JACK KELLER SONGWRITER
Chapter Two - I Learned How To Be A Professional Songwriter
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Chapter Two - I Learned How To Be A Professional Songwriter
Chapter Three - I Met Neil Sedaka
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I learned how to be a professional songwriter from Noel Sherman,who along with his brother Joe had written hit songs for Perry Como (“Por Favor”) and Nat ‘King’ Cole, (“To The Ends Of The Earth”) , but due to a brotherly feud at the time, was looking for another melody writer to work with. George Paxton, who published “Just Between You and Me”, and also published Noel and Joe’s hits introduced me to Noel.

 
Noel taught me how to write songs for a living. He treated me like a little brother who needed to be shown what it took to be successful in the music business. I had to be at his apartment in Manhattan at exactly 3:00 PM everyday, and we would work until 6:00, and then I would have to leave and come back at exactly 9:00 to work until midnight. When we finished a song, Noel would type up the lyrics, and we would rehearse how to demonstrate it.
 
He took me by the hand up to Phil Kahl, who ran Morris Levy’s publishing company at Roulette Records. That’s where I met Wally Schuster, who was one of the best song pluggers that ever lived. After Phil gave his nodding approval, Wally took our songs and the next thing I knew we had a Perry Como record on the charts at #44 with “Beats There a Heart So True” and our other song “Three O’clock Thrill” was on the “B” side of  “When” by the Kalin Twins, which was #5 on the same chart. Back then there were two sides to every 45rpm, an “A” side and a “B” side, and you got paid the same for record sales.
(listen to the sound byte of the Perry Como record and see the Cashbox Disk of the Week review, and Top 75 Sales chart from Aug. 16, 1958 below)

Beats There A Heart So True? - Perry Como Recording

diskoftheweekcomo.jpg

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Over the next year and a half Noel and I got twenty three recordings, including artists like Nat Cole, Johnny Nash, The Four Lads, The Pony Tails, The Chordettes, The Four Aces, and Peggy Lee.

 

It's So Easy To Say - Johnny Nash

Fantastico - Peggy Lee

Who Do You Think You Are? - The Four Lads

Seven Minutes In Heaven - The Pony Tails

World In My Arms - Nat Cole

Saturday Swing Out - The Four Aces

Love Is A Two Way Street - The Chordettes

Frankie Avalon had two #1 hits with his first two releases in 1958. The songs were totally teen oriented (“Dee-Dee Dinah” and “Gingerbread”) and his voice had a nasally whine to it. I sat down and tried to write a follow up for him with my old English teacher from Lafayette High School, Joe Shapiro. Before I graduated in 1954 I approached him to write with me because he had written two big hits with Lou Stallman. (“The Treasure of Love” for Clyde McPhatter and “Round and Round” for Perry Como). He turned me down then, but this time he gave me a lyric to work on titled “I‘m Broke”. I sang on the demo and held my nose to get that nasally sound. You can hear the soundbyte below.

 

I'm Broke - original demo

I took the demo directly to Larry Taylor at Jimskip Music because he published Frankie’s other two hits. I couldn’t believe it when Larry called me and told me I had the next Frankie Avalon single. I couldn’t wait to hear it. Then, while driving around in my car, I hear the disc jockey say “Here is the new Frankie Avalon record”, and this is what I hear.

 

Venus - Frankie Avalon

I couldn’t believe my ears. He sounded like a young Frank Sinatra.”I’m Broke” turned out to be the “B” side of “Venus”, but at least we got paid for 1.3 million records sold on our first statement.

imbrokepicturesleeve.jpg

I'm Broke - Frankie Avalon

"Actually,My Music Is Much Better Then It  Sounds"