked with.
I loved Valerie as a writer.
I brought her to Columbia,
and they told me I couldn't sign her,
because I was white. So I said,
what do you mean? They said,
"Well, we only have Black Producers to
produce Black Artists."
I said, well, that doesn't make any sense
to me, because some of the hit records
that I made, were with Black Artists.
I happen to think that talent is talent.
They were concerned,
at that particular time, about payola,
and things like this; because they were
a Public Company.
I wasn't used to the politics.
Ultimately, I did record the
Laura Nyro "Eli..." album, which was
the first record...
that's actually my favorite record,
to date, that I made.
It was the first CD that I believe
David Geffen was involved with.
That was his first client.
David ultimately became the owner of
He signed the Eagles, Jackson Browne,
and everybody knows David. Laura
was his first client,
and the thrill of making that record was
really, really great...
but I lost my job, over, making
The budget for making records,
back then, was about $20,000;
I spent over 40, and the record to this day,
in my opinion, is still a classic.
I lost my job over it.
Laura Nyro was on many turntables.
One of the other things that I
couldn't do; was I didn't have the flexibility
to do what I wanted to be able to do
in the studio, because the union with
the studio, made it impossible for us
to do some of the things
that we wanted to do.
After all Columbia Records was the audio
standard, at that particular time;
with Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra,
Barbra Streisand and people like this.
Pop music was just starting to become
part of their repertoire.
They just signed Bob Dylan,
Simon and Garfunkel...
The transition was taking place,
but it hadn't really fully taken place,
until after Clive Davis took over.
A lot of those artists were signed before
Clive took over.
Like John Hammond brought in
Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel,
Blood Sweat & Tears,
some of other the Artists...
But after that time, it started to loosen
up, where we could actually
record outside of Columbia,
but I wasn't a happy camper, there.
Okay, fair enough.
Thank you Charles,
for this wonderful time that we've
spent with You in this segment!
We look forward tomorrow in
Part 3 of this 7 part
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series,
doing one-take moments on your
extraordinary production work with these
icon Artists and their hits...
from Odyssey, to Barry Manilow,
to Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell,
the late great Laura Nyro & more...
Charles, is there any music
commentary you'd like to share with the
OL viewers, as we conclude this Interview
2 of 7 segment?
I'll tell you one little story about
The song, "When I Need You..."
The one that Leo Sayer had a hit with.
I cut that song with
Albert Hammond, for Columbia records,
and without someone to push the record,
the record was not a hit with
Albert Hammond. Leo Sayer
copied the record, note for note,
then had the hit.
I lost about four or five records,
with people copying the exact record
that I made, with other Artists,
because they promoted it.
On the same label?
No, they would hear the record.
Like,"The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine,"
I originally cut it with Frankie.
It was written by Gaudio, and Crewe.
The Walker Brothers
heard the song,
because it was never a hit.
They cut it, and they copied the record,
and had the hit with it.
There were several other records
that I had that were like that,
but a lot of it had to do with
somebody really promoting the record.
I wasn't experienced enough,
at that point, to really know
how to use the Columbia machine.
I was too new in the business,
and was dealing with making records
as an Arranger, and not as a marketer,
or promotion person. Until I learned
that end of the business,
it wasn't a happy place for me.
Thank you Charles.
We'll see you tomorrow!
And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!