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..

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