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Joe Renzetti's Stories

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Joe Renzetti

By the mid 60s, I was established in New York City as a first-call arranger, because of hit records like Sunny, by Bobby Hebb, 98.6 by Keith, Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, by Jay and the Techniques,

the Spanky and Our Gang album, and many others.

One of the producers I worked for was Artie Kornfeld who’d had a big hit with Pied Piper,

by The Changing Times and Come On Get Happy by the Partridge Family.

One day in1968, Artie called me to arrange the music for one of his artists. After the session, Artie told me about a recording studio he and some pals were going to build in Woodstock, New York.

Artie was really excited about the idea. Just think how great it would be, he said, we could go up there and hang out for a week or two and make records. I thought it sounded great too.

Woodstock was known for being a cool, artsy, hippie-dippy town, and I was a hippie, so…

A month or so passed, and Artie called me in for another session. While the musicians and engineers were setting up, I asked him how the Woodstock studio was coming along.

Artie said the plans had changed. There now was going to be a nightclub attached to the studio.

Wow, I said, what a great set up. You could record bands live with a live audience. We were both really jazzed about the possibilities.

And… Another month passed. Artie and I met again at another recording session.. I asked him,

so when’s the new studio/night club gonna open,

More hyper than ever, Artie let me in on some big news. Not only are we building a club and a recording studio, he said, but now we’re adding a hotel. Golly jeepers, Mr. Kornfeld, I gushed,

this is going to be far out. And Artie nodded with a grin on his face.

Another month or so went by, and when Artie called me in for another session, I pressed him for an update on his club/recording-studio/hotel.

Oh, no no, he answered, forget all that. We’re gonna do a music festival, outdoors in a big open field instead.

Weeks passed, and the next time we talked, Artie rattled off a long list of the artists that were booked to perform at the festival. Each name was more impressive than the previous. I was blown away. I just couldn’t believe all the acts they had booked.

How you gonna squeeze all these performers in on just one day, I asked. We ain’t, he said, it’s gonna be a whole weekend-long fesival.

Before the event rolled around, Artie said he’d hook me up with a backstage pass, and book me on one of the private helicopters flying from the Pan Am building in downtown NYC, up to Woodstock and landing behind the stage. Count me in, I said. Great, he said, you’ll be on the VIP list,

just show up.

The Friday night of the festival, I turned on the TV and heard it was pouring rain up there.

The festival was getting muddy.

When I got up Saturday morning, I turned on the TV and saw that it was still raining, that the crowd was many times larger than they’d predicted, and the fences were down. The festival was now free of charge; a great big sloppy mess.

So I figured, let’s see… flying in a helicopter in the rain, landing in mud in an area that was in such total chaos that there was talk of the Governor calling in the National Guard.

The friggin’ Guard; so fun.

So I did what any self-respecting New York music-professional with no skin in the game would do,

I decided to stay home in my cozy apartment in midtown Manhattan and nap.

I don’t regret it one bit. I don’t think I would’ve had a lot of fun in the mud, not being able to sleep,

nothing to eat or drink, standing in line for hours waiting for a backed-up Porta Potty, and possibly get killed in a helicopter crash in a storm; just not very appetizing.

So when everybody claims they were at Woodstock, and how much they loved it; I’m probably one of the few people you’ll ever meet who decided not to go, even as a first class VIP.

Many years later, in a phone conversation with Artie, I asked him if I was really on that VIP list for the helicopter. Absolutely, he said, but you would have had to pay for it.

Great, so I saved some money too. Joseph Renzetti - 2022

CHUCKY'S Beginnings.

I was the composer of the music score to the original of the Child's Play movies.

I was in meetings with the director, creators, producers of the film many times.

I was in on the creative discussions.

I remember someone told me that CHUCKY known as Charles Lee Ray, was named after three most infamous killers: Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray.

I was asked if I knew someone in the electronics sound world, that could manipulate the human voice, to create the "sound" of Chucky's voice. I remember sitting in a dark dubbing stage for hours listening to hi squeaky, low rumbling, weird voice sound effects. None of them worked. Then they discovered the brilliant Brad Dourif.

Before I got to do the music, they "tested" the film in front of an audience outside of LA. The people laughed at Chucky. This made the producers nervous. It was supposed to be a horror film not "Animal House."

After some editing, adding Brad, and my score; where my best musical efforts were used to scare the s**t out of the audience, people stoped laughing.

I was told by one of the producers that a big shot from the studio told him, "your composer just turned a typical Horror B Film into a major release." Just sayin'.

Joe Renzetti AWW 2021

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

A fan asked me how I went from doing the music for the "Buddy Holly Story," rock'n roll, to

"Child's Play" a dissonant, atonal, crunching, screeching orchestral score.

The short answer is that; as a newbie my first love was the guitar and Jazz; west coast, Kenton, Monk, Bird. Miles and everything that was out there to find.

Then I heard Ravel's "La Valse" and was blown away by orchestral music and its ability to mess with 3/4 time and "paint" pictures. I had discovered "program music" the classical music that is written to evoke mental pictures and not music for music's sake. It promoted visions of places, events, atmospheres; to set moods like fear, motion, calm, bliss. Sound familiar?

Perfect music for scoring films. In fact many of the first film composers came out of this school of thinking, composing, and I was one.

The last type of music I ran into was Doo-Wop, which I didn't like at all because of the boring aspect of the music and inane lyrics. But then at a School party one of the kids played Little Richard's

"Long Tall Sally."and I was stunned. Right then and there I fell in love with R&B. It had soul, sexuality, excitement, fun, energy. So count me in.

Then Motown hit, and I learned to play rhythm guitar in that bag. I met Dave Apple the head producer at Philly's Cameo records, they were tied to Dick Clark. Dave hired me as house guitarist and I was off starting a career.

By the time I finally got to meeting and getting envolved with film folks, I had been a studio guitarist, an arranger, and a self-schooled composer.

So I could handle it all; Jazz, Rock, Big Band, and the atonal and tonal orchestra writing, composing. And when electronics and synthesizers appeared, I jumped on that too.

So when I met rock film producers, they liked what I did in the rock area. When I met the horror film makers, I showed them I could do weird music so they liked me for that.

Like a good actor, I have range.

Yeah, Joe R

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