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The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography:
The DRG Contract (1979)

by Iván Santiago

Page generated on Sep 17, 2021


The Peggy Lee Look

This section's photos capture the way that Peggy Lee looked in 1978 (the year that followed her previous recording contract, with Polydor) and 1979 (the year in which which she signed her next contract, with DRG). Seen first above is glamour shot from either 1978 or 1979 -- precise date unknown. With handwriting on the back that gives the year as 1978, the second photo finds Lee in the company of disc jockey Roy Leonard at radio station WGN, in Chicago, Up next is a photo taken on Sunday, April 9 , 1978, at Delta Kappa Alpha's 39th Annual Awards Banquet. Held by the National Honorary Cinema Fraternity at the University of Southern California (Westwood, CA), that year's celebration honored Walt Disney Productions.

Below is a set of photos taken at the Hollywood Palladium on October 13, 1979. Bringing hair stylist Bruce Vanderhoff as her escort, Peggy Lee was there to attend the gala held annually by The Thalians, an actor-founded organization which raises funds for mental health issues. Their gala events usually honor philanthropy-minded celebrities, on which the title of Mr. or Ms. Wonderful is bestowed, along with a trophy originally designed by Walt Disney. That 24th year's gala honored actor Jack Lemmon, whom Peggy Lee described to the press as "always ... a favorite of mine."

Peggy Lee's Recording Career, 1979

Peggy Lee signed her first contract with an independent (and non-LA-based) label in 1979. Her association with the New York-based DRG Records resulted in one album. (Plans to record two other DRG albums were not carried out.) For specifics, see session notes below. Only those 10 album masters are known to have been waxed for DRG. (There are reports that Lee had recorded those same masters earlier for DRG, but no indication that such earlier versions have been preserved.) On the separate matter of recommended issues, the best option is the 2002 CD Close Enough For Love, which is a significant sonic improvement over all earlier LP, cassette and CD editions.

Date: May 30 And 31, 1979
Location: Filmways/Heider Studio, Cahuenga Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: DRG

Peggy Lee (ldr), Hugh Fordin (pdr), Tchad Blake, Geoff Howe (eng), Richard "Dick" Hazard (con), Dennis Budimir, John Chiodini, John Pisano (elg), Max K. Bennett (eb), Ian Underwood (elp), John Guerin (d, per), Peggy Lee (v)

a. Master Take (DRG) You - 4:05(Tom Snow) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" Transcription DiscP 11821 - P 18822 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Close Enough For Love]   (1979)
b. Master Take (DRG) Easy Does It - 3:32(Richard Hazard, Peggy Lee) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" Transcription DiscP 11821 - P 18822 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Close Enough For Love]   (1979)
c. Master Take (DRG) Close Enough For Love - 3:38(Johnny Mandel, Paul Williams) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" Transcription DiscP 11821 - P 18822 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Close Enough For Love]   (1979)
d. Master Take (DRG) A Robinsong - 3:17(Michael Franks) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
Contessa Public Domain cassette(Indonesia) J 106 — [Various Artists] Vocal Jazz 7 ("Just Jazz" Series)   (1983)
e. Master Take (DRG) Just One Of Those Things - 2:54(Cole Porter) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
DRG CD200 — [Various Artists] Quiet Please, There's A Diva On Stage; A Collection Of Broadway Divas   (2001)
f. Master Take (DRG) I Can't Resist You - 4:48(Will Donaldson, Ned Wever) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
g. Master Take (DRG) Come In From The Rain - 3:16(Melissa Manchester, Carole Bayer Sager) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" Transcription DiscP 11821 - P 18822 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Close Enough For Love]   (1979)
h. Master Take (DRG) In The Days Of Our Love - 3:16(Peggy Lee, Marian McPartland) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" Transcription DiscP 11821 - P 18822 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Close Enough For Love]   (1979)
i. Master Take (DRG) Through The Eyes Of Love - 3:11(Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
j. Master Take (DRG) Rain Sometimes - 3:57(Arthur Hamilton) / arr: Richard "Dick" Hazard
All titles on:
DRG 8-track/CS/LP_/Slc/Sl 5190 — Close Enough For Love   (1979)
DRG LPSL 5190 — Close Enough For Love [DBX Edition]   (1981)
DRG CS/CDCdsl 5190 — Close Enough For Love   (1988)

