Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I really appreciate the information you provided explaining how songwriters and performers get paid for a hit recording. That is something I have often wondered about.

A related topic which also makes me curious involves contestants on shows like American Idol and America's Got Talent, and their song selection.

Since the nearly all of the singers are amateurs and have no experience in the business of music, they are not likely to know what can and can't be sung on TV. Their only concern is picking music that will impress the judges and woo the voters.

Surely there must be more to the story. Exactly what goes on behind the scenes in this regard?
—Jill Portman, Renton, Wash.

DEAR JILL: A lot, but as you suspect it's not handled by amateurs.

Some competitions require contestants to select tunes fitting a theme, such as hits of a specific decade, genre, or from a certain composer.

Within those parameters, they are urged to choose from about 200 “suggested” tunes, for which permission to perform is either already in hand or can quickly be obtained.

Should the contestant have their heart set on a song not already cleared by the show's producers, the staff will try their best to obtain the necessary performing and synchronization rights.

Though they may not always be successful, most copyright owners are delighted to cooperate since licensing is usually of paramount importance to their bottom line.

DEAR JERRY: Who is the unaccredited female singing with Prince on his 1991 hit, “Diamonds and Pearls”?

I just love her voice and want to know more about her.
—Karin, Grand Marais, Minn.

DEAR KARIN: Since “Diamonds and Pearls” clearly qualifies as a duet, the appropriate act would have been having her name right alongside Prince on the record label (Paisley Park 19083).

That not being the case, we will gladly introduce you to the mystery singer: Karin, say hello to Rosie Gaines.

This lady first joined Prince's New Power Generation in 1990, as a singer, songwriter, and keyboardist.

You know Rosie best for “Diamonds and Pearls,” a Top 3 hit in early 1992, but her accompaniment is found elsewhere on the “Diamonds and Pearls” album (Paisley Park 25379) as well as 1990's “Graffiti Bridge” (Paisley Park 27493).

In 1993, immediately after completing the Diamonds and Pearls tour, Rosie decided go solo. Still, she remained unknown in the USA, never managing to hit the charts here.

Most of her Rosie's recordings came out in the UK, where she found exactly the right marketplace for success.

DEAR JERRY: On all of the oldies stations, Neil Sedaka remains one of the most played artists, and deservedly so if you ask me.

Neil's distinctive voice and style is complimented by his being a terrific writer of songs, which leads to my question:

What are some of his songs that became hits for other people?
—Carmen Quinn, Carmi, Ind.

DEAR CARMI CARMEN: I'm glad you only asked for “some,” because the number of songs written or co-written by Neil exceeds 1,000. They have been recorded by a multitude of big name stars, including himself.

Connie Francis first turned Neil's tunes into gold. Both “Stupid Cupid” and “Fallin'” provided her with consecutive hits in 1958. Neil's own versions of both came out several months later on his self-titled, debut LP (RCA 2035).

Between “Stupid Cupid” and now, here are a just a few others (alphabetical by title): “Another Sleepless Night” (Jimmy Clanton); “Frankie” (Connie Francis); “Love Will Keep Us Together” (Captain & Tennille); “Puppet Man” (Fifth Dimension; Tom Jones); “Rainy Jane” (Davy Jones); “Ring Ring” (ABBA); “Since You've Been Gone” (Clyde McPhatter); “Solitaire” (Carpenters; Clay Aiken); “What Am I Gonna Do” (Jimmy Clanton); “Where the Boys Are” (Connie Francis); “Workin' on a Groovy Thing” (Patti Drew; Fifth Dimension); and “You Never Done It Like That” (Captain & Tennille).

IZ ZAT SO? In the mid-'40s, about 10 years before “Stupid Cupid” took flight, Neil Sedaka studied classical piano at the famed Juilliard School of Music. Sedaka was a natural at the keyboard, and while still in high school became known as one of the finest classical pianists in New York. This according to virtuoso pianist Artur Rubinstein, who knows a thing or two.

Though Neil's classical dreams gave way to what would become an amazingly successful Pop and Rock career, in 1996 he returned to his classical roots.

For this remarkable diversion, Sedaka composed 13 songs and synched them to timeless classics by Beethoven; Chopin; Rachmaninoff; Verdi; Puccini; Tchaikovsky; and others.

Titled “Classically Sedaka” (Rajon Music CDR-0782), this collection achieved Gold Record status.

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