Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

The Royal Teens, Herb Alpert and Bobby Hart have something in common: They were all discovered by Lee Silver.

Silver started in the music business as a singer-songwriter and producer in New York in the early ’50s. Today, he calls Palm Desert home.

Before entering the music business, Silver served in the Army, and he worked as a mechanical engineer. However, it was hard to deny his first love—music. He’d been a performer since the age of 6, when he began singing and dancing onstage.

During a recent interview at his Sun City home, he discussed his start in the music business.

“When I was in the Army, I was stationed in Nashville. I fell in love with country music, and I’m a boy from Brooklyn,” Silver said. “There was no country music in Brooklyn during that time period. I remember producing a record in New York with an engineer who became so famous, Al Schmitt. Schmitt worked with Natalie Cole and became an engineer at RCA. At that time, I was a young kid who produced a country record that I loved.

“One of the songs, ‘In the Valley of the Sun,’ went on to be in Breaking Bad during its last season.”

Silver said the song, performed under the pseudonym Buddy Stuart, was inspired by a visit to his sister in Arizona.

“I went to Los Angeles and made an inexpensive demo that sat on a shelf for 50 years,” he said. “A movie called The Hills Have Eyes came out, and the producer heard it, and he said he wanted to use it in the end credits. I said, ‘Go ahead!’ It got a little bit popular, and the producer and the director of Breaking Bad said, ‘Hey, we’d love to use that song in our show.’ They used it in a scene where they’re driving a truck.

“That was me singing a demo that I made for myself. I didn’t want to be an artist. I just made demos of the songs I wrote and sang on them. That sat on a shelf while I was producing so many people after that.”

Silver and Herb Alpert formed a professional relationship that led to hit records before Alpert eventually started A&M Records with Jerry Moss.

“Herb Alpert and I got together, and I gave him his first song, ‘Baby Talk,’ for a group he had that was called Jan and Dean, before A&M Records existed,” Silver said. “He asked me if he could use the song, and I told him to go ahead. He did, and it became a No. 1 hit. Herb and I became partners in a record company called Lash Records, which was way before A&M. Lash stood for: L for Lee, A for Alpert, S for Silver, and H for Herb.”

All of Silver’s songs that have been featured on shows such as Damages, Mad Men and Breaking Bad are credited to Buddy Stuart.

“When you produce, you go to the record companies to show your product,” he explained. “I went to Capitol Records, Liberty Records, and they would say, ‘You wrote and sang on it, and you produced it, and you’re publishing it. We want half of the royalties.’ The next time I would visit the record companies, they would ask, ‘Who is singing on that?’ I would say, ‘Buddy Stuart.’ I gave them a phony name.

“That name stuck with me from that time on. I was on the labels as Buddy Stuart. They didn’t know that was me singing, because when you go to a record company, they know you have the artist signed, and the song, and you’re just giving them the master copy. That’s how the name stuck, and how I used it.”

Silver has 300 songs to his credit. His daughter manages his catalog and other master tapes he made as a producer. He told an amusing story about how the great Les Paul and his wife, Mary Ford, used a song he wrote called “Fire,” from which he never received any compensation or royalties.

“I wrote the song ‘Fire,’ and Les Paul and Mary Ford are appearing in New York, and I’m a young, aggressive kid. I waited behind the stage door when he came out, and I said, ‘Mr. Paul, I have a song for you.’ He said ‘Give it to me, son.’

“It was recorded on Capitol Records a month later. I was the writer; I gave it to Les Paul. I loved the guy, and I called him after a while. Jody Reynolds owned a record store in Palm Springs, and we had a song of Les Paul’s. and I said, ‘Jody, we can’t release it unless we get his permission.’ He told me I could call Les at a specific number at 3 in the afternoon. I called him and said, ‘Les, remember the song called “Fire” that you recorded?’ He said, ‘I loved that song.’ I told him, ‘I NEVER GOT PAID!’ I never got any money for it—but he let us release that song of his.”

When Silver looks back on his career, he’s proud of what he accomplished on his own terms. He especially takes pride in the ownership of his own catalog.

