My first incident as a trade paper reporter

One of the first days I was working at the record business trade weekly Cash Box, we got a furious call from Tom Donahue, who was the nominal manager of a good San Francisco band called Stoneground, as well as a powerful Bay Area disc jockey, radio programmer, label owner, etc.

He was rightly (or, in the parlance of those days, “righteously”) steamed because the reviewer, evidently “seeing’ the set from the Palladium VIP lounge*, claimed that the band’s horn section was out of tune — and, Donahue screamed over the phone, Stoneground didn’t have a horn section!

Not knowing how to handle Tom — who, after all, could demand that the record label pull its advertising — I turned the call over to Harvey Geller, who was running the office in those days.

Cool as could be, Harvey assured Tom that “you will never see that reviewer’s name in Cash Box again!” Not mentioning that the reviewer in question had left of his own volition the week before; I was his replacement.

(the reviewer wound up in the a&r department of what was then a major record label — though not the one stoneground was on!)

* a bar, off the lobby, where guests could hobnob during intermission. Many used it to wait out the opening act; though the sound was muddy, you could hear when they’d finished..


2 comments on “My first incident as a trade paper reporter

  1. Pete Johnson says:

    One of my favorite memories of Harvey was when we were walking to a local Burbank restaurant, chatting abut this and that, we ran into a tall guy Harvey recognized. They talked for a few minutes. I retreated a step or two, shy, not wanting to get involved. When Harvey turned away he said, “I can never remember whether that’s Bob or Ray, or else I would have introduced you.” [It was Ray Goulding, I know now.] Bob & Ray are particular idols of mine. I still curse my reluctance to engage.

  2. Todd Everett says:

    Harvey’s worth an entry in himself. A real character, and a terrific guy. Sadly (for me, at least), he left the magazine shortly after I came aboard. Though he was a terrific writer who contributed occasional pieces, his function at Cash Box was mainly as an ad salesman. In his previous life, in New York, he’d written songs including “Oleanna,” recorded by the Kingston Trio, and “Blue Water Line” for the Brothers Four.
    We kept in touch over the years; and now that he’s gone, i miss him greatly.

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