So, he built a little shack on his Reseda property, put up a mirror and bought a "Learn How to Conduct" program recorded on vinyl. Every day after digging ditches, he'd lock himself in and teach himself how to conduct. Also at this time, he began visiting Billboard magazine's offices once a week to study the pop charts. He wanted to know what made a song a hit. When he was playing for swing kings Artie Shaw, Bob Crosby and Bunny Berigan, he cared more about what the other musicians thought as opposed to the audience. It was a time of hip cats, not popsters. However, starving gave him a different perspective on what music should be—a way to bring the audience joy. It was in that shack and in the Billboard offices that my dad learned the power of a hook and melody. It was also then that he came up with the idea of singing voices imitating instruments—an extension of jazz scat—but done for pop music.

He made the rounds at all the labels again. Instead of complaining about his life, he let the executives talk about their families. My father would listen attentively, smile, shake hands and right before walking out the door, he would say, "I've got an idea that I think would be beneficial to both of us. Give me a call if you're interested."

Suddenly the industry was buzzing about Conniff. What was his idea? What did he have up his sleeve? His phone started ringing.


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