“There are people who are so talented who never made it at all in this business, and that’s who I feel bad for,” he said. “I have friends who were struggling every day and never had that hit to get them going. I feel fortunate because I did have a couple of hits, and I could have been very wealthy, but I also wanted to smell the roses. I didn’t really go crazy, and I did what I wanted to, and I built a big catalog in the process. I own my product, and a lot of guys who produced for different record companies do not own what they produced.”

Wayward Pines (Thursday, May 14, Fox), series debut: Of all the creepy TV mysteries set in idyllic little mountain towns, M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines is, well, the latest—and, if Fox sticks to its “10-episode limited series” promise (thanks for tainting our trust, Under the Dome), potentially one of the greatest. Matt Dillon stars as Ethan Burke, a Secret Service agent searching for a pair of MIA colleagues in Idaho. After a car crash, he winds up in Wayward Pines, a postcard-perfect hamlet with no roads or communication out. (The phones are all … landlines!) Disorienting weirdness and escalating clues that Wayward Pines maybe be some kind of pseudo-governmental Truman Show ensue, with supporting characters (including Juliette Lewis, Carla Gugino and the suddenly-Empire-hot Terrence Howard) offering Burke varying degrees of insight and/or misdirection. Wayward Pines doles out the answers slowly, but closure is guaranteed. Again, please don’t Dome this, Fox.

Maron (Thursday, May 14, IFC), season premiere: Last season, “Marc Maron” (Marc Maron) further proved himself to be lousy at romantic relationships, familial bonding, social interaction and pretty much anything else that happens outside of his garage podcasting studio. Likewise, Maron established itself as more than a Louie knockoff, a worthy semi-autobiographical comedy with its own scratchy voice that’s as comfortable as it is occasionally dark. Season 3 doesn’t look to break the format: Marc’s still looking for love, falling into sitcom-adjacent wackiness (like being asked to be a sperm donor for a lesbian couple) and figuring out what the hell’s wrong with himself (spoiler: everything). Don’t ever change, Marc—look at the all grief it caused Louis C.K. last year.

Is Your Dog a Genius? (Friday, May 15, Nat Geo Wild), series debut: I have a sneaking suspicion that this new series was actually conceptualized, pitched and created by a dog. There’s no such “person” as Dr. Brian “Hare,” “dog scientist,” right? Nice try, Nat Geo Wild.

The 2015 Billboard Music Awards (Sunday, May 17, ABC), special: If The Grammy Awards, The Latin Grammys, The iHeart Radio Music Awards, American Music Awards, The MTV Video Music Awards, The MTVu Woodie Awards, The Country Music Television Awards, The Country Music Association Awards, The Academy of Country Music Awards, The American Country Countdown Awards, The BET Awards, The BET Hip-Hop Awards, The Soul Train Awards and The Radio Disney Music Awards haven’t already satisfied your insatiable awards-show appetite, you are almost definitely Taylor Swift. Thanks for reading, Taylor.

Mad Men (Sunday, May 17, AMC), series finale: Someone knows how Mad Men ultimately ends—not you or I, but someone. The theories will likely end up being far more fantastical than what show boss Matthew Weiner actually closes with, while the more mundane “Don falls from the building à la the opening credits,” “Peggy opens her own agency and finally transforms into Don” and “Fed-up Joan becomes a chauvinist-killing vigilante supervillainess terrorizing New York City by night” don’t quite cut it. The almost year-long break in Season 7 sucked what little buzz was left out of Mad Men, but that’s probably for the best: Unlike Breaking Bad, this is a series that needs to end quietly and on its own stately terms. But that doesn’t mean I’m not holding out hope for a spin-off series—might I suggest Trudy!, starring Alison Brie?

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After “Are you still writing for that paper?” and “Why did I assume you were dead?” the question I’m most often asked is: “So, what’s good on TV?”

Sure, I write a readily available weekly column about what’s good on TV (and not-so-good), and produce a podcast (TV Tan—look it up on iTunes and Stitcher) covering the same, but you can’t be expected to keep up with it all. Quality programming? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You do, actually: Let’s pretend that daily “live” TV viewing didn’t die along with print journalism several years ago, and let’s scroll through the week with a day-by-day breakdown of what to Watch (good stuff deserving of your attention) and, for the hell of it, Hate Watch (stuff so terrible that it’s fun to mock) right now. Or DVR it all for a weekend binge—I don’t know your lifestyle.