The Recording Sessions

The initial recording sessions for Peggy Lee's album Close Enough For Love took place in late February 1979. According to producer Hugh Fordin, those early sessions were "a total disaster." Since he was based in New York, Fordin had relied on a Hollywood contractor to hire prospective musicians. When Fordin came to the scheduled session along with Peggy Lee and conductor Dick Hazard, they were met by rock musicians whose attitude was less than optimal. Used to leading their own dates, these players showed little patience for their expected role as sidemen.

Moreover, the chosen location (Westlake Studio in Los Angeles) proved uncomfortable for the vocalist. Because the vocal booth was located right by the control booth, she wounded up getting hit over and over with microphones and musical instruments, which were being moved around by the session's technicians and musicians. In the end, the resulting performances were deemed useless, and scrapped.

During the ensuing two months (March and April), Lee moved on. She became busy with concert performances both in the United States (e.g., in Claremont, California) and abroad (Sydney, Australia). But the DRG project had not been cancelled. Fordin had proposed to re-schedule it for May.

For their second time around, Lee and Fordin came to a mutual agreement on the matter of the session musicians. They reasoned that it was best to use musicians with whom Lee had worked in the past. A different recording location (Wally Heider's Filmways/Heider Studio) was also chosen. Thanks to those changes, the songs scheduled for the album were finally recorded to the satisfaction of both Fordin and Lee.

In an interview conducted in the 1980s, Peggy Lee briefly talked about these two May 1979 sessions. "That was such a lovefest," she said, "it really was, because I hadn't seen them [i. e., the date's musicians] for such a long time. And when we all came in and got together it was just — well, Bones Howe's son was the engineer too, and that sort of made me think about Bones, and I must say that his son Geoff is just incredible."


Above: DRG's two official editions of the album Close Enough For Love. The original edition was released on vinyl and tape in 1979. Both formats saw reissues in 1988, simultaneous with the album's above-pictured, first CD issue. The back cover of the LP is also viewable above. In 2002, it was the CD's turn for a reissue, with modified artwork, new liner notes, and vastly improved sound quality -- the latter courtesy of record engineer Alan Silverman, That CD reissue is the other item is view -- both front and back cover. Below: the three European editions of the album Close Enough For Love. Naturally included in this session's list of issues, all three editions are also discussed below, under Issues. Further down below: sample pages from the booklet Miss Peggy Lee, to be discussed under the Collectors' Corner section.


1. Blue Arrowhead
Click on the above-seen arrowhead if you want to see a longer list of issues containing a longer list of CD and cassette editions of the album Close Enough For Love.

2. Close Enough For Love [CD] In Europe
DRG appears to have licensed the album Close Enough For Love to various European labels. At least two, maybe all three of the above-listed European reissue labels (Harmonia Mundi, Pickwick, and Tring) acknowledge DRG's ownership of the album's masters. (See also below, in Collectors' Corner, point #3.)

3. More Issues
For details about additional non-American releases of the album Close Enough For Love, consult this discography's foreign issues page.

Collectors' Corner

1. The Souvenir Book Companion to the LP Close Enough For Love
When originally released, Close Enough For Love consisted of not only the LP and its record jacket but also a regular (8.5" by 11") white piece of paper, inserted in the record jacket along with the LP. The piece of paper was an advertisement for The Life Story Of Peggy Lee, a 20-page pamphlet described in the ad as "an ideal companion to the LP."

The actual pamphlet is titled Miss Peggy Lee (not The Life Story Of Peggy Lee). In reality, it was Lee's 1979 souvenir tour book. Since its front picture happens to be the same one used for the cover of Close Enough For Love, cross-marketing it with the album struck Fordin as a logical idea. (It certainly was.)

