Remembering Michael Viner, The Man Who Recorded “Apache”

August 14th, 2009 by Michaelangelo Matos Leave a reply »

Photo: Gallay/WireImage

Michael Viner, the record producer whose 1973 recording of “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band is the cornerstone of hip-hop, died in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 8th, from cancer. He was 65.

Viner held a number of positions in the entertainment world. He was an executive for MGM Records in the 1970s, signing Debby Boone (whose “You Light Up My Life” was Number One for 10 weeks in 1977) and helping produce Sammy Davis Jr.’s “The Candy Man,” which topped the charts in 1972. He also produced the second Nixon inaugural ball in early 1973, a result of his association with Republican MGM head Mike Curb, lieutenant governor of California from 1979 to 1983. (Viner’s politics were more liberal; he’d worked as an aide for Robert Kennedy in the ’60s.) Later, Viner’s Dove imprint pioneered books-on-tape, and he later made a name publishing books based on tabloid scandal. Still, it’s the much-sampled Incredible Bongo Band recordings that stand as Viner’s lasting achievement.

Viner was born in 1944 and grew up in Washington, D.C. In 1970, as a joke, Viner released the infamous Best of Marcel Marceau — a live LP of a mime, consisting of two sides of silence concluded by audience applause. “I think it cost $50 to make,” Viner said in an unpublished 2006 interview. The record got Curb’s attention; at a party, says Viner, “Someone kidded [Curb] that I had an album on the charts and he didn’t.” Viner was given a production deal; “The Candy Man” was one result.

So was the Incredible Bongo Band — an ad hoc studio group Viner supervised that was put together for the soundtrack of the 1972 exploitation cheapie The Thing with Two Heads. (The Thing was played by Ray Milland, white, and Rosey Grier, black; ...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


Leave a Reply