The industry lost perhaps its best friend this week with the passing of Charlie Minor.
Much has been made of the almost Shakespearian tragedy of Charlie’s death. It is human nature to want to know details and search for answers…to wonder if there was anything we could have done and ask the question, “Why?” It is much too easy to lose ourselves in the events surrounding Charlie’s death. What we should do…what we must do…is celebrate Charlie’s life.
And my God, what a life.
Charlie Minor left us with wonderful memories and a remarkable legacy. Whether or not Charlie’s legacy lives on is up to us. He did his part. If we can all take a little bit of his love of life, his compassion for his friends, his forgiveness of his enemies and his commitment to his beliefs, then Charlie will live on. We owe it to him…we owe it to ourselves.
To say this Editorial is difficult to write is a massive understatement. Feelings, even detached emotions, are most difficult to put on paper. It’s impossible to know where to start, what to say, when to end.
Charlie and I got into the business at about the same time. He was working records; I was working radio. We moved up together. When I programmed some of the biggest radio stations in the country, Charlie was always in contact. What made him different was that even when I was at smaller stations, Charlie was always in contact. And what made him special? When I was out of work, he was always in contact. He was always calling to see if there was anything I needed…anything he could do. Not just occasionally. Constantly.
We shared a common bond, both being “good old boys” from small towns in the South. But you really didn’t need a common bond to be a friend of Charlie’s. Charlie was the bond. I wasn’t “special” when it came to Charlie’s compassion. He felt compassion for everyone.
I have no idea how many people I met through Charlie. If you were his friend (and you had but to meet him to be his friend), he wanted you to know and enjoy all of his other friends. He was the glue that held it together…the catalyst for each event…the straw that stirred the drink.
And to Charlie, it never mattered who you were or what position you held or how important you were perceived by others…everyone was the same in Charlie’s eyes. Charlie would introduce you to Sylvester Stallone or a parking attendant with equal enthusiasm. Charlie loved everybody…and everybody loved Charlie.
It’s impossible to chronicle the life and times of Charlie Minor. He touched more people in our industry than any other non-performer in history, although to say Charlie wasn’t a performer is to misrepresent the obvious. Charlie was the quintessential performer…he just wasn’t a musician.
How many attended one of Charlie’s famous small dinners with just a few people? Even though there was always a crowd, Charlie made each of us feel we were the reason for the gathering.
Charlie loved to describe himself as just an ordinary country boy from the South, but if ever there was a person made in heaven for a particular job, you needed to look no further than promotion and Charlie Minor. Wasn’t he the best?
Charlie’s unique style of promoting records was a by-product of the real person inside. Charlie was the Muhammad Ali of the record business…the undisputed heavyweight champion. He never met a programmer he didn’t like and he never heard a record he wouldn’t promote. Platinum sellers or instant cut-outs, Charlie championed both with equal ardor. It was his job, but it was more than that. It was his life.
And in an age where record promotion more and more means, “What can you do for me if I add this record,” Charlie stood apart from the crowd. He built his considerable reputation on relationships. It was always, “Come on out to the beach house,” or “Give it to me because it’s my birthday,” rather than, “Buddy, let’s do a big promotion.”
And more often than not, Charlie got the add. It was nearly impossible to say no to Charlie, because in every way that really mattered, Charlie never said no.
Where others were quick to say, “If you’re in Los Angeles, call my office and we’ll set you up with Lakers tickets,” with Charlie, it was, “I’ll pick you up at the airport.” Because he wanted an add? No, it was because he liked you and wanted you to like him. Instead of spending his money on people, he spent something much more valuable. His time.
In a business where everyone is quick to criticize, Charlie never had a bad word to say about anyone. I have known Charlie over 20 years. I’ve been with him when people treated him despicably. He was never critical…never negative…never down. Goodtime Charlie never had the blues. Can the rest of us say the same?
And the personal side was no different. Those of us who knew him well enough to share the quiet moments when he talked about his hopes and dreams, his deep feelings for his family and his unlimited love and devotion for his daughter knew we had been touched by a special person.
Though he came from humble beginnings, Hollywood never had a better ambassador. If you wanted to see the sights, you called Charlie. If you wanted to dine at the best tables at the best restaurants, you called Charlie. If you wanted to get in the most private of clubs, you called Charlie. In Beverly Hills, where half the restaurants have unlisted phone numbers an there’s a six-month waiting list to be put on the three-month waiting list, there was always a table for Charlie. All you needed to say was, “I’m with Charlie,” and you were immediately waved inside.
I saw Charlie at a party last week. I saw Charlie at a party almost every week. This meeting was no more special than others. As always, he said something that made me smile. It was a typical Charlie Minor comment, similar to those many of you who are reading this have heard him make.
“Cagle, you and I show up, don’t we? It doesn’t matter what the occasion, we just show up. It’s what we’re good at.”
Charlie, no body showed up better than you.
Last Sunday, Charlie showed up in heaven. We all know there was a table waiting.