The Chairman of CBS Records Australia, Bill Smith, has asked me to set up and manage a new CBS Records Company in New Zealand. Before Bill can formally appoint me to the position I have to be approved by Walter Yetnikoff, the President of CBS Records. I’m asked to fly to New York the next day as an appointment has been arranged with Walter for later that week.
Walter is sitting behind his large desk and in one of the two visitor’s chairs is another man. I’m greeted by Walter with “So; you’re the guy from New Zealand?”
After I’m seated Walter introduces his other guest: “This is my friend Tommy Mottola, he manages some of our biggest artists”.
We make small talk and I’m asked to give him a brief summary of my career. This takes about three minutes and is followed by a long silence. Finally, after what seems an age Walter looks at me and says again, “So; you’re the guy from New Zealand?”
This is followed by a further long silence. Walter then jumps to his feet shakes my hand and says, “Nice meeting you” and I’m in no doubt the “meeting” is over.
I ask Walter’s secretary “What now?”
I’m informed that’s it: I can go home.
Next day I fly home to New Zealand and phone Bill Smith to ask if I got the job. Bill says, “You always had the job, Walter just wanted to say Hi.”
Several months later I’m with a group at a party during the annual CBS Records Convention in Los Angeles. The party is held on the set of a Western movie shoot at the CBS movie studio lot: the wine and beer are flowing.
Along comes Walter Yetnikoff and joins our group. Walter then looks at me and says, “Hey; you’re the guy from New Zealand: how’s it going?”