Even from the very beginning, Tim Hauser has had an interest in music and singing. He once asked his mother how long he had been singing, and she said, “As long as I can remember.” For the founder of The Manhattan Transfer, the love he has for music has been apparent throughout his career.
Born in Troy, New York on December 12, 1941, Tim, his sister Fayette, and their parents moved to the New Jersey shore when he was seven years old, living in Ocean Township and Asbury Park. When Tim attended St. Rose High School in Belmar, NJ in the 1950′s, he was in the glee club and was involved in another activity that he loves – baseball. It was also the era of “classic” rock and roll – and Tim lived it. His musical roots were heavily influenced by the black rhythm and blues music of the time. He tells of attending a rock and roll show starring Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers. “I went backstage and heard them warm up before the show. The sound of their harmony made me want to do the same thing.”
He began to sing professionally at age 15. He founded a teenage doo wop/R&B/rock & roll quintet called The Criterions. They cut several songs for the Laurie label. In 1959, “I Remain Truly Yours,” a song they cut during their third session, was a mild success, reaching #24 on the charts in New York. The group also performed at many R&B revues and record hops in the New York area, appearing alongside Dion & The Belmonts, The Elegants, and The Heartbeats. The Criterions also made an appearance on Alan Freed’s Big Beat television show. Tim also developed his producing skills at an early age. When he was 17, he produced a tune entitled “Harlem Nocturne” for The Viscounts. The song reached the #3 spot on the Billboard chart in 1959. Interestingly, it was Tim’s father who picked “Harlem Nocturne” to record from The Viscount’s repertoire.
The same year, he graduated from St. Rose and entered Villanova University. His college years were a continuation of the musical involvement he had started to develop, with Tim spending much of his college time energetically expanding his musical interests. In an early interview with The Manhattan Transfer that appeared in The New York Sunday News in August 1975, writer Nat Hentoff describes Tim recalling his college days: “He rose suddenly, smote his forehead, and said, ‘Do you know how much music meant to me when I was going to college? Do you really know? Music meant so much to me that I even gave up chicks.’ Laurel Masse was sitting nearby and asked Hauser if he was serious. ‘I am! I am!’ he said.” Tim was involved in radio WWVV, and was active in the Villanova Singers, which included his classmates Jim Croce and former Criterion Tommy West. Tim formed a folk trio with West and another former Criterion, Jim Ruf. They called themselves The Troubadours Three, and sang professionally throughout the area. In 1963, he graduated from Villanova with a BA in Economics. That summer, The Troubadours Three toured the United States as performers with “Hootenanny Stars of 1963.”
In 1964, Tim served his country and spent time in the Air Force and the New Jersey Air National Guard. In 1965, he began his career – not in music, as you might expect, but in marketing. He was a research analyst with the ad firm of SS&B (Linntas). In 1967, he made a change, and became the manager of the Market Research Department of the Special Products Division of The National Biscuit Company – also known as Nabisco. But his love for music, and his strong desire to be a musician and to sing was still present. As Tim puts it, “I almost went wacko. I was 28 and figured if I wanted to be a musician, it was now or never.” He left the Madison Avenue scene and started to pursue his dream of a career in music.
In 1969, he formed the first version of The Manhattan Transfer with Gene Pistilli, Marty Nelson, Erin Dickins and Pat Rosalia. The group had a country/R&B sound. Together they recorded one album, Jukin’, on the Capitol label. However, they differed in ideas on direction: Pistilli leaned more toward a country-western, “Memphis” R&B sound, whereas Tim was interested in a jazz/swing sound. The group dissolved in the early 70′s.
Tim took odd jobs to support himself while still pursuing his musical career. One of his jobs was taxicab driving, where he drove the night line. He has lots of good stories from those days, but the best story is the one that began when he picked up a tall red-haired waitress who flagged him down one April night in 1972. The waitress, an aspiring singer, was Laurel Masse. During the cab ride, Tim mentioned he was a singer and was the organizer of the previous Manhattan Transfer. Laurel was hip to their music, having seen them perform at The Fillmore East. She also had a copy of Jukin’. They stopped for coffee and discussed music, and they arranged to meet again. Shortly after meeting Laurel in his cab, Tim was once more driving his cab when he picked up the conga player for the group Laurel Canyon. Through the course of the conversation, the conga player invited Tim to a party, where he met Janis Siegel. She was a member of Laurel Canyon. Tim was impressed with Janis, and together with Laurel, they decided to reform The Manhattan Transfer. They needed a fourth partner, a male voice. Someone suggested they contact Alan Paul, who was appearing in the Broadway cast of “Grease” at the time. As it turns out, Paul had heard Janis perform before. They all met, and talked about music, and how there was a lack of four-part harmony in the music of the time. They shared their ideas, and the chemistry was there. The four became The Manhattan Transfer on October 1, 1972. And from that point on, Tim Hauser’s dreams of a musical career have turned into a very successful reality.
As the founder of The Manhattan Transfer, Tim always strives to have their image dovetail with their music. In the early days, that image helped them gain recognition. In almost every early review that was written about the group, their classy appearance was noted. It made them unique, it got them noticed, and when they performed – it was obvious they were talented. The combination of talent and attention to image, and evolving that image as the group has developed, has given them longevity. Tim is a gifted producer as well. He takes the whole concept of an album idea from beginning to end. By interweaving their talents in arranging and performing along with their image, he successfully brings it all together in the albums that he produces. He has also used his producing skills with other artists, including Richie Cole’s Pop Bop, and the last session of Eddie Jefferson. He produced the soundtrack to the film “The Marrying Man,” in which he also made his acting debut as Woody the bandleader.
Tim’s other interests include tennis, baseball, collecting and restoring classic automobiles, and of course, collecting records. This lifelong hobby began back in 1957 when during the holidays his mom and dad gave him an RCA Golden Throat 45-rpm phonograph and the record “Heebie Jeebies” by Little Richard. Tim is an expert of jazz history – be it an artist, a tune or a label, he can probably recall it and tell you anything you want to know. He is also the creator of “I Made Sauce,” a pasta sauce that is the result of his culinary skills. He made the sauce for friends and family for years, and sold it commercially. Tim resides in California with his wife, Barb. He has a son, Basie, and a daughter, Lily.
Tim Hauser’s first solo album, “Love Stories,” was released on September 5, 2007 by King Records (KICJ-522) in Japan. The track list includes: “Misty Roses,” “The More I See You,” “Prisoner Of Love,” “Heartstrings,” “Nina Never Knew,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Love Wise,” “I Didn’t Know They Were Having A Spring This Year,” “My Little Brown Book,” “Two Cigarettes In The Dark,” “I’m Just A Fool” and “She’s Funny That Way.”
Update: May 2014
Thank you to everyone who was a part of Tim Hauser’s exciting and delicious “I MADE SAUCE!” Kickstarter Campaign! Keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter for more updates…