The farm was located in a beautiful valley in East Tennessee and was roughly the size of Manhattan. When I left the valley, I suppose I took a lot of the southern mountain sensibilities (along with my Tennessee drawl) with me when I ventured northward to seek my fortune and fame.

At any rate, to my great surprise and disappointment, the Big Apple did not welcome me with open arms. What’s more, my “dream job” for which I had left the sunny South was that of a lowly paste-up artist, hidden away in the corner of the art department. I was miserable, and I had already decided to leave the magazine and New York and to slink back south to Nashville. That decision, however was about to be changed.

Now, understand, the art department wasn’t actually a department at was really just a room, the art room. They probably called it a department because, being designed for art files and two art tables, it was slightly larger than most of the other offices. That’s also why they most likely thought it was too large for me, the lowly paste-up hillbilly, to have all to myself. So, when they hired the new person, this radio guy named Neil McIntyre, they stuck him back in the art room with me until his office could be completed. They had hired him to help shore up the radio charts and to write a column for a weekly radio page. When he showed up for work the first day, everyone in the place seemed to know and love him. However, I was non-plussed; it was humiliating enough to have to share my dark little corner, but what made it worse was this new guy had nothing to do with art.

I tried my best to be politely rude to him, but as hard as I tried to be anti-social, Neil wouldn’t let me. He introduced me to the non-stop barrage of visitors, both from inside the magazine and from the rest of the music world who were constantly dropping by. “Do you have lunch plans?” they’d ask him.

Neil would turn to me and say, “I don’t know...what are we doing for lunch?” It was always funny to see the people who had looked right through me only the week before being obligated to invite me out for a sandwich.

Neil had grown up in Cleveland, where he first got into radio, but he made his name in New York, programming stations such as WINS, WPIX, WNEW and WKTU. Neil was at WPIX when the station switched its format from Top 40 to Album Oriented Rock. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Dennis Quinn recalled Neil having to explain what that meant to one of the station owner's corporate big wigs who didn’t understand radio. “We’re switching from little records with big holes to big records with little holes,” Neil told him.

He also worked with a bevy of radio talent such as Pete “Mad Daddy” Myers (who he knew from Cleveland and worked with at WINS in New York), Murray the K (New York’s top-rated radio host at the advent of “Beatlemania” and dubbed “the Fifth Beatle” by either George or Ringo during their first New York visit), “Doctor” Jerry Carroll (New York TV’s “Crazy Eddie” in the late ’70s, which was parodied nationally by the folks on “Saturday Night Live”), Howard Hoffman, Jay Thomas (a regular on “Murphy Brown,” “Cheers” and “Mork and Mindy”), and former CNBC anchor Ted David (who Neil hired as a DJ at WPIX).

I didn’t know any of this about Neil when I first started sharing the art room with him. Over the next few years, I learned these facts little by little, but never from Neil, himself; it was always gleaned from the stories that his friends told over beers at the end of the day. I began to realize that everyone who knew him loved him, and he was one of the funniest people I had ever met.

After a few days in the office, Neil began to take an interest in the cartoon sketches I had drawn all over my drawing table. “What’s this? he asked, “Did you draw these?” I told him that I used to draw editorial cartoons and a comic strip for a weekly newspaper in East Tennessee. “How about if we start doing a cartoon for the radio page?” he asked. I asked him if we could really do that and he laughed. “That’s what’s so crazy,” he said, “it’s my page, so we can do whatever we want to with it.”

And so, the Record World cartoon was born. Initially created as a radio-oriented cartoon, it ran weekly from 1978 until the magazine’s demise in 1982, and somewhere along the way, it evolved into a more general, music-industry cartoon. It was something of a unique animal, a cross between a conventional newspaper editorial cartoon and a cartoon you might find in the New Yorker. It was a lot like Neil himself—although it poked fun at music icons and events, it was never mean-spirited. For example when Fleetwood Mac’s 2-disc album “Tusk” was released, we did a cartoon of the band receiving a framed album and the presenter was saying, “Congratulations...your album just went ivory.”

