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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2009/06/28
by Mike Gruenberg

Lou Adler

In My Life
Recently, I watched all the games of the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. I usually dont watch basketball too often, but since these were the finals and the two teams were of particular interest to me, I tuned in and enjoyed every game. I actually watched for four reasons. Firstly, I wanted to see if Kobe Bryant could carry his team to victory. Secondly, I wanted to see if Phil Jackson would become the only NBA coach to win 10 NBA titles. Phil was a favorite player of mine when he played for the NY Knicks in the 70s. Thirdly, I wanted to see if the young players on the Magic were really that good and finally, I wanted to see the myriad amount of celebrities that come to watch Lakers basketball at the Staples Center in L.A.
All four of my reasons for watching were fulfilled. Firstly, Kobe confirmed to me that he is truly an elite player and that he has the ability to singlehandedly carry his team to the championship. And he probably will do it again before he retires. Secondly, Phil Jackson is now the only NBA coach to win 10 titles. I loved watching Phil as player with the Knicks. Although he could not have been considered an all-star during his playing days, his defense and hard work helped the team to many victories and a world title. Thirdly, the Orlando team was good, but no match for Kobe and the Lakers this year. Next year, may be a different story for those guys. And finally, yes the celebrities were out in full force. There was no lack of star power from stage, screen and recorded music in the stands watching, cheering and eating overpriced popcorn.
Perhaps the most vocal of all the celebrities and consistent in attendance to all the home Lakers games is actor, Jack Nicholson. He cheers, jumps up when a crucial score is made and makes his unhappiness apparent when the calls go against his favorite team. While everyone knows Jack, the guy always sitting next to him in those very expensive seats may not be as well known to everyone. Yet, much like Jack, this guy is always there. Not as vociferous as Jack, but he is always there. Hes the guy wearing the sunglasses and hat and in some way or another, he has touched virtually every music and film aficionado.
To me, there are only four people who have been and in some cases still are the quintessential record producers during the time that I have been listening to and collecting music over these past 40+ years. George Martin, Phil Spector, Phil Ramone and Lou Adler are their names. Currently, there is a current day record producer, a fifth person who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as these four and his name is Rick Rubin. But for now, I will concentrate on the aforementioned group and one in particular.
George Martin, the guiding force for the Beatles is pretty much retired. Phil Ramone, who has produced some of the greatest records of all time and whose name was used as the title of a great punk rock band is still around. Phil Spector is in jail and Lou Adler continues to work and sits next to Jack Nicholson at Lakers games. So, who is this guy in the sunglasses and funny hats?

The work of Lou Adler spans over five decades and has given us countless hours of entertainment through records, song writing, concerts and film. Here are some of the ways Lou Adler has touched our lives: If you listened to Sam Cooke in the 50s, Lou wrote the song Only Sixteen which was a hit. He managed such acts as Jan & Dean and also Sam Cooke If your record collection has artists on Dunhill Records, such as the Mamas & Papas, Lou owned the label and produced many of the artists on that label. If you have any records from A&M Records, a company most widely associated with Herb Alpert, Lou was a partner of that labels ownership. If you loved Tapestry by Carole King, Lou produced it and owned Ode Records which is the company that released the album and earned him a richly deserved Grammy for that masterpiece. He also won a Grammy for producing the Carole King classic. Its Too Late. If you went to Monterrey Pop or saw that movie, Lou was one of the organizers of the event. Look at your record collection and check out Dunhill, A&M and Ode to get an idea of the influence Lou has had on the music industry. If you ever laughed at a Cheech & Chong concert or saw one or more of their hysterical movies, Lou produced their records and directed their movies. If you ever got up at midnight to see Rocky Horror Show or threw rice at the screen at the appointed scene, Lou was instrumental in bringing that show to the stage and screen as the director. If you ever went to a concert at the Roxy Theater in L.A., Lou owns that venue. He has produced a wide variety of successful artists including Johnny Rivers, Spirit, Mamas & Papas, Barry McGuire and Carole King So the next time you watch a Lakers basketball game when the team is playing in L.A. and Jack Nicholson jumps up to cheer, look at the guy next to Jack named Lou and be aware of the remarkable contribution he has made to entertain us all in some form or another. On another note, Lou and his wife are one of the founders of the Painted Turtle. This is a camp for children and is the sixth addition to Paul Newmans family of Hole in the Wall Camps for seriously ill children. It is also the only multi-disease camp and family care center of its kind on the West Coast. Through educational, therapeutic, safe, and just plain fun summer camp and year-round programs, The Painted Turtle provides a life-changing experience to children whose daily struggles often diminish both their desire to be well and their ability to lead a rich, productive life. So not only has Lou given us great entertainment, he is giving something back to our society by helping critically ill children find happiness in spite of their health problems. Thanks, Lou on many different levels.

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