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by David Ritz,Walter Yetnikoff
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  • Author:
    David Ritz,Walter Yetnikoff
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  • Publisher:
    Time Warner Books Uk (February 2005)
  • Pages:
    320 pages
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Yetnikoff's autobiography, Howling at the Moon, co-written with David Ritz, was published in 2004. He recounted in it how a Catholic priest, Monsignor Vincent E. Puma, had helped him recover from his addictions to alcohol and drugs.

Yetnikoff's autobiography, Howling at the Moon, co-written with David Ritz, was published in 2004. The Jewish Yetnikoff noted that he viewed Father Puma as a mentor: "It'd be easier for the Pope to convert to Islam than for me to turn Catholic, but that didn't stop me from hanging out with a priest who understood the need for redemption. Entertainment Weekly praised the book as candid and noted "few record-company heads.

In Howling at the Moon, Yetnikoff traces his journey as he climbed the corporate mountain, danced on its summit and crashed and burned. Walter Yetnikoff received his law degree from Columbia University in 1956, joined CBS Records Group in 1961 and quickly rose through the ranks.

Yetnikoff, head of CBS Records Group from the mid-'70s through the '80s, looks back on his addled joyride at the top of the American music . Confessions of a Music Mogul in an Age of Excess. by Walter Yetnikoff with David Ritz.

Yetnikoff, head of CBS Records Group from the mid-'70s through the '80s, looks back on his addled joyride at the top of the American music business.

We’re dedicated to reader privacy so we never track you.

In Howling at the Moon, Yetnikoff traces his journey as he climbed the corporate mountain, danced on its summit and crashed and burned

At the same time we witness Yetnikoff?s clashes with Barry Diller, David Geffen, Tommy Mottola, Allen Grubman and a host of others.

Yetnikoff was one of the biggest power players of his generation and presided over a music empire which could . Howling at the Moon - which he literally did when Sony bosses locked him in his Tokyo hotel room to keep him under control - is thoroughly readable but irredeemably flawed.

Yetnikoff was one of the biggest power players of his generation and presided over a music empire which could do no wrong. He came along as CBS was easing from the world of Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams into the rock era with Bob Dylan, Jackson, Springsteen, Barbra Streisand and Joel at the peak of their record-selling careers. He writes page after page of (often offensively humorous) conversational exchanges of which he could not possibly have any such specific recall.

Howling at the Moon book. At the same time we witness Yetnikoff's clashes with Barry Diller, David Geffen, Tommy Mottola, Allen Grubman and a host of others.

Walter Yetnikoff's confessional, Howling at the Moon, is an entertaining . Yet Yetnikoff's chutzpah shines through this book in all its grotesque and hilarious guises.

Walter Yetnikoff's confessional, Howling at the Moon, is an entertaining, high-grade gossip sheet from the heart of the music industry, says Caspar Llewellyn Smith. Ghosted fluently by veteran music writer David Ritz, also the author of the lyrics to 'Sexual Healing' by Marvin Gaye (another of Yetnikoff's acts), Howling at the Moon is a confessional in the style of Julia Phillips's Hollywood tale You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. It finishes with its protagonist humiliated by those who had studied at his feet or over a line in the boardroom lavatory.

Written by Walter Yetnikoff, David Ritz, narrated by Walter Yetnikoff. In Howling at the Moon, Yetnikoff traces his journey as he climbed the corporate mountain, danced on its summit, and crashed and burned. Reflecting on the sinister cycle that left his career in tatters and CBS flush with cash, Yetnikoff emerges with a hunger for redemption and a new reverence for his working-class Brooklyn roots.

During Walter Yetnikoff’s reign as president of CBS Records (later Sony Music), the music industry generated . In both categories, Yetnikoff became a huge hitter

During Walter Yetnikoff’s reign as president of CBS Records (later Sony Music), the music industry generated unprecedented profits, and commensurately large corporate egos. In both categories, Yetnikoff became a huge hitter.

