7th Grade Teachers 1963-64 Huntington, New York? R.L. Simpson Junior High School? Raise your hands. Digging through some boxes in my parents’ basement, I unearthed this Polaroid photo album I had (for some reason) compiled of most of my 7th grade teachers. I went to Simpson from 1963 through 1965, a time when ‘junior high’ was 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. A time when we went from...
Click here for my other posts about MTV. I Want My MTV! Part 4 The “I Want My MTV!” story wouldn’t be complete without a look at Dire Straits’ music video “Money for Nothing.” Mark Knopfler originally wrote the song after seeing a store wall of television sets tuned to MTV. During recording Sting dropped into the recording session and added the melody of his...
The MTV 30th reunion in Mexico.
[Click here for my other posts about MTV.] MTV 30th Anniversary Party @ Bob Pittman’s house On August 1, 2011, Bob Pittman, the original programming boss, visionary, and yes, soul of MTV (and one of my mentors), generously threw the party of reunion parties for MTV’s 30th Anniversary at his compound in Mexico. (Yes, it was John Lack’s idea for WASEC to launch a 24 hour music...
John Lack interviewed for MTV's 30th.
John Lack was the first Chief Operating Officer of MTV Networks, and one of our great storytellers. In this interview for BBC’s Witness (“history as told by the people who were there”) John shares his memory of the MTV launch, 30 years later.
The Hanna-Barbera Pic-A-Nic Basket of Cartoon...
Click here for my full Hanna-Barbera index. Hanna-Barbera Pic-a-Nic Box Anyone who knows me is aware of my music habit, and close readers of this blog will pick up on my affection for cartoon music in particular. So it was extremely gratifying when my friend, Rhino Records founder Richard Foos, agreed to indulge me in the 1990’s with a (now out-of-print) four CD boxed set of...
I was roaming around some MTV stuff that was done by Fred/Alan, the branding and advertising agency Alan Goodman and I started in New York in 1983. It occurred to me that while our first blush of innovations happened right at the beginning of the decade, three years in Alan and I had already quit. But, it wasn’t the end of my story with MTV, by any means. We continued a direct relationship...
I WANT MY MTV! Part 3
Click here for my other posts about MTV. ‘I Want My MTV’ 1-4 1982-1983 from fredseibert on Vimeo. I WANT MY MTV! took the phenomenon that had taken over the imaginations of young America and supercharged it into a famous brand with just about everyone in the country. I just googled “I Want My MTV” and it popped up almost 4,760,000 results. Pretty amazing for an...
"What do you expect us to do with this piece of...
Click here for my other posts about MTV. “I Want My MTV!” from fredseibert on Vimeo. Before “I Want My MTV!” Part 1. I was torn. My mentor, Dale Pon, had suggested me for my job at MTV Networks (née Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company). He was the creator of distinctive, innovative, and successful campaigns for radio stations across the United States, was a...
Before "I Want My MTV!" Part 2
Click here for my other posts about MTV. Before “I Want My MTV!” Part 2 MTV had been on the air for six months and we’d fired the storied Ogilvy & Mather and hired Dale Pon’s LPG/Pon (a joint venture with George Lois) at my insistence. Now they were presenting their first trade campaign for advertisers and cable operators and my first big decision was being called...
My mentors: Lilliana & George Seibert
George & Lilliana Seibert at the Harbor Pharmacy, 1958 Most of the mentors I’ve written about have been work companions and no one I’ve worked with has had the same impact as George and Lilliana Seibert. It would have been their 60th anniversary today (George passed away in 2002) so it’s a great day to honor them. Yes, Lilliana and George are my parents. And yes, most...
Click here for all my posts about music and producing records. At 19 I was determined to become a record producer rather than a chemist (my plan since I was six). I’d played music since I was seven, The Beatles had infected me at 12, and the excitement of recorded music completely enveloped me by the time I was working at my college radio station. I was the only one to jump at the chance to...
A brief history of Oblivion Records.
Click here for more posts about music and producing records. In late 1971 my new friend Tom Pomposello and I decided to start a record company to record his music, and so I could become an instant record producer (it was easier than convincing some big company to let me do it). He was 21, married with a small child, and owned a local hippie record store in Huntington, New York. I was 19, single,...
All the Oblivion records.
My Oblivion Records partner Tom Pomposello and I were incredibly proud of our discography of releases. We were two young guys in the thrall of the world’s music explosion everywhere around us and we wanted to be part of it. (Just click on the covers and you’ll be able to play the complete collection.) Mississippi Fred McDowell Live in New York OD-1 (1972) Not only our first record,...
Honest Tom Pomposello: Your Candidate for Receiver...
Tom Pomposello was my great friend and partner. HONEST TOM POMPOSELLO YOUR CANDIDATE FOR RECEIVER OF TAXES Hi there! My name is Thomas (Honest Tom) Pomposello. I’d like to cordially inform all my friends that I am the Huntington Tea Party’s candidate for Receiver of Taxes in the 1971 local elections. If things are as they seem, this year promises to be one that will be full of...
