Meet Bob Wayne, of Rhino’s Best of LOUIE LOUIE and Big Daddy

Bob Wayne of Sunburst

This week, I’d like to introduce the world to someone that was closely involved with the 1983 Rhino record known as THE BEST OF LOUIE LOUIE, a release that was one of the catalysts, along with the KFJC radio marathon, that directly inspired behind this LOUIE LOUIE documentary project. It was the synergy of a little college radio station working closely together with an innovative then-new record label that created the event that brought me to Richard Berry, Jack Ely, and the amazing story that is LOUIE LOUIE.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Bob Wayne, owner & operator of Sunburst Recording!

Here’s an interview I did with him, conducted via email….

1.) How did you ever link up with Rhino Records?
I have a friend –Jim Terr – who met Richard Foos, co-founder of Rhino Records at a NAIRD convention about 32 years ago. (NAIRD was the National Association of Independent Record Distributors and is no longer in operation.)
I had just opened my first recording studio at the time (late 1970’s) and was about to relocate from my parents house to a garage in Weschester…a suburb of Los Angeles. As luck would have it, Richard was looking for a facility to finish up his current Rhino project “Circus Royale”.
I met Richard and we hit it off right away. He and his partner Harold Bronson were real record / music fans and were having success releasing vinyl such as Wildman Fisher out of the back of Rhino Records, a small retail record shop on Westwood Blvd. near UCLA.

2.) What was your first record with this label?
As mentioned above, it was “Circus Royale”, a follow-up album to “Rhino Royale”. Both albums were compilation of comedy/novelty recordings. I recorded and co-produced most of Circus Royale with Foos and Bronson.

3.) What type of recordings did you do with Rhino?
Mostly novelty Dr. Demento type material similar to the stuff that I had done before my work with Rhino … “Hamster Love”…a take off on “Muskrat Love” by The Captain and Tennille…was one of our most successful pre-Rhino songs and still gets Demento airplay! I think that my initial work with the label was because of this recording among others done for Dr. Demento.
After a few years, I formed the band Big Daddy which over the years has released five albums (four on Rhino). We also had a top 20 single in the UK… our version of Brucie’s “Dancing In the Dark”.

4.) How did the Best of LOUIE LOUIE record come together?
I got a call from Richard (Foos) in regard to the Best of Louie Louie (I also worked on the Best of La Bamba a few years later in 1988). They wanted to re- record Richard Berry’s version of the song because getting rights to the original master was too expensive. I also recorded and produced another cut from the Rhino Louie album by Les Dantz and His Orchestra with Big Daddy member Tom Lee singing the lead.

5.) When you recorded Richard Berry re-doing LOUIE LOUIE, what type of session was it?
I approached it in a similar way to the way I prefer to record to this day…..Full band rhythm section recorded live with a reference lead vocal. Then overdubs on lead and back up vocals, horns or other sweetening instruments.

6.) Was there a conscious effort to make it sound like the original Flip Records recording?
Yes absolutely! Foos wanted the tempo and instrumentation to be as close to the original as possible. We listened closely to the original flip version and copied the arrangement. We must have done a good job because, along with Richard Berry’s amazing vocal recreation of the original vocal, Max Feirtag accused us of using the original version when he heard the Best of Louie, Louie record!…but in fact our re-recording was the one used on the album.
….As a side note, one of Richard Berry’s teenage daughters sang back up vocals along with members of Big Daddy on the “Louie” track.

7.) Did you ever meet Max & Lillian Feirtag?
Yes I did….Just by coincidence, my parents were aquainted with the Feirtags through Bobbie Pargman (first cousin of Lillian Feirtag). I had met them on several social occasions many years before going into the music business.

8.) Was there any personal connection with the Flip Records empire?
Bobbie Pargman’s son Neil was a childhood friend of mine and he and his mom had been given the original Flip Records master tapes by Max and Lillian. This included all of the Richard Berry material on Flip. Neil had me archive them to digital tape and CD for safe keeping about 10 or 15 years ago…a very smart idea as analog tapes deteriorate with age.

9.) Besides Richard Berry’s version of LOUIE LOUIE, were there any other recordings on this Best of LOUIE that you participated in?
Yes…Les Dantz spoof on David Bowie…see above answer to question #4.

10.) What’s the story behind this Big Daddy band? Who was in this band, and how long did it last?
I’ll give you the short version here…for the long version go to the linear notes written by bandmate Marty Kaniger on “The Best of Big Daddy” which was released a few years ago (in 2000) on Oglio Records licensed through Rhino.
The short version goes as follows…Richard Foos and I were both fans of an album from the early 1970’s called “Take A Sad Song” by Godfrey Daniel. They took late 1960’s and early 70’s hits and turned them into styles from the 1950s…mostly R & B and Boogie Woogie.
We wanted to recreate this concept but expand the styles to include DoWop, Rock-a-billy, and 50’s pop music. We also wanted to have a back story to explain why the contemporary songs of that era would be done in 1950’s styles. The story that we settled on involved and 1950s band on a USO Tour of Southeast Asia being captured in Laos and held captive during the entire evolution of Rock & Roll.
When the band was finally freed by US Forces in 1982, we were given sheet music so we could learn the “new” music of the time. But we learned the songs without hearing the hit recordings…….the first Big Daddy Album…What Really Happened To The Band Of ’59? was the result.
The concept had a very long run – from 1982 until about three years after the release of “Big Daddy’s Sgt. Peppers” in 1992. It included five albums, a very elaborate live show that toured Australia once and Europe three times. There were also countless songs that were written and/or recorded for film, video, and compilation CD’s.

11.) What sort of projects are you doing at Sunburst Recording these days?
The studio is a full service audio facility that records all formats of audio for records, film, audio narration and books and audio archiving for educational institutions and private collectors.
We are currently recording three Jazz albums, archiving a vast collection of Aldous Huxley interviews, lectures & radio programs and involved in a number of film projects.
We have recorded three Firesign Theatre albums for Rhino, two Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) audio books box sets and many other noted artists such as Adam Sandler, Steve Allen, Micky Dolenz, Richie Havens, Plas Johnson (who played tenor sax solos on many Flip Records tracks), Fishbone and El Chicano.
We’ve also had our recordings in feature films such as “Swingers” and “Election”.

12.) What does the song LOUIE LOUIE mean to you?
Its one of the great party songs of all time…easy to learn and fun to play. It never fails to get a crowd into a party mood. Richard Berry’s version is hands down the best of them all!

You learn more about what Bob Wayne and his company Sunburst Recording by visiting his official website at:
http://www.sunburstrecording.com

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