Billboard Magazine honors Dr. “Bugs” Bower with three KOOL AND THE GANG Million Seller Gold Record Awards, including: Jungle Boogie, Funky Stuff, and Celebration, at Frank Sinatra’s favorite place, Jillys in NY City.
“Bugs” Bower recipient of two grammy awards and 9 “Gold Record Million Seller” Awards
The name “Bugs” Bower is synonymous with the term “Hit.” His fast paced life started as a student at the Juilliard School of Music where he authored his first music books: Bop, Bop Duets, Chords & Progressions, and Rhythms; taught his first student, Johnny Mandel, composer of the M*A*S*H* TV Theme and “The Shadow of Your Smile”: and made his first hit recording, “Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”
The recipient of nine Gold Record million seller awards and two Grammy awards, “Bugs” has composed, arranged, and produced hundreds of recordings.
The roster of famous artists he has worked with and written for reads like a Who’s Who and includes: Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Steve Allen, Cab Calloway, Brian Hyland, Bobby Rydell, Joe Pesci, Captain Kangaroo, Sammy Kaye, Liza Minnelli, Charley Barnet, KOOL & THE GANG, among many others.
Today, Dr. Bower is Professor of Music at Five Towns College in Dix Hills, N.Y. and Charles Dumont and Son, Inc. distributes his new Jazz Publications and children’s books.
From Lennie Petze:
So it’s 1960 and I’m in New York with another Boston group called The Three D’s. They had some success with a label called Paris Records which was owned by a man named Jack Gold. We did many record hops with them and we became friends with the same goal. Get a deal, make records, get rich. Right… I wish it was that easy.
The reason we were in New York was to go around to the record and production companies and try and get in the door to play them demos and try and get some interest. Or as we would say..get a record deal.
The Three D’s had recorded a song that I wrote titled ” The Happiest Boy And Girl” and when we arrived at 1619 Broadway, “The Brill Building” they got interest from a the first two places that we went. One of them, a production company loved the record and wanted to represent the group. This company was owned by Sammy Kaye of “Swing And Sway With Sammy Kaye” fame and the man that we were lucky to meet with was a man named Bugs Bower. A very hot producer at the time as he had a top five record by Brian Hyland titled “Itsy BitsyTeenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” roaring up the charts.
After The Three D’s did there business Bugs asked me if I had anything that I wanted him to hear and I said yes I have this Christmas record but he immediately said we were too late for that Christmas wait until next year. So I played him a demo that we had just recorded of a standard titled “Greensleeves”. Well he heard something in that version that made him ask me to stay in touch with him and I did.
From Bugs Bower:
“At the time there were many hit instrumentals on the charts and I felt that this arrangement of “Greensleeves” if re-recorded with a couple of changes could potentially make for a good record. The band was very solid for teenagers and I told Lennie to stay in touch.
During the next few weeks I listened to the demo a few more times and when Lennie did call I asked him if the band would like to come to New York and let me produce a record on “Greensleeves”. He said “absolutely” and we made plans.
We booked studio time at Regent Sound Studios and in a three hour session got the record done. As “Greensleeves” was a public domain song, we were able to put in into Sammy Kaye’s publishing company Republic Music as a new title “Shades Of Green”. Then the real job was to visit all the companies and find a label.
We had interest right away at MGM but the deal got bogged down like so many in those days and we ended up finalizing a deal with Amy/Mala. They were a very hot independent label at the time with a great promotion team headed by Jack Fine. I then called Lennie and told him to go into a studio in Boston and cut a B side. Well when we heard what they had cut in Boston, we flipped! It was such a surprise to hear this record featuring a great drum solo, we got very excited. They had called it “Ugly Stick” which I changed to “Back Beat No. 1″ and the rest is Rondels history.”