Recording Cecil Taylor.
Click here for more of my posts about music and producing records. When I started out recording in the late 60s, my goal was to make hip and popular music. You know, like The Beatles. Since things rarely turn out the way one hopes, I spent most of my recording experience in jazz, particular avant-garde jazz. While it’s music that reminds many of heavy traffic mixed with fingernails on a...
You'll never look at music the same way again.
MTV: The Making of a Revolution, written by Tom McGrath By the mid-1990s, a teenager who’d had his mind blown by the music video visual feast was old enough to be a damn good writer and reporter, so Scranton’s Tom McGrath (now the Executive Editor of Philadephia Magazine) decided to literally write the book. MTV: The Making of a Revolution told the whole story (it’s sadly now...
My mentors: Nick Moy
Nick Moy, New York City, circa 1975 To call such a buddy a “mentor” might seem an overstatement (he’ll probably find it silly), but it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be in the career I have without Nick Moy. The son of two pharmacists, I entered school planning on a career as a chemist. Six weeks in I turned to my lab partner and said, “I like the Beatles...
My mentors: Ralph Ginzburg (?)
Click here to read this ad larger. It’s hard to call Ralph Ginzburg a mentor of mine. I’m not sure he talked to me more than once, and after a few months on the night shift at his magazine Moneysworth, he had me fired. But a mentor to me he indeed was. Without either of us knowing it, the path I started at Ralph’s would continue for 15 years. By the time I went to work for his...
MTV: Music Television, The Logo
Click here for my other posts about MTV. The “first MTV logo, designed by Manhattan Design The mutating MTV logo, 1981, designed by Manhattan Design, New York I was the first Creative Director of MTV: Music Television, joining the parent company (then called Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company) May 5, 1980. My boss, Bob Pittman asked me to oversee all of the original...
Ten years after: The MTV logo examined.
Click here for my other posts about MTV. “Over the Edge with MTV” It’s funny, but for all the influence the MTV graphics have had, not much has been written about them. Probably because we were all media people, rather than directly from the graphic design community, we never really worked the press on behalf of ourselves. But the Oscar winning animator Jon Canemaker is also...
The evolution of a famous logo.
Click here for my other posts about MTV. Jon Canemaker’s 1992 article on MTV’s graphic design included some of the original logo development I had forgotten about for 30 years, and it makes a nice companion to my first logo post. My creative partner Alan Goodman and I were interviewed, as was the Manhattan Design group that created the logo in the first place. Also, the teams put...
The MTV Network IDs.
Alan Goodman & Fred Seibert, MTV IDs 1981-83 from fredseibert on Vimeo. Here’s a compilation of the very first two years of MTV animated logos. From the minute I went to work for Bob Pittman (he was 25, I was 27) at the Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company in May of 1980, he told me about the company’s plan for a television channel that would be exclusively rock videos and how...
The very first MTV T-shirt.
Click here for my other posts about MTV. “You’ll never look at music the same way again.” Everything’s always hard at a start-up. Even T-shirts. Believe it or not, even at MTV. The first time doing everything is torture, and in an organization, it’s organizational torment. No matter who’s in charge of what, everyone wants a say in everything. After all, we...
More than 75,000 times.
Click here for my posts about MTV. This post is about two animated spots during MTV’s first year. One’s the most popular, the other was only played once, and not on television. “One Small Step” from fredseibert on Vimeo. There were very few “ideas” for spots I could claim as mine at MTV. Identifying talent and strategy were my strengths, and I felt from...
The first MTV bumper sticker.
Click here for my other posts about MTV. I came upon this photo on Flickr of the first MTV bumper sticker (part of a 1981 pre-launch promotional package that included a duffel bag, poster, buttons, and this) and a few trivia things about pricked by attention, completely aside from the fact that it was ‘the first.’ The first approved MTV logo design & colors • The logo: Like...
Click here for my posts about MTV. On May 5, 1980 I lucked into my first job in television —cable television— at Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company (WASEC). Within 30 days programming head Bob Pittman started putting together the team to launch ‘The Music Channel’ (the working name for what eventually became MTV) and had me add to my existing duties as the head...
My mentors: Michael Mantler
Click here for more posts about music and producing records. Photograph of Michael Mantler by Tod Papageorge, 1968 Another in my ongoing series of horrified-to-be-identified-as-my-“mentors:” Trumpeter and composer Michael Mantler. Mike was first hand proof that talent, planning, vision, drive, hard work, and sheer force of will could combine to accomplish dreams beyond...
My mentors: Joe Fields
Click here for more posts about music and producing records. Jazz recording entrepreneur Joe Fields I’ve been posting quite a few of the records I produced or engineered at the beginning of my career, and lately in particular, the Muse records. Which has gotten me thinking about the incredibly important role Muse founder Joe Fields didn’t mean to play in my work life. Somehow or...
