Who is Harry Spero and why should I care about him?
Let's go back to the mid 1970's where
As VP of Midland International Records , Harry developed the careers and had a slew of number 1 and gold records with John Travolta, Silver Convention, Carol Douglas, Melanie, Billy Vera and many others.
And the entire decade of the 1980's where
As VP of Advertising for Crazy Eddie, Harry wrote and produced thousands of TV and radio commercials that "drove people INSANE" as Crazy Eddie became one of the biggest brand names in the world.
And from 1990-1994 where:
As head of marketing of WFAN Radio, Harry helped to develop WFAN as the first all sports radio station in the country
And for the last 16 years:
As president of his own company, Spero Media, Harry has done the media planning and buying for the NY Mets, Miami Dolphins, Warner Brother Records, The WWE, The US Open, the Broadway musicals "A Chorus Line" and "The Color Purple", The BCS Championship Game, Gold Cup Soccer, the NBA
and many others.
And why should I care about any of this?
The year was 1971--Harry was with a date at a movie theater, watching the film "The Boyfriend". The actress/model Twiggy-who in the film, playing the understudy to a major stage star, was quickly thrown into the lead role---and in a pivotal scene had to cry. She was offered a large onion to elicit tears-but refused it. While watching, Harry thought to himself "No onion necessary, I've got it under control-the teardrops come down easy-they fill the sugar bowl." He then excused himself from his date-walked to the back of the theater and on a napkin, scribbled down the words he had just made up as well as two complete verses. What happened here came out of nowhere-he had written a song.
The next day-it happened again-a phrase appeared in Harry's mind, along with a melody-and then that phrase became a verse, and then came the chorus. All of a sudden, these "gifts" started coming to Harry several times a day. This was all happening while Harry was playing in a nightclub trio-52 weeks of Holiday Inns across the country. During the day he had a chance to harness his writing craft and after a short while had over fifty (alleged) credible songs.
So he left his band, made some demos and began to have meetings with music publishers in NYC-and on one cold day in January 1974 struck paydirt: he was brought aboard the publishing company of rock impresario Don Kirshner as a professional writer. About 5 months into this process, he was in the office of another publisher, playing his newest songs. This guy said "I like the songs-but I'm going to start my own record company Midland Records and I'd like you to come aboard and run it with me". So instead of writing songs professionally-Harry became a record executive-and then a few years later-- an advertising executive and then a marketing executive and then the president of his own ad agency.
But during this entire period of time, Harry kept writing songs including a co-write with his pal John Robie (who became one of the early hip hop pioneers) in 1981 called "Preppy Rap"- John and Harry were the first white rappers "Chatsworth and Burt". The records were distributed all over the northeast, and they appeared on TV shows and got all kinds of great publicity
In 1998 Harry had another revelation--he attended the CD release party of a friend. There were over 100 folks hanging on every word this fellow was singing. Harry thought "this guy looks great, he sings great, his band is great but his songs suck". And he continued: "I don't look that great, I don't sing that great, but my songs are pretty good." "What if I put together my own band and played ONE gig for all of my friends-just to show them what I've been hiding all these years." So after several months of practice, Harry's band Loaded played a SRO gig uptown on the west side of New York. Most of the people there were astonished that the band was really good and that the songs didn't suck and encouraged Loaded to continue playing ---so they did-around a dozen gigs a year for 8 years including many appearances at the Bitter End and many other clubs around the New York area. After one of Loaded's first few gigs, a pal came up to Harry and asked if the band would like to make a record for his label---and shortly thereafter Loaded had a nationally released CD "Trophy Wives" followed up several years later by a 2nd album "Old Rockers".
During this period, Harry had just landed a new client at his ad agency-Nationwide Computers and Electronics. As they were discussing advertising plans, the head guy at Nationwide said "the only thing missing is-we need a jingle". Harry got off the phone and immediately sang "Nationwide, America's store, computers, camcorders, TV's and more-service, selection, lowest prices for sure. Nationwide---America's store". He quickly wrote down the words, called his new client back and sang it to him over the phone. The client was astonished-and said how did you do that. Harry just said-don't ask. It's a gift. Without changing a word, or note-it was recorded within the week, and on the air shortly after. It was the first of several dozen commercial and sports themes Harry has written over the past 15 years-and not one of the clients ever asked for a revision-they all accepted his first draft-and that's what hit the air!
So here was Harry-- laying awake in bed last spring, on the cusp of his 60th birthday, with over 1000 songs in his catalogue ready for another project. Because Harry had been so busy developing his advertising business-he didn't have time for his band Loaded (they had been idle for almost 5 years). And he thought-"what if I did another CD-but this time I would put together all my friends who sing and play- it will be like a Harry Spero Supersession." So over the course of the summer and autumn, and winter, with the help of his producing partner, Jonathan Appell, and more than 25 of Harry's best friends they recorded The Tools of Ignorance---featuring 9 songs written in the past 10 years-plus the first song Harry ever wrote---No Onion Necessary. Give it a listen. Seriously-- Some of the songs
don't even suck.
The Tools of Ignorance by Harry Spero and his Fabulous Friends contains 10 great songs written by Harry, and performed by 25 of Harry's closest friends and singers including: Dean Friedman, who had a big hit with "Ariel" back in the late seventies, Dennis Diken from the Smithereens, Andy "Goat" Rosen, and all of the members from 'Loaded.' In Harry's words the CD "doesn't suck." Harry has a very interesting story and history. As a music business executive in the mid 1970's Harry developed the careers and had a slew of #1 records with John Travolta, Silver Convention, Carol Douglas, Melanie, Billy Vera. As VP of Advertising for Crazy Eddie in the 1980's, Harry wrote and produced thousands of TV and radio commercials that "drove people INSANE" as Crazy Eddie became one of the biggest brand names in the world. Then from 1990-1994, as head of marketing of WFAN Radio, Harry helped develop WFAN as the first all sports radio station in the country. For the last 16 years, as president of Spero Media, Harry has done the media planning and buying for the NY Mets, Miami Dolphins, Warner Brother Records, The WWE, The US Open, the Broadway musicals "A Chorus Line" and "The Color Purple", The BCS Championship Game, Gold Cup Soccer, the NBA and many others.
1 New ON this week: 26 Total Synd: UnderCurrents Markets include: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, Rochester NY Online: WGOE
Crossover Media Projects with: Harry Spero and His Fabulous Friends