interview with Mic Murphy
Murphy is perhaps best known for being the road manager of
funk band Kleeer during the late 70s and early 80s but foremost
as the co-founder of synth funk band "The System"
what's less known is that he also in his late teens worked
with JF Petrus between 1980 and 1983 as his co-runner of the
Little Macho publishing company in NYC.
Murphy's own story about those intriguing years!
us about you career before you worked with Little Macho. I
know that you were the key figure of The System but what other
projects were you involved in before or simultaneously with
your work with Petrus?
I originally met Freddi with Christian Carbaza
who were both coming out of Paris and Italy '79-80 making
sort that electro synth disco with live instrument overdubs.
"Peter Jacques Band" "Bionic whatever" etc. I think Christian
Carbaza was the first to come to NY and he started making
studio musician connections and getting a few deals with Mercury,
Polydor etc. I had a band "Jack Sass" Lala, Liz Chisholm,
Omar Hakim, Vic Vaughn, Richie Harrison and we played at an
uptown Manhattan club called "The Cellar" 96th and Amsterdam.
We would alternate weeks with bands like "Kinky Fox" which
had Timmy Allen on bass, Chieli Minucci, Bernard Davis, Vincent
Henry, Johnny Kemp was the singer, guitar player Mike Campbell
and one or two other bands. We were the hottest funk bands
in town and we would all sort of show up at each others shows
if we weren't on the road, in town clubs like Leviticus, or
out of town. We all were doing gigs in Tri state club circuit
New Jersey, Long Island, Rhode Island, Summer gigs in Cape
cod and Kinky Fox started doing gigs in Montreal. We were
all working a lot and starting to get some studio work (we
did a little stint as the back-up band for Grace Jones during
the Warm Leatherette period) and all of us had original material.
and when did you meet Petrus and what kind of role did you
play but also your thoughts about that role?
met Freddi at a Hotel lobby now the Hotel Soffitel with Carbaza
at that time they were having a International hit with Peter
Jacques Band and looking for a band to front this studio project.
They offered us a tour the money was ridiculously low and
we were doing a lot better in the tri state area plus promoting
our own Concerts so that was a no deal. At the same time I
was working as a road manager for the group Kleeer and beginning
to gain some inroads at Atlantic Records and doing some sessions
at their studio courtesy of Dennis King mastering engineer
and my mentor. Then he said they were working on an album
which ending up being the first Change record "Glow of love"
and invited Me and Lala to come sing and play in the studio.
They also enlisted Wayne Garfield and Tonya Willoughby (who
were also part of our NY clique of singers musicians and songwriters)
to write "NY Soul" style lyrics. We sang background on It's
Girls Affair, Lovers Holiday, Searching, Angel in my Pocket
and I played guitar on Holiday. The record started becoming
a hit in US and Freddi continued to call and ask my advise
about local musicians, who was hot, get me a meeting, he didn't
want to pay the prices studio musicians and singers like Luther
and Jocelyn were asking and wanted to mix and match the talents
of Malavasi (who was an amazing arranger (charts) keyboard
player/ trumpet player, I found out later that Freddi had
paid his way through Italian Conservatory and he was only
like 18 or 19 years old at the time) David Romani, Paolo Gianolio
Guitarist, with some of NYC finest Timmy Allen, Bernard Davis.
Chieli Minucci etc. He knew that I knew almost all the local
players and also had management skills so eventually he asked
if I would help run his NY office with Claude Ismael and Steve
Bogen came on later. I mean it was a great place cause Little
Macho was so hot at the time and I was learning and dealing
with Publishers, flying out to LA to meet with Capitol Records
(to deliver what would be the music for High Fashion) really
learning the inside game and the big picture. Petrus would
go out of town to Italy for a month and I'm like 17/18 at
the time and he had this brand new BMW 733i he would say Michael
drive the car while I'm away, its gotta start up couple times
a week. It was big….
are your views about Petrus as a person/businessman?
was a phenomenal businessman more like a Berry Gordy. He would
cut all these tracks at first in Italy and bring the tapes
along with Mauro and Davide who lived around the corner from
the office in a rented flat at the same time he had the NY
crew cutting demos at a 8 track studio in town "Northcott"
which eventually became the BBQ band and High Fashion (a name
I came up with) Kevin Robinson, Timmy Allen, Pee Wee Ford,
Debbie, but he started having a problem with paying musicians
and this became a problem with people showing up demanding
money and threatening.
that I got claims that Petrus was facing increasing financial
problems in 82, 83 and 84 that eventually led to the end of
Little Macho. What's your knowledge about it and the reasons
luckily was out by 1982 via The System. David Frank actually
met as a direct result of my work with Freddi. He called one
day and said "I'll pay you as an agent if you get me work
on the projects. I didn't but we eventually did an all night
session in a studio in Long Island that was our first hit
"In Times Of Passion" and I used my Atlantic connections to
secure a deal and from that single came the follow-up You're
In My System etc…. So I have to actually thank Freddi because
he taught me about Publishing and the importance of the copyrights
how to have several deals going at different labels at the
same time and with all due respect he always paid me well.
I was at one time on the Road managing Change and Kleeer and
moving equipment in a sudden rainstorm and at the time David
Frank was playing in Kleeer as a keyboard player. Everyone
started calling me over to the bus to tell me that the System
was on the radio. I finished out the two week tour and we
started work on our first Album.
been very active working with great acts during the years
like Prince, Angela Bofill and Omar among others. What are
your views about music and the possibilities for new artists
to reach an audience outside the clubs back then and today?
Haven't many keystones of musical "freedom" been lost on the
There is always great musical freedom and amazing creativity
and possibility look Outcast, Black Eyed Peas, Modest Mouse,
Kanye West, Franz Ferdinand, Maroon 5, Alicia Keys, TV on
deepest respect for your time!
BY PATRIK ANDERSSON, APRIL 2005
great thanks to Mic for his open minded attitude and informative