The contents of this 12" by 9" souvenir book are as follows: color photos of the singer (just in the front and back covers); three pages of biographical material, divided into "The Professional Side," "The Creative Side," and "The Personal Side"; a couple of poems by the singer; a list of her original American LPs up to 1975; some acknowledgments; and many small b&w photos, most of them featuring Lee with other celebrities (Jimmy Dorsey, Alice Faye, Jackie Gleason, Woody Herman, Liberace, Robert Preston, Ronald Reagan, etc., etc.).

2. Close Enough For Love [LP; DBX]
The LP Close Enough For Love was released in its "regular" version first (1979) and, years later, in a dbx special edition. (A noise reduction system used for professional recording, dbx requires special audio equipment to be appreciated.) Visually, the two versions seem identical, their only noticeable difference being the inclusion of the prefix dbx in the special edition.

3. Close Enough For Love [CD Reissues]
After first issuing it on CD in 1988, DRG reissued Close Enough For Love 14 years later. The reissue is vastly superior to both the 1988 CD and the original LP: its mastering significantly improves on the sound quality of the previous editions, the liner notes are highly informative, and the re-design shows not only good taste but also an intentional effort at using colors and concepts favored by Lee herself.

As previously mentioned, there are also three European CD reissues of Close Enough For Love. Collectors should take note that two of those reissues on Pickwick and on Tring) have covers different from the one that graces the original DRG issue. The third reissue (on Harmonia Mundi) shows the same photo as the DRG original, but in a drastically reduced size. For a look at each cover, see the Photos: Later Albums page, in this discography's Miscellanea section.

Peggy Lee At Hugh Fordin's DRG Records

In his liner notes for the 2002 edition of the CD Close Enough For Love (DRG #91741), Will Friedwald explains how Peggy Lee found her way to the New York-based company DRG. Around 1978 or 1979, Lee had asked EMI Capitol Records if the company had any interest in a new album from her. Unfortunately, the company was no longer interested in recording Lee or, for that matter, any vintage artists specializing in pop. (Instead, a brand new Lee compilation was green-lighted in 1979. Titled Peggy Lee Sings Cy Coleman, it features a contemporaneous photo of Lee in its cover, and includes extensive new notes. This anthology was prepared by Lee's erstwhile producer Dave Cavanaugh.)

Renny Martini, a senior A&R executive at Capitol, made an interesting suggestion to Lee. He told her that she should contact his friend Hugh Fordin, who was a longtime fan of Lee's. Fordin owned the independent label DRG, which he had set up in 1976. Martini envisioned a recording by Lee in the same disco-lite vein as The Act, the much-buzzed-about cast album that Liza Minnelli had recorded in 1977 for DRG, and which Fordin had licensed to RCA.

Lee promptly contacted Fordin and, in January 1979, talks to record the album Close Enough For Love began in earnest. Fordin actually signed Lee for three LPs. Only this first album came to fruition.


Upper row: label owner Hugh Fordin and recording star Peggy Lee. Fordin is backstage at the 44th Grammy Awards on February 27, 2002, holding the trophy awarded to DRG for The Producers, that year's Best Musical Show Album. In what appears to be a candid from 1979 or 1978, a partially curly-haired Lee keeps it cool, wearing sunglasses and a simple dark dress.

Lee's image is also captured as she strikes a pose while modeling a Fendi fox coat (further described as "trimmed with ocelot-dyed karakal), on October 10, 1979. This modeling assignment was for the luxurious retail store Bonwit Teller, where the topper retailed for $10,000. Once located on Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, that New York institution ceased to exist that same year. Its historical Art Deco building, notable for the 15+ feet interlocking grillwork at the entrance, and the limestone bas reliefs of nude dancers high up on the façade, was razed by a developer who reneged on his promise of donating the reliefs and grillwork to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The remodeled building was renamed in his honor, and henceforth known as a "tower." The case has been cited as the earliest media scandal for this developer who would become -- about 35 years later -- president of the United States.

Bottom row: Peggy Lee with guitarist Paul Baker in Sidney, during her Australian tour, mid-March 1979. Next, a fashionable bedheaded Lee attends a Mabel Mercer concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, on March 21, 1978. Finally, the singer is photographed while she rehearses at Radio City Hall, on June 28, 1979.

Sessions Reported: 1

Performances Reported: 10

Unique Songs Reported: 10

Unique Issues Reported: 10