Thursday: Even though the network tried to kill its biggest hit by moving it to Thursday nights, The Blacklist (NBC) is still a must-Watch. TV critics are divided on The Comedians, but I say it’s a worthy lead-in to Louie, and that’s all that matters (FX). On the Hate Watch front, there’s Lip Synch Battle (Spike), a “singing” competition that’s done away with singing altogether. Jimmy Fallon’s next “viral innovation”: Celebrity Naptime.

Friday: Real Time With Bill Maher and Vice (HBO) for politicos and news junkies, The Soup (E!) for pop-culture catch-upists, and The Grace Helbig Show for … well, I’m not sure who this is for yet, but Helbig’s YouTube-to-TV transition is, more often than not, as funny as it is brain-implodingly awkward (E!). Also, Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim), because even you have 11 minutes to spare. Hate Watch: The Messengers (The CW), wherein impossibly pretty CW actors fret about the rapture and a desolate Friday-night timeslot.

Saturday: Orphan Black (BBC America) is one of the rare sci-fi dramas that lives up to its hype. Don’t be put off by all of the clone characters (most played fantastically by Tatiana Maslany)—if you can follow Game of Thrones, you can follow this. Same goes for the time-jumping Outlander (Starz), the lushly-produced Scot-drama that earns its nickname Fifty Shades of Plaid. For Hate Watching, My Cat From Hell (Animal Planet), because no one seems to realize that you can find a new, less-hellish kitty, oh, anywhere.

Sunday: A busy night, with Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO); Mad Men (AMC); Salem (WGN America); Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Last Man on Earth (Fox); Mr. Selfridge (PBS); and now the new Happyish (Showtime) all vying for discerning eyeballs. Set aside some Hate Watch moments for A.D. The Bible Continues and American Odyssey (NBC); they’ve really earned it.

Monday: Bates Motel has cranked its simmering insanity up to full-tilt bonkers this season, while The Returned continues its supernatural slow-burn—together, they constitute the creepiest two-hour block of the week, not counting Sunday-morning news shows (A&E). Hate Watch Turn: Washington’s Spies (AMC), which is as obtuse as a tri-corner hat and somehow even duller than actual American history.

Tuesday: Catch up on your streaming—there are unseen episodes of Daredevil (Netflix) and Community (Yahoo Screen) still waiting for you. Hate Watch: Powers (PlayStation Network), the comic-book adaptation that can’t even.

Wednesday: Heard of Big Time in Hollywood, FL? It fills the sick-wrong-funny gap left by Broad City where Workaholics failed (Comedy Central). The obvious Hate Watch is CSI: Cyber (CBS), the stoopidest depiction of tech-terrorism since every “cyberpunk” movie produced in 1995. Do not, repeat, do not respond to any e-mails from your parents re: “Black Hat Hackers.”

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Bacon House Nation (Wednesday, April 1, FYI), series debut: The producers of Tiny House Nation, the reality series in which families scale down their living spaces from McMansions to custom 500-square-foot mini homes, have fried up the next logical step: houses fashioned entirely out of bacon. Host Padma Lakshmi (Top Chef) and a team of “meat-construction specialists” (imagine that casting call) travel the country making bacon-house dreams come true; first up is a Cathedral City family that wants to simplify its domestic sprawl; move into a cozy Dutch Colonial made of locally produced pork loin; and “wake up to the smell of bacon every dang morning.” Fun factoid: Bacon House Nation was rushed into production to get on the air before the Food Network’s sizzlingly similar Home Sweet Ham.

State Fair Terror! (Thursday, April 2, Syfy), movie: It’s no Sharnado, or even Sharknado 2, but Syfy’s latest disaster-cheese epic State Fair Terror! at least features some oddly specific casting: Michael Bacon (musical brother of Kevin) as the mayor, Meatloaf as the town sheriff, Carrot Top as a shady tilt-a-whirl operator, John Oates (the mustachioed half of Hall and Oates) as an Army general and, most impressive of all, Jon Hamm (late of Mad Men) as a local TV weatherman with a dark past. The setup: It’s just another pleasant day at the California State Fair—until patrons begin mysteriously turning into flesh-hungry zombie-vampires (“zompires” for short) and attacking the still-human. The cause is soon revealed to be a weaponized batch of Butters on a Stick from a nearby military base accidentally delivered to the fair instead of the Middle East. Blink and you’ll miss state fair grandstand musical acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fiona Apple and Korn being mauled in the chaos.

