How a Brooklyn ‘hustler’ launched Kiss and Donna Summer

Music govt Neil Bogart’s profession took off because of an extramarital affair.

Within the early Nineteen Seventies, Bogart leaned in to kiss his mistress, Joyce Biawitz, and noticed a demo labeled “Kiss.”

Kiss — that’s title,” Bogart mentioned.

“Do you actually wanna discuss enterprise proper now?” Biawitz, who was Kiss’ supervisor, replied.

Quickly after, Bogart signed the band to his fledging label, Casablanca Information, primarily based on the demo alone.

“My father signed them sight unseen — he signed them due to the music,” mentioned Bogart’s son, Tim Bogart. “Then he found the imaginative and prescient and mentioned, ‘Completely — let’s go!’”

That defining second is captured within the new biopic “Spinning Gold,” in theaters on Friday and written and directed by Tim. The movie tells the story of how Bogart (performed by Jeremy Jordan) went from being a younger Brooklyn hustler to a famed music govt who launched among the period’s greatest skills.

Kiss would turn into the primary of a number of iconic artists — together with disco legends Donna Summer and the Village People and funk godfathers Parliament and Cameo — to strike gold with Casablanca Information within the ’70s.

Jeremy Jordan stars as Neil Bogart in "Spinning Gold."
Jeremy Jordan brings life into legendary music exec Neil Bogart in “Spinning Gold.”
Courtesy Everett Assortment

Jeremy Jordan stars as Neil Bogart in "Spinning Gold."
Jeremy Jordan stars as Neil Bogart in “Spinning Gold,” in theaters Friday.
Hero Companions/Everett Assortment

“Neil was actually a trendsetter,” mentioned Cameo lead singer and founder Larry Blackmon, whose band was signed to file “Discover My Approach” for the disco-driven soundtrack to 1978’s “Thank God It’s Friday.”

Their sound later grew to become extra funky, with hits akin to “Word Up!” and “Candy.”

“I’ve a whole lot of respect for him. It was a terrific firm to work with. I can not complain,” Blackmon continued.

Bogart — who was born Neil Bogatz — began using his entrepreneurial spirt as a child rising up within the Glenwood Homes in Brooklyn. 

“At 8 years previous, he began this laundry enterprise, and he was making extra money than his father,” mentioned Tim. “He and his group of those 40 younger children would knock on doorways, choose up your laundry, do the laundry, fold the laundry and return it.”

Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records.
Neil Bogart rose from the Brooklyn tasks to go Casablanca Information within the ’70s.
Tony Korody

Neil Bogart and Donna Summer.
Neil Bogart and the queen of his kingdom, Donna Summer season.
Michael Ochs Archives

Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records.
Neil Bogart died at 39 from most cancers in 1982 after promoting Casblanca Information in 1980.
Michael Ochs Archives

He went on to vary his title to Neil Scott and have become a singer with the doo-wop hit “Bobby” within the early ’60s.

He even beat Elvis Presley in an area radio competitors that was hosted by New York DJ Murray the Okay.

“My dad was the Brooklyn child, so he rallied the complete neighborhood,” mentioned Bogart’s son Evan Bogart, who served as govt music producer on the movie. “He was actually handing out dimes for individuals to name in and vote for him to beat Elvis …  He was on the market hustling like the very best Brooklynites do.”

Bogart would finally go on to do promotions and advertising at MGM Information and Cameo-Parkway Information, the place he met a younger George Clinton years earlier than he would signal the Parliament chief.

“He was in a doo-wop group [wearing] a three-piece go well with — not the George Clinton we all know,” mentioned Tim.

Then Bogart grew to become an exec at Buddha Information, wooing such R&B legends because the Isley Brothers and Gladys Knight & the Pips away from Motown by giving them extra inventive freedom — and even, in some instances, their very own labels — whereas additionally signing socially acutely aware soul greats Invoice Withers and Curtis Mayfield in the course of the civil rights motion. 

“There’s a whole lot of enterprise on the telephone, so for lots of those preliminary interactions, many artists assumed my father was black,” mentioned Tim. “They noticed the ability of the music that he was placing out, the ability of the artists, and so they simply assumed he probably was black.”

It was in the end with Casablanca Information that Bogart actually made his imprint.

However playing and overspending prompted him to fall thousands and thousands of {dollars} into debt as he struggled to translate Kiss’ live-show following into file gross sales,

Then, in 1975, he got here up with the thought of a Kiss Military — lengthy earlier than Taylor Swift’s Swifties or Beyoncé’s Beyhive — that might require followers to purchase albums so as to obtain unique merchandise.

Kiss performing
Neil Bogart began Casablanca Information with Kiss as his first act.
Getty Photos

Additionally within the mid-’70s, Bogart signed Donna Summer season, who would emerge to guide the disco motion. He turned the queen of his kingdom, who had bee n performing as LaDonna Gaines in Germany, into the horny siren of “Love to Love You Baby.”

“She was raised within the church — this was not who she needed to be,” mentioned Tim. “Nevertheless, she goes together with it. She turns into wildly profitable, extremely well-known, extremely rich. So it’s not like she was dragged unwillingly, however that additionally doesn’t dismiss the truth that this was not who she was. And I feel she all the time regretted changing into Donna Summer season.”

However Casablanca Information — which Bogart offered to Polygram in 1980 — in the end suffered with the demise of disco.

Bogart, who finally married Biawitz, handed away in 1982 from most cancers. He was solely 39.

A revamped model of his label continues in the present day underneath Republic Information, nevertheless it’s not as freewheelin’ as Casablanca underneath Bogart.

“They broke each rule,” mentioned Tim. “It was completely the Wild Wild West — I don’t suppose you can get away with the sorts of stuff they did socially, morally and even legally in the present day.”

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