A request to the members of the Sparky Group: Frequently, I receive queries about you fellows. I decided to post those queries on this site. They want to know what you are doing, recent photos and photos from the time you were recording. If you have any photos from that time, please send them to me, so that I may post them with the others.
What happened to the Sparky Group from the early 70's? Read the story below.
THE SPARKY GROUP
The Sparky group started out with a bang. Four young boys, who auditioned for parts in a singing group, were signed to record a couple of songs for Gem Toby Organization, a management company from England. The songs were SWEET LIES and I'LL NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, Tommy Oliver was the music director.
The songs were distributed under the "ABC Dunhill Records" label. The single was recognized by Billboard and the boys were featured in several teen magazines (Copies of those articles will soon be posted on this site). They appeared on the Dinah Shore Show and on an ABC Funshine Saturday with Lee Majors. It looked like their careers had taken off, but something happened. I have to research some names before I tell that story. It will be posted soon. It involves David Grey, the Hollywood attorney, who advertises on TV.
(02/24/2009) The rest of the story:
Whenever his commercial came on, I would make a mental note to call him, but as most of us do, I put it off. I walked up to him and introduced myself. Of course we talked about the Sparky group. It seems that, at the time of the breakup of "Sparky," David was separated from his wife, Linda, who was Mickey le Clair's (one of the boys in the group) sister. She worked for a publicity firm and was the one who started the "conflict of interest" problem between the management company and the Music Company. I remember her taking us to a large agency and management company. She wanted us to sign with this company.
In the office sat this young man, who after my questioning, (I was not new to this business) it became very clear by his answers, that he had no clue as to what he would do, or could do, for the Sparky Group. I was impressed with the management company (Gem Toby Productions) who started the group. They had brought the group a long way in a short time. That is not easy to do in this business. I've worked in this business long enough to know. The leClairs had been promoting a movie career for Mickey and I guess they thought this would help further his career in that area, plus his sister would benefit by bringing them to this management company.
As I write this, it brings back the time when Torre's mother, Paula Samonte, formed a group and I managed them. This was during the early Beatles days, and they were dressed similar to the Beatles, and had that sound. I named them "The Monocles" and started getting them bookings in the Bay area.
Everything was fine. They rehearsed and listened to my instructions, and, of course, Paula's sound was great, as it still is today. After a booking in Tiburon, across the bay from San Francisco, the group’s parents started appearing with suggestions and questions about how to manage the group. The group also started acting "big" and “head strong.” I decided I had better have them sign a manager's contract before things got out of hand.
A manager's contract is mainly to protect the manager’s interest, not the artist. It is a guarantee that the manager will receive benefits (Usually a percentage of the artist’s income) for his time, expense and labor. It guarantees the artist that the manager will work for their benefit; which any good manager will do. I gave them some of my equipment; amplifiers, speakers, cables, stands, etc. Then they were starting to become popular, due mostly to Paula’s performance; however, they still had a long road ahead of them.
When they started acting like they knew it all, I presented them with the contract. The parents and the group questioned it, and wanted things changed. This was a fair contract similar to the one I signed for Torre with Gem Toby Productions. When they got really stubborn, I saw that this was not the kind of people I wanted Paula to work with and so I ended it. They were upset that I took back all of my equipment. Years later I read an article in "the Hollywood Reporter' about "amnesia manageritis" it brought that "The Monocles" incident to mind.
I think there was more to it with the "Sparky" incident than "amnesia manageritis," like unawareness. Unaware of the opportunities this management company offered those boys. Because of those unawareness’s, The Sparky Group was disbanded and that ended, what appeared to be, a great opportunity for these four young boys.
Tommy Oliver, David’s father, and the Music director of the Sparky group, went on to be the music director for the Osmonds, and the rest of the group went their own separate ways. Some years later I contacted Tommy Oliver and we met for dinner one night. He and his wife were wonderful. I am really sorry, for many reasons, that the group did not get the chance they deserved.
To end this, I was very happy to have finally met with David Grey. It cleared the air for me and it was a pleasure to talk to him. If I ever need an attorney, I will call David Grey.
An excerpt in The Holly wood Reporter from an article by Dianne Bennett: VERY OFTEN AT THE FIRST GLIMMER OF REAL SUCCESS the average rock star will experience the beginning of "amnesia manageritis," a disease that becomes progressively more manifest as the symptoms of super-stardom actually take hold. Stated in even more non-medical terms, most rock stars once established find it emotionally difficult to remember what their managers ever did to help further their careers during their struggle to the top, which makes it that much easier to rationalize getting rid of the person who guided them, and very often, financed their rise to fame.
The article goes on to explain a positive situation where Elton John and his manager, John Reid, observe a heart-warming, mutual appreciation and respect. At Reid’s chic 25th birthday party, planned by Elton John, Elton gifted Reid with a racehorse and 60-foot yacht and oil paintings of both, which were presented at the party.
While in Hollywood, working for Marquis Enterprises, I traveled much of the time with the owner, Donjo Medlevine. He was a great man, who, at one time, was one of the owners of the Chez Paris in Chicago. He also owned an interest in Sammy Davis Jr. He knew many people, and through him I met many Celebes and important people.
Many times we ate at Nicky Blair’s restaurant on Sunset Blvd. I met many celebs in there. One was Barbara Streisand’s manager. He told me one time when we were sitting at the bar chatting, that they had been together all of those years, only with a handshake. I read where he finally got into film production, which is what he wanted to do. Barbara Streisand and Elton John were among the few that didn’t forget their managers, or what they did for them.
Lee Majors with the Sparky Group: