Excerpt from And Party Every Day: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records:
A long time ago, I met a man who was painting a building. It was a small building, and he asked me to help him paint it, so I did. As we were painting, people would walk by. A few of them looked a bit crazy, just like us, so we asked them to help, and they did.
And then the building started growing. The more we painted, the more the place grew. The more it grew, the more crazy people showed up to help us paint it.
The building was becoming a palace, but it wasn’t necessarily a “nice” palace. Soon, it was filled with things you wanted so desperately you could taste them. Things that you got and ended up wishing you didn’t have. Money. Cocaine. Weed. Booze. Sex and mountains of Quaaludes. Success and excess at every level. And, worst of all, the promise of more. Within five years, the palace took up an entire city block, and the sign out front read “Casablanca Records.”
My boss, my cousin, my mentor—a complete fucking genius named Neil Bogart—was the guy who started us all painting. “Painting the building” was his mantra, his way of saying that if you looked successful, you were successful. Perception was reality. He was right.
But the story of Casablanca was about more than just Neil. It was about the 1970s. I take that back—it wasn’t about the 1970s, it was the 1970s. It was the story of the music industry in the go-for-broke Me Decade. In those five years, we built our beloved Casablanca from a four-person, one-act outfit into a corporation with 175 employees, more than 140 artists, and an Academy Award–winning motion picture division.
I was along for the ride, sometimes serving as the train’s engineer, but for the most part, I was the one in charge of stoking the fire and clearing the tracks so that the unstoppable steam engine called Casablanca could keep chugging up the hill. We all believed in that bedtime story about the little engine, and, no matter the odds, we always knew we could, we knew we could, we knew we could . . .