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Tiffany

Tiffany

Singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

I dont want anyone to think Im controlled, Tiffany Darwish declared. Im not. Im the only one who can tell you when I can and cant work, what I will and will not do. Theres not some drill sergeant ordering me around. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press via a cellular phone in a limousine that was taking her to the Los Angeles International Airport, the 17-year-old pop singer sighed. She was once again on The Topic, the dreaded line of questioning that dogged her throughout 1988. The questionWhos in charge of Tiffany?

It was a valid question. In 1987, seemingly out of nowhere, the young singer had popped into shopping malls, singing to the accompaniment of backing tapes to shoppers clutching bags from the Gap and Sibleys Shoes. The stench of prefab contrivance was heavy in the air. Thisll never work, said the critics. But because of that mall tour, Tiffanys debut album sold more than five million copies and became the first No. 1 record by a teenager since Stevie Wonder did the same at age 13 in 1963. She also had three Top 10 singles, including remakes of Tommy Jamess I Think Were Alone Now and the Beatles I Saw Her Standing Theresongs Tiffany claims she wasnt familiar with until she recorded them.

The media world, however, doesnt give teen stars a whole lot of respect. Visions of David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy, and all those Phil Spector-produced singers come to mind. They were young, modestly talented performers who were jerked, pulled, and hyped towards success by calculating businessmen. Tiffany certainly has the svengali quotient in manager George Tobin. A onetime Motown Records staffer, Tobin found Tiffany, at age 12, singing with a country band in Southern California. He once told Rolling Stone that Tiffany is signed to me, 100 percent to me. And he told Life magazine that She is the girl next door. Ive done nothing to change her. My role is to make sure nothing does.

That sounded like a frightening amount of control. And things got scarier in early 1988, when Tiffany filed for emancipation from her mothers custody. My mother was not making smart career moves, Tiffany told Rolling Stone. But there were many who felt this move was engineered by Tobin. A compromise was reached by the California courts: Tiffany controlled the finances, and her mom was still her legal guardian, though the starwho would get lump-sum payments of her previous earnings at 18, 21, and 25continued to live with her paternal grandmother in Norwalk, Calif. I like the way its done, she told the Orange County Register, because it keeps me working now. In acknowledgment of the concerns and criticism raised by the public regarding Tobins role, she told the Free Press,

For the Record

Full name, Tiffany Renee Darwish; born October 2,1972, in Norwalk, Calif.; daughter of Jim Darwish (a pilot) and Janie Christine Williams. Education: Attended high school in Norwalk, Calif.

Began singing publicly at age nine with country-western bands in Norwalk, Calif.; signed a contract with MCA Records, 1987, and recorded her first album; has performed in concert throughout North America, Europe, and Japan; has appeared on television programs, including The Tonight Show and Entertainment Tonight.

Addresses: Home -La Mirada, Calif. Record company-c/o MCA Records, 70 Universal City Plaza, Third Floor, Universal City, Calif. 91607. Otherc/o Winterland Fan Asylum, 13659 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys, Calif. 91401.

Im fine. Im not working too hard. I work at my own pace. George says to me, This is what we can do. Do you want to do this? No one can force me to do anything.

Tiffanys career began singing before audiences at age nine, and within three years, she was appearing with country bands around the Los Angeles area. Things got rolling for her in 1981, when Tiffany agreed to sing on a demo tape by a local songwriter. The session took place in Tobins North Hollywood studio, where he was producing a Smokey Robinson album. One of his assistants suggested that Tobin give a listen to the girl singing in the next room, and he was hooked. I was enthralled by her voice, Tobin told Rolling Stone. It was like taffyyou could pull it anywhere. In under 10 minutes, I decided to sign her.

Tobin kept in close contact, helping Tiffany and her mother look for a manager so that he could begin producing records for her. In 1986 Tobin got tired of searching and decided to manage Tiffany himself. He signed a seven-album exclusive production and management contract that gave him complete control of any records, videos, and performances by Tiffany during that period. I learned a lot working at Motown, Tobin explained to Rolling Stone when asked about the possibility of excessive control.

The quarrels between Tobin and Tiffanys mother started early, according to the Rolling Stone feature. Mom wanted Tiffany to be a straight country singer; Tobin had his eye on the more lucrative pop market. Her mother did think covering a Beatles song was sacrilegious, so we just never sent those tapes home, Tobin said. But her mother doesnt get involved. The family has decided that I manage the act. The Tobin-Tiffany deal also meant that record companies would sign a contract with George Tobin Productions, which would, in effect, lease them the Tiffany material. The only problem was that, early on, no one was biting. Teen acts had burned so many record companies in the past that they were afraid, Brad Schmidt, Tobins partner, told the Free Press. They were all saying that they didnt know how to promote her.

So Tobin played hardball. He took Tiffany to the hotel room of Arista Records chief Clive Davis so that she could perform live for him. He barged in on countless executives and badgered others with phone calls. The persistence paid off; MCA signed a $150,000 deal for Tiffanys first album in early 1987. The main reason I went with MCA is because their offices are one mile from my office, Tobin told Rolling Stone. If I want to get something done, I can drive down there and block their cars on their driveway with my car, which I have done, and not let them out until its settled.

