“The Boogie Man” story is one of my sadder recollections. It also became the icing in the cake as to why I left Motown.
The ‘Skywriter’ LP was the beginning of the demise of the J5. The Corporation had just broken up, and I relieved myself from being in charge of all J5 recording. This release, also marks the period of time when Iris became head of QC for the West Coast. Due to the ‘changing of the guard’, this ‘Skywriter’ LP was in serious trouble. First, the LP did not have a title, until Sales Barney and or Iris Gordy made the decision that ‘Skywriter’ was the leader of the pack.
What no one seemed to see but me, was this LP was being put together like an old early 60’s Motown LP. That means, it was filled with just ‘songs’, some stronger than others, devoid of any concept. I personally thought it was seriously lacking the concern for the future of the artists themselves, the Great Jackson 5. Their lives and futures were on the line with this LP.
OK. “Hallelujah Day” was scheduled to be released. I was trying to complete what I felt was the next direction for the J5: A different Groove! Even though the story, still had a young theme, I knew it was time to take the wad of ‘Bubblegum’ out of my mouth, and throw it in the trash. It was time for a more mature groove. So I just barely made it to the Quality Control meeting that Friday Morning with my little gem, “The Boogie Man”. The meeting had already started, and Berry decided to go with Freddie and Fonce’s “Hallelujah Day”. I jumped up and said to Berry, “Hold on a minute, Boss! I really think I have the best, and what should be the next single for the boys.” “OK, let’s have it”, Berry quipped back. I was right. Berry loved it, as well as others in the meeting.
Anyway, the point is the after the LP was released, Sales waited for the stations to report. The problem is, the various station picks from the LP varied across the country. Between the different stations that reported, 5 different cuts were being played. Nothing stood out. Thus, after “Hallelujah Day”, my single was cancelled, no other single was released, the LP was left out there to fend for itself and became a flop, and the J5 went hitless. The “Skywriter” LP was such a hodge-podge or pot-pourri of sounds and rhythms. The stations and the fans just couldn’t figure out where the J5 were coming from . . . or where they were going.