Landing on amazon.com and in bookstores tomorrow is just about the most explosive, detailed account of 1970s pop I’ve ever read. Famed record producer Richard Perry is landing with “Cloud Nine,” his memoir of working with Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Rod Stewart, Fats Domino, the Pointer Sisters, Leo Sayer, and dozens more acts.
As good if not better than Keith Richards’s juicy tome, “Life,” Perry’s “Cloud Nine” had me on Cloud Nine literally. Perry is one of the most successful record producers of all time, and probably the most successful of the 70s and 80s. Carly’s “You’re So Vain,” Nilsson’s “Without You,” The Pointers’ “Jump,” Ringo’s “Photograph,” are just a few of his many, many chart hits. The list goes on and on.
It was Perry who pitched Clive Davis on the idea of Rod Stewart singing the Great American Songbook. They got five chart topping albums out of this idea, not to mention one with the late Phil Ramone.
Beatles fans will go crazy about the behind the scenes stuff Perry did to make Ringo’s “Ringo” album with contributions from Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon, just two years after the Beatles broke up.
But the big news is about “You’re So Vain,” which Perry says in the book he can’t believe that 48 years later people are still talking about. He writes: “I consider this to be the closest I’ve come to making a perfect record and it is the one of which I am most proud.”
He writes about how Carly brought Mick Jagger to the studio to sing back up, which you can hear clearly now on remastered versions. Says Perry: “Most people are unaware that Mick is on the record—but now that you know, play it for anyone and see how shocked they are. I must say that the sound of Mick’s voice adds a unique edge to the sound of the record, especially when he and Carly sing, “Don’t you, don’t you, don’t you!”
But let’s cut to the Big Question. Who is “You’re So Vain” about? Perry weighs in: “The final chapter of the “You’re So Vain” saga would not be complete without answering the question that continues to fascinate people forty-eight years later. I am still asked all the time who the song is about. Even when they are told the answer, it’s as if they don’t really want to know. They’d rather keep asking than put the matter to rest once and for all. It’s more exciting! Since it’s been revealed numerous times, I’ll take this opportunity to give my insider’s scoop: the person that the song is based on is really a composite of several men that Carly dated in the ’60s and early ’70s, but primarily, it’s about my good friend, Warren Beatty.”
“Cloud Nine” is a winner. Perry, you realize, was quite the ladies man in the Warren Beatty- Jack Nicholson circle. He dated Cher, and Diana Ross. And then, Jane Fonda. I mean, hello? I’ll try to dig out a couple more gems before tomorrow’s publication.
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