E: How’d you get your start in the entertainment business?
S: Through a guy named Troy Stevens when I was 17 at Hemstead High School.

E: In Long Island, right?
S: Yeah, I was born in raised in Hempstead NY. I hung up posters and stuff - on telephone poles. He would catch me going to class and say, “C’mon man, you don’t have to go to class. Get in the car and ride up to Connecticut with me.” He was out here (Los Angeles) a couple weeks ago, he’s a millionaire now, man.

E: So he first fueled your aspirations?
S: Really, going to the Apollo Theatre as a kid got me into entertaining. That was my culture. We could have gone downtown for Broadway plays but I wanted to go to Harlem. And my landlord dated Tommy Smalls – he was the cat in New York at the time. I always wanted radio. I used to call up. I guess high school is when Troy Stevens started promoting shows. So that along with going to The Apollo.

E: So, what lead to your radio career?
S: After high school, I met King Ro (famous DJ now living in Indianapolis) and he told me he was going to broadcasting school. I said, “Let me pursue this radio thing.” I wanted to go to the city. But everybody said, “Why don’t you just go to college man?” So I found CW Post College, took some classes out there and worked at the radio station. I later landed an internship at WWRL and I was running gospel remotes there. Alongside working at the college radio station.

E: Did you get a big breakthrough that lead to your future career?
S: Kind of. I got locked in one night, and I was reading a publication called Broadcasting Magazine. Today it’s called Broadcasting and Cable. I was really into radio. Formatting had just come to black radio. With jingles, they were starting to sound like top 40 radio. And I got really into it, and I met all the new jocks when they came to NY - I was bringing them to Long Island as a promoter, doing dances.

E: Busy guy!
S: Then I was really serious, and those guys started treating me like equals. Jerry B and all of them, when they counted the money they gave me the same amount they got. ‘Cause they had that much respect for me. It made me feel so good, these professional DJs gave me the equal share. That really gave me the confidence.

E: So continue on, you were locked in the radio station…
S: So I was in the station and I was doing some editing. In Broadcasting Magazine, I saw that a black owned FM radio station in Indianapolis, run by Dr. Frank Lloyd was looking for DJs. This was 1968. I was working at Remington Electric Shavers during the daytime. On Sunday I was at the gas station pumping gas. And I had a show called Introduction to Soul on campus. I was running around the clock. But I started calling the station. A guy named Roger Holloway answered. I kept calling Roger. Every night he would answer. This went on for a month. Finally I took a trip. I had a vacation. And at the time Remington had service centers across the country. I told them that I might want to transfer.

E: So you up and scoped out Indianapolis!
S: Yup, Roger Holloway picked me up at the airport. I stayed there for the weekend. Then Tom Mathis asked me if I wanted a job. The name of the game was to go to Indy for a couple years and then go back to NYC. And I never went back.

E: Smart man.
S: I went with the safety net of a job at Remington. But the ratings came out and Tom Mathis told me, “The ratings came out, I think you have a career in radio.” I gave up working at Remington. When I started off, I went on late nights. Tom said, “Don’t say your name.” By the time they hired me, they had a promo running, “The Spider is coming to Indianapolis to spin a web around your soul.” I got that nickname in high school playing foot ball. I was fast and skinny. So I kept the name.

E: And you went on to be a great friend to local Indy soul and funk acts – you gave a promising beginning to groups like the Highlighters.
S: Well, New York had a thing about helping local acts. The thing was, if a station had a license, they had a commitment to help the local talent. The first guys I supported were the Highlighters. The Vanguards were more popular, but the Highlighters were into the funk. And I was more into the kids. I was one of the guys to first play their records. Tom Mathis, he wanted to support these guys. He turned me onto St. Ritas, where the Highlighters had their shows.

E: What a guy!
S: I thought, as far as I was concerned Indy had given me a social life. And it was a good market. It wasn’t that far from Chicago, only a minute from Dayton. Unbelievable funk music was coming out of that town! And a lot of people didn’t leave, because whatever they were doing they were able to make a living there.
I would do a lot of shows and they would come play for me. I’d have an anniversary, or a birthday. All those guys were really in my corner.

E: And eventually you did a record with the then Highlighters rhythm section – they backed you on lead vocals!
S: I was singing back in New York. When I was in high school we used to sing background on some records. And it was the old thing -the producers would get the young high school guys in the studio and don’t pay ‘em. I sung on records – for free. Nickie Zan, this guy had a song called “Southern Belle.” I was a background singer.

E: So what lead you to record for Lulu?
S: Jerry Hermann and I were talking one time. I said, “Let me do a record” and he said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” There was another DJ that did one – a friend of mine. But that was just talking. But Sly Stone, he was a jock. And I knew Percy Sledge was a DJ. BB King was a jock. A lot of guys had made it. So I went in there and wrote this little song, “Beautiful Day.” I remember I had a bottle of wine in my pocket. I think it was Thunderbird. I said, “Let me get me a drink of Thunderbird.” So I took me a couple of swigs of Thunderbird and got on the microphone and all those cats started laughing. I had on a rain coat, I had the wine in a raincoat. It was in the fall. On the Southside of town– it could have been in the TLC production room, or in a studio. I remember, but I can’t…

E: I had thought you recorded that with Les Ohmit.
S: Ohmit? Yeah, that sounds like it. I remember Boone more than anything. We became real tight, you know?

E: So you had planned to make a funk song?
S: Yeah, I thought it was going to be a national hit. (Laughs) I thought it was going to be big, I called my mother up – “I got a record out!” Well, everytime I played it, because I was a jock, I had to say that proceeds would go to the SCLC – to Jesse Jackson and all that. They had just started Operation Breadbasket. Jerry Hermann took care of it.

E: Did it ever make it into the national arena?
S: No, it just stayed in Indianapolis. No one promoted it outside of Indianapolis. It was something I wanted to do, and I never thought about it again.

E: How long did you stay in Indianapolis?
S: I left Indy in July of 1973. But I was involved in the scene, I did liner notes for Little Royal and Billy Wooten. Then I moved to Nashville.

E: Why Nashville?
S: I was riding through Nashville on my way to Atlanta one day and I was listening to WLAC. And I thought, “Man if I could get on that station what that would do for my career.” A year later they hired me. I stayed there for six years, then I moved out to California with Sugar Hill Records.

E: You’ve never really left the entertainment business, have you?
S: I always stayed in the industry because they’re all cousins. The record industry, radio, cable and advertisting. So I just went into different branches of the media. I never really left it. As a personality, I did KGFJ when I came out here, part time. And I always had my own little record label.

E: And you’re still connected?
S: Not a day will go by when someone across the country doesn’t call me or try to reach me. That’s a fact. When I was in WLAC, I played top 40. That expanded me, my name and everything. Even Rick Dees, when I came out here, said, “Hey, I used a lot of your material.” He knows it! I said, “That’s alright.” We don’t have a copyright on language. That’s how it is. When you’re in public domain, people take your ideas, twist it a little bit, take it to another market and it enhances their career.

E: You’ve been pretty successful. When did you realize you had made it?
S: When I was in Indy, Jerry Boulding told me “In six months everybody in Indy will know who you are.”

E: And did they?
S: Yup. In three months. That’s all it took.