"We look before you buy!"
A little known fact about MTV Networks (originally called Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company, a second little known fact) was that its original strategy called for the eventual launch of ten networks. They thought about games and sports, in addition to music, movies, and kids; their fourth one was to be shopping. As the company’s creative director, my team went to work in the...
"Mee, mee, me, meeee!"
More about MTV Networks Online The ME Tapes: Sonicnet.com campaign compilation, 2000 (from VHS) MTV got Sonicnet in the middle of another transaction they thought would be more important. But as the internet heated up in the business world’s consciousness, Sonicnet.com became something they thought to pay attention to. Which meant that, as president of MTV Networks Online, I was trying...
Into the new media. Again.
More about MTV Networks Online James Brown, Christina Acquilera, Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dwight Yoakam Sonicnet.com 17 from fredseibert on Vimeo. At the time, it seemed like a horrible mistake. And like mistakes sometimes can, it led to a new, uncharted, wonderful life. It was the beginning of the peaking of “the internet” 1.0, which, honestly, I wanted nothing to do with “the...
What are those crazy kids up to now?
I’ve been starting companies since I was a kid, some of them successes and many of them failures. (The first serious one was in 1970, the blues and jazz record label Oblivion Records with my great friend and partner Tom Pomposello [and, for a bit, Dick Pennington]; it was a classic creative success and business bust.) I’ve been through music recording, TV & film production,...
Not Fred Allen.
Alan Goodman & me. Photography by Elena Seibert, hand coloring by Candy Kugel, 1983 Alan Goodman and I met at WKCR-FM, our college radio station, in 1970; we’ve been the greatest of friends and collaborators ever since. We tagged team each other on personal work projects for the next 10 years, and Alan was the person I turned to for guidance the night I made the decision to turn away...
Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson.
Click here for more posts about music and producing records. Doesn’t his name say it all? Willis Jackson single handedly pulled me away from the avant garde and towards the soulful, bluesy expression of jazz that was popular in the African-American neighborhoods of mid-century America. He didn’t try to, he didn’t mean to, he didn’t want to, it was just that he was so damn good. ...
On the road with Carla Bley (and a big band of...
Click here for more posts about music and producing records. T-shirt sketches & designs by Frank Olinsky, 1978 I got a call in 1977 from trumpeter, composer, Carla Bley major domo Mike Mantler, asking whether I’d be interested in going on the road for the first tour of The Carla Bley Band as sound man and back-up tour manager. Mike single handedly ran the whole shebang, but one man...
Click here for more posts about music and producing records. When I thought I might make a living as a record producer I kept obsessive track of my sessions, hoping they’d add up to a career. When I morphed into a television producer, I forgot just about everything. I’ve tried to recreate my record life here, but I’ll update it as I remember more. (Just click the linkable...
The Hanna-Barbera Essays
Click here for my full Hanna-Barbera index. When I was made President of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons in 1992 the wolves came out of the woodwork. Insults started hurling in my direction immediately: “The animation is so crummy.” “They ruined the business.” “How come the same tree keeps showing up in the backgrounds?” What a crock! Huckleberry Hound and The Flintstones were two of my favorite...
"Limited Animation...Unlimited Imagination"
Click here for all 15 Hanna-Barbera essays. Or, click here for my full Hanna-Barbera index. Over the years, I’ve occasionally heard Hanna-Barbera criticized for “cheapening” the art of cartoons by inventing a technique for television called “limited animation”. Here’s the true story: When theatrical cartoons were on death’s door, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera single-handedly (or, rather,...
"Is There A Style In The House?"
Click here for all 15 Hanna-Barbera essays. Or, click here for my full Hanna-Barbera index. Among the many amazing accomplishments of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera is the fact that, in their late forties, after years of doing Tom & Jerry cartoons at MGM, they created a new studio with a distinct house style. The vivid Hanna-Barbera color palette, character designs, layout, background...
"Entering The Culture"
Click here for all 15 Hanna-Barbera essays. Or, click here for my full Hanna-Barbera index. The true test of popularity is when the catch phrase of a cartoon becomes part of the language. “Yabba-dabba-doo” is one good example, but others like Astro’s “Rats rall right Reorge,” and of course, Yogi’s “smarter than the average bear” have become...
"Name Three Composers Who Defined Cartoon Music"
Click here for all 15 Hanna-Barbera essays. Or, click here for my full Hanna-Barbera index. A trick question: NAME THREE COMPOSERS WHO DEFINED CARTOON MUSIC? (Hint: You can’t. There are only two.) Ask any reasonably well-informed movie buff who the major film composers are and you’re likely to get a pretty long list of names. You’ll hear Mancini, Williams, Barry, Goldsmith, Bernstein,...