MIX MAGAZINE (1983)

Spencer Proffer

On both the creative and business fronts, Spencer Proffer has become one of the youngest pioneers and leaders in the music industry for his generation. At just over thirty years of age, the multi-talented Proffer is not unlike earlier industry giants like Berry Gordy (Motown) and Ahmet Ertegun (Atlantic) who built successful businesses as a result of their creative ability and vision. Proffer's versatility as a producer, arranger, songwriter and accomplished businessman with an honors law degree has resulted in the establishment of his own record label, Pasha/CBS Records, a true boutique record company.

After a seventeen year career in the music business, mass success and recognition have finally caught up with Proffer. Although he has scored many successes before, 1983 has proven Proffer to be a true musical visionary whose time has come. "Metal Health" by Quiet Riot, a heavy metal foursome that Proffer 'discovered' playing in various Los Angeles clubs, has become the most successful debut LP by a heavy rock act in history, breaking the top five and going double platinum and beyond. Although others had dismissed the band-the conventional thinking being that a new heavy metal group couldn't win in a new wave world-Proffer realized Quiet Riot's enormous potential. He made them one of the first acts on his own Pasha Records label (distributed and marketed world-wide by CBS Records). Proffer produced the LP and supervised the production of the band's videos and to nearly everyone's surprise but his own, Quiet Riot became a multi-platinum success with its first U.S. release.

The case of Quiet Riot isn't the first time that Proffer's vision proved to be dead accurate. Most recently, Proffer produced compelling rock vocalist Danny Spanos' "Passion In The Dark," which has already garnered top ten radio airplay nationwide in the short time since its release. Proffer's reputation as a record producer is illustrated by the fact that Ahmet Ertegun, Chairman of Atlantic Records and long one of Proffer's idols, chose Spencer Proffer to produce the reunion album of the legendary Vanilla Fudge. Due for release in January of 1984, Vanilla Fudge's "Mystery" featuring the talents of keyboardist/vocalist Mark Stein, drummer Carmine Appice, bassist/vocalist Tim Bogart and special guest Jeff Beck on guitar could well be Spencer Proffer's greatest production triumph.

Spencer began his 17-year career in the music industry as a songwriter for A&M at the age of seventeen. His first recorded composition-"Picture Postcard" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys was an instant hit. By the time he was twenty, Proffer had over thirty songs recorded by various artists. He went on to write music for major TV commercials (Pepsi and Bell Telephone, among others), and compose the music for the ABC-TV series "The Hardy Boys."

As a songwriter, Proffer honed his production chops doing home demos of his tunes; even at this early stage of his career, his musical ideas were unique and dynamic, and his demos were so well received that he was offered recording contracts. He recorded for ABC/Dunhill and MGM Records and then, again as a result of the creative techniques of his home demos, was signed to CBS Records by Clive Davis. As his relationship with Davis deepened, Spencer was asked to join the CBS staff, and he worked in various aspects of the record company for Davis and other label executives. While he had been writing tunes and performing them to pay the rent, Proffer had also been going to UCLA and, after graduating, law school. As the youngest man to pass the bar in the year he graduated, his credentials were ideal for the CBS appointment - a songwriter and musician, producer and executive in business affairs.

In 1974, Proffer accepted the position of National Executive Director of United Artists Records, in charge of creative direction of the music division and liaison with the film company; he was responsible for signing new talent, developing the artists already on the roster and selecting material for them. Proffer produced six artists for United Artists which yielded the label eleven Top 50 hits in 18 months and included the acclaimed classic rock album "Acid Queen" (from Pete Townshend's TOMMY) for Tina Turner, two Top 10 singles for Paul Anka, and numerous black-oriented records from artist such as Vernon Burch (whose debut single sold 800,000 copies). It was "Acid Queen," however, which heralded Proffer's future direction as a producer with rock instincts and creative vision, and was the beginning of a long string of rock 'n' roll projects.

In the mid-seventies, Spencer Proffer decided the time was ripe to escape the limitations of working with a corporate hierarchy, and he formed his own music company so he could follow his instincts without hindrance. His first artist was Allan Clarke, lead singer of The Hollies ("Long Tall Woman in a Black Dress" and "The Air That I Breath"). Clarke's "I've Got Time" was Proffer's first excursion into one of his favorite musical genres - English rock -and Proffer decided to record Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" for the LP (well in advance of the Manfred Mann rendition). Proffer then produced European supergroup Randy Pie, and the resulting album, "Fast Forward," garnered high critical acclaim for its colorful textures as well as strong international sales.