The cartoon not only gave me confidence; it gave me credibility. Neil pulled me out of the shadows of the art room and threw me into the spotlight. Along the way, we had some great times. He was a walking comedy routine. Strolling down a New York City street with him was like watching a big-screen comedy with Neil as the narrator. “Uh oh, look at this guy coming,” he’d say as an unsuspecting elderly businessman approached, “I think his mother dressed him this morning.” And as the guy passed us, Neil would whisper to me, “Blindfolded.”

Sometimes Neil’s wife, Mary Anne, would be along for the ride, and she always added reason and perspective to his routines. After the three of us attended a “listening party” for Levon Helm’s new album at the time, Neil and Mary Anne invited me out to dinner at the Palm. Neil wanted to show me their caricatures on the wall. Once at the restaurant, Warren Beatty opened the taxi’s door so we could exit. “You can have our cab,” Mary Anne said to him as she got out.

“Thank you, Darlin’,” Warren told her, smiling warmly.

“Oh, that’s great,” said Neil, “Now I’m competing with Clyde Barrow.”

Another time, Neil and his pal, Ray D’Ariano (who was then an MCA Records VP), commissioned me to do a caricature of Elton John that they would present to him. Ray paid me with a “Beatles Reunion Tour 1979” satin jacket with “Pete” (as in Pete Best, their first drummer) monogrammed on the front. The jacket always got me a lot of attention on the streets of New York. Ray had also “borrowed” one of our Record World Elton cartoons, and turned it into T-shirts for Elton and his band.

The Record World cartoon was a big hit. Neil and I were constantly getting calls from managers and even from the artists themselves, wanting to buy the originals, or to somehow get reprints. We did special plaques with the cartoons for artists and bands such as Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Billy Joel, and Led Zeppelin, just to name a few. It was a heady time, to say the least.

Neil died this past September, on 9/11. To say that it came as a shock is an understatement. I had talked to him a few weeks before, and he had told me about his cancer diagnosis, but true to form, he turned the news into a comedy routine. It led me to mistakenly believe that there would be more time to spend with him. I miss him and think about him just about every day. He not only shared his limelight with me, he gave me the visibility that provided me with the opportunity to become Record World’s art director in 1980. As art director, I really came of age, career-wise. What’s more, there are a number of magazines that I have designed and facilitated (including SouthernReader) that never would have existed were it not for Neil and his pushing and pulling me into the spotlight.

A while back, I got an email out of the blue from a man in England that I had never met before. He explained that he had recently purchased the office furnishings from Led Zeppelin’s London office and that there was one of my Record World cartoons (from the late ’70s) on the wall that was included in the deal. He asked if I had any idea how it had gotten there.

I replied, “Once upon a time in far-away New York City, there was this out-of-place, hillbilly kid hiding in the shadows of the art department of a music trade magazine...”

Click here to see a sampling of the Record World cartoons

Holy Spit An angst-ridden adventure in the life of Lisa Love that is nothing to spit at.

The Wild, Wild Woman from Borneo A short story about the circus and growing up by David Ray Skinner.

Granddaddy's Country Store Sylvia Nash remembers her grandfather and his store in poetry.

The Painter Musician Paul Dunlap's memoir of his experiences after a stroke.

Hunting for Major Bibb Charlton Walters Hillis’s account of searching for one of her long-lost ancestors.

The Peddler on the Mountain Judy Ricker takes us back to how shopping was done before there were malls.

597 A.D. A poem about the mysteries of Canterbury by Jerry Nash.

The Hawkins Country Invasion Stephen Hyder’s account of rock and roll’s arrival in an East Tennessee county.

The Corner Ron Burch remembers life in his corner of Atlanta back in the 1950's.

Post Office Box 1314
Norcross, GA 30091-1314

David Ray Skinner

Jann Marthaler

Regular Contributing Writers
Ron Burch
David Clark
Lisa Love

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