[editor’s note: Everyone give a hearty welcome to our newest contributor. We have great expectations for him. We’re working out a few things, for what we hope becomes a weekly (or more) column. His first real post will be up shortly!]
If I had Stephen Colbert’s cajhones I would say, “Here I am cyberspace, now welcome me with open arms!”
As I am not that self-centered so, I will say – thanks for having me write some of my experiences for you to get some insight and a few chuckles along with a backstage look at the music and independent film business. I have had the good fortune to either participate in or observe the different sides of some of the world’s biggest and most influential artists, musicians, writers and businesspeople. When I was asked to join Jim’s great website, I was a bit apprehensive despite having published articles in magazines and co-authored a critically acclaimed biography of Elvis Presley’s original musicians.
Way before the birth of blogging – I would write a weekly email to my friends filling them in my life on the road with the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Jewel and others and sometimes stories from my past or what I wanted in the future. I suppose the Luddite in me refused to jump on the bandwagon when everyone but Dick Cheney wrote regularly about their views on life, death and politics. It was also too soon to reflect on my experiences good and bad.
To fill you in on my background, I grew up and began my career in a small town in northeast Alabama, the part that wears shoes. I purchased my first guitar at the age of 13 by picking blackberries and selling them for $2.00 a gallon. I learned my first chords from a Yankee cousin who taught me how to play the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” as my first song, No wonder I have had such a weird but interesting life.
I started playing bars and leading various local bands before I could legally drive. One of our members was only 13 and had to wear platform shoes to get by the bar management – even that was too young to be in a bar in those days.A couple of my late seventies/early eighties bands were just good enough to get a record company weasel to come to a gig but, after making the face of Lee Harvey Oswald when he met Jack Ruby’s gun, we watched them leave mid-set. The dreaded 1984 found me striking gold by forming a band with great musicians, great songs and fronted by an uncanny young woman with the chops of Eddie Van Halen and looks that kept the horny alcoholics in their seats and on the dance floor. We toured the southern circuit and was “discovered” by the cliché major label guy who promised the moon and filled our heads with dreams of platinum records.
What befell us is the far too often used curse that sends good musicians into bad marriages, insurance sales and real estate. Just as we had recorded some great tracks in the famed Muscle Shoals Studios and were developing an image to promote the band, the record company weasel moved on to greener pastures and MCA records had no idea what to do with us. We even had a tour lined up opening for Heart (during their “big hair” era). Totally deflated and fearing doomed to life in the Holiday Inn and prom circuit playing Commodores covers, I decided to take a big chance with my life and career.
From that decision, I have had 26 years of experiences that no amount of money can buy. I want to tell those stories here and maybe figure out what I want to do for the next 26.