By this time, Proffer had formulated a theory of producing "visual records," by creating works which were really movies in sound. They required more technical and creative control than could be obtained from working at studios where everyone was a slave to the clock. To realize his goal of making cinematic records, Proffer decided to mortgage his house, cars and nearly everything he owned in order to build The Pasha Music House, which would be the home of the music company and the major tool for the unlimited expansion of his creative abilities.

The first project produced at the Pasha Music House-while it was still under construction. The album was called "Children of the Sun" by Australian rock heavyweight Billy Thorpe. This visionary project was one of the first rock compositions to weave a story into the fabric of the music through a series of albums. The "Children of the Sun" trilogy (Chapter 2 being "21st Century Man," with the third chapter yet to be completed) was a science fiction saga that told how a friendly alien race from another galaxy transported the survivors of the Earth's self-destruction to a distant planet where they built a new life and evolved a new race for mankind. This sci-fi fantasy went to number one in almost every market daring enough to play it and the album won numerous awards for its progressive and inventive production techniques. Proffer pioneered the first touring laser show to integrate Thorpe's cosmic story line with laser choreography and animation; this audio-visual extravaganza premiered in many key planetariums around the world and was one of the few true audio-visual rock experiences for the public up to that time.

Proffer then recorded an LP with British rock luminaries Dave Lambert (The Strawbs) and John Entwistle (The Who) and Proffer has had hit tunes covered by numerous major artists ranging from Eddie Money to Bette Midler.

Most recently, CBS Records elected to back Proffer's unique creative musical vision and artistry with the formation of his own record label, Pasha Records, which is marketed, distributed, and promoted worldwide by CBS. This deal is enabling Proffer to find, sign, and develop the talent that he truly believes in and bring it to the eyes and ears of the world populace. One of the first signings of this venture was Los Angeles hard rockers Quiet Riot, whose music and live approach reminded Proffer of his favorite English rock, personified by loud and rowdy groups like Humble Pie, The Faces, and Slade. After spending a year of artist development working with the band, Proffer produced "Metal Health," which was released to tremendous commercial and critical success on both record and video fronts. Proffer took a major role in the conceptualization of the band's very popular videos, and it may well be that the first two Quiet Riot videos are the first to serialize a concept in a storyline that moves from one video to the next.

While producing rock giants like DNA (Rick Derringer and Carmine Appice) and Streetheart (five times multi-platinum in Canada), Proffer has moved to build a self-contained creative workshop of writing, arranging, playing, and producing like Motown, Atlantic, A&M, and Island Records were at their inceptions. Pasha songwriter/recording artist Randy Bishop, working with Sylvester Stallone on some of the material in the "Staying Alive" film and soundtrack and on the Kurt Vonnegut-penned "Slapstick," has spear-headed Pasha's move into motion picture themes and soundtracks. Bishop, along with Derringer, Appice, Streetheart, and Quiet Riot's Frankie Banali, contributed performances on the new Danny Spanos "Passion in the Dark" album, which has been greeted by radio programmers across the country with comments consistent with other Proffer productions: technical brilliance, creative inventiveness, songs and performances that generate requests and sales. Most recently, Danny Spanos contributed the song "(This Could Be) The Last Chance" to the 20th Century Fox Movie and Polygram soundtrack album of "All the Right Moves," starring Tom Cruise.

Spencer Proffer's primary goal is to develop Pasha's family of artists into an internationally successful multi-media organization while remaining faithful to the Pasha credo, "Music for People with Imagination." In the near future, audiences will be treated to the music of recently re-formed rock legends Vanilla Fudge (with guest guitarist Jeff Beck) and to the futuristic pop music of songwriter/screenplay writer/performer Roderick Falconer. Spencer Proffer aims high, determined to cater to the public's highest expectations of quality and innovation. Like Federico Fellini, Ken Russell, and Steven Spielberg in the film world, Proffer dares to be different, bold, ambitious. It is small wonder that his company is symbolized by the surrealistic "Pasha Man" logo, which is a man of blue steel moving into the future with a red rose in the place of his heart, symbolizing strength, sensitivity, and leadership.