Thursday, June 7, 2012

(part 278) IT WAS THE COVER NOT THE MUSIC


The album, Songs Of Protest And Anti-Protest, was the lynch-pin for the entire deal with Mira/Surrey's expansion into Europe in 1965, and here's why. This is something no one understands, and a subject I tried to explain to Steve Stanley on more than one occasion with little success. The Europeans wanted the album cover with Brian Jones picture on it for their market. They knew it would sell on sight. Surrey was created as a budget label that would sell records without promoting them in the usual way. It was a rack job operation. That means that the records would literally be sold on visual interest of shoppers from metal racks at grocery, drug, and variety stores, for discount prices. The Europeans were convinced that the Songs Of Protest cover was perfect for this kind of business, so they wanted it. They weren't as interested in what was in it musically, Ducey's version or mine, they were in love with the album jacket's art work and the picture of Brian Jones.





The necessity for Mira/Surrey, because the Ducey version could not be used, was to find someone to write and record ten new songs to the titles already printed on the album jacket. Surrey wasn't trying to make a great album at that point, they were trying save that cover because of it's importance to their overall deal with Europe. Like it or not, the music was a secondary point back then, and merely a vehicle to preserve the use of the album jacket. Mira/Surrey's hope was that it would be halfway decent musically and good enough to serve it's greater purpose. No one knew initially that the album was going to turn out as good as it did, that was a bonus.

The Ducey version was kept from being released because of contract problems with Chris Ducey. When my version, the Chris Lucey version, was completed, the problem with contracts came up again. I refused to sign the contract that was presented to me because I didn't know what it actually said. I asked for legal representation before I would sign it, which was denied me. Randy Wood got so pissed off, because of this, that he threw me against a wall and demanded that I sign the contract, which I again refused to do until I got a third party to tell me what it said. In a decision, which can only be deemed as illegal, Mira/Surrey released the album anyway to protect their own business interests in Europe. This was, and still is, the legal status of the Chris Lucey version of Songs Of Protest. Like the Ducey version before it, the Lucey version should not have been released until the contractual problems were sorted out. The difference being that Ducey had people who made sure of this, while I a twenty-year-old kid did not.




None of the legal problems with the album were ever dealt with, and they have always existed. They were just unknown, outside of a few people. Chiapetta assumed, along with everybody else, that I was dead, so she sold the master to Ace thinking no one would ever know the truth, or care that I had been harmed. The problem was that I wasn't dead, I was just missing. It was because Steve Stanley called me in 2003 that I found out about the album being released on Rev-Ola, a company I'd never even heard of. Had Steve not called me I very well may never have known about this at all. I wasn't keeping up with the music business, so it was his call that alerted me to it and brought me out of seclusion. And over time it was Steve Stanley who gave me all the information I didn't have. I knew nothing about Ace, Rev-Ola, or Cherry Red, and I had forgotten about Betty Chiapetta altogether. I learned all these things from Steve Stanley, a stranger, who'd gotten hold of my Social Security number and used it to find me by hiring a private investigator. It's an odd kind of karma I guess, because the guy who found me when I didn't want to be found, is the same guy who unwittingly gave me all the information I now have, and use, in fighting this battle over the rights to the album Songs Of Protest And Anti-Protest. The album I created.

go to part 1 of blog

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

(part 277) REOPENING AN OLD WOUND


Over a period of years, and I do mean years, I was totally frustrated and limited to conversing with Steve Stanley, and always by telephone. I had no one else to speak to, because no one else would give me the time of day. It was Steve and me talking for years about the music business with no other input whatsoever. I spent endless hours explaining details to him about what really happened, what the conditions and circumstances were back in the 60's and 70's when the work was actually being done. I told him things that few knew, in hopes that it would have a positive effect, but it didn't. Nothing changed. It was as if I'd spent the time in a vacuum with my words being gobbled up, bottled, and shelved, like so many jars of jam. The stories and details just passed from me to him and stopped there. Little of what I shared with him made much of a difference at all.

During the period between 2003 to 2007, one single fact became totally apparent to me. Steve, and all  those involved in the acquisition and release of Songs Of Protest, did not know the story of how or why the album had been made. They all lacked the concept that Surrey Records was a budget line label for Europe. They'd mistakenly concluded that Surrey was a regular label and had released Songs Of Protest in a wave of publicity, which had not been the case at all. It was useless to try and get Steve to understand the real story, a story that flew in the face of what he and the others believed. Most of what was written in the liner notes by Steve, or what was said about the album was just plain wrong, and from what I could tell, people had simply made up their own set of facts and then passed them around as gospel. There was no one anywhere, except me, telling them they had it wrong, and I only had Steve's ear, so by default, what was believed was accepted as truth. This fact led to a gnawing distress within me over time because I continued to have no voice in the dissemination of the information about my own history. I recall arguing with Steve about the title of Metro Man on the Rev-Ola cd. I told him that the song was actually Vietnam, the original acoustic demo, and that Metropolitan Man, or Metro Man, was a completely different song. His response to that was, "Are you sure?"

