The 1978 #1 Top 40 radio hit "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond had its beginnings in Louisville KY at WAKY Radio (790 AM) where Sonora KY native and Program Director Gary Guthrie took solo versions of the song and turned them into a duet as a going away present to his wife and Paducah KY native, Becky (Toy Huckabee). Guthrie and Toy originally met in Paducah KY where Guthrie was a deejay at WDXR and WKYX Radio and hosted a teen music program on WDXR-TV, The Now Explosion.
The song's genesis goes back to a TV sitcom called All That Glitters. Neil Diamond co-wrote the song with Marilyn and Alan Bergman to be used as the show's theme song, but the show's creator (Norman Lear) flipped the concept of the show and felt that the song was no longer compatible. Diamond later took the song, expanded it from theme song length to 3:17 by adding in an extra verse and an instrumental sections, and recorded it for his album I'm Glad You're Here with Me Tonight. It was on that Neil Diamond album that Becky (Toy) Guthrie first heard the song. It was at a party at a friend's house and, lyrically, it touched a nerve.
Then, in 1978, Streisand covered the song on her album Songbird. It so happened that the Guthries were going through a divorce around the same time Songbird was released, and when Guthrie saw the song on Streisand's album, a lightbulb went off. He spent several nights working on splicing together different verses from each of the solo efforts, then played the final production on WAKY as a "going away gift" for Becky.
Requests poured in to the radio station as did calls to record stores from customers looking to buy the record. Word also spread quickly across the country and Columbia Records decided to formally move on producing an authentic in-studio recording of the song featuring Streisand and Diamond doing the song together as opposed to being spliced in. The subsequent recording hit #1 in late 1978 and went on to become a benchmark of the many duets that record companies used to turn their male and female superstar solo acts into popular duets.
For his work, Columbia offered Guthrie a modest one-time fee of $1,000. But when Guthrie countered, requesting a small, but typical producer's fee (2-5%), the label rejected the request, and filed a lawsuit on several charges including copyright infringement and unauthorized tape duplication. Guthrie countersued and both parties eventually agreed to a settlement in 1982.
While Guthrie's status as a creative producer began with "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," it was cemented several years later when he pioneered the Classic Rock and Classic Hits radio formats, developing them for nearly 30 radio stations nationwide beginning in 1986 with WZLX/Boston.