Producer Ross Tittelman – Billboard

Grammy Award winning product Ross Tittleman first meeting Mo Austin, the legendary CEO who ran Reprise and then Warner Records from 1960 to 1994, in the early 1960s when Titelman was still a teenager and recently signed to Screen Gems-Columbia Music as a songwriter. Eventually, Austin, who died on July 31 at the age of 95, and then A&R President Lenny Waronker, convinced Titelman to come to Warner Records, where he had been an in-house producer for 25 years, working with artists such as Randy NewmanAnd the Eric ClaptonAnd the Paul SimonAnd the James TaylorAnd the Steve WinwoodAnd the Chaka Khan And many more.

Teitelman, who won the Grammy for the overall record for Wynwood’s song “Higher Love” (1986) and again for Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” album, as well as for Clapton’s album of the year “Unplugged” (1992), spoke of painting About working with Austin during the glory days of Warner Bros.

I’m going to visit my friend, [producer] Jacques Nietzsche at Warner Bros. and he will encounter Mo. He invited me to go to lunch. We went to Chow’s Kosherama on Riverside Road. It was a delicious restaurant run by a Chinese couple so had Chinese food, smoked salmon, corned beef and fortune cakes.

He told me, “If you ever wanted to do anything in the field of recordings, the door is open here for you to do so. You are welcome to come here.” It might have been ’68 or ’69. I brought in a Little Fet – just lol [George] and Billy [Payne] – Lenny. Only two of them. They sang some songs. He didn’t even hear a sound [full] space saver. He said: Go upstairs and make a deal with Mo.

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I got really friendly with Randy [Newman] And he got suspended at his house. Through a chain of events, Lenny said, “Come and help me make this record,” which was Randy Newman’s live album from Bitter End, released in 1971. This live recording started selling and was gaining traction. Lenny took me to dinner and said, “Come on. That’s ridiculous. Come to the staff.” Mo guided me through the contract and made a fair contract for me.

Ross Tittleman and Steve Winwood

Karen Petersen / Courtesy of WMG

Lenny was my boss and he was the one who said let’s do the Newman recordings and Mo was very open and very generous. He had this philosophy that you hire people you think are good, have talent, and then you let them do what they do and they don’t get involved. [He thought,] “No record executive knows what’s going on, and the artists are the ones who know these things.” He had that philosophy. Steve Ross [whose Kinney Parking Company bought Warner Bros-Seven Arts in 1969] The same philosophy. A group of CEOs knew that talent was the thing.

Mo was a creative CEO and seemed to have no ego like some of the other CEOs. See where it came from: Sinatra, [Verve Records founder and former Ostin employer] Norman Granz, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. All those jazz greats. So he should have been able to navigate those waters as well.

When Eddie Rosenblatt was asked to become president of Geffen Records [in 1980], that means he left Warner Bros. As Head of Sales and Promotion. Mo has taken him on a trip to Europe as a gift since he left. He invited me and my wife Carol on that trip. We went to Switzerland. We went to Rome. Quincy [Jones] Join us on the journey. While we were in Rome, or Positano, Mo went to England and signed with Eric Clapton. Then he came back to us.

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Mo just had this existence. He signed with Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac. He never went to the studio. He just doesn’t want to be in the spotlight at all. People were drawn to him because he was straightforward and honest. And he knew what he was doing.

He was highly respected by everyone who came into contact with him. I think it’s partly due to not being bragged about. He didn’t find it important to put himself out there. His job was to do his job and stay out of the way.

He trusted you. Everyone who was in that company had that philosophy. I made a pair of clinker and spent a lot of money on some logs that did nothing. I registered with [an artist] This costs a lot of money. Nobody peep told me. He never tried to tell you what to do. I’ve stayed completely out of it.

He had great taste. He believed in them [artists]. It was Lenny Randy: These things didn’t sell out until a little later. [Ry] Cooder’s records didn’t sell much, but every other artist in the world thought these guys were the greatest.

The world has changed. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the studio system. I’ve worked with my favorite artists on Earth. The studio system that others and I sponsored [as in-house producers]Like Lenny and Teddy. [Templeman], no longer exists. There was competition, you know, but it was friendship. It was a friendly competition.

I learned from Mo to be true to who you are and to make music that you love. This is the legacy.

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Lenny said something about him: He said he was way ahead of everyone else. It was. He was just very smart. Maybe it was Lenny’s father figure. I guess maybe it was for all of us that way, you know? Just like, “The boss is going this way. Let’s go.”

As told by Melinda Newman

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