"Am I sure? Goddamn Steve, I wrote the fucking song, of course I'm sure."

This was what I was up against. A person who believed things that weren't true to the point of arguing with me about their validity. "If this was the case with Steve," I thought, "How much worse would it be with others?"

It was a long time before I found that out. It wasn't until I actually began seeing what was written by others that I understood just how far-fetched and inaccurate it really was. My mother got a computer before I did, so little by little I learned to venture onto the internet and saw for myself what was out there. Biographies written by so called music historians that said things that made me wince. Ads that Rev-Ola/Cherry Red had run as promotion for the cd were almost pure nonsense. They had come up with a version linking the Billboard ads in 1964 to the release of the Chris Lucey album in 1965 which was just plain false. I'd heard variations on this theme from Steve Stanley in earlier conversations, but it wasn't until I read it for myself that I got a sense of how screwed up they really had it.

By 2006-07, my frustration over these things reached the boiling point. I still hadn't heard a word from Joe Foster and still hadn't received a single copy of the cd. The only copy I possessed had been sent to me early on by Steve. In my mind it was like returning to the old days where anger was the single most prominent feature I possessed. An anger born out of a sense of futility, an anger fueled by blatant disregard and lack of fair play. I understood, finally, that there weren't going to be any royalties, no pleasant hellos or respectful conversations. It was just the same old shit, the same old "We got the power and you don't!" After nearly four years of waiting to hear from someone, anyone, and talking endlessly to Steve, I just pretty much had had it. I was convinced that if I didn't do something, nothing was going to change. Those who had been responsible for the album's release had collectively ignored me as if I didn't exist or have a voice in the matter. They presumed, I suppose, that if they didn't speak to me I would somehow disappear back into the woodwork where I'd come from. But in my way of thinking that was the last thing I was going to do. They just hadn't understood at all that fucking me again after 40 years on a record I already got fucked on, might well pose a significant problem for them. They had made the mistake of underestimating my emotional reaction to the reopening of an old wound, a wound that had healed over until they came along and ripped it open.




Thursday, May 24, 2012

(part 276) CHANGES IN REALITY

from Mojo Music Magazine 2004

Reality is a stubborn thing! When unwavering and steady in it's grind, it is easier to cope with no matter how stark it may actually be for the one experiencing it. The fact that it stays the same and doesn't change overtime, makes it easier to accept. But in my world, and in my life, reality had a nasty habit of changing completely. Things that had been one way for a long time suddenly shifted in front of me to a completely different place, due to outside influences beyond my control. Such was the case on the day Steve Stanley called, in 2003, after hiring a private detective to find me. Had I wanted to be found I would have told people where I was, which I hadn't done, so it is a simple fact that I state here.

What had become routine for me, although dreary as hell, was suddenly pushed out of the foreground to make way for a whole new set of circumstances for me to deal with. I was not asked before it happened, it just happened, and I was forced to deal with it. In reality, looking back now, I wish I had just hung up the phone and not spoken to Steve Stanley. The hook into me was the part where he said the record had been released. It got into the soft part of my flesh through the old door to dreamland and fantasy. Fact is, I did talk to him, repeatedly, because I was weak and wanted to believe in the same old story, the same old promise, the same old lie. For as much as I had learned and changed, in reality, I had not learned or changed at all. Bottom line, I was still Bobby Jameson wearing Chris Lucey's shoes, and that first telephone call proved it.

Chris Lucey! The name was even a fake. It was someone who didn't exist, other than in the form of a 1965 album that nobody ever heard of. But I was the guy who made the album, after Surrey Records parted ways with the real Chris Ducey over contract problems and was forced to kill the release of the original record. The previously faceless, nameless voice of Bobby Jameson was now unearthed as the person behind the creation of the album Songs Of Protest And Anti-Protest some forty years later. You could tell me reality didn't shift, but I watched it happen. Of all the work I ever did, this album would have been last on the list of possibilities I ever imagined I would be remembered for.

In 2004 Steve Stanley wrote an article for Mojo Music Magazine which can be read here. It heralded my reluctant return to the world of the infamous and slightly remembered. I refused to let him record an interview saying I thought he had enough material from talking to me over time to write it, which he did. I had grown weary by that time of the circular nature of the answers he was giving, regarding Rev-Ola, Joe Foster, and the others involved in the cd's release. I told him I would only authorize the article if it clearly stated that I had never been paid for anything, which he agreed to.

I had attempted, with little success, to enlighten Steve as to the real story behind the album's creation in 1965. When Steve informed me that Ace Records had acquired the master from Betty Chiapetta, at Surrey, I told him that she had no right to sell the master because of the inherent legal problems surrounding the creation of my version of the album. My position fell, to a great degree, on deaf ears, so my enthusiasm for the release continued to wane. Each time I made a specific point about the facts, such as the song rights, I found myself frustrated by the response. I had no voice with those I was talking about, I only had Steve Stanley's ear. I repeatedly asked him why Joe Foster refused to talk to me, and why he wouldn't send me a few cd's? The answers were mostly, "I don't know, I'll ask him."