Bar Rescue (Friday, April 3, Spike), local alert: Hospitality expert/yelling machine Jon Taffer has made over many a dive, but few have been as mismanaged as Ballz N ’Hos, a Palm Springs pool hall with a limited beer selection (“We got Coors and Coors Light!”), billiards tables in various states of disrepair (some players are forced to shoot around knives pegged into the felt) and waitresses ordered by management to dress like prostitutes (and as discovered halfway through the episode, a couple of them really are prostitutes who perform services on the premises). Heated exchanges with the bar’s DJ over his musical selections (“Why would I play anything but Lil Wayne?! Man is a genius, yo!”) and the bartender who’s never cleaned a glass (“I meant to, but I kinda zone-out around the 60th Lil Wayne track”) lead to a trademark Taffer meltdown and new branding for the club: Sips+Strips, California’s first craft beer and artisan bacon bar (which went under and became a Domino’s soon after this episode was filmed).

Outlander (Saturday, April 4, Starz), spring premiere: When last we left Claire six months ago (talk about time travel, Starz), she’d caught a glimpse of a chance to return to the 1940s, only to be pulled back into the 1740s by Black Jack Randall, the dastardly ancestor of her 1940s husband Frank—and then she was seemingly rescued by her 1740s husband Jamie. Following all of this? The second half of Outlander’s first season picks up with—spoiler alert—Claire making her way back to the stones of Craigh na Dun and being transported to the future. Unfortunately, she goes too far and winds up in the 21st century as a bacon hostess at Sips+Strips.

Mad Men (Sunday, April 5, AMC), spring premiere: Speaking of spoilers: Mad Men showrunner Matthew Weiner has placed so many “don’t talk about ______!” demands on TV critics about the second half of the final season’s opener, “Severance,” that there’s little point in bothering. But, maybe there’s something about the series’ ultimate end to be read into Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) pitch to a restaurant chain: “The BLT. We all know what the ‘B’ stands for, but what about ‘L’ and ‘T’? I say they stand for ‘Longing,’ for a simpler ‘Time.’ That’s what America wants, and you’re selling it. With bacon.” Bravo, Mr. Weiner, bravo.

Oh, and April Fools!

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True Detective (HBO): Creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto probably screwed himself by launching this mesmerizing crime anthology with stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson at the top of their respective games. Good luck following up these eight near-perfect episodes.

Banshee (Cinemax): This left-field, visceral mashup of Justified, Twin Peaks and Fight Club went pulp-gonzo harder in Season 2, expanding the world of Banshee, Penn., just enough to introduce even more Amish mobster/Ukrainian thug mayhem. It’s that weird, and that cool.

Shameless (Showtime): Things somehow got worse as they got better for the Gallagher clan in Season 4, with William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum delivering alternately heartbreaking and hilarious performances. This is America’s family.

Justified (FX): Star Timothy Olyphant put his boot down and rescued Justified from becoming entirely the show of Boyd (Walton Goggins) in its fifth and penultimate season, and brought some new colorful characters along for the ride.

Broad City (Comedy Central): Few comedies arrive as fully-realized as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City (though it did have a head-start as a Web series); their broke Brooklynites are the female flipside of Workaholics, only smarter, funnier and occasionally grosser.

Helix (Syfy): This Arctic Andromeda Strain/Walking Dead hybrid from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) crept up with no big splash, but it did earn a second season for 2015—catch up on Netflix now.

The Americans (FX): Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys continued to out-spy Homeland while still stuck in Cold War 1981, facing down more danger (and wigs) than Carrie and Brody could ever imagine.

Archer (FX): Meanwhile, Archer (code-named Archer Vice) blew up its spy premise and dove face-first into cocaine and country music. Literally.

