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December 23, 1994 - Image 61

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-12-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Commercial Man

SUZANNE CHESSLER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

Over 46 years,
you've heard
hundreds of
tunes by
advertising
composer
Artie
Fields.

rtie Fields started his mu-
sic career playing the
trumpet, but last month
he did not have to think
about tooting his own
horn. The Michigan
Chapter of the Na-
tional Academy of
Television Arts
and Sciences (NATAS) took care
of that.
Mr. Fields was among 11 tele-
vision pioneers presented with
a Silver Circle Award, which
recognizes professionals who be-
gan their careers at least 25
years ago and who have made
significant contributions to
Michigan.
NATAS honored Mr. Fields,
a 46-year veteran, as a produc-
er, composer and arranger.
His melodies and/or orchestra-
tions for com-
mercials
sup-

ported programs such as "Bo-
nanza," "Route 66," 'Wide, Wide
World" and "The Dinah Shore
Show."
All-told, he estimates working
on 9,000 music commercials in-
cluding the more recent "Let's Go
Krogering," which has his music.
During the busiest times in his
career, he employed a 22- mem-
ber staff.
"Up until I got involved, no one
in Detroit had done that kind of
work in any volume at all," said
Mr. Fields, 72, who continues to
ply his craft at his Southfield stu-
dio, Artie Fields Productions.
"Over the years, we generated
more than $20 million in session
fees and residuals for Detroit mu-
sicians, announcers and actors,
with most of the recording done
in the city.
"We were doing five, six, sev-
en commercials a week — net-
work and regional. I worked for
all of the agencies and almost
every automobile."
Currently, Mr. Fields is in-
volved with two projects. He is
expanding the 60-city, TV syn-
dication of "The Best of the
Class," a salute to graduating
high school seniors originally
aired on Channel 7, and he is
working on the music for a New
Hampshire talk show.
It was a live TV show in Michi-
gan that steered him toward his
commercial music pursuits.
"I had my own band for many
years, and I used to write for
many of the acts that appeared
with us," Mr. Fields said
about his employment
in the late '40s. "There
was a club in town
called was Bowery,
and I w as the house
conductor. We had
all the big stars who
came to this area.
"One of the fel-
lows I used to
work with was
comic Jackie
Cannon. He got
a Channel 7
live TV show,
and I had the
band. He
suggested
that I go

Artie Fields:
46 years of
jingles.

down to (W.B.) Doner's and talk
to them because they were spon-
soring him.
"I went down there, left a
demo and six months later they
called me. It was a day-and-night
commitment after that."
Mr. Fields' produced, com-
posed and wrote lyrics for his ear-
ly clients, Speedway and Faygo.
Just a few of the clients that
came along after that were Pills-
bury, H & R Block, Westing-
house and Solarcaine.
"I was particularly fascinated
with film because I had done a
lot of writing for dancers," said
Mr. Fields, whose musical edu-

His music saved
an agency.

cation came through attending
public schools in Detroit.
"You write your music to cue
with the dancers' movements or
the other way around, so looking
at film was very similar to writ-
ing for live motion."
Because of the stature of his
clients, Mr. Fields often con-
tracted with high-profile stars to
appear in the commercials. Ey-
die Gorme sang about Plymouth,
and Rex Harrison was the
spokesman for Dodge.
In creating music for each
product, Mr. Fields tries to de-
vise melodies that set the tone
for the commercial image.
'When we did the Helene Cur-
tis cosmetic commercials, we
wanted them to be feminine so
we did fashion show music," he
explained. "Then fashion show
music was elevator music, very
different from today's fashion
show music, which is almost
hard rock."
Mr. Fields has made some
technical contributions now in
wide use. A click track for film
scoring allows the sound and pic-
ture to be closely synchronized
without a stopwatch or precise
viewing. Up-close microphones
on every instrument during
recording assures that specific
sounds can be isolated and
picked up later.
Although he has equipped his
studio with the latest computer

synthesizing components, he
often asks an engineer to make
the most of them while he stays
true to earlier composing meth-
ods.
"Composing takes place in my
head," he said. "If I can't hear
music in my mind before I write
it, it's not going to happen."
Although there have been a lot
of exciting moments in Mr.
Fields' career, the one that
stands out occurred in the late
'70s, when a large advertising
agency was about to lose an im-
portant automotive account. Ex-
ecutives called him in to quickly
upgrade their presentation with
new music.
"It didn't take me long to write
the melodies, but it took three
days of working day and night to
record them," he reported. "The
day after I finished, I went down
to the agency and found the peo-
ple partying. I kept the account
for them!"
There was one occasion when
Mr. Fields used what he consid-
ered Jewish-sounding music.
Having grown up in a home
where his mother, Sally Fields,
was active in the Jewish corn-
munity and opened the first El
Al office in Michigan, he built on
that for a commercial promoting
a New York department store.
The lyrics already had been com-
pleted by the agency and had to
do with a pushcart in the build-
ing.
Mr. Fields has tried his hand
at composing non-commercial
music. "I Love You More Than
Anything' was recorded by Lar-
ry Santos, and occasionally is
played by J.P. McCarthy on his
WJR Radio show.
Mr. Fields volunteered his
services to write the words and
music for the "Welcome to Your
City" public service commercials
that aired in the early '80s to
boost Detroit.
His "Go Get 'Ern, Tigers" was
played in the Disney film Tiger
Town.
"Over the years, the hours and
the deadlines have been the
hardest part of my work," said
Mr. Fields, a widower with a
grown son and daughter. "I used
to work day and night and sleep
on the floor to meet deadlines. I
don't do that anymore." ID

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