×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

You Gotta Be Bad Before You Can Be Good

The late Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Cliffie Stone was a pillar of the Los Angeles music community for decades, racking up producing credits on thousands of local television and radio shows, introducing stars like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Lefty Frizzell to Southern California music fans. He was an A&R pro and publishing chief for Capitol Records from the mid-'40s to the mid-'70s, fostering talent and fine-tuning hits during the glory days of Capitol producer Ken Nelson.

The late Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Cliffie Stone was a pillar of the Los Angeles music community for decades, racking up producing credits on thousands of local television and radio shows, introducing stars like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Lefty Frizzell to Southern California music fans. He was an A&R pro and publishing chief for Capitol Records from the mid-’40s to the mid-’70s, fostering talent and fine-tuning hits during the glory days of Capitol producer Ken Nelson.

Along with his prior how-to tome, “Everything You Wanted to Know About Songwriting but Didn’t Know Who to Ask,” “You Gotta Be Bad Before You Can Be Good” is long on feel-good homilies and personal anecdotes, and padded with recitations of credits and accomplishments of stars who have “made it.” Drill down to the substance of “Gotta,” however, and there are practical tips and colorful insights for both the would-be performer and the serious country music history buff.

Stone was a real hands-on music exec, which was part and parcel of the looser, more free-wheeling times before corporate decisionmaking replaced seat-of-the-pants entrepreneurship. Since Stone was a musician and songwriter of note himself, playing in the dives, beerjoints, honky-tonks and roaring nightclubs of post-WWII Southern California, his advice on breaking into the music business via talent shows is based on decades of first-hand experience. He advises wannabes to include a rigorous checklist of do’s and don’ts that would only come from a keen observer of the talent show scene, and covers everything from schmoozing with the sound man to spending prep time checking out the nightclub or venue, the stage, the management, the competition, the emcee — in other words, the works.

Unlike many books on the subject, Stone doesn’t pull punches. He’s a true believer in self-confidence and much of “Gotta” does fall (sometimes painfully) into a Dale Carnegie “believe in the dream” relentless pep talk, but his genuine enthusiasm for music and show business is solidly balanced by hard-nosed economics and tough love. He’s bracingly clear on the costs of self-producing CDs, mounting a publicity campaign and managing a career, cautioning both aspiring stars and potential backers on the financial risks involved in the biz.

One of the California music scene’s best-loved figures during his long stint in the country trenches, Stone’s enduring passion, good humor and common sense makes “Gotta” a keeper.

More Reviews

  • Steve Bannon appears in The Brink

    Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in 'The Brink'

    Stephen K. Bannon drinks Kombucha (who knew?), the fermented tea beverage for health fanatics that tastes like…well, if they ever invented a soft drink called Germs, that’s what Kombucha tastes like. In “The Brink,” Alison Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary, Bannon explains that he likes Kombucha because it gives him a lift; he drinks it for [...]

  • 'Great Bear Rainforest' Review

    Film Review: 'Great Bear Rainforest'

    Imax documentaries take us into the wilderness in ways we could only ever dream of experiencing in person, inviting us to marvel at the majesty of mother nature. Director Ian McAllister’s “Great Bear Rainforest” journeys deep into a remote, relatively untouched landscape where crystal clear lakes mirror the mountains and misty, mossy cedar forests tower [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • 'Tremors' Review: Jayro Bustamante's Forceful, Atmospheric

    Berlin Film Review: 'Tremors'

    “Love knows nothing improper,” chides a zealous preacher in “Tremors.” Ostensibly, she says it to an entire rapt church; more pointedly, she’s addressing mild-mannered family man Pablo, as he’s dragged through a terrestrial hell for the cardinal sin of falling in love with another man. What’s the greater impropriety, then: same-sex love or the victimization [...]

  • The Magic Life of V

    Berlin Film Review: 'The Magic Life of V'

    The surprise Oscar nomination of impressionistic “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” suggested a broadening of acceptance towards documentaries well beyond standard “Just the facts, ma’am” territory. Still, juggling style and substance will always be a tricky matter in that form, as evidenced by a film such as “The Magic Life of V.” This latest [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Dylan O'Brien and Ed O'Neill in

    TV Review: 'Weird City' From Jordan Peele and Charlie Sanders

    There’s hardly a better example of just how overwhelming the TV offerings have gotten than “Weird City.” The new slick and bizarre comedy was co-created by Jordan Peele and “Key and Peele” writer Charlie Sanders, features a stacked cast, and is nonetheless stranded on YouTube Premium (though the first two episodes are available to stream [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content