The ultimate showbiz insider's expose, Howling at the Moon is the wildly entertaining and brilliantly narrated autobiography of Walter Yetnikoff, head of CBS Records during its heyday in the 1980s, and then the most powerful man in the music industry. Yetnikoff knew most of the stars and embraced all the excesses of this era: he was mentor to Streisand, father confessor to Michael Jackson, shared a mistress with Marvin Gaye and came to blows with Mick Jagger. He feuded with David Geffen and outmanoeuvred Rupert Murdoch. He was also addicted to cocaine and alcohol - until his doctor gave him just 3 months to live. Yetnikoff came from a working-class Jewish family from Brooklyn; he graduated from law school in the 1950s and proceeded to climb the corporate ladder to the very top. His high-flying ended in breakdown, but throughout his rise and fall, Yetnikoff remained a man of huge charisma and disarming charm. Howling at the Moon is written with David Ritz, the only 4-time winner of the Ralph J Gleason Music Book award, who has collaborated on the autobiographies of such stars as Ray Charles, BB King, Aretha Franklin and Etta James.

If you want a fascinating look inside the music business especially the CBS/Sony side of it, this book has it. Yetnikoff was completely insane in his personal life but a genius in guiding and maneuvering the music business. I read it because I wanted to hear his insights on MJ and his career but it is full of all the machinations that were swirling in the music world during the 80s. I learned a lot and I go back to it often to re-check and reference facts about the period. Plus, it's just a fun read. Yetnikoff was outrageous. In the end, he turns his life around which is a huge testsment to his character but, boy, what a ride!
I won't buy a book again however because the shipping cost more or as much as the book.
The book itself was in good condition and was ok. I didn't like that Walter still thought that he alone made the record business.
His greed is pretty typical for someone in his business. I did dog ear 3 or 4 pages in the book.
I pulled this off the shelf at the library because I thought it was about the Ramones, but then I saw that it was the autobiography of Walter Yetnikoff (!!!!!), one of the seriously huge music executives of the 1980s. Okay - pay attention.

The book is okay, and not as good as the biography of David Geffen, but it has its moments. Most of it is confession about drug abuse, with plenty of hinting at raunchy casting couch sessions. He gets into the business, he meets Clive Davis, he skips over the period of 1962 to 1967 when rock was born (or, at least, when it was commercialized). The first act of significance that he mentions is Janis Joplin. He glosses over significant periods, such as Janis' death (he mainly only stops to note that she sold more in death than in life). He screams, he yells, he's a boor, he cares about people, his sarcasm and sense or irony is intact. He also has a magnificent roster of the top-selling icons of all time on his rolodex: James Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Meatloaf, the Rolling Stones (eventually), Paul Simon (ooops... falling out), Bob Dylan, Boston (!!!), Men At Work, Billy Joel, Cindy Lauper, Paul McCartney (not really... almost...) and Marvin Gaye. Oh yeah, and also this guy called Bruce Springsteen. And another solo artist, some kid... Michael Jackson. Ever heard of him? Imagine that - having the hottest acts of the 1980s, minus Madonna, under your wing. Wow!

"No single record changed the business - and my life - as powerfully as Michael Jackson's Thriller. Springsteen's Born In The USA, Joel's An Innocent Man, Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual, Men At Work' Business As Usual, Boston's Boston - all huge career-defining records. But as a sales phenomenon, Thriller eclipsed them all. At one point the damn thing was selling a million copies a week. I'd never seen such figures. Michael had once again reinvented himself, only this time as the third prong of pop's Holy Trilogy - now it was Elvis, the Beatles and Michael Jackson."

Not many people can write about what that sort of thing feels like, but Velvel is one of them.

But besides skipping over huge areas, the book is very funny, and talks about drugs in an especially frank manner.

"The sexual side of our relationship was especially steamy. That's because it was based on a menage a trios - Boom Boom, me and cocaine. How does an egomaniac become more maniacal? Give him coke. How does self-absorption, self-obsession, self-aggrandizement take on deeper dimensions? Try coke. I tried it, liked it and made it part of my acting-out operation."

