Sunday, March 13, 2011

John Davis Interview (Part 2)

I finished part 2 of my interview with disco legend John "The Monster" Davis today and I am so excited to post this! I want to thank John Davis again for being an all around great guy and for getting back to me so quickly!

5. How did you team up with guys like Bobby Eli, "Sugarbear" Foreman and Charles Collins and how did you meet the Sweethearts of Sigma, Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Yvette Benton?

Being in Philadelphia, one could not exist without acknowledging these musical giants in my back yard. The first time I worked with the "rhythm section" (Bobby Eli, Sugarbear and Charles Collins) was on "Be Thankful For What You Got" and it was so successful that we became not only colleagues, but good friends as well! I always was, and will always be thankful for the years we spent together.

After that, I recorded "I Just Can't Say Goodbye" with the Philly Devotions, and "Midnight Love Affair" with Carol Douglas. I believe this is where Harry Chipetz, the general manager of Sigma Sound Studio started calling me "Monster". We never knew how much fun I would have with that name.

The first time I worked with the Sweethearts was on Night and Day with the Monster Orchestra. I'll never forget how beautiful they were and the sound was like cream in my coffee. It was truly an honor to work with them. I also have to credit Tom Moulton for giving me such new perspectives on mixing and just plain listening. It was always a pleasure working with Tom.

6. What was the experience of getting signed to Sam Records and Columbia Records like?

Sam Weiss (the owner of Sam Records) and I had a great relationship. I always felt like a son with Sam. When we went to Columbia, it seemed to change things between us. It felt more serious and frankly, some of the fun went out of it for me. The idea of having a little more control over my product meant more to me than being with a big label like Columbia. Unfortunately, this happened in 1978 when things were starting to slow down, and I was feeling a bit lost at the new label.I really thought I had a smash with Love Magic, but we never got enough radio support to get it through the clubs and onto radio. It was a big disappointment for me. But then, I would have to say we sold more records than ever with CBS so I guess it was a double edged sword.

7. You had a creative frenzy from 1976 - 1981 releasing 5 records; Night & Day, Up Jumped The Devil, Aint That Enough For You, The Monster Orchestra Strikes Again! and a split called Hangin' Out with a band called La Pregunta in 1981. What was the experience like of producing, writing and promoting these albums?

Those years, from 1974 - 1984 were the most fun years of my life. When I signed with Sam Weiss it opened a path for me to be in total control of my product. Writing, arranging, playing and producing with the best musicians and singers in the world - who could ask for more? I remember everyday, getting up and looking forward with joy to the day ahead. I knew I would be doing what I love with the people I loved and respected the most. After the Night and Day album, Sam and I felt we should do something original so we wouldn't become predictable. This is where I got my first opportunity to "go crazy". He basically said to go where you want and get him a hit. The first thought I had was "Up Jumped The Devil". It became a huge dance hit and opened the door for The Monster Orchestra to become more original and innovative. That was the really fun part!

8. What led you to stop making records after 1981's Hangin' Out and switch to making music for shows like Dynasty and Beverly Hills 90210?

I'm not sure whether I stopped making records, or people stopped calling, but in 1980, I decided to take a trip to LA and visit my pal Bob Reno from Midland records. He had just moved there and asked me if I would like to try my hand at writing for TV shows. I just had twin daughters and felt I better make this move now, because the future of the record biz seemed to be getting shaky. I got there and met with Mark Snow, a composer of countless TV shows. He got me started by working with him on Hart to Hart. After that, I continued to work for Aaron Spelling for 20 years. I did TV show like Beverly Hill, 90210, Melrose Place, Dynasty, T.J. Hooker, Walker, Texas Ranger, Hotel and many, many others.

9. Do you have any musical plans for the future like releasing a greatest hits package or a new album?

I have no current plans for future projects, but I'm available! (LOL) As far as a greatest hits album, you would have to talk to Mike Weiss at Nervous Records. He controls the master tapes. I'm sure if there was enough interest, he would release one.