Home Music “Baby It’s You” New Broadway Musical: Carole King Says No

I’ve been watching director and creator Floyd Mutrux put together his musical, “Baby It’s You,” for a few years now in Los Angeles. The story of Florence Greenberg, who created Scepter Records in the 1960s, and her hit group, The Shirelles, finally opened on Broadway last night. The show got middling reviews, but it’s a crowd pleaser. For fans of late doo wop, girl groups, and early R&B pop, the show is a singalong hit. Beth Leavel, playing Florence, a New Jersey housewife who was a pioneer in rock, is sensational.

The Shirelles had lots of hits, as did Dionne Warwick, on Scepter. But you won’t be hearing their biggest hit, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Carole King, hoping to do her own musical one day, refused to grant permission. It’s a tribute to the show that you don’t miss that song. Burt Bacharach and Hal David gave permission for their songs, so the title number becomes the centerpiece.

Famed record producer Richard Perry handled the show’s music and sound, and is recording the score album right now. (It will be released next month.) Perry was accompanied to the premiere by Jane Fonda and by Clive Davis, for whom Perry makes all those best selling Rod Stewart albums. Lots of folks from the record biz turned up, too, including Barry Weiss, now the head of DefJam Records. Mutrux was also thrilled to see friends from LA, Valerie Harper and Tony Cacciotti, plus producers Fred Rappoport and Judy Gordon.

And this premiere was like a Warner Bros. reunion: Richard Parsons, former Time Warner CEO, mixed and mingled with departing Warner Bros. studio chief Alan Horn, as well as former New Line co-chairmen Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye.

PS You may have heard that the Shirelles, Warwick and Chuck Jackson are suing the producers over use of their likenesses. They used the opening day to get publicity–even thought they’ve known about the show for at least four years, waited through all its performances in different Los Angeles area theaters without saying a word. I’m told they all turned down chances to be at the opening night, too.

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2 replies to this post
  1. Maybe it took time to find a lawyer to take the case and plead it right. Maybe they had hopes of an offer that made sense.
    Maybe they didn’t get the same RESPECT by being asked to clear their names, likenesses, rights of publicity that Carole King had as a writer/publisher of a copywriten song …
    RESPECT is not a seat at the opening to watch people impersonate you and Warner Group profit from it while you’re having to hump and run around the country/world at 70+ to earn a living because you got lousy royalties, getting short changed on downloads and there’s no Performance Rights for AM & FM Radio so you don’t get paid like the song writers do when your famous music performed by you is played on the radio in the US and you can’t get paid from the hundreds of millions that’s collected around the world every year for broadcast because we don’t have reciprocity.
    RESPECT is not learning that the broadcasters earn more than 15 Billion Dollars +++ a year in advertising money because they’re playing The Shirelles and Dionne Warwick and Chuck Jackson on their stations.
    Warner knew and knows better and for the legacy artists this is just WRONG…
    and loving on Richard Parsons and Richard Perry doesn’t make it right. Dick Parsons was not involved other than as an invited guest so it’s not on him and I bet if he were still at the helm of Warner everything he would have made sure rights were paid for and secured as they should have been. Fred Rappaport likewise a guest who never would have put anything on CBS TV without the rights grants and clearances and we both know that, Judy Gordon too
    Barry Weiss would scream if someone did a play about his dad without clearing all the rights I am sure so give a lot a love to the Plaintiffs…and ask if this production use artists of another hue to sing the songs so they didn’t look like they were trying to be the legends NOT! Might have been one thing to call Chuck or Dee’s name in some context without a clearance but portrals, legacy history’s created, impersonations…don’t think so
    Richard Perry may not have been in the clearance loop so I can’t say if he should be villified in this or not but his name is prominent on the project soooooo he needs to say something for better or worse about whether it’s right to impersonate and invade the souls for commercial profit without doing the right thing for those souls and/or their rights holders in the case of Micki and Doris.
    (This post is also written in my capacity as a Board Member of The Soul Arts and Music Foundation that was created to assist in the protection the American legacy recording artists and the preservation, presentation and in advocacy of their incredable gifts to the cultures of the world and as the daughter who grew up with a mother also named Florence Greenberg (but not her as I always had to tell people who thought I could get them The Shirelles autographs in the day).

  2. It’s unfortunate that “Baby It’s You” fails on a dramatic level. The original songs are wonderful, and the intrigues and ripoffs of the record business of the 1950s and 60s are fertile ground for examination; sad that the tradition continues today as the show is enmeshed in lawsuits by the artists. It was a time of songwriters producing marvelous work for singers to deliver. Many great groups were forgotten because their versions were too gritty for the pop charts.

    One of their biggest hits of the Shirelles, “Dedicated to the One I Love,” originated with the great 50s R&B group, the “5” Royales and its guitarist Lowman Pauling. The music of the “5” Royales was covered Ray Charles, Mick Jagger and James Brown. On my Rockaeology blog at http://bit.ly/fxSYOl is the story of how Pauling’s pioneering use of intentional feedback and echo influenced guitarists like Eric Clapton.

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