Yetnikoff's funniest story is about Bob Dylan, and it's one for the record books:

"Sitting next to Bob and his mother, I was astonished by their dialogue. The mysterious poet suddenly turned into little Bobby Zimmerman."
"You're not eating, Bobby," said Mom as his girlfriend, Carol, was cutting up his food as though he were an infant."
"Please, Ma. You're embarrassing me."
"I saw you ate nothing for lunch. You're skin and bones."
"I'm eating, Ma, I'm eating"
"And have you thanked Mr Yenikoff for this lovely dinner?"
"Thank you, Walter."
"You're mumbling, Bobby. I don't think Mr Yetnikoff heard you"
"He heard me," Dylan said sarcastically."
"Bobby, be nice."
"Does your son always give you this much trouble?" I asked."
"Bobby? God forbid. Bobby gives me such naches. He's a good boy, a regular mensch. He calls, he writes, he listens to his mother. Every mother should have such a son."
"Stop, Ma," said Bob. "You're embarrassing me."
"You should be embarrassed," I said to Dylan. "You're a fraud."
"He looked at me quizzically. I explained, "Aren't you the guy who wore, `Come mothers and fathers throughout the land / And don't criticize what you can't understand / Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command... the times they are a-changin'...'? So why are you whining to your mother?"
"I wrote that a long time ago. Is it okay with you if I love my mother?"
"That's wonderful. I understand you've done the definitive version of `My Yiddische Momma.'"
"He smiled."

The book ends with his downfall - kicked out of Sony, a failed Miles Davis biopic under his belt, a failed Velvel Records project, he goes back to counseling drunks and addicts in Patterson in New Jersey. Full circle. Great story.

His final words are parting shots at the industry:

"When I get back home, the phone's ringing. It's a big-shot Washington, DC, lawyer considering suing the major labels for defrauding artists. He wants to sign me up as a consigliere for his case. "This gets me excited.
""You know more about questionable accounting principles than anyone," he says.
""I know that artists are greedy and the labels are less than straightforward. If you ask me who's wose, I'll have to think about it."
""What overall philospophy drives the companies?"
""Pay the artist as little as you can. Tie up the artist for as long as you can. Recoup as often as you can."
""What are the most egregious ways that the companies can cheat?"
""I'm not sure `cheat' is the right word. But I am sure, at least in my day, that royalties were never paid on 100 percent sales. You paid on 85 percent and called the other 15 percent breakage - even bought the breakage applied to shellac records from the forties and fifties. What's more, you pay artists half royalties on their overseas sales. You say that's due to the cost of setting up your subsidiaries. Even when those costs have diminished, though, you keep paying the lower rate. On foreign sales, the company benefits from a tax credit on the artists' royalties. The royalties have nothing to do with the company, but the company pays less taxes. Meanwhile, the artist doesn't even know it's happening. You charge at least half of the video costs to the artists. You charge the artist the coast of packaging. That could be 10 percent - or one dollar on the wholesale ten-dollar price of a CD - when actual packaging costs might be a quarter. It goes on and on. Or at least it did in the music world of the seventies and eighties."
""And the artists' lawyers never objected?"
""In the age of excess, the artists' lawyers were as greedy as the artists and the labels. The artists' lawyers were going for huge advances for their clients and themselves. They didn't give a doo-doo about the small print. It a was all about the big bucks."
""So it was corrupt."
""Morally maybe. But legally it was written out in documents no one bothered to read."
""But what about the big point - isn't it true that when the company goes in the black with a CD, even when massive sales wipe out costs, even then the artist's statement can still show red - or a lot less black than it should?"
""There are ways to pump up those costs on paper so that royalties are delayed or even permanently denied."
""And you're willing to testify to those ways in a court of law?"
""I'm not willing to do anything but get off the pone with you and try to regain my goddamn peace of mind."
""Can I call you again?"
""Let me call you."

Earlier on he explained that the record labels gave half royalties on CDs, citing the cost of producing the CDs themselves, long after the cost of producing CDs dropped. I'm not sure what ever became of that conversation... but it sure is interesting that it's in the book. Ah, but then again he's a lawyer... he probably knows what he can say and can't say.

Great book!
Very Old Chap
This is a fascinating book. If you are interested in learning more on the characters of the A List celebrities, including Mick Jagger & Michael Jackson to name but a few, then buy this book. Walter Yetnikoff does not come across as a nice guy, but he does come across honestly. Beware, there are a few fairly explicit details in this book, & if you are comfortable with reading such details, then I recommend this book. This is real fast lane stuff !