LOU ADLER (by Colin Kilgour)

Born Dec 13, 1935 Los Angeles, CA
I have seen 1933 in Chicago, IL but the above is more often given

Lou Adler was a prominent pop music entrepreneur from the late 50's up until the mid-70's. He managed Jan and Dean in partnership with Herb Alpert. Lou Adler/Alpert/Sam Cooke are credited with writing 'Wonderful World' for Cooke and it became one of his all-time hits

Adler often wrote under the name Barbara Campbell. Sam Cooke's Only Sixteen is his composition and Alpert/Cooke are often also shown as co-writers on that teen anthem. For Dante and the Evergreens, Alpert and Adler produced a cover of the Hollywood Argyles' "Alley Oop"

Lou worked for Screen Gems (music publisher), Colpix and Dimension (labels). His name is associated with many well-known rock-and-roll acts, particularly those from the West Coast

Involved with Steve Barri and P. F. Sloan, these two songwriter/producers helped Adler to launch Dunhill Productions (later record label) '64. Lou used his street sensibilities and shrewd business acumen to turn his small label into a wildly successful enterprise. As well as overseeing hits on his own label, Adler also produced non-Dunhill acts such as Johnny Rivers and Jan and Dean

He sold Dunhill to ABC in 1966 for $3 million and became involved with the production of the Monterey Pop Festival. In 1967 Adler launched the hippie-ish Ode label (logo, a daffodil)

Backtracking a bit, Barry McGuire had had a #1 single with "Eve of Destruction. He was an old friend of the Mamas & Papas from the Village. He suggested they meet the head of his label, Dunhill, who was producing his sessions and had a real good ear (Lou then ran Dunhill with Jay Lasker & Bobby Roberts)

They went to meet Adler at Western Recording Studios in Hollywood. Lou was then married to Shelley Fabares, beach party actress with No. 1 hit 'Johnny Angel' '62, who had also played in three Elvis movies

BM described Adler as real tough, uneducated but streetwise Jewish kid from the hard-edged Boyle Heights Mexican sector District of East L.A.

Paradoxically, Phillips found Lou to be mild-mannered and cordial and he knew the Group from their previous work in The Journeymen, Big + Halifax Three. Adler asked the four to sing so they launched into California Dreamin' - then Monday, Monday and Lou was entranced.

In triple quick time, a recording deal was sewn up by Adler with the M & P on his Dunhill label .... although it has to be said at a not very good return for the Group

Notwithstanding this, there's a nice quote when Adler, dead keen to clinch the deal and not lose the team to another label, was told by Philips "Lou, what we want is a steady stream of money from your office to our house"

Adler wanted McGuire to do Dreamin' for his album with the M & P on backing vocals

This was agreed but Barry's lead just didn't sound right ... Denny Doherty was meant to sing that lead

The album McGuire recorded in late 1965, This Precious Time [Dunhill 50006], contains the original recorded version of "California Dreamin'" with McGuire singing lead and the Mamas and the Papas on background vocals

The tape for Barry McGuire's recording of "California Dreamin'" was used for the Mamas and the Papas hit version by dumping McGuire's voice and adding lead vocals by the group members instead. If you listen closely to the Mamas and Papas hit recording of the song, you can still hear McGuire's voice, not quite erased, singing "All the leaves are brown.." on one channel at the start of the song

Lou's girlfriend Jill Gibson replaced the sacked Michelle in the M & P in summer '66. Mitchie did get asked back eventually but things were never quite the same

For the 1967 Adler/Phillips organised Monterey pop Festival, it was Lou's idea to get a hard rocking London act which became The Who. Having sold his share of Dunhill, Lou asked Phillips to write a smash hit for his new label, Ode Records

John's old Journeymen buddy, Scott McKenzie was the first artist signed to Ode and he suggested a song about all the kids coming west for the festival. This of course became "If You're Going To San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)"

The song was written in about half an hour. Adler rushed Scott's recording out within days and it became a massive hit and the anthem of the Peace and Love generation

Mama Michelle (5 months pregnant) told hubbie John that she was in love with Adler. It's intriguing to ponder the extent of that but the child was John's, John was philandering and a Grade-A serious drughead and Michelle appears to have gotten it together with half of Californian manhood at one time or another

To promote McKenzie's newfound fame, he embarked on a widespread tour of promotional appearances with John for company (and inventor of ever wilder stunts, many with ladies of dubious repute)

Scott who became a hippie-idol in Europe recorded the Phillips written/produced 'Like An Old-Time Movie' as his follow-up single. For anyone interested, this was a very good composition/recording so McKenzie wasn't a one-trick pony. Bear in mind also that McKenzie & Phillips went on to co-write the number one hit Kokomo for the Beach Boys in the late 80's

Lou had wanted his man to follow 'San Francisco ...' on Ode with Phillips' 'Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon') .... what is it with these looonnnnngggg titles? but John wriggled out of this, bowing to his own label's pressure to follow 'Creeque Alley', so 'Canyon' was recorded and released by the M & P

Having sought it for so long, McKenzie (no extrovert he) wasn't comfortable with his stardom. Phillips told him at one time (re 'San Francisco') "You got the largest single in Columbia's history"

In hindsight, Monterey Pop is seen as a watershed event, breaking the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Who in America but at the time Adler had the foresight to film and record the concert when few thought it mattered. The film rights made him a wealthy man

Always associated with the West Coast, Adler's greatest success came with New York songwriter Carole King when the former Brill Building songstress signed a solo deal with the Ode label in 1970. A year later her Adler produced solo album Tapestry went through the roof and virtually started the singer-songwriter boom of the '70s

King had a number one hit with It's Too Late on Ode. Other hits followed produced by Adler incl. I Feel The Earth Move and So Far Away. King won four Grammys in 1971

After producing several more King albums, as well as overseeing the Monterey Pop releases, Adler involved himself with the movie industry. He brought England's Rocky Horror Picture Show to America in 1974 and took over the careers of offbeat humorists Cheech & Chong, releasing the soundtracks on Ode to great success

After the mid-70's Lou Adler became less involved in the music business but his contributions to rock and roll in the 50's, 60's and 70's were enormous

He remains a prominent figure for his contributions to West Coast rock, as well as his stellar producing credits. He diversified into the fields of children's entertainment and gospel music, no doubt still notching up the dollars ............



which links to>>>>>>>>> http://users.techline.com/dunhill/mamasandpapas/links.htm

with lotsa good readin'

Acknowledgments: Donald Clarke, Mike Callahan (re Dunhill)

Colin Kilgour
December 2003

These pages were originally published as "This Is My Story" in the
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