I met Natalie Cole in the early 70s while still in college at DePaul University. I'd begun making demos at Paul Serrano's Studio, & was absorbing everything I could there. Natalie's first hit "This Will Be" was all over the radio. One night I was in the studio, Paul came out of his office with Natalie & introduced her to me. She was friendly & gracious.
Fast forward to 1988... I received a call from producer Michael Masser, praising my recent work as an arranger with Madonna. He talked fast, & had a bit of a manic quality about him. He told me he was working on an album for Natalie & had a hit song that he thought I was perfect for. I thanked him, & we scheduled a meeting at his house for me to go over the song.
When I got there, I heard the song "Miss You Like Crazy" & discussed the tone & size of the string section needed for it.
His daughter (probably in her 20s) came in & was introduced to me. after she left he said, "you know... you two would make a great couple together. Why don't you ask her out? I left feeling a bit strange about that remark. I really don't want this to sound like a hit piece, because in the entire time I worked with him he was nothing but respectful & friendly to me.
"I saw a mountain of 24inch tapes on the floor. I asked if that was the entire record being assembled, & he said 'No... it's all of Natalie's lead vocal tapes that she recorded for this song.' Apparently, Michael had her do well over 100 takes...He said Natalie was worn down, & couldn't make the session."
The string section recording session was at night. The session was at Oceanway studios, which I loved. I was friends with Alan Sides (owner & head engineer) at Oceanway. This was where I recorded my first album "Images", & I was comfortable there.
I always try to get to my sessions early to sus things out. As I walked into the control room, I met an engineer & saw a mountain of 24inch tapes on the floor. I asked if that was the entire record being assembled, & he said "No... it's all of Natalie's lead vocal tapes that she recorded for this song." Apparently, Michael had her do well over 100 takes...He said Natalie was worn down, & couldn't make the session.
The string section was a good size (26 musicians) & we started to rehearse the song. I like to begin rehearsing without the track to hear the balance & articulation of the group. Michael entered the recording area, and gave a pep talk to the orchestra, excitedly repeating a number of times "Play your best! Natalie really needs a hit on the charts!" While I was conducting the ensemble, I saw some of the musicians getting distracted, with others trying to avoid laughing. I turned around & saw Michael half dancing/half swinging his arms. I stopped & offered the baton to him, & he shook his head no & ran back into the booth.
We started doing a number of takes... each time I came into the booth Michael was hung up on what he thought was a lack of energy in the bridge. I thought they were fine, but didn't object.
Finally, after 3-4 passes in just that section, we weren't stopped
Natalie Maria Cole was an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She was the daughter of American singer and jazz pianist Nat King Cole. She rose to success in the mid-1970s as an R&B singer with the hits "This Will Be", "Inseparable", and "Our Love".
Masser's first major composition hit, co-written with Ron Miller, was "Touch Me in the Morning", recorded by Diana Ross. He co-wrote several other hit songs in the 1970s and 1980s, including four made famous by Whitney Houston, "Didn't We Almost Have It All", "Saving All My Love for You", "All at Once" and "Greatest Love of All",...