by Ben McLane, Esq.
Famous pop singing/songwriting duo the Addrisi Brothers, consisting of Don (b. 1938) and Richard (b. 1941), entered this world destined to be entertainers. "We were born in Boston and our parents were the Flying Addrisis, a famous traveling trapeze act," says Richard Addrisi, the remaining Addrisi Brother (Don died of cancer in 1984). The brothers had innate musical talent, so beginning in 1954 they began to travel around the country down old Route 66 with their parents singing and playing for different fraternal organizations. In 1956 "Lenny Bruce saw us performing in Los Angeles and helped us get our first agent," recalls Richard.
Later in 1956, their agent called them in Boston and suggested that they audition for the Mousketeers. Because of the opportunities on the West Coast for the teenagers, the family moved to Los Angeles that year. "In 1957 I started going to Hollywood Professional School with other famous young performers, and also began to do television shows such as `My Three Sons'," remembers Addrisi. During this period, the brothers also were singing around the Los Angeles area and garnering exposure for their act. Because of their considerable talent, in 1958 "we became the youngest act to ever work in Las Vegas," declares Addrisi.
Around this period, the brothers came to the attention of Bob Keane, the owner of Del Phi Records, which had just had incredible success with Richie Valens. Upon the strength of a song Don had written, "Cherrystone," Keane signed the brothers to a recording contract and the song rose to #62 on Billboard in 1959, giving the brothers their first hit. (It would be 13 years before they charted again as recording artists.) Soon, they were traveling on the GAC (General Artist Corporation) Bus Tours with other hit artists of the day. They also appeared on "American Bandstand" that year.
"As soon as we had a hit, songwriters began to submit songs to us," states Richard. Two of the most memorable writers that wrote a song for the brothers ("Saving My Kisses," 1959 on Del Phi) were Dick & Bob Sherman, who had discovered and written songs for Annette Funicello, and who later went on to write classics for Walt Disney such as "Chim Chim Cheree" and"It's A Small World." The two Shermans became important contacts in the lives of the brothers.
By 1960, the brothers had parted ways with Del Phi, and over the next few years had unsuccessful releases on Imperial, Pom Pom, and Warner Bros. During this era, the brothers wanted to see if they could get other artists to record Addrisi Brothers' material. Dick & Bob Sherman introduced them to Barry DeVorzon & Billy Sherman, Hollywood based music publishers. DeVorzon and Sherman also ran the Valiant Label, which had enjoyed recent chart activity with Shelby Flint ("Angel on My Shoulder") and Barry & the Tamerlanes ("I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight"), to name a few. "Valiant signed us as songwriters for $25 a week," recalls Addrisi.
The brothers affiliation with Valiant kicked their careers into gear. "While at Valiant, we wrote as a team with other writers such as Perry Botkin Jr. (later a famous arranger of many pop hits), Bodie Chandler, and Shelby Flint," adds Addrisi. In 1965 the Addrisi name became seriously acknowledged in the music industry when Charles Boyer recorded Don's song "Where Does Love Go" as a spoken word piece. "The song was originally nominated for a grammy in the spoken word category that year, but the nomination was withdrawn because there was some singing on the record," Addrisi reflects.
By 1966, Valiant desperately needed a hit. The brothers began to act as talent scouts for the label. "Valiant had an open audition at the Troubadour in Los Angeles for singing groups. Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones, later of the Monkees and before they even know each other, actually tried out for the label," explains Addrisi. However, the group that Valiant signed out of the audition was a harmony vocal act called The Association. That year, "Along Comes Mary" was released by the Association and hit the top 10. The brothers were fortunate enough to have their song "Don't Blame It On Me" included as the flip side of the Association's next single, "Cherish," that stayed at number one for three weeks in late 1966.
The Association connection reaped even greater success for the brothers when the group recorded the brothers' song "Never My Love" in 1967. States Addrisi, "initially, we cut the song for ourselves, but it did not turn out very well, so we gave the song to Bones Howe (the producer of Association) and he picked up on the intro bass lick which is key to the Association's hit version." Although the song never made it to number one (it peaked at #2 BB in 1967), there have been over 300 versions of the song recorded over the years, and groups such as the Fifth Dimension (#12 BB 1971) and Blue Swede (#7BB 1974) have had big hits with that song. In fact, in large part because of the success of that song and the Association, Warner Bros. bought Valiant and all its publishing rights in 1967. "Never My Love is now Warner Bros.'s most valuable copyright; it is still played over 1000 times a day on radio; it is the second most played song of all time, after only `Yesterday' by the Beatles," Addrisi informs.
