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Hey Lee, ever read this book?

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Bart Van Hemelen

Jul 13, 2002, 7:29:16 PM7/13/02

"Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner
Music Group" by Stan Cornyn, Paul Scanlon

Hmmm, I wonder whether it mentions Prince...


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly:

When did the money become more important than the music? Cornyn, a
veteran of Warner Bros. Records from its birth in the late 1950s,
fondly recalls when it was about the music (and the dames and drunken
fun didn't hurt), a time before such terms as "units," "product,"
"industry" entered the vernacular. He's frank about the people and
circumstances that have forever changed the business. Also realistic,
he knows changes will continue (which is why he urges readers to turn
this into a "living book" by contributing their own observations
online). Having spent 34 years with the company in its many
incarnations, Cornyn could've chosen the route of raunchy expose, but
instead he delivers good gossip with high humor and class. He
describes the unknowns who stepped in and rescued Warner during down
times, like Bob Newhart with his comedy album in 1962, and later
Madonna. Snappy stories of artists itching to break contracts Sinatra
did so with "laryngitis," the Sex Pistols with urine, Jackson Browne
with tears. But even juicier, as the company history unfolds, are the
insider takes on the men (and the occasional women) behind the music,
the boardroom brawls, midnight calls, hush-hush deals, and talks with
Teamsters. Endearingly, he freeze-frames the grander moments, when
someone makes the perfect quip or sings a line just right. This music
narrative has all the elements drama, mystery, comedy, a course in
business (royalties, payola, severance pay), debauchery (Queen's
outrageous party in New Orleans) and history.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

If anyone knows the whole story of the Warner Music Group, which in
its heyday included the high-flying Atlantic, Elektra, and Reprise pop
labels, Cornyn does. He started working there in the '50s, stayed, and
prospered, writing liner notes before progressing to greater
responsibilities and winning more Grammys than the Singing Nun. Of
course, this book isn't as much about music as about the corporate
machinations anent packaging and merchandising music, so there is way
more of David Geffen and Mo Ostin than of Sinatra and Zappa in it. So
what? Sleazy business practices in the recording industry have made
fun reading before, and they still do. On the other hand, Cornyn
includes plenty on what the likes of James Taylor, Led Zeppelin, the
Dead, and the Stones are really like, so stargazers can't grouse too
much. Meanwhile, Cornyn's deposition will seem absolutely essential to
those who still would like to know why grown-ups consistently give
such ludicrously lucrative deals to adolescents with guitars. Mike

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

A creative executive at Warner Bros. Records for 30 years, Cornyn
presents a provocative, witty, and engrossing insider's story of that
label and the cutthroat machinations of the record industry. Beginning
with the takeover of Warner Bros. Pictures by the despicable Jack
Warner, he charts the rise of Warner Records in the late 1950s with
Mike Maitland, who first brought success to the label. He then moves
to the merger of Warner Bros. Records with Frank Sinatra's Reprise
label, its absorption of successful independents Atlantic and Elektra,
and the buyout of Warner by Steve Ross of Kinney National, who created
Warner Communications. Cornyn continues with Warner's assimilation of
Asylum Records, its merger with Time, and its eventual union with Ted
Turner's communications empire. Giving little emphasis to the artists
except as fleeting commodities, the author graphically reveals the
transition of Warner from a fledgling record company dedicated to
unearthing the newest music trends to a corporate conglomerate
obsessed with greater market share and escalating profits. Fans of
record mogul tell-alls will enjoy this. Highly recommended for popular
music collections. Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Book Description:

