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An interview with Mic Murphy

By Patrik Andersson

Mic MurphyMic 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" in 1982.

But 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.

Here's Murphy's own story about those intriguing years!

Tell 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.

How and when did you meet Petrus and what kind of role did you play but also your thoughts about that role?

Mic Murphy from the obscure Flowchart album in 1983First 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….

What are your views about Petrus as a person/businessman?

He 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.

Information 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 to it?

I 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.

You've 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 way?

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 the Radio.

My deepest respect for your time!


A great thanks to Mic for his open minded attitude and informative answers!

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