interview with Bobby Douglas
Bobby and thanks for taking time with this interview
you tell us about your musical background?
started classical piano lessons at the age of five. Stayed
with my teacher, Alex Chiappinelli, for 12 years. Went to
Arts High School in Newark N.J. the first Music and Art high
school in America and from there I spent some time learning
composition and music writing at Fairleigh Dickenson University,
and film scoring at N.Y.U.
to your work with Petrus what projects were you involved in?
was involved in a band called PLATINUM HOOK. We were on MOTOWN
under the management of the COMMODORES in the early 80's.
We released two albums for them and one for RCA. Things were
a little rough back then, but I was introduced to an Italian
record star by the name of LORREDANNA BERTE. She was a huge
star in Italy and I recorded and toured with her from "81"
and when did you first get in contact with Petrus and what
were your first impressions of the music that came from Little
saw Platinum Hook in a club in NYC and hired us to sing on
the REVANCHE project. I thought the tracks were GREAT! Davide's
bass sounds and Mauro's arrangements were outstanding. I had
never heard this kind of thing for dance music before. Very
is no doubt that Petrus was a highly controversial man. Some
even hated him and saw nothing good at all whereas others
had a more balanced contact with him. What are your feelings
and experiences of this dual persona both in his role as a
businessman but also and as a person?
tried never to mix business with personal relations. I saw
Fred treat others like nobodies, and with that "Dime a Dozen"
mentality. So I refused to cow-tow to that type of treatment
because I was from Newark, and I would bust his ass if need
be. I'm a pretty big guy and have always been a good size.
Fred also saw me doing something else that told him I didn't
need his money, which was the touring I was doing with Lorredana.
I also spoke fluent Italian so I could cuss him out if need
be in two languages. For some strange reason he had a respect
did sing on several albums of Change and BB&Q band but also
on less know productions like Revanche, Rudy, High Fashion
and Zinc. Do you have any favourites among them and how was
it to work with such great acts like Ike Floyd, Gordon Grody,
Luther Vandross etc.?
let me say that working with those fantastic singers changed
my life. They gave me a confidence and a inspiration that
I never knew existed for a musician. These guys and gals did
this work like they lived and breathed it everyday. The techniques
they displayed where phenomenal, which is why Fred used them
in the first place. My favorite stuff was all the Change material
and the Zinc tunes. Zinc was so ahead of it's time that I
knew it wasn't going to be well received because it was so
much better then the schlock that was playing on the radio
at the time. Not knowing what song was for what project was
a pain because you never knew if you would get the credit
for your work. But the checks kept coming so….
working method included writing and recording the music in
Italy with mainly Italian /writers musicians like Malavasi
and Romani (more Americans later on). Then the new and fresh
sound was finalized in NYC by adding skillful song and English
lyrics by local writers/vocalists and doing the final mix.
How aware were you about this process? Where you "only" a
"hired gun" or where you more involved?
new to the family of musicians and engineers working on the
material, I was mainly a hired gun. But I made friends with
the tech guys so I was allowed to sit in on a lot of the process.
Not in Italy, but here in New York. The creativity was crazy
on both the musical side and the engineering side. Mike Brauer
was just brilliant in his mixing techniques, so to be able
to sit in a corner and watch as some of this went on was just
a blessing. Later on I helped in the recording and playing
of some of the material while in Modena with Timmy Allen and
Kevin Robinson. I believe Allyson Williams and Crabb Robinson
where there too.
you have any clue on which album your singing efforts finally
were placed? Drummer Silverlight (and others) that Petrus
used a lot had no idea on which album their work was going
to end up until they heard the final product on the radio.
Was that your experience too?
that was a definite. It was a toss up of which project you'd
be working on at what time. Could be three different records
at once. You never knew…
you involved in others projects during the Petrus years?
the early stuff of little Macho,Revanche, and Rudy Trevisi.
Other then PLATINUM HOOK and LORREDANA, I was mostly a road
dog back in those days. I didn't get much studio or writing
work until "89" when I hooked up with KEITH SWEAT and wrote
a couple of tunes with him. After that some production work
and song writing began to work it's way into my career.
84-85 Petrus Empire was struggling to find new directions
and his production company faced some serious money trouble.
As far as I know you ended your relationship with Little macho
after participating on the brilliant partly Jam/Lewis produced
Change album "Change of heart" in 84. Did you simply find
other engagements or were there any other reasons?
work found me. Lillo Thomas, Freddy Jackson, Sister Sledge,
Will Downing, New Edition, Taylor Dayne, Chaka Khan, Randy
Crawford, 8 years at the Apollo Theatre with Ray Chew and
the Crew, and a lot of other session work and tours kept me
busy for the next 25 years, I'm grateful to say.
much troubled Petrus was tragically murdered in 86. What do
you know about his early death?
know that it was something waiting to happen. Because you
can't be that evil, to that many people, and not have your
Karma be effected. Making bad business loans and not paying
your bills can piss off a lot of the wrong people. That's
something that many other folks can answer better then me.
did your music career developed after Change, BB&Q band etc.?
I know that you where involved with such great acts like Melba
Moore, Keith Sweat and George Benson! It seems that you continued
to ride on a good wave?
got a little hectic with PLATINUM HOOK, and the business changed
over the years. We lost our manager, BENNY ASHBURN, to a heart
attack, and things just went south after that. So I was blessed
with the ability to be in the right place at the right time,
living in NY. Much of my ability to find work rested on the
relationships I'd made over the years, so that helped to keep
me going, plus a little talent didn't hurt.
are you doing today? Is music still as much around you as
before? Are you working on any thing special right now?
I mentioned earlier the next 25 years was filled with many
blessings. A couple of American Music Award nominations and
Grammy nominations and so forth, but the tours and recordings
were very gratifying, and many of the people who I met over
the years are friends to this day. My life has been good and
so now I'm trying to give back some of that experience by
teaching piano and theory to the kids at the JOSIE ROBERTS
SCHOOL of MUSIC sponsored by the BOYS CLUB OF NY in my spare
time. I'm working on a few independent projects with some
new comers that look promising…But you know what Hemingway
said."You talk about it, you loss it" So that's all I'll say
music industry and they way music was distributed back in
the 70s or 80s compared with the situation today was very
different. Today any one with a PC can download music both
legally and illegally, the CD format is loosing ground and
you can now have thousands of tracks on your iPod instead
of hundreds of vinyl records occupying your home space. What
are your thoughts about this?
was inevitable. You can't keep giving people one or two good
songs on a CD or Album and expect them to keep paying for
it. The record companies got lazy and greedy and figured they
were the only game in town. Well we see what happened with
that kind of thinking. People will buy what they like, but
if you shove crap down there throats eventually their gonna
throw it up. So that's what they did. Downloaded what they
liked and threw back the crap. Technology hasn't hurt the
record business, the record business hurt the record business.
Always looking for the next same thing. Playing it safe has
always kept crap on the radio. Only the innovative writers
and producers give birth to the next GREAT THING. Follow the
cycle of real hits and see what songs preceded those hits.
to be is like a magic gate between this world and spiritual
world beyond words and human understanding. What impact does
music have, not only you, but also your family and friends?
has heeled many a sad heart and brought a spiritual light
to the world that can never be replaced. That's why people
like Micheal Jackson will be missed so much because he was
a true light to the world. Words often fail me when trying
to explain what music does for the universe. All I can say
is thank God for it, because without it, Hell would have won
a long time ago……Peace…….Bobby D.
thanks to Mr Doglas for his open minded attitude through out
BY PATRIK ANDERSSON, OCTOBER 2009