Team Disney

Team Disney

When I look back on my career, the jobs, the bosses, and the salaries all fade away. What remains is the people.

Five of them are pictured here during the time when I had the privilege of working for Walt Disney Records, as head of product development. We produced the children’s music albums, story products, and dozens of read-along book-and-tape sets that many of you enjoyed as kids.

This photo shows our group on the Disney lot in Burbank: Deborah, Ann, Ted, Shep, and Randy, who I think of as Team Disney. Oh, yeah, there was also Gumby. Besides products featuring Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Goofy, and the gang, we also licensed and created products based on other properties for children. This particular photo was taken shortly after we had produced a music collection called Gumby: The Green Album. But that’s a story for another day.

As much fun as we had with all those projects, they pale compared to the people I worked with.

Ted Kryczko produced the story albums with unflagging professionalism and imagination. Randy Thornton, hired to help Ted, quickly established himself as ruler of the Disney audio archives. Years later, after I left, the two of them ascended to status as Disney legends, their names known worldwide to collectors of Disneyana.

Shep Stern produced the music products, convincing artists such as Donna McElroy, Stephen Bishop, Jonathan Richman, Brave Combo, and Frank Sinatra Jr. to record songs written for kids.

Ann Braybrooks edited, and often wrote, the book half of the book-and-tape products, helping to oversee an operation that was as much a publisher as a record company. And steady, sure, delightful Deborah Watson made certain it all worked, on time and on budget.

When I left the job and moved to Nashville, Team Disney presented me with their photo.

I also received a going-away gift from the Creative Services department, the amazing group of artists, designers, and writers we worked closely with. It was a picture that a Disney cartoonist had drawn of me, autographing one of my dozens of hoped-for bestselling novels.

Mickey and his friends are shown with me, but it’s the people I remember, who signed their good wishes around the edge and, as always, stood just offstage.


Blog: Music