were certainly surprised and thrilled when musician and C.A.P.E.R.
songwriter, Rob Hegel, posted a message on our Guest Book. So, as
you can imagine, we were ecstatic when Rob very graciously
agreed to do a Question & Answer style interview with us to
discuss his work on the show, as well as fill us in on the
details of his own extensive career!
Project: First, let me say thank you for agreeing to answer our
questions! Letís begin with a little background information . .
. when did you first start writing songs?
Rob Hegel: Have
sort of been composing original tunes since I was
a baby . . . but the first song I wrote that was performed was in
sophomore year of high school. Was in a band called The Chandells;
met a girl (there always seems to be a girl, doesnít there?),
and wrote I Wanna Love You. (Editorís note: not the same
Wanna Love You as
on the C.A.P.E.R. album, which was written by Gene Allan &
C.P.: Could you give us some background into the creation of
The Chandells (later
Bittervetch), which became quite a notable
garage band in Centreville, Ohio, in the 1960's?
Rob Hegel: I was a sophomore in high school. Had some friends who
had started a band called The Duprees. I asked them one day if I
could be their singer. They said yes, and I joined the band and we
changed our name to The Chandells. After I Wanna Love You,
I wrote more songs . . . the band recorded a demo of 10 of them.
Wrote a few more and the band changed its name to Bittervetch.
The band recorded and released a single, Bigger Fool and A
Girl Like You, and then broke up when we all went to
college. All the Chandells and Bittervetch recordings from
1964-1966 have been released by Gear Fab Records and are available
Fab and from a number of internet CD sellers.
What were some of your most memorable musical influences
Rob Hegel: First and foremost: The Beatles appearance on Ed
Sullivan. Others include Presley, Holly, Who, Kinks, Mathis,
Nilsson, Mancini, Mozart, Rundgren, and most every hit record from
the 50ís and 60ís.
C.P.: Which instruments do you play?
Rob Hegel: Keyboards, Guitar, Percussion . . . main instrument is
my voice. Iím a crooner at heart.
C.P.: Tell us how you began writing with Carol
George (aka Amanda George.) And when did the two of you start
working for Don Kirshner?
I met Carol in Manhattan in 1973 (she changed her professional
name to Amanda in 1976 or 77.) I had just signed with RCA and my
first single, New York City Girl, was about to be released.
Carol was a struggling singer / songwriter who I thought had a good
grasp of lyric writing and I asked her if she wanted to write some
songs together to see if we had a "fit." I would compose
a melody and sometimes a title lyric idea and she would "fill
in the blanks" with her wonderful words and imagery. We wrote
this way for about 8 years. Over that time my lyric writing sort
of took over and I mostly wrote on my own except for a brief stint
with guitar great Dick Wagner.
I signed with Chappell Music Publishing in 1973 and composed some
wonderful songs. Two of the songs from that period (All
Beginning written with Carol and my own composition, Here
You Are Again) are on my most recent CD release, HEGEL 2 -
completing our contract with Chappell at the end of 1974, Carol
took a job working as a writer on a TV game show called Musical
Chairs that was being
executive produced by Donnie Kirshner. She took a cassette of some
of our songs to the show's producer, Wally Gold (who was a
songwriter himself with such hits as Itís My Party, Itís
Now or Never, and Good Luck Charm) and he thought our
songs were great. He took the tape to Donnie and the next day my
phone rang: "Rob, this is Donnie Kirshner. I'd like you to
come to my office." The next week Carol and I signed an 8
year deal with Kirshner Entertainment Corporation. We were given
an office with a piano and everyday we went to the office and
wrote . . . and most everyday we would go into Donnie's office and
play him a new song and he would smile and nod and tell us how
much he loved us. It was really cool!
One day he
called us into his office and asked us to write some songs for a
new Saturday morning TV show he was developing with Alan Landsburg.
We wrote When It Hit Me that same afternoon and waltzed
into his office and played it for him. He was knocked out.
booked us, Wally, and Jay Siegel (who also worked for Donnie and
was the former lead singer for the Tokens of Wimoweh - The Lion
Sleeps Tonight fame) on a flight with him to Los Angeles where
we stayed in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, drove
Mercedes, and ate in the best restaurants. We met "the
Kids" and all the staff for the show in that first week and
we started writing more songs. I think I flew back and forth from
NY to LA about 6 times during the project. John Lansing and I
became good friends and discussed working together beyond the
C.A.P.E.R. show, but that never came about.
C.P.: You and Amanda George wrote four songs for the
series and album. Were these songs written specifically for this
project or were they songs you had already written? Any specific
memories about the inspirations for these particular songs?
Songs were written specifically for C.A.P.E.R. When It Hit Me went
to John and was to be the first single. We wrote Say It for
Cosie but Donnie wanted Steve to sing It. Fun in the Jungle was
written for Biff (and we had to tame some of the lyrics because it
got a bit "randy" at times and the censors were a bit
skiddish . . . with good reason, though . . . we did sneak a few
lines past them!) Everybody Loves Her was written for
Steve. We had no story lines to follow and no direction as to what
we were to write about . . . we just wrote what we wanted. I wish
I had some magical story about where a particular song came from
but the magic is simply in the writing . . . a melody just comes
to me out of nowhere.
Ooh, now I've gotta ask . . . can you recall any of those
"randy" lyrics left out of Fun in the Jungle?
After all, weíre all adults now, LOL!
Most of the ones that were "left out" were not ever
really in . . . "a little head in the bed" . . .
"youíll be fine from behind" . . . "on your knees
if you please" . . . mostly the lines were made up on the
spot (in the studio) to make everyone laugh. There was a lot
of "Stop the tape!" going on in that recording.
C.P.: Can you give us any insight as to how Don Kirshner
went about picking songs for the show?
Donnie would pick songs that he both owned and liked. That was his
only criteria. Carol and I had two other songs that were perfect
for the show, Fantasy Lady and Make it Magical, that
would have been great but they were written during our contract
with Chappell and even though Donnie LOVED the songs and thought
they would be hit records, he didnít include them because he
didnít own the publishing.
C.P.: It seems clear that the songs were selected and recorded
before the series was filmed. Were you ever up against the clock
getting things ready for the showís premiere? In other words,
was it a rushed project at all?
The LP was recorded and then the shows were filmed . . . never
really seemed rushed. Shows were filmed one per week . . .
"Kids" had press responsibilities and photo shoots . . .
every week a new "cute" girl was cast for the episode.
think we were still filming when the show started and then it
C.P.: Were you working primarily in the New York or the Los
Angeles studio at this time, or both?
All recording was done in L.A. . . . not sure what Joey V. (Joe
Venneri) and the
rest did in NYC.
C.P.: You mentioned that you and Jay Siegel worked on the
arrangements and background vocals for the album. The Kids did
some harmonizing on vocals on the series itself in short songs,
but did they work together in the studio on the songs, or were
their vocals each recorded on an individual basis (with only one
Kid on each song and you and Jay doing the background vocals)?
Mostly it was Jay and I (with John every so often) . . . reason
for this was only that Jay and I were used to singing in the
studio and the Kids were new at it. Singing background harmonies
is not as easy as it may sound and teaching others the parts and
tone and breath and balance takes time and time is money in the
studio so it was just much simpler for Jay and I to do them.