That's how Vanity Fair described the record business turmoil of the
1990s, which moved the Warner Music Group -- the world's number one
record company -- from the entertainment pages to the front pages.
Suddenly, decades of riotous fun and booming business went splat. Top
music executives got evicted from their offices, some escorted by
company guards. Why? The answers are in Exploding -- the most
insightful and delightful book about the record business ever
written.In the rock explosion of the Sixties and Seventies, Warner
Bros., Atlantic, and Elektra Records dominated the business as the
Warner Music Group. But by the Nineties, the success of WMG was shaken
by egos and corporate politics that left the company struggling for
identity in a dramatically changing industry. This is the story of
that long, strange trip.Your host is the ultimate insider: Stan
Cornyn, a key creative force behind the Warner Music Group's stunning
rise. During more than thirty years at the company, Cornyn went
through what the news media could never uncover. In a freewheeling,
vastly entertaining narrative, Cornyn takes us behind the scenes,
seats us in the conference rooms, and shows us the interactions
between the stars and the suits -- using the same irreverent wit that
produced the marketing campaigns that helped put Warner on the
map.Exploding is populated by music stars like Frank Sinatra, Ray
Charles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Lil' Kim, Dr. Dre, the Grateful
Dead, Queen, Madonna, Ice-T, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, Neil Young,
Alice Cooper, and dozens more, even the legendary supergroup Scorpio.
(Never heard of Scorpio? You'll find out why.) And it introduces you
to the most colorful businesspeople ever: hyperintense record sellers
who shave their heads; throw doves off a roof; send pig heads through
the mail; provide the money, meds, and mammaries -- anything -- to get
their records on the air. Here is the music business as you've never
seen it: at its wildest, in its wackiest fifty years, bursting with
hits and cash, until, by the end, it's just plain Exploding.


Bart Van Hemelen
Looking for answer? Why not try:
"Why me, Lord? Where have I gone wrong? I've always been nice to people.
I don't drink or dance or swear. I've even kept Kosher just to be on the safe
side. I've done everything the bible says, even the stuff that contradicts
the other stuff."
- Ned Flanders, The Simpsons, "Hurricane Neddy"

Bart Van Hemelen

Jul 13, 2002, 7:36:34 PM7/13/02
Upon close inspection, did Bart Van Hemelen
<> really say the following on the subject
of "Hey Lee, ever read this book?" in on Sun, 14 Jul
2002 01:29:16 +0200:

>"Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner
>Music Group" by Stan Cornyn, Paul Scanlon
>Hmmm, I wonder whether it mentions Prince...

Barney Hoskyns in MOJO, March 27, 2002 :


LET ME 'fess up. This is a book I would kill to have written.
It's a book I've been saying should be written for the last
ten years a book, a huge book, about possibly the hippest,
bravest, most nurturing record company rock'n'roll ever spawned. Now
Stan Cornyn, a Warners "insider's insider" if ever there was one, has
gone and done it with help from smart Rolling Stone vet Paul Scanlon.

"The really important factor was that we were a younger company than
Columbia," Cornyn said when I interviewed him in 1993. "We weren't
structured so tightly that we couldn't bend."

Bend Warner Brothers did or at least Warner Bros. and Reprise
Records,under the inspiring helmsmanship of sometime Sinatra
accountant Morris "Mo"Ostin and Boston disc-jock Joe Smith. For a
golden half-decade, roughly 1967-1972, Warner-Reprise was the ultimate
haven for the crème of the talent pouring out of (and into) the
canyons of Southern California. Between 'em, Mo'n'Joe bagged the
signatures of Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young,Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell, Ry
Cooder, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Frank Zappa, Little
Feat, Van Dyke Parks and on and on and on. Cornyn calls that "a spurt
of prescience heretofore unknown in the record business". Frankly,
it's hard to argue.

Warner-Reprise didn't do too badly either side of those halcyon five
years, of course: from the Everlys to REM, Ostin and Smith green-lit
signings that helped the WM Group shift gazillions of albums. But that
heady turn-of-the-decade stretch, full of bold impulses and daring
risks, is the guarantor of Warners' place in the history tomes.

It's also why Exploding is as much a lament a "They Don't Make 'Em
Like That Anymore" about record execs as it is a racy, fact-packed
narrative about company politicking. Like Cornyn, the Creative
Services ace who conjured up mad as for the emerging underground press
("Win a Dream Date With the Fugs", "the Pigpen Lookalike Contest"),
Mo'n'Joe 'n Lenny Waronker, and others like them cared deeply about
talent. And the talent,generally, cared about them.

