Marc Cashman waited until he was nine years old before he broke into show business. “Over a weekend, I read the story of Jack and the Beanstalk,” he recalls. “Something posessed me to make it into a musical play. I wrote the dialogue and a couple of songs, and I handed it to my third grade teacher. She liked it and asked me to produce it. After she explained what that meant, I produced it and even played the lead role of Jack. It was a big success. I think that’s where I go the bug.” When he was 12, his parents moved from Port Jervis, N.Y., right in the middle of the Catskill Mountains, to White Plains, N.Y., close to the big city. “When I was 15 I saved money from my paper route and bought my first guitar. I just picked up where I had left off in the third grade and started writing songs. All through high school I wrote songs and performed with folk groups. I continued playing guitar and performing through my four years at the University of Buffalo. I majored in political science, thinking I wanted to be a lawyer, but soon I realized it wasn’t for me. Music was what I wanted.”
When Marc graduated, he and a partner headed for Toronto, only 90 minutes away. “It was the land of Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot and The Riverboat, all those coffee houses in Yorkville and lots of colleges. I figured that was a pretty neat little place to start out. Steve Raiken, my partner, was also a guitarist. He was a six-string lead and I played 12-string rhythm. I wrote the songs, and Cashman & Raiken sung them, although I did most of the soloing.”
They played the circuit in Toronto for about a year before moving on to Philadelphia because of the incredible number of colleges in the area. “For the next two years, we played the college concert circuit from Philadelphia to Boston. Then I started to get uncomfortable on the road all the time and always being in the spotlight. It was a very transient lifestyle, and I wanted to settle down.”
Marc decided to retire for a while. In college he had taught guitar to help support himself, and he realized that he had a knack for teaching. To enhance his ability in that field he registered for a two-year Masters in Education at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. “When I graduated I taught for five years in elementary and junior high. But I continuted to write music. One of my pop pieces was picked up to be recorded by a minor Capitol recording artist in Canada. I went to the recording session and hated what they had done with my music. I decided then and there that never again would someone put their imprimatur on my music.” He was teaching in Cincinnati at the time. He made up his mind that the best way to keep control was to write and produce commercial music. “I started with the recording of that one song. I took it around to agencies and literally begged for an assignment. Finally, I was asked to do a 30-second piece for a Huffy Bicycle TV spot. I thought it was great to write a piece one day, record it the next, and have it on the air the following week. And I had total control.”
Marc soon realized that Cincinnati didn’t offer too much potential, and he decided to head west to Los Angeles. “I was a complete stranger in town, but I had five little ditties, which had been aired in the Midwest, and I made the rounds. I pounded the pavements for three months before I ran out of money and had to take on a series of part-time jobs. Then one day I got a call from Norm Lenzer and Brad Ball at DJMC (now DBC). The client was Knott’s Berry Farm, and they needed help immediately. They wanted a 60-second talking blues type of spot to be written, recorded and finished by noon the following day. When I heard it on the air it was a big thrill. My first spot in L.A.” Marc struggled during the first few years, mixing part-time jobs with his music to survive. “I got together with John Sarley, who had been a writer for Dick & Bert and left to form his own company. We did some things together and soon formed Sarley/Cashman Creative Services. What really launched us was when we were hired to do the music for the primary and general election spots for Deukmejian’s run for governor of California.
Over the next seven years we handled everything imaginable, including restaurants, food, clothing, hotels and TV stations. Our clients were agencies and advertisers from Maine, Hawaii, Washington, Florida and everywhere in between. Then we split. Sarley just decided to go off and do his own thing.” Since that time, Marc has been a one-man show. He went back to writing and producing copy as well as the music. “Right now, I’ve got my hands full. My tools are still just a legal pad and a pencil, but I don’t have my own studio, so I’m running around to a lot of different studios for my various projects. I’m at the point now of havng to staff up.” Over the past decade Marc’s work has not gone unrecognized. “I’ve won well over 150 awards from various competitions around the globe. But the thing in advertising that is most important to me is in the area of public service. About three years ago I was watching TV when I saw a little promo for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which tries to fulfill wishes of terminally ill children. It got to me. I called and offered to write a song for them. They accepted, and the music that came out of my heart is called Make a Wish Come True. Three years later that song continues to be used in the commercials.”
Marc married Lola 2-1/2 years ago, and both are looking forward to a family someday in the not-too-distant future. He has two hobbies. One is a collection of over 1,000 pieces of three-dimensional figures of ad characters such as the Pillsbury Doughboy, Speedy Alka Seltzer and the Jolly Green Giant. The other is teaching, which he continues to do wherever and whenever possible. As for the future, Marc hopes one day to produce entire TV commercials, not just the music. “I know I can meet the challenge creatively when the opportunity comes,” he says.