Friday, April 13, 2012

(part 275) I'M DEFINITELY YOUR MAN


My personal decision to create a record of what happened to me in the music business, and explain how I happened to end up on the internet writing about it, is something that irritates some and is of interest to others. I did not start this project thinking everyone would approve or agree. In fact, I have been surprised from the beginning that anyone would pay much attention to what I write here. But after nearly five years I now know that many do.

For those who think they know how the music industry works I can only say this. It works differently for as many individuals who have pursued it. There are no absolutes in the music business, other than the capacity of good and bad that each person brings to it by way of their own experience in it. Like any business it seeks to be profitable, but in this business we are talking about art not screwdrivers or paper boxes. The industry did not create art, art created the industry. But overtime the art has been made a servant to the business which sells and profits from the art.

There is not enough really good music and writing, in my opinion, driving the music industry these days, but rather much that seeks only a profit no matter what it is, and as long as it sells. As a business model this makes sense, as an art form it does not. Because this is true, there are smaller independent labels all over the world that reissue older material of quality. This is good for those who want the music, but it is not so good for those who created it in the first place. In too many back room deals these old recordings are bought, sold, and licensed, to people and companies that have no legal right to them.

As an example, amongst many, is the Chris Lucey album Songs Of Protest And Anti Protest. The record was first released in 1965 by Surrey Records in Hollywood, a bargain line subsidiary of Mira Records owned by Randy Wood and Betty Chiapetta, both formally of Vee Jay Records.

At some point prior to 2002, Ace Records UK claimed ownership of the master by way of an agreement with Betty Chipetta involving some old Stax Records masters from Vee Jay Records. The Songs Of Protest master was supposedly acquired by Ace in that deal. In turn Ace Records/Roger Armstrong leased the master to Joe Foster/Rev-Ola Records UK for a five year period.

In 2002 Songs Of Protest And Anti Protest was reissued as a CD by Rev-Ola Records, which brings me back to my telephone conversations with Steve Stanley in 2003. None of this was known to me at the time of the calls. It is information I learned in those conversations with Steve Stanley over a multi-year period. I learned about Joe Foster and Rev-Ola Records, Ace Records and Roger Armstrong, and the Ace Records deal with Betty Chiapetta. Whereas in the beginning I went from wary to agreeable, the facts of the reissue deal returned me to wary as they unfolded overtime.

One might have thought that Joe Foster would have welcomed the fact that I was found to be alive rather than dead, but this proved not to be the case. Unbeknownst to me in my early communications with Steve Stanley it later became clear that both Joe Foster and Roger Armstrong were put in a quandary by the sudden development that I was in fact alive. They both appear to have believed that dead men can't complain, but then were faced with the predicament that a living one could.

For five years, following Steve Stanley's initial call to me in 2003, Joe Foster refused to communicate with me at all. He did not acknowledge my existence in any way and would not even send me a copy of the CD itself. There were no royalties, not one penny, in fact there was nothing from Joe Foster and Rev-Ola that even indicated that I had a right to expect a single thing from the release of the CD. If anything, Joe Foster took the position that he had done me a favor by simply releasing Songs Of Protest. It was his total and complete rejection of me that became the driving force behind my motivation to come to the internet and take up this subject publicly.

For nearly five years I have written about my own experiences in the music business and have banged on many a head, including Joe Foster at Rev-Ola Records and Roger Armstrong at Ace Records. I have waged a flat out assault on the music industry and against what I find to be reprehensible behavior by individuals and companies. I have been hailed and scorned by scores of individuals for doing what I do here. It is the reason I came to the internet. To have a voice and use it for the purpose I have. I did not come to make friends, restart my career, join social networks, or become popular. I came here to yell about the thievery and deception that many have encountered in the business of music and to spotlight my own personal experiences over nearly fifty years. Say what you will, but what I write about here is not only real but a whole lot worse than I have portrayed it. Some, who know absolutely jack-shit about the industry, and how it really works, have a need to come here and attempt to prove me wrong. But the only thing wrong with what I say here is that I have been too kind.

To those who want to degrade me and shut me up I say don't waste your time. I have done enough to degrade and compromise myself for a lifetime. I have portrayed myself on these pages for years as not only a victim, but someone who did much to victimize myself. But when people show up here with no knowledge of the facts, and attempt to pass themselves off as knowing things that they could not possibly know, I draw the line. There are only a handful of people who know anything for sure about what I have written here, and those people are either dead, in prison, or are unwilling to be forthcoming. This blog is my battleground, and only by sheer determination have I been able to make a single dent in the wall of bullshit known as the music industry and the life I lived in it, and/or as a result of it.

Whether you like me, agree with me, or hate my guts is of no importance to what I do here. Whether you think I was any good, sold any records, or am nothing more than a self obsessed narcissist is irrelevant as well. I am who I am