Over the next couple of years while writing and recording for Warner Bros., the brothers tasted some sporadic success. One of their songs, "Time To Love" was used as the theme song for ABC television's fall network promotion in 1968. In 1970, they wrote and recorded the theme for the well received Warner Bros. television show "Nanny & Professor," which is still shown on re runs.
In the early 1970s, the brothers began to write for April Blackwood Music. While with April Blackwood, says Addrisi, "we wrote a song called `I Can Count On You' which was heard be the then head of Columbia Records, Clive Davis (now the head of Arista Records). Clive Davis signed us and released the single. However, the flip side, `We've Got To Get It On Again' (#25 BB 1972), began to receive massive airplay instead and that song became our first major record." About this time, Clive Davis left Columbia and took the brothers with him to Bell Records, where he became the head of that label. In 1973, while on Bell, the brothers released the gorgeous love song "Who Do I Think I Am" that sadly failed to chart. Soon thereafter, Bell evolved into Arista Records and all the existing acts on the Bell roster were dropped except for The Fifth Dimension, Barry Manilow and Ron Dante (the voice of the Archies that had recorded for Bell and produced Manilow in the 1970s). Their next stop was in 1975 at Private Stock Records, where they released the catchy single "Busted Bad," produced by Bones Howe. Also, in the mid 1970s, the brothers co produced with Joel Diamond the first album for a then young David Hasselhoff, who was a regular on the "The Young and the Restless" soap opera. The album sold well overseas, but not in the U.S.
As the 1970s progressed, the brothers wrote and recorded a song entitled "Slow Dancin' Don't Turn Me On." According to Addrisi, "the owner of Buddah Records happened to be at the studio where we recorded the song in Nashville, heard the song, and picked it up for release." That was a wise move for Buddah because not only was that song a top 20 hit (#20 BB 1977), but the subsequent album included the chart hits "Does She Do It Like She Dances" (#74 BB 1977) and "Never My Love" (#80 BB 1977). During this time frame, the brothers had a big hit when their song "I Believe You" was recorded by Dorothy Moore (#27 BB 1977) and the Carpenters (#68 BB 1978).
The Buddah situation dissolved and next the brothers signed with a brand new label, Scotti Bros. Scotti Bros. released what was to be the Addrisi Brothers last chart hit as a recording act. That song could have been a smash, but serendipity intervened. Addrisi elaborates: "Our song `Ghost Dancer' (#45 BB 1979) was produced by Freddy Perren who had produced Peaches & Herb and Gloria Gaynor. The song had a disco, Bee Gees, feel. It was really taking off right at the time that the disco backlash started, so it was stopped dead in its tracks."
For the next segment of their professional lives, the brothers began writing for the Filmways company. "In the late 1970s while at Filmways, we wrote a TV pilot called `Time for Living' about 2 songwriters that worked out of their car. Unfortunately, the show never became a series," states Addrisi.
The Addrisis' final commercial single was entitled "Red Eye Flight" and released on Elektra in the early 1980s. Addrisi elaborates: "we released that on our own label and began to receive airplay. Elektra purchased it from us and put it out." This single did not chart on the Top 100. After that, the brothers concentrated on composing TV themes. However, in 1984 the partnership suddenly ended when Don was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died that same year. (For Beach Boys fans, in 1980, Don wed Kimberly Christian, daughter of Roger Christian, the Los Angeles DJ from the 1960s that co penned many of the Beach Boys early Capitol recordings.)
Following the death of Don, "since I had good connections, I became an agent for composers; that lasted 1 1/2 years," says Addrisi. These days, along with writing motion picture and TV themes, Addrisi is his own talent scout and he showcases live acts in Los Angeles. In fact, one of his recent discoveries is an artist named Jordan Hill. "She sang at producer David Foster's kid's birthday party and Foster was so impressed he signed her to 143/Atlantic Records," pronounces Addrisi. (As of the date of this profile, Hill's song "For the Love of You" is on the Billboard charts.) Hill also recently worked with songwriter Austin Roberts, a 60s 70s underground pop icon. However, those sessions apparently did not produce anything that will be released.
Upon close inspection, the Addrisi brothers have managed to permeate pop music for nearly 40 years. Their talents will surely be recognized for many years to come.Copyright 1996, Ben McLane
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