Richard Gottehrer on Hit Songwriting, Producing Blondie and the Go-Go’s, and 25 Years of the Orchard

·2 min read

There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard the name Richard Gottehrer — but there’s an equally good chance that if you’re even a casual music fan, you know something, or several things, he’s done very well.

As a songwriter in the early ‘60s, he co-wrote such hits as “I Want Candy,” “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Sorrow.” As a producer, he helmed classic albums by Blondie, the Go-Go’s, Richard Hell, Joan Armatrading, the Raveonettes and the Dum Dum Girls among many others. As an artist, he formed a short-lived group called the Strangeloves with songwriting/producing partners Jerry Goldstein and Bob Feldman that nonetheless racked up several hit singles (including the original “I Want Candy”). As an executive, he co-founded Sire Records with Seymour Stein in 1966, and 30 years later, he co-founded the Orchard with Scott Cohen. Now owned by Sony Music, that company is one of the world’s largest distributors of independent music.

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It is one of the most versatile and diverse resumes in the music business, and one that spans nearly 70 years — from the day Richard was discovered as a songwriting prodigy at the age of 14 (by a man who happened to be passing by an open window in his family’s Bronx apartment) to the present.

At 82 years old, Richard still comes into the Orchard’s East Village offices every day, and continues to work as a producer, recently recording new versions of a pair of songs he recorded with blues-rock singer Jeffrey Gaines in the ‘80s to protest the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the sad state of gun-control in the United States.

We didn’t cover all of those topics in the conversation you’re about to hear, but we covered a lot of them.

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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