Al Hazan is Dudley Duncan HEAR
It was Winter of 1963 when I wrote a song called "Yo Yo" for Jan and Dean, two guys who were very popular in the 1960s and enjoying a big hit record, "Surf City." I took the song over to my childhood friend, Lou Adler, who was working as the West Coast representative for Aldon Music Publishing. Aldon was the most successful publisher in the business then, representing famous writing teams such as Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Neil Sedaka and Harry Greenfield.
Lou Adler, in addition to working for Aldon Music, was a bright and talented producer and the manager of Jan and Dean. I took a demonstration record of "Yo Yo" over to him and he really seemed to like the song. I left it and he said he'd play it for the duo and get back to me.
A few days later, he let me know the boys felt it wasn't right for them. I think they had written material of their own they wanted to record, so I decided I would sing it myself.
I approached Lester Sills for the financing and he liked the song well enough to give me the go-ahead, so I set up the recording date at Gold Star for the following week. Whenever I hired musicians for a session, I would wait until I could get most, if not all, of the ones I wanted. First priority was Hal Blaine on drums; this was usually an absolute must. Second was Glen Campbell or Tommy Tedesco on guitar, then Leon Russell or Al Delori for keyboard, Carol Kaye or Ray Pullman for Fender bass, and so on. Most of the time I was successful getting the players I wanted and this time was no exception. Since this was to be a small session of just basic rhythm tracks, I did the arrangements myself.
I wrote out the chord charts and the overall construction of the piece and then, as always, just sang or demonstrated on the piano what I wanted each musician to do. Hal Blaine was always good for keeping a sense of humor at these smaller sessions. When I came out to greet him before the session, he always said, "How's your hazan?" because he knew "hazan" meant "pants" in Hebrew. That was a typical Hal Blaine joke. He had a humorous way of saying his jokes that made them even funnier.
Glen Campbell did most of the important fills on guitar for "Yo Yo" and was great as usual. Glen was really a nice guy and always willing to add his considerable talent to a recording. He was kind of a quiet person but always seemed up for each session. Like most of these musicians, he could make up better things to play on his own then any arranger could write. These greats just needed a chance to hear the song and get the general idea for the arrangement and they would know just what to do.
After about an hour and a half, we finished the basic rhythm tracks for both songs, including my version of "The Gold Cup,", which I used as the flip side. I then asked Hal Blaine to take out his "bag of tricks." This was a large case full of percussion gadgets; he had cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, tambourines and any number of other percussive devices. For the song "Yo Yo," I decided to have him overdub a slide whistle to imitate the up and down motion of a yo-yo. This, I thought, might add a unique gimmick to the record.
After the musicians left, I added four girls as background voices. Finally, the basic track was finished. Now it was just me in the studio and Stan in the booth, working the knobs. My vocal microphone was set up behind a screen but in a way that Stan and I could see each other when we spoke. Although I didn't have a sore throat that day, I had been sucking on a cough drop just in case, which I reluctantly threw away. Finally, I asked Stan to lower the lights so I would have no distractions and we were ready to go.
It only took a few takes over the pre-recorded background to satisfy us both and we agreed the lead vocal was completed. I remember going through a lot of mental difficulty at that point, wondering if I should double my vocal for "Yo Yo." This was a technique to add depth to a vocal and give it a fulle sound. The singer simply sang the song again, over his own lead track. Actually, this doubling technique could be done electronically, but it had a more natural sound when the two vocals weren't so perfectly matched.
I decided to double the vocal and asked Stan to save both versions so I could take them home and listen to the two choices for a few days. I could take my time and let him know later which version I preferred. I was anxious to get on with singing the other song, which was a slow rock version of "The Gold Cup." The music I wrote for this version of "Gold Cup" had a more traditional rock melody while still retaining the same lyric as the country version recorded for Capitol by Buddy Cagle.
It took a little longer to do the vocal to my satisfaction. The song had a large range, the distance between the lowest notes and the highest ones, so it was more difficult for me to sing. Stan was patient and hung in there with me until I felt I did it as well as I could. The whole session ended up taking about 3 hours to complete which was typical of a small recording session like this. We could sometimes get three to four sides down in that time if we really had to.
The record was released as a single by a company called Smash Records, sold over to Smash by Mr. Sill. He also arranged for me to make local appearances in and around Los Angeles on various T.V. and radio shows, mostly interviews. I enjoyed doing interviews because it was fun to sit and talk about the music business and meet the disc jockeys of the day, such as Johnny Grant and Gene Norman. Obviously, the main reason for the appearances was to get publicity and airplay for my record.
One early morning, about three weeks after the release of "Yo Yo," my phone rang, waking me up. It was Lester Sill telling me I was to go over to San Bernardino where a disc jockey promised to play "Yo Yo" on his station if I would perform at his concert. This was a typical deal between artists and disc jockeys. I wouldn't exactly call it payola but it certainly could be considered close to it. It was part of the business and I had done it many times before.
I remember driving myself over to San Bernardino on that Saturday afternoon. It was early winter and I loved driving in overcast weather. However, it was just a bit too cool and I noticed some dark ominous clouds gathering overhead so I wanted to get there before it started to rain. Unfortunately, Lester gave me the wrong directions so I got lost looking for the auditorium where the concert was held. Since I didn't know the city of San Bernardino well, I pulled into a gas station for directions.
I found the place just in time to rush in through the back door and sing "Yo Yo" and "The Gold Cup" before a crowd of about two hundred fans. As usual, I enjoyed performing at the concert that day even though I had to lip sync along with the record, a copy of which the disc jockey already had. The audience was great and I enjoyed meeting the fans afterwards and signing autographs. In fact, I liked it so much, I lingered with them for about a half hour before taking off. Since I didn't bring any photos along, I signed whatever the fans had. I must have signed at least thirty autographs that day.
The real payoff came that afternoon as I was driving back to Los Angeles in the rain and heard "Yo Yo" over my car radio. That was always a thrill for me and the truth is, even though it was fun doing concerts, I always felt the bottom line was to get my songs played. Even now, every time I drive through San Bernardino on the way to Palm Springs or Lake Arrowhead, I remember that rainy day. Especially when I pass the freeway turn-off sign called Dudley Street, because I had used the stage name "Dudley Duncan" on that record.