It took a while to settle Tiffany into a niche into the marketplace, however. While she went about the business of being a teenagergoing to malls, talking on the phone, and watching TV, according to a Life magazine profileTobin and MCA mulled over marketing plans while her album sat in record stores, unable to interest buyers or radio programmers. MCAs own promotion department, in fact, told Tobin that Tiffanys record didnt have the hit song necessary to garner attention. To market a 14 or 15-year-old to the record industry was a tough sell, Larry Solters, MCAs vicepresident of artist development told Advertising Age. The Beautiful You shopping mall tour idea was a bolt from the blue for Solters and Tobin. It came from simple deduction. Whos likely to buy an album by a teenager? they asked. Other teenagers. Where do you find teenagers? At shopping malls! It was a novel idea for the music industry, but not for the marketing world. Manufacturers like the Campbell Soup Co., Clairol, and General Foods had staged successful promotions in which they gave away free samples. So MCA was going to give away a free sample of Tiffany. It was the first time a record company tried it, Phil Rosenthal of the Miami-based Shopping Center Network, which set up the tour, told Advertising Age.

Tiffany wasnt an immediate smash in the malls, however. The tour, which started in July 1987, drew tiny crowds at first, and, as Tiffany told Rolling Stone, people were laughing and giving me weird reactions. That was OK, because it was odd for her, too. I was singing to backing tracks, she told the Detroit Free Press, and when the guitar solo came on, I was left filling in that time. When you have a live band, people can look at the guitar player, but in that situation, all people had to look at was me. But as the tour went on, the crowds got bigger, and scores of teenagers began calling their favorite radio stations and requesting Tiffany music. By the time the tour hit Salt Lake City in September 1987, an overflow crowd of more than 4,000 packed the stagefront.

Tiffanys album soared up the charts after that, as did her single. I Think Were Alone Now knocked Michael Jackson out of the No. 1 spot. Tours of Europe and Japan boosted album sales there; in Japan, she even starred in a TV commercial for an M&Ms-like candy. In America her story was splashed across the pages of everything from People to Sixteen.

Her success also opened the doors of record companies to other teen artists. Following in her wake were: Debbie Gibson, an accomplished 17-year-old from Long Island who composed most of her own material; Glenn Medeiros, a 17-year-old from Hawaii who had a Top 20 hit with Never Gonna Change My Love for You; 14-year-old Shanice Wilson; and Tracie Spencer, the 12-year-old winner of the TV talent contest Star Search. Kids buy kids, co-manager Schmidt told the Free Press. The record companies are starting to be open to the possibility of there being a youth market out there. Theyre trying to find the best of the talent out there that will accommodate that. Added Tom Arndt, associate editor of Tiger Beat, a teen-oriented magazine, A lot of kids are surprised to hear that Tiffany and Debbie Gibson are as young as they are.

Tiffany, meanwhile, tried to keep the perils of success at bay. She toured with a tutor27-year-old Craig Yamek, who doubled as the drummer in her bandto keep up with her studies. She told Life that her friends still dont care if they come over and Im lying in bed. And, she contended, she was still able to hang out, just like in the pre-star days. I went to Knots Berry Farm the other day, she told the Free Press. Not a lot of people recognized me. Most seemed to be thinking, That looks like Tiffany, but why would she be here by herself, with just friends, no bodyguards or anything? Even if they do ask for autographs, theyve always been nice people.

Approaching the end of 1988, Tiffany and Tobin were already mulling over her next album. Tobin had recorded 48 songs for the first record, but they kept working up new music, including a remake of the Young Rascals I Aint Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore, another of those oldies that was new to Tiffany. The new record, Hold An Old Friends Hand, was released in December 1988 to unenthusiastic critical response. Reviews in both Rolling Stone and People, for instance, both referred to Tobins overbearing influence over the albums material (he wrote two of the songs) and the young singer herself. But, as Tiffany told Advertising Age earlier, this is my dream, adding that Ive never thought of anything else, and now that its happening, its almost too overwhelming, but its great.

Selected discography

Tiffany (includes I Think Were Alone Now, Couldve Been, and I Saw Him Standing There), MCA, 1987.

Hold An Old Friends Hand (includes Hearts Never Lie, Ill Be the Girl, and I Aint Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore), MCA, 1988.

Also featured on the soundtrack for Jetsons: The Movie.

Sources

Advertising Age, June 6, 1988.

Detroit Free Press, December 4, 1987; July 29, 1988.

Life, May, 1988.

Los Angeles Herald Examiner, July 1, 1988.

Los Angeles Times, June 12, 1988.

Orange County Register, July 1, 1988.

People, June 27, 1988; January 23, 1989.

Rolling Stone, April 21, 1988; February 9, 1989.

Gary Graff

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tiffany

tiffany kind of thin transparent silk. XVII. perh. punning use (quasi transparency) of tiffany — OF. tifanie :- ecclL. theophania — Gr. theopháneia, -phánia Epiphany, f. theós god + phan- appear.

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tiffany

tiffanyLéonie, peony •Tierney •Briony, bryony, Hermione •tourney • ebony • Albany •chalcedony • Alderney •Persephone, Stephanie, telephony •antiphony, epiphany, polyphony, tiffany •symphony •cacophony, homophony, theophany, Zoffany •euphony • agony • garganey •Antigone •cosmogony, mahogany, theogony •balcony • Gascony • Tuscany •calumny •felony, Melanie, miscellany •villainy • colony •Chamonix, salmony, scammony, Tammany •harmony •anemone, Emeny, hegemony, lemony, Yemeni •alimony, palimony •agrimony • acrimony •matrimony, patrimony •ceremony • parsimony • antimony •sanctimony • testimony • simony •Romany • Germany • threepenny •timpani • sixpenny • tuppenny •accompany, company •barony • saffrony • tyranny •synchrony • irony • saxony • cushiony •Anthony • betony •Brittany, dittany, litany •botany, cottony, monotony •gluttony, muttony •Bethany • oniony • raisiny •attorney, Burney, Czerny, Ernie, ferny, gurney, journey, Verny

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