Artist: The Producers
Genre: Power Pop
In 1982, The Producers had a single that was climbing the Billboard charts, a couple of videos on regular rotation at MTV, and they co-headlined MTV's 2nd annual New Year's Rock and Roll Ball with Duran Duran and Flock of Seagulls.
In 2009, on his high school class reunion bio page, Wayne McNatt (aka Wayne Famous), one of the founding members of The Producers, listed next to occupation: Recording Artist /Taxi driver.
The surprising part is that he'd been driving that taxi for twenty years. Which means five years after he was on MTV, made a couple of appearances on the national charts, released two fantastic power pop albums, and toured with superstar acts, he was driving people to the airport.
Let's start from the beginning...
On New Year's Eve, 1979, after a bad gig with his previous band, Whiteface, Kyle Henderson went to see his friends' band Cartoon. It consisted of Bryan Holmes (drums), Van Temple (Guitar), Keith Christopher (bass) and Wayne Famous (Keyboards). Christopher had a bit too much to drink, so Kyle sat in for him. The new lineup caused a stir. Kyle had a record deal with Whiteface, but they already had one failed album on their resume’, and band members with over inflated egos. On New Years Day 1980, Kyle left Whiteface and joined Cartoon.
Whiteface’s manager, Hugh Rogers agreed to manage the new band, now called The Producers and landed them a record deal in six months.
In November 1980, The Producers recorded their self-titled debut album with Tom Werman in the producer's chair. The album is considered a power pop classic. The first single, "What She Does To Me," set the tone. It has a great hook, tight harmonies and guitars that Werman pushed way up front.
The single climbed to #61 on the Billboard Hot 100 and then stalled. Curiously, the record company, Portrait Records, decided to make videos for "What's He Got" and "Certain Kind of Girl," rather than the album's lead single. All three songs, plus "I Love Lucy" and "Boys Say When/Girls Say Why," make the album one of the genre's must-haves.
Over a 14 month period, they played 340 shows and quickly recorded a follow-up LP, You Make The Heat, with Tom Werman producing once again. The album featured another great single and early MTV staple, "She Sheila," which reached #48 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, but Portrait Records had already lost interest and the band was dropped before a third album could be recorded.
Tom Werman said the band's failure to make it was "...the biggest disappointment in my career. I thought they were a brilliant, brilliant band. I thought the two records we made were unbelievable. For one reason or another they just didn’t get out there. I was really unhappy about it. That is one of the reasons that I left CBS."
We all want our favorite artists to be pure and authentic. Well, nearly thirty years later and after being kicked around countless times, The Producers are back together, playing gigs and working on new material for an album that will be released in 2012. Enthusiasm is the only explanation. It doesn't get any more pure and authentic.
You can't stay away from the things you love. Unrequited, or not. As far music goes, I understand. She does the same to me.
(Jim Pace can usually be found directing music videos in and around NYC. He will begin production on his first feature film in 2013. He spends his spare time writing songs, screenplays and getting involved in anything that will give him an excuse to listen to more music.)