Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009 Our thoughts and our prayers
and our grattitude are with you.
Moby Dick Records & "The Moby Dick Sound"
Dick Records was a small and proudly-independent record
label that lived and thrived in the heart of the Castro,
in San Francisco, California.
This Web site commemorates
the lives of so many men who contributed so much to the lasting
success of the record label they loved.
"The Moby Dick
Sound ", as it was called affectionately back
then, was the sound that was always all about you.
Mamber, Marketing Bill Motley,
The "Moby Dick Sound"
Craig Black, Sales
Frank Taramani, Publicity
Jerry Gillam, Graphic Design
Dennis Croteau, Promotion
Keith Mitchell, Mgr. Manufacturing
Larry Brennan, Chief Financial Officer
Larry Lustig, Executive Assistant
Michael Bailey, Artists & Repertoire
Richard Bonaiuto, Vice President Sales
Rob Cooper, U.S. Bookings
Russell Caldway, International
Steve Hassameier, Licensing
Will Smith, President / Executive Producer
Motley, Moby Dick's Main Man
Stan Morriss, General Manager
Victor Swedosh, Silent Partner
John Hedges, a.k.a. "Johnny Disco"
DICK RECORDS UK
Jeff Lepie, BTG
CRYSTAL AND THE TEAM
STEREO FUN INC.
Denver Smith, Arranger
(Horns and Strings)
Mike Guess, Arranger (Rhythm)
DONE IT WITHOUT THEM" GANG
Kirk, "House Doctor"
Dick Collier, Trocadero
Voice of Reason"
Joshua Hamler, Radio Edits
Marty Blecman, Megatone
Nick Giunta, "Fan-Dancer"
Robbie Leslie, D.J., "Studio
Roy Thode, D.J., "The
LABEL THAT INSPIRED US
Megatone Records, San Francisco
Marty Blecman & John
CLUB WE CALLED CHURCH
FOUNDATION WE BUILT ON
San Francisco Gay Community
Bay Area Reporter
May 27, 1982
MOBY DICK'S HIGH
by Allen White
Will Smith, President of Moby Dick Records
opens an early May edition of Billboard magazine. There
in the Dance/Disco Top 80 list is not one,
but two hit records released by Moby Dick. In
7th place and its third month on the chart
is Jump Shout by Lisa. In the 46 position
completing two months on the chart is (Won't
You) Dance With Me/Sooner or Later by Crystal & The
The records are but two of 16 recordings
which have been released by the recording company
located above "Statements" on Castro
Street. Their first album, The Boystown
Gang's Crusin' The Streets featuring remakes
of the Diana Ross hits "Remember Me" and "Ain't
No Mountain High Enough." achieved
hit status throughout the United States and
in many other countries in the world. The
record was re-released in April of 1981.
The feedback Moby Dick Records is receiving
is that it is a trend setting company. They
now receive over 300 pieces of promotional
articles a week which have appeared in one
or another publication. Smith notes that
they are, without question, a Gay recording
company. It wasn't necessarily planned
that way, it just evolved. Their name
did, in fact come from the bar of the same
name right around the corner. Their staff
is virtually all Gay.
Their success, and they are very successful,
is a result of what Smith calls a "Gay
sensitivity". "Our Castro
Street home," he says, " is
a place where we can pick up on the attitude
on the street and bring it inside." Smith
believes that Moby Dick Records is a product
of San Francisco's Gay community.
The man responsible for the sound of the product
is Bill Motley. He supervises many of
the arrangements and oversees the mix of the
records. The special mix of their recordings
has become recognized and acknowledged all
over the United States. The Los Angeles
DJ's voted the company the best record company
of 1981. In San Francisco there seems
to be a mutual love affair. Will Smith
gives tremendous credit for the company's success
to the local disc jockeys. It was San
Francisco D.J.'s who gave Moby Dick records
playing time and started them on their way.
Their most recent Boys Town Gang album, Disc
Charge, was premiered at Trocadero Transfer. The
record had its East Coast premiere at The Saint
in New York. Personally and professionally,
Will Smith said it was a dream come true to
be at The Saint, one of the most respected
and spectacular discos in the world and hear
two full hours of records by the company he
heads and have it topped off with the introduction
of their latest album.
Moby Dick is a direct contra-diction to the
statement that "disco is dead". Smith
maintains that dance music is here to stay
and will be accepted as long as it is well
produced. He says, "To be successful,
Moby Dick must, with consistency, put out a
product that meets the feeling of our listeners."
