My longtime friend Munir (Alsagoff) in Singapore shared some music videos with me last week of another friend from the fairly old days: Vanessa Fernandez.
What stopped me in my tracks was seeing a very familiar name on one of them: Leland Sklar, one of my musical heroes and a bass guitarist who’s played with everyone who’s anybody. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Toto, Carole King, Phil Collins, and part of The Section with Russ Kunkel, Craig Doerge, and Danny Kortchmar.
It probably started with Chris Cornell: Slowing down an uptempo song and giving it a new twist just as he did with his amazing version of “Billie Jean”.
Michael Jackson and producer Quincy Jones had given the world a slice of slick, danceable pop aided by a hugely important music video during those early days of MTV which helped enormously in breaking a black artist into the mainstream consciousness when Sony Chairman at the time- Walter Yetnikoff, below, played hardball with the new music channel: Put “Billie Jean” on Heavy Rotation or else you don’t get any other video by Sony artists- Springsteen, Journey, Billy Joel, Cindi Lauper etc etc.