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Music Producer Milt Okun Signs Memoir at Bergamot

 

By Michael Aushenker
Special to The Lookout

June 28, 2011 – When it comes to the music world, we definitely live in changing times. Music has gone digital and labels can no longer sell albums in the hundreds of thousands like they did a few decades ago.

Once upon a time – not that long ago – the music industry was all about top producers working with top artists chasing those elusive hits.

A veteran of that golden age, music producer and publisher Milt Okun, recently appeared at Bergamot Station with co-writer Richard Sparks, signing his just-released memoir –Along the Cherry Lane: Tales From the Life of Music Industry Legend Milt Okun – in a packed gallery.

With more than 75 gold and platinum records and 16 Grammy Nominations, Okun has gathered up more than a few anecdotes about working with some of music’s shiniest stars.

Veteran music producer Milt Okun signs his new memoir “Along the Cherry Lane” at Craig Krull Gallery. Photos by Michael Aushenker

Okun launched the careers of Peter, Paul and Mary, John Denver, Harry Belafonte, and Placido Domingo, among others.

“Along the Cherry Lane” is an extraordinary glimpse behind the scenes of the music industry of the past, specifically the folk scene of the 60's and 70's.

At the June 11 Bergamot happening, Craig Krull Gallery put on quite a celebration of Okun’s enchanted career.

A group of musicians ushered guests into a super-packed reception replete with wine, beer, cold-cut sandwiches and oatmeal cookies.

The book signing coincided with a photography exhibit of large vintage images capturing Okun working with Denver, Belafonte and Odetta.

Fun, off-the-cuff images of the producer and his stars glittered on the walls behind him as vividly as his anecdotes.

Photographs capture Okun's life and times.

The 88-year-old music industry figure said he had a good reason for finally putting his life down on paper.

“I got tired of people asking me to do it, and I had nothing else to do,” Okun told The Lookout.

“After years of hearing him tell these great stories, I had to help Milt write this book!” added Sparks.

Okun’s favorite story involved “getting fired twice” by Harry Belafonte.

Spotted in the long line of Okun fans waiting to get their copies: WKRP in Cincinnati star Loni Anderson.

The Lookout asked Anderson the nature of her fandom.

“My husband who is one of the Brothers Four knew Milt since the 1960s when they started,” the gracious platinum blond actress answered in her dulcet voice with a warm smile.

“He was at our wedding party,” she added.

Anderson explained that she had met her current husband, Bob Flick, in 1963 “and we re-met again in 2003 and now we’re married. I was just a fan in the beginning and now I’m a groupie!”

When asked whether he had read the sections on the Brothers Four, the amiable Flick said, “No, but I’m very much looking forward to it.”

And then, just a moment before stepping up to Okun and greeting his dear friend and erstwhile collaborator, he joked, “I’m on the page with all the redactions. What’s all this black ink doing in here?”

 

“I got tired of people asking me to do it, and I had nothing else to do.” Milt Okun

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