David Geffen: The Making of a King
By now, everyone is familiar with the rise of David Geffen in the entertainment business; from the mailroom at William Morris to one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. In the 70s, I was flying high at WIXY in Cleveland and was friends with Jerry Greenberg at Atlantic who succeeded my advisor, since my early days in radio, Jerry Wexler. For years, I sought Jerry Wexler’s advice on every move I made in radio, since he knew most of the folks involved, and he gave me solid advice. I looked upon Jerry as a father figure, since my own father left the family when I was three years old. In those days, I spent time at Wexler’s homes in Long Island and Florida with him and his wife, Shirley. When Wexler stepped down as president of Atlantic Records, my friend Jerry Greenberg stepped in. I first met Greenberg when he was “president in training” and sitting next to Jerry at Atlantic. Soon, Asylum Records was founded by David Geffen at the suggestion of Ahmet Ertegun. Soon after Asylum was formed, I was asked by Greenburg to accompany Geffen to a radio-records convention in San Francisco and introduce him to folks. I was told by Greenberg that it was Geffen’s first convention. We met in Los Angeles. David was accompanied by an actress whose name was Janet Margolis. Once we arrived at the convention, David pretty much went on his own and had no trouble making the rounds. Fast forward a bit, and I was back in Los Angeles with Jerry Hall, an old friend and record promoter whom I’d known for years. He worked for The Daily Brothers distributorship in Houston. In Los Angeles, we contacted David Geffren and were invited to dinner and a visit to David’s house in the Hollywood Hills. David was renting the home from George Montgomery and Dinah Shore. David took pride in showing us a big dining room table and some other furniture that Montgomery had constructed. The view out the back was spectacular at night. We talked for quite a while, and it was getting late when Joni Mitchell showed up at David’s house quite upset. It seems that Jackson Browne had driven off in her Mercedes, and she was having a heart-to-heart talk with David. I was a bit embarrassed to be eavesdropping on the conversation, but it was going on in front of me as Jerry and I sat on the couch in the living room. Soon afterward, we left to go into Hollywood and our hotel. The next day, we went to David’s office to say goodbye and thank him for his hospitality. David was not there, but we were ushered into his “office.” The main thing I remember is it was full of bean bag chairs. If it had a desk, I do not remember it. The last time I spoke to David was late one night when I called him to play a tape of a Cleveland band I thought was good. Playing a tape on the phone was pretty stupid on my part, but sometimes our judgment is cloudy. David was nice enough to stay on the phone and pretend to be interested. My talent scout days were over. I had David’s home number and kept it in my address book, but my calls to his home late at night were a thing of the past. David did send me test pressings of some good music; The Eagles "Hotel California" for one. It was signed on a blank album cover by all The Eagles. Joe Walsh signed it and wrote, "I used to listen to you in Cleveland. Now, please listen to this." I have that framed in my office.