Don't get me wrong: Stan's yarn is first'n'foremost about
players,workaholic Jews jockeying for position in worlds of fast deals
and loaded stock options. Stan, a token Burbank goy, is as besotted by
the greed and manoeuvring of the David Geffens and Bob Krasnows as he
is by the talent-rich rosters of Warner-Reprise, Atlantic, Elektra and
the other labels woven into the WM fold. Written in prose that's at
once manic and
jovial and with both eyes on a Vanity Fair serialisation Exploding
contains swathes of detail about money, sales, executive toilets and,
above all, who reported to whom. If you want to read about
Joni'n'James and all the other ladies'n'gents of the Canyon, you may
be better off elsewhere.

If, on the other hand, you dig sweeping accounts of musical empires,
and you loved Hit Men and The Mansion on the Hill, get your teeth into
Cornyn, whose sardonically honest take on the vanity, megalomania and
brilliance of the key dramatis personae from Ahmet Ertegun and Jac
Holzman to Steve Ross and Seymour Stein is never less than
entertaining and nearly always affectionate. ("There are the shrewd,"
he writes nicely, "and then there are the shrewder.")

Cornyn, retired for several years and living the sweet life in Santa
Barbara, says he still talks to people at Warners. "Stan, it's just
not like it was," they sigh to him. "Now it's just about money and
covering your [rear]."

Once 'pon a time, it was about money, covering your [rear] and making
astonishing music. Who's to say it couldn't still be?


Jul 13, 2002, 11:28:06 PM7/13/02
>"Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner
>Music Group" by Stan Cornyn, Paul Scanlon

The book has been on my want list.

The Hundred Song Album Project:
Online Diary, yada yada:


Jul 14, 2002, 3:09:11 AM7/14/02
From: Bart Van Hemelen

>"Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner
>Music Group" by Stan Cornyn, Paul Scanlon
>Hmmm, I wonder whether it mentions Prince...

i've read it--pretty good, not the best narrative/expose/autobiography of the
music biz i've ever read, but worthwhile.

prince is seldom mentioned. (for that matter, madonna is mentioned just a
little bit more). in fact, artists are surprisingly outside the scope of the
book. it's much more about VPs, A&R execs, and other label personnel.

it is quite funny in stretches.

"Idiot, Moron, and Imbecile are insults, but were once legit medical
classifications. Morons were adults with the mental ability of 9 year olds...
Imbeciles of 5 year olds... Idiots of 2 year olds. Flamers take note! Be more
specific." Alan S. Wales


Jul 14, 2002, 11:09:43 AM7/14/02
>"Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner
>Music Group" by Stan Cornyn, Paul Scanlon
>Hmmm, I wonder whether it mentions Prince...

it probalby does, got this onecomin' too form amazon i believe :)

"Seems to me that most people get along at a basic level. The exceptions seem
to be politicians, corporations and people on UseNet." -Gavin Smith

Jul 14, 2002, 4:41:09 PM7/14/02
> in fact, artists are surprisingly outside the scope of the
>book. it's much more about VPs, A&R execs, and other label personnel.

And that, my friends, is the mentality of the biz-artists are dispensable,
execs are forever.

The Upper Room with Joe Kelley

Jul 16, 2002, 7:04:07 PM7/16/02
You have to give Lee Harris great respect for pushing the creative buttons when
other s want to play safe.

Playing safe should only be reserved for sex and driving.

"Upper Room with Joe Kelley"
NOW 24 hours, 7 Days a week

"The Upper Room with Joe Kelley"
LIVE Monday 4-8 pm EST

Jul 17, 2002, 12:59:03 AM7/17/02
>You have to give Lee Harris great respect for pushing the creative buttons
>other s want to play safe.
>Playing safe should only be reserved for sex and driving.




Sep 25, 2023, 9:03:46 PM9/25/23
I have that book. Good book.
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