The staff at Moby Dick believe that people
want high energy on the dance floor. There
is a consensus of feeling at the company that
many people may, in fact, become frustrated
in bars where their music is played. The
reason is simply that many bars are not designed
for dancing. The records get play in
these bars but at Moby Dick there seems no
question the music is designed for dancing.
They seem to be on the right track because
if you are at Studio 54 or The Saint in New
York, The Probe or Studio One in Los Angeles
or dance clubs in such remote spots as Holland,
Belgium, Luxembourg, Hong Kong or the Philippines,
you're going to be hearing the music which
is produced by Moby Dick Records.
Elliman lifted everyone's spirits with her magical
voice. She's an amazing talent and she has carried lots
of record labels, including ours, with her all the way
to the top of the charts.
Yvonne was born on December
29, 1951 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She learned to play the piano
from her father. While she was in high school she sang in
a local group called "We Folk." and after her graduation in 1969,
Yvonne moved to London to begin her journey in the music
She was singing at the
Pheasantry folk club, located on Kings Road in Chelsea, where
songwriters Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice discovered her.
The duo offered her the role of Mary Magdalene in their new
rock opera, "Jesus Christ Superstar"; the role brought her
instant fame. When the recording evolved into a stage production
Elliman stayed with the part for four years. Eventually playing
the Magdalene character in the film version of "Jesus Christ
Superstar" as well, for which she won a Golden Globe award;
it also gave her a number 28 hit with "I Don't Know How to Love Him." The hit single became the title of her debut album,
which was released on Decca Records in 1972.
In 1974 Yvonne relocated
to New York for rehearsals of the Broadway production of "J.C.
Superstar." There she met Bill Oakes from Robert Stigwood's
office and they were married soon after. Later that year, Elliman
was at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida when Eric Clapton
was recording "461 Ocean Boulevard" for RSO Records. He asked
her to sing backing vocals on "I Shot The Sheriff," which
led to joining the heavyweight guitarist for his fabled comeback
Yvonne & Moby Dick
In 1982 we were in the
process of re-releasing remixes of previous hits for our
Gold Standard label when one of our editors, D.J. Rob Kimbel
brought us the finished "edited" version of "Love Pains." We
took it back to the studio, made a couple of corrections
before giving it a longer length (7:56). We released
it, made it commercially available and as a bonus, we put
the original 12" single version on the B-side. It worked.
The song shot to the top
of the club charts and the dance floors were packed, becoming
a bigger hit the second time around. Ironically the sales for the Moby Dick 12" single
surpassed sales of the original album. Moby Dick licensed
the 12" abroad and within three months of our initial licensing
of the 12" we were competing with our own Dutch & Canadian
Yvonne Elliman was at the
top of the charts in Asia, Europe, Mexico, & North America.
Moby Dick Records had succeeded in helping to reunite Yvonne
Elliman with her fans. Even today, Yvonne has a wide
following and her music is a favorite among DJs who still
sample her magical voice.
John Hedges and Barry Blum brought Jump Shout into our
Castro St. offices, it didn't take long for any of us to
figure out that they had just handed Moby Dick Records
a hit record. Jump Shout would become one of our biggest
all-time hits. It was Lisa's first Moby Dick releasse and
it didn't take long for her first hit to earn a permenant
spot at the top of the dance charts.
a few short months, everyone knew who Lisa was. I didn't
know Lisa's last name until just a few years ago when one
of her fans asked me, ...does she have a last name or is
she like Prince?"
said, "You know, I don't know - I'll find out." He
said, "That's okay, I like 'Lisa' better anyway."
Lisa was, as I said back then, a fire-cracker. She was petit,
full of life, had a great voice and she created a frenzie
that was as big as she was popular. It's 2007 and we're still
talking about Lisa and all the memories she brings us.
haven't mentioned Rocket to Your Heart, which is my own
personal Lisa all-time favorite. It's a great arrangement
and it's pure Lisa.
you want to see what I'm talking about, go to YouTube and
look for "Disco queen Lisa's 1984 music video for "Invisible."
most talented artist to appear on the Moby Dick label,
in my humble opinion, was Patrick Cowley, whose brilliant
synthesizer arrangements shine as brightly today
as they did back then. Although Patrick was responsible
for the arrangements on two of Moby Dick's hits,
his most notable work would happen at Megatone Records,
founded by Patrick and his long-time friend, Marty
Cowley was born in Buffalo in 1950, Patrick Cowley
spent most of his youth growing up in northern New
York and working in local rock bands. He studied at
the University of Buffalo, with a concentration in
English. In 1971, after a major relocation to San Francisco
College, Patrick began an intensive study of the synthesizer.
