Michael Viner
Guy Lochhead, 18/02/12
American record producer, audio book pioneer and entrepreneur. Viner worked on Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign and then turned to film production after his murder. He produced a joke record called ‘The Best Of Marcel Marceao’ – two sides of 19 minute silence followed by 1 minute of applause – and scored an unexpected hit and a deal with MGM, as a producer. The most well-known record to come from his stint at MGM was the 1972 track ‘Apache’, by his Incredible Bongo Band. Originally a soundtrack for ‘The Thing With Two Heads’, the break became a staple of hip hop. In 1984 he saw a business opportunity in the world of audio books, and started a company called Dove. He won a game of backgammon against the author Sidney Sheldon, and asked if he could put out two of Sheldon’s books instead of taking the $8,000 bet. Sheldon agreed, Roger Moore read them, and Dove had its first success. The company became famous for putting out exploitative tabloid pap, but most of the catalogue was pretty conservative. Dove was sold in 1997 when it got into financial difficulty. He started two more so-so publishing companies before dying in 2009. Although Viner may not have been the most admirable man, a couple of his productions needs to be included; ‘The Best Of Marcel Marceao’ is ingenious gimmickry, and The Incredible String Band’s ‘Apache’ spawned a whole culture. What a strange life.

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