NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 37

bd: Yeah. jh: There’s an image: Betty Davis at 20 years old on the turntables! That must have been a sight to see! bd: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. jh: What was the time frame when the club was open? bd: I don’t deal with time periods. I’m very bad with that. jh: But this was prior to your records? bd: Well, I had done a record called Get Ready for Betty. Don Costa produced it. He was a friend of my attorney at the time. That’s how I got to know him. jh: That must have been a pretty big break as a writer for you? bd: Yeah, that was good for me to do that. jh: Did writing for the Commodores come out of that? bd: No, the Commodores was later on. I couldn’t work out a deal with Motown. They wouldn’t give me my money. They wanted all of my publishing. So, my attorney couldn’t work anything out with them… That’s why they didn’t do any of my songs [on record]. I wrote up a whole album for them practically. jh: But some of those songs made it on to your own records eventually, right? jh: It was a little bit more straight ahead than the records that came after it? bd: Yeah, practically all those songs on my first album. bd: Yeah, it was very straight compared to my other songs. “You Live, You Love and You Learn.” I recorded that, but this was after The Cellar. (That was the name of my club.) jh: Oh, see that’s funkier than anything the Commodores ever did, you know that?! jh: Did meeting and writing for the Chambers Brothers come out of your connections at The Cellar? [You can hear her smile…] BRN-FALL-2013.indb 35 bd: Um-hmm. bd: If I had continued to work with them, they would have been really funky. jh: Their loss. It’s interesting to see how artists change and grow, and one of the things that’s fascinating about your music is there is this snapshot. I mean, we’ve got these four records, in what? A four-year span, essentially. Whereas you have bands like the Commodores that started out mildly funky and then Lionel Richie moved into whatever he was doing in the 80s and now he’s got this adult contemporary status. So, it’s interesting to see an artist change over time. We got a taste of all these different sounds on your records but in a very short time frame. That being said, even in those few records there is a great deal of evolution. Are there things, musically, that you feel you haven’t explored or would still like to explore? bd: [She’s quiet for a moment, then she laughs…] There are a few things… There’s a song I wrote called “A Little Bit Hot Tonight.” That’s one of the songs I’d like to record. I wrote it with a Japanese musician named Chimoto Suru. This was a while ago. jh: So are you still writing with other artists, not just on your own? bd: Yeah. jh: Because this last record, Is It Love or Desire was recorded in 1976, one thing we never saw was a Betty Davis disco record. bd: No, I don’t record disco. [Laughs] BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE jh: You were the DJ there, right? bd: No, they were playing at a club in New York called the Electric Circus. I went to hear them and they were terrific, so I said, “I’ve got a song for these guys.” I spoke to a couple of the brothers and told them I had a song for them. Dave Rubinson, who used to produce the Pointer Sisters, was producing the Chambers Brothers. I did the song [“Uptown to Harlem”] for them at the Electric Circus and they told Dave about me. 35 bd: Well, I found an investor, and I knew a lot of girls… I used to go to the beach all the time, so I knew a lot of people. And, uh, so we didn’t have to go through a lot of licenses and stuff. It was a private club. You had to be a member to come. Lou Alcindor [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] used to come to my club all the time. I had girls there that worked and danced. 9/13/13 12:48 AM