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Sunday, May 19, 2013

EXCLUSIVE Q & A with BOB ESTY Part 2: From Munich to Key West

Young, mod Bob
Bob Esty is truly a legend in his own time. A producer, songwriter and arranger who worked with Casablanca Records from 1977 to 1980, he has collaborated alongside major divas like Donna Summer, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Martha Wash, Raquel Welch and many more. It is my sincerest pleasure to have spoken with Bob over the phone when he generously consented to give me the following, exclusive interview. I have divided it into parts for easier reader consumption and digestion because it is such a delicious treat. 

In Part 2, Mr E talks more about Donna Summer, Paul Jabara, Giorgio, Germany, Roberta Kelly, Soul Divas and much more!

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Bob, could you tell us more about going to Munich to work with Giorgio?

Bob Esty: Paul Jabara also came to Germany to spend a week in Munich. And we had a good time. Paul took me to a gay bar. It was Oktoberfest and I speak a little German. Paul didn't have a date and I saw a guy who was straight out of a Tom of Finland illustration! That kind of body. Honestly!

DJBB: [Laughs] Oh, wow!

BE: He wore a t-shirt with a rolled up sleeve over a pack of cigarettes. And he didn't speak any English....

DJBB: Even better!

BE: Later, he guided me through Oktoberfest. Paul was beside himself; not very happy.

Now, as far as my work there, in Munich, the orchestrations were done; the only thing left were the back-ups. Donna sang the lead vocal, one side a night in four nights, in Giorgio's Musicland studios in a building called the Arabella House. I had my keyboard there, in my hotel room,  so I could write and orchestrate.

At about 2 a.m. on the first night, I stepped into the studio and heard Donna's vocals for Once Upon a Time. Towards the end of the album, Donna sounded like a young girl. [Priceless Bob Esty impersonation of what that sounded like. We both laugh.] I thought: "What happened with her voice?"

I said to Giorgio Moroder, the next day: "I hope this was just a test." Giorgio said he thought the vocal was fine. "Two takes!" is all he said. And she didn't sing everything needed. We had to add more background vocals. By the time we finished the album and I heard the next three sides, Donna sounded like the Donna I knew from "Last Dance."

Donna, Giorgio
DJBB: So, it was really repaired in the mix?

BE: Yeah! Exactly! And Pete Bellotte came in to do a guitar overdub.

DJBB: Cool.

BE: Then Giorgio said to me, in his German/Italian accent, during the middle of Once Upon a Time: "Do you like gospel-disco?" I said, "What is that??" He replied, "Do you know 'Oh, Happy Day'?" I loved that song. I grew up with it! Giorgio said, "Oh, you have to meet Roberta Kelly because she wants to do gospel disco and you can be my co-producer." Roberta was born Catholic in L.A.! So, singing gospel was a stretch for her.  I did a guide vocal that Ms Kelly mimicked. I love soul! So, I impersonated Aretha Franklin and all the soul divas I love.

DJBB: Bob, your guide vocals are classic! You could put an album together of those, I swear!

You won a Platinum Award for "Take Me Home," a Gold Award for "The Main Event", Multi-Platinums for "The Very Best of Cher" and "A Night at Studio 54," a Clio for "Pumping Up." Where do you keep all your awards?

BE: They were stolen.

DJBB: [Gasps] Oh, no!

BE: A friend of mine produced a show called Sisterella, and it was produced by Michael Jackson and company. It was performed in Pasadena, I think in 1996. They wanted me to be the musical director of the German version. And, because I love Munich and music, I thought, "How can I not go?"

So, I was away for a month and 1/2. I rented out my place in the Valley, with a studio in the back, while I was gone. Ultimately five months in Germany and Austria. Meanwhile, the person in my house was like a bull in a china closet! He had a "guest" over my place who stole everything!

DJBB: Oh my God! How awful!

BE: Yeah, and I came back to being evicted because he hadn't forwarded the rent.

Thank God he left my posters! And that's when I moved down to Key West.

More to come in Part 3 of my interview with Bob Esty. You won't want to miss what he says about Martha Wash, Cher and Dusty Sprigfield!

Below, Roberta Kelly & "Oh, Happy Day" courtesy of Bob:

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