Celebrities are saying...

  • James Patterson:

    "Susan Hamilton's book, Hit Woman, is currently a hit on Amazon. The book really tells it like it is in terms of the music business, with terrific stories about Elton John, Michael Bolton, and even myself."
  • Judy Collins:

    " Hit Woman is funny, brilliant, amazing and riveting. Susan Hamilton tells a great story and tells it with verve, humor, and pizzazz! ."

  • Nick Nolte:

    "With moxie and determination, Susan Hamilton patrolled the intersection of art and commerce...Hit Woman is a pioneer's tale, told with panache and detail."

  • Julian Lennon:

    "There is Nature, forces of Nature — and Susan Hamilton. This book is all three."

  • Paul Shaffer:

    "I read it every minute I could -- between rehearsals, between shows, when I should have been sleeping..."

  • Dominique Swain:

    "An awesome book about what it was like to be a female record producer...Funny, painful, insightful, and true.."

A peek inside...


THE PHONE RANG late on a Friday afternoon. It was Sue Read, speaking in a deep-throated whisper.
      "Are you alone in the office?"
      I explained that a couple of us were just winding down from the week with a cocktail or two.
      She rasped, "Frank and I are coming over now and we need complete privacy."
      It didn't take them long. Their ad agency, Lintas, was a few blocks away. Frank DeVito, hunk honcho creative director, and Sue Read, senior writer on the Diet Coke account, were ushered up the stairs to Bernie Drayton's room for the total security evidently required for this meeting. They sat on the broken-down couch and I stood. Sue got control of her rapid breathing and announced, "We got Elton."
      This was the late '80s, and HEA Productions, the music company I now owned outright, had become the largest jingle-production enterprise in the world. A few weeks before, I (with the help of arranger Doug Katsaros) had produced the winning re-arrangement of the Diet Coke "Just For The Taste of It" jingle - so I knew what they were talking about. All I could say was "wow."

      A couple of weeks later I was working in L.A. when I got the next call from Sue Read. "Elton wants to meet with you tomorrow, so get your ass on a plane and be at Madison Square Garden at seven." For months, Sue, the creative genius behind the new campaign, had relentlessly fought both agency and client to overcome the unspoken homophobia. It was also true that her single-mindedness could be, at times, nerve-wracking...

      The circus had just left. The huge underground corridors reeked of elephant dung and big cat piss.
      Motherly Connie Hillman, one of Elton’s people, showed me to the green room. It was just after 7 pm, and for almost an hour I sat there, trying to look nonchalant. Billie Jean King was there. Eric Clapton was there. Bernie Taupin, Elton’s lyricist, popped in for a moment. There was a splendid overflowing cornucopia of gourmet delicacies and vintage wines arrayed across a broad table. I didn’t move; I didn’t speak; I watched the clock. At 7:55, only five minutes before show time, I had given up all hope of a meeting. Suddenly the door opened and Connie motioned me out. She led me into one of the radiating corridors that fed onto the stage. Elton was standing there, waiting for me.
      Even in the florescent-lit, ugly gray surroundings, Elton looked fabulous in a sparkling all-white Versace three-piece suit. He got right down to business.
      "I've checked you out and heard nothing but good things, so you can go ahead and produce the tracks. Where do you want to do them?"
      I told him I would record them here in New York with my favorite people. He said fine, but wanted to overdub his piano track and vocals in Boston on the day before he started shooting. Our daytime session would fit nicely into his schedule. Of course I agreed.
      All the while we had been talking, we’d also been walking closer and closer to the stage. He kept gesturing for me to follow him.
      "If you have to reach me in Boston, call the hotel and ask for ‘Yves Ho’." He did spell it out for me, with a smile.
      I stopped dead at the edge of the darkened stage as the band started the intro to "Benny and the Jets," but he kept talking and waving me forward. I had to hear what he was saying so I moved right out onto the stage floor in the dark. I looked up.
      The crowd was roaring and there were thousands upon thousands of lighters being held up high and swung back and forth. My knees buckled. Laughing at the panic in my face, he waved good- bye and said something like, "It’s going to be fun working together!" With that, he spun on his heels and, timing it perfectly to the last four beats of the intro, strode over to the piano bench, sat and hit the first chord with full force. The lights slammed on. I fled.