Born Albert Hazan, 1934, Los Angeles, California
If the name Al Hazan means anything at all to you, it is probably as the pianist on "Nut Rocker" by B. Bumble and the Stingers. He wrote his first song in 1952 and his most recent one in 2001, but he was mainly active in the music business from 1955 to 1965, interrupted by a two-year stint in the US Army (more or less at the same time as Elvis), 18 months of which were spent in the Panama Canal Zone.
During that decade he has worked with many of the big names on the Los Angeles scene, like Phil Spector, Sonny Bono, Jack Nitzsche, Hal Blaine, Lee Hazlewood, Glen Campbell, Lou Adler, H.B. Barnum, Nick Venet, Terry Melcher, Rene Hall, Steve Douglas and many others.
Al started composing songs at the piano at an early age. As a teenager, his first major public appearance was on Peter Potter's early 50s local TV show, "Search For A Song". His first recorded composition was "The Dance Of Love", performed by the Bell Sisters for RCA Victor in 1953 and arranged by Nelson Riddle. To Al's great disappointment, RCA did not release the record at the time, but it was finally issued on a Jasmine CD by the Bell Sisters in 2002 and Al received a belated royalty check in October 2005 for $32,18. "Is There A Heaven" by Russell Arms (Era 1018, 1956) was his first composition that did get a release. In late 1957, Hazan called Specialty Records to ask if they were interested in his songs. The call was answered by Sonny Bono, who would become his best friend in the music business. Sonny produced two of Al's songs for Specialty, "Do You Promise" by Sonny Lowery (Specialty 621) and the great rocker "Hiccups" by Roddy Jackson (Specialty 649), both in 1958. Other artists who have recorded Al Hazan compositions include Ritchie Valens ("Hi-Tone"), Wanda Jackson ("If I Were You"), James Darren, Gene McDaniels, Johnny Crawford, Jesse Lee Turner, and more recently Pep Torres, who records for El Toro. In the first half of the 60s, Al had several releases as a singer, under various pseudonyms, like Al Anthony, Dudley Duncan, Crazy Luke, and (with two girls) the Galaxies, later renamed the Royal Galaxies.>From 1961 till 1965 he also worked as a producer, mainly at Gold Star Studio. This did not yield any hits, though he did produce the Beau Brummels before they started scoring hits in 1965-66. In 1961 he started his own publishing company, Chemistry Music, which he still owns to this day.
Early in 1962, he got a call from Rod Pierce who ran Rendezvous Records. They needed a pianist to play lead on a record by B. Bumble and the Stingers, sitting in for Ernie Freeman who was unavailable. It was a cover of "Nut Rocker", a rocked-up arrangement of "March of the Wooden Soldiers" from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite", originally done by a group called Jack B. Nimble and the Quicks (in reality H.B. Barnum) for the Del Rio label. Hazan was allowed no more than 30 minutes to learn the arrangement. He was not satisfied with the first take and wanted to do it again, but Rod Pierce said he liked it just fine and within an hour the session was finished. "Nut Rocker" was a # 23 hit in the US and went all the way to # 1 in the UK, where it made the Top 20 for a second time in 1972. After this success, Al was anxious to produce a piano rocker of his own. Lester Sill was willing to finance the session and Hazan came up with rock n roll arrangements of "Malaguena" and "Chopsticks", which came out on Philles 103 in mid-1962, credited to Ali Hassan. The Philles label at that time was still jointly owned by PHIL Spector and LESter Sill. Al produced the record himself. It proved impossible to recreate the dynamic piano sound of "Nut Rocker" (which was not even recorded in a professional studio, but at the Rendezvous office) and the Philles single, in spite of heavy exposure by Dick Clark, did not get off the ground, to Al's great disappointment.
Hazan quit the music business in 1965, disappointed with the new directions in popular music. A career in photography was followed by several years of taking care of his ailing father. In the 1970s he enrolled at UCLA (University of California in Los Angeles) and graduated in 1984, magna cum laude. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology in 1990 and has written two books and several scientific articles. He became a licensed psychotherapist, with a private practice in L.A.
Al has a very comprehensive website (inversely proportional to his importance) with much more info, at http://alhazan.com/
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