House of Cards (Netflix): Vice president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) delivered a shocking twist in the first episode of Season 2, and the train didn’t stop a-rollin’ from there. As with actual D.C. politics, it’s best not to think too hard about the machinations en route to the presidency

Fargo (FX): Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), Lester (Martin Freeman) and Deputy Molly (Allison Tolman) shut down the “You can’t touch that movie” doubters from frame one with this dark, funny adaptation that faltered fewer times than True Detective. Oh, you bet’cha.

From Dusk Till Dawn (El Rey): Another film-to-TV transition that defied the haters, From Dusk Till Dawn expanded the 1996 cult classic into an even crazier, racier 10-episode ride where the definition of “the good guys” is subjective.

Game of Thrones (HBO): Like anyone’s going to make a list without Game of Thrones. Get real.

Silicon Valley (HBO): Mike Judge finally, if not intentionally, created the sequel to Office Space with Silicon Valley, a hysterically profane (and tech-jargoned, at least at first) saga about programmers in waaay over their heads. If only Halt and Catch Fire had been half this much fun.

Veep (HBO): Speaking of profane: VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her team continued to fail upward in Season 3, from WTF? to the brink of POTUS. Pray for your country.

Bates Motel (A&E): Murder, drugs, love triangles, commercial zoning disputes—Bates Motel has it all! Norman (Freddie Highmore) became as intriguing as mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) in Season 2, no small feat, as did some of the supporting players. Why wait for Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival? It’s already here.

Mad Men (AMC): Splitting the final season in half was a lousy idea (the Mad Men buzz is pretty much nil at this point), but those first seven episodes provided a course-correcting jolt that should make for a hell of a 2015 finale, whenever that happens (hopefully, not in the ’70s).

Orphan Black (BBC America): See Game of Thrones.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO): Sure, it’s a Daily Show knock-off with F-bombs—but those rants! Corporations, media, condiments—suck it! Everything the overblown Newsroom attempted over three seasons, Oliver nailed in 30 minutes.

Legit (FXX): Poor Jim Jefferies. His Louie-like Legit finally got good by the end of its first season, then FX exiled it to the untested FXX for Season 2: no promotion, no viewers, just yelling into a vast, empty room. See what you missed on Netflix (along with Jeffries’ stand-up specials).

Playing House (USA): Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham as almost-uncomfortably close BFFs failed on network TV, but found a niche on cable with Playing House, which could be the first series ever to make pregnancy play funny and inclusive.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): While as excellent as ever, Season 6 probably should have been the last (maybe even halfway through), but at least we’ll get a proper sendoff for NBC’s last great Must-See comedy in 2015.

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim): Few “get” Community, but Dan Harmon’s other TV project, the animated, and simultaneously brainy and crude Rick and Morty—imagine Back to the Future with more universes, booze and malicious aliens—clicked immediately on Adult Swim.

Louie (FX): Louis C.K. made us wait two years for a new season, then delivered 14 arty-if-not-always-funny installments of Louie, which were rightfully hailed as “brave,” “experimental” and “mostly free of black T-shirts.”

Maron (IFC): Marc Maron didn’t stray too far from the formula of his debut season in his second go-round—regarding how difficult it is to be Marc Maron, specifically, and a middle-aged white dude with a podcast in general. Still brilliant.

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix): Season 2 leaned more dramatic than comedic, and pulled killer performances from everyone in (and out) of Litchfield Penitentiary. Creator Jenji Kohan is well on her way to achieving the heretofore-thought impossible: Topping her previous series, Weeds.

The Leftovers (HBO): Life sucks when you’re not Raptured, and The Leftovers was the ultimate summer-bummer wallow, not to mention the vehicle that finally made Justin Theroux matter.

Rectify (Sundance): And while we’re on the topic of dramas filmed in Depress-o-Vision … damn.

Longmire (A&E): In its third season, Longmire fully broke away from its Justified Out West trappings and became a gripping, dusty crime drama in its own right. A&E rewarded this creative triumph—and high ratings—with a cancellation notice in order to make way for more Duck Dynasty. Fortunately, Netflix came to the rescue, and Season 4 will be streaming by late 2015. I’m beginning to understand you cable-cutters …

Coming next week: Part 2—even more shows!

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