From time to time, my column focuses on a neighborhood resident. Today I pay tribute to Roy Halee, a music industry giant who lived quietly and almost unknown in Boulder for many years.
Halee is best known for producing the recordings of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, both as a group and their solo projects. There are also his nine Grammy nominations, won four times. He has worked with many of the most famous in his field.
For decades he was one of the most influential people in the recording industry, working as a producer and sound engineer. His music has helped shape many aspects of American culture.
Halee had a stroke of genius bringing Simon and Garfunkel together on one microphone. The magic mix produced great results in the recording studio.
A visit to his home in Boulder leaves little doubt of his dedication to his craft. He has over a million dollars worth of recording equipment as well as a $100,000 turntable in his basement.
His Grammy awards share the same basement shelf, won alongside Simon and Garfunkel. Among those winners are “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Mrs. Robinson. The latter was written for the acclaimed 1968 film, “The Graduate.”
Other hits include ‘Sounds of Silence’, ‘Homeward Bound’, ‘I Am a Rock’, ‘At The Zoo’, ‘Cecelia’, ‘Scarbrough Fair’, ‘Old Friends’, ‘Dangling Conversation’ and more Again.
Many golden albums are framed and hang on the walls of his house. There is also a recent personal note from Edie Brickell, Simon’s wife, on a nearby table.
Simon said there would have been no “Graceland” album without Halee. Simon credited the chemistry between them for many of his hits. They both ventured to South Africa to record the album with local musicians – at a dangerous time as the United Nations Anti-Apartheid Committee had launched an international boycott against the country.
Halee is particularly proud that Graceland surpassed 5 million copies sold upon its release, earning platinum status. Today, that figure exceeds 16 million.
Simon and Halee won Album of the Year for Graceland in 1987.
Today, Halee still receives royalty checks for albums.
Boulder came into his family’s life when his daughter Laura was attending the University of Colorado and his wife Katherine visited. She was so taken with Boulder that she bought a house here. (They also raised two sons, Walter and Roy Jr.) Halee later joined her and made Boulder his home, although he also spent much of his time in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. .
Halee grew up in New York. He was born into a show business family. Her father was the original voice of Mighty Mouse, and Heckle and Jeckle. He also voiced many cartoon characters and was a well-known singer.
Roy’s mother, Rebekah Cauble, was a former stage actress with multiple Broadway credits. She once performed with Al Jolson at the famous Whither Theatre.
Halee was studying to be a classical trumpeter; he still plays it today. He eventually gave up that quest and began his career with Columbia Television, later joining Columbia Records. His television credits included being a sound engineer for shows such as “The Price is Right”, “The Gary Moore Show”, “What’s My Line”, “To Tell the Truth”, “The Jackie Gleason Show” , “The 64,000”. Question” and the “Playhouse 90” series.
When Columbia TV had a big layoff, Halee went to work at Columbia Records, where he became a pioneer. He started out as a sound engineer, then became one of the first producers/sound engineers in the industry.
One of his breakout moments was working with Bob Dylan on “Like a Rolling Stone.” Dylan carried Columbia Records for many years, accounting for many hits.
Clive Davis is one of the recording industry’s greatest pioneers and the former president of Columbia Records. He hired much of the talent, allowing Halee to work with such giants as Bruce Springsteen, Lovin’ Spoonful, Bee Gees, Barbara Streisand, Blood Sweat and Tears, Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond, Dave Clark Five, Yardbirds, Laura Nyro and others.
Davis convinced Halee to help start Columbia Records in Los Angeles because Davis wanted to get away from New York’s unions.
In 2001, Halee received the TEC (Technical Excellence Creativity) award. He was inducted into the TEC Award Hall of Fame.
After Halee discovered Simon and Garfunkel’s uniqueness, he spent most of his time producing their records.
After their split, Halee became Simon’s sole producer.
Halee helped produce the famous free Simon and Garfunkel benefit concert on the Great Lawn in New York’s Central Park on September 19, 1981. The crowd was estimated at over 500,000. An album and a film of this concert were released a year later.
This concert had a profound effect on Halee, who was on stage. He said: “I will never forget then-New York Mayor Ed Koch introducing Paul and Artie to the crowd and the roar of the crowd. It was a huge and surreal eruption, not to be believed.
Music is both her past and her hobby, when Halee, 88, doesn’t spoil her brown and white pointers.
I asked Roy what he would change in the industry, and his response was surprisingly vehement.
“It’s sour grapes. The music no longer exists. It’s just noise. If it’s not noisy, it’s no good. We are dinosaurs. People don’t remember us. The digital age has been our destruction.
Roy Halee is said to be one of the great architects of modern music, although no one knows it.
You never know who you’ll meet in Boulder.
Jim Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org