Double Dee & Steinski and the original Starbucks
When Steve and I first met in 1983 it was during a freelance ad job he brought to Clack Studios. Soon after he acquired an unforgettable client. Without going into much detail he was the owner of a new nightclub in Manhattan - a 4 story club on East 45th street with the name “Starbucks”. It was quite a number of years before the name became part of our daily language. He assigned Steve to come up with a series of radio spots with himself as the talent and a desire to be crazier than Crazy Eddie. Amazingly Steve recently uncovered a lost cache of cassettes archiving the majority of these spots with around a dozen still existing.
Crazy Eddie was an appliance chain in NYC during the 70's-80s. The TV commercials starred actor/radio dj Jerry Carroll as the extreme pitchman yelling at the camera non-stop in now legendary fashion. Interestingly I personally remember both Eddie and Jerry. As a teen I often walked to the original shop on Kings Highway in Brooklyn and dealt with Eddie himself (he was a little crazy and I did get some amazing deals) and I had the chance of making more than one commercial with Jerry. He would always get hired to do the same Crazy Eddie act and the poor guy would run out of breath while turning various shades of red and had to take a good long break between takes before passing out in the vo booth.
I think we achieved some of that madness in spite of the owner’s lack of acting skills. Being a natural character worked in his favor. I cringe somewhat at the basic production,I always feel I can improve, if produced today these spots would be more heavily layered. But everything took longer in the analog days using tape machines and splicing blocks.
These radio ads were made between 1983-1985 in my Clack Studio B with the same gear I described in the Details - Making of The Lessons article. The mic was an AKG C414 , I'm not sure which version but this was pretty early on in the mic's evolution. Not much time was spent during the sessions, it was usually after hours between 6 and 10. First we’d record the voice which could easily take 90 minutes. The copy had to run up to 60 seconds so there was always copy editing going on for each take to get the time to fit. The editing, being analog tape, was at times a chore, mixing and matching lines from various takes. But the end result was always worth it. And he was an easy client - he loved what we did and was an agreeable guy.
My dear mom loved to visit me un-announced when she was working nearby at Rockefeller Center. She would hang out on the couch in the back and talk with my clients about how wonderful I was. One day while we had the owner in the recording booth the studio receptionist out front buzzed me to tell me my mom was on her way back. Over the years she had met many of my clients and attracted some adoring voice over talent and now she meets the club guy. Ok, all good, she takes a seat on the couch in back of Steve and I. It comes to the part where he talks about the free home cooked food and my mom blurts out "Oh! How good can the food be?!" And I start to die a thousand deaths as he says "No! It's good food! My mom makes the meatball and the sauce!" Oh man! Imagine you're at work and your parent drops in to berate the client! Then she said to him "And I suppose the limo out front is yours too!" to which he replied "Of course it is, I'll give you a ride home! Where do you live?". Luckily he was gracious and feathers were not ruffled. And she did accept a ride to the nearest subway entrance. Loss of career averted!
Steinski adds " being the superhero producers we were, the deadlines we had to meet at the local stations were usually very tight. Tapes delivered the next day via messenger were usually needing to air the next night." This was not unusual in my line of work especially in TV where audio is the last stop before air.
Believe it or not we never did make it to the club, as incredible as that sounds, it wasn't our kind of place. And I don't know if I even had the proper attire to get in. I did have a gold chain but I was always a jeans and sneaker guy and if they wouldn't have me that's fine with me too.