Shortly after his studies began, Cowley's work was
noticed by a local musician, Sylvester, who asked Cowley
to join him and his band in the studio. Cowley's synthesizer
innovations resulted in the album "Step II." The
album made way for the global recognition of Sylvester
and gained Patrick a job as a back-up tour musician
with the artist and his band. Slowly, Patrick's work
on the synthesizer became synonymous with Sylvester's
sound, and was important in creating hits like "You
Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," "Dance (Disco
Heat)," and "Can't Stop Dancing." Though
touring with a band kept him far from home, Cowley
remained close to the roots of the San Francisco club
scene. In 1980 Cowley found kinship with Marty Blecman,
a producer/keyboardist who had worked at Fantasy Records,
a predominately disco label that dabbled in rock and
jazz. The two formed their own label, Megatone Records,
in the summer of 1981. Patrick's first solo hit was
the single, "Menegry/I Wanna Take You Home," released
on Fusion Records, which hit the disco charts in late
October of the same year. In 1982, the first release
on Megatone was the single "Megatron Man" and
a full-length album of the same name. Cowley
found more success in the '80s with several chart-topping
hits. At the time he released "Megatron Man," he
also teamed up with the San Francisco singer Paul Parker.
Both wrote and produced the dance-oriented single "Right
on Target," which hit the disco charts at number
one. Patrick found even more chart topping success,
teaming up with Sylvester once again to produce the
single "Do You Wanna Funk" for Megatone.
In 1982 Patrick Cowley produced his final album, "Mind
Warp," for Megatone. In
his brief career 1980-1982 he not only produced the
items above, but also produced and worked with Loverde,
Jo-Lo (formerly known as The Patrick Cowley Singers),
Michelle, Moby Dick Records' Hot Posse, and did his
legendary remix of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." An
instrumental contributor to the history of the synthesizer
in dance music, Partick Cowley's influence carried
far beyond his late-'70s early-'80's prime Artists
including Pet Shop Boys and New Order consider Cowley
to be a major musical influence on their work. Cowley
explored uncharted territories of synthesizer sounds
and instrument programming, long before modern-day
music conveniences. His work with the band Sylvester
gained him fame and would allow Cowley to have his
own glory as a producer, writer, and musician.
- 1989 Top 200 Dance Hits " list. by
Moby Dick Records had been in business for only four
years, when it released its last record; the
label would earn its most
notable distinction, five years after closing its doors. In
Dick Records, along with
our friends at Megatone Records (also
headquartered in San Francisco),
were recognized for having more hits on the " 1979
- 1989 Top 200 " list than any other label.
THE DANCE CHARTS
Respond to AIDS
By RICHARD CORLISS
Jul. 27, 1987
has lost too many lives — the highest proportion
of any major U.S. city — in and out of the
arts. Moby Dick Records, an independent label with
several popular disco disks in the early '80s, folded
in 1984 after seven of its ten core employees died
Cover & Excerpt
Courtesy Time Inc.
we'll remember you,
DICK RECORDS 1981 - 1984
Dick Records 7" Radio Edits
HOT POSSE with
PATRICK COWLEY-AN AMERICAN DREAM (MEDLEY) 7"
GANG-CRUISIN' THE STREETS 7"
ON THE GROOVE 7"
AIRPORT OF LOVE
Moby Dick Records 12" & LP
AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH
/AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH
GANG-CRUISIN' THE STREETS (REMIX)
GANG-DISCO KICKS (RED VINYL)
THE NIGHT (ALBUM)
WOMAN IN ME
BY STEP (REMIX)
ON THE GROOVE (GOLD VINYL)
AIRPORT OF LOVE
HOT POSSE with
PATRICK COWLEY-AN AMERICAN DREAM (MEDLEY)
BTG-532 CAROL JIANI
- MERCY, THE WOMAN IN ME
BTG-732 LASERR - HIS NAME IS CHARLIE
BTG-632 PETER GRIFFIN - STEP BY STEP, DEVIL'S RECEPTION
LASER - LASER
Moby Dick Records 12" Gold
- HIT'N RUN LOVER - MDMIX
- UNDERWATER (never
WONDER - UP & DOWN (never
- UNLTIMATE WARLORD, WARLORDS PT2
- HOT LEATHER
Links to the AIDS Memorial Quilt
commitment to making The Quilt accessible extends to the web.
Our on-line Quilt image database contains images of more than
45,000 individual Quilt panels, searchable by either Quilt block
number or by the name as it appears on the panel. "
interested in learning more about Moby Dick Records and the artists
that appeared on our label or your favorite disco & dance
music artists or labels, you'll most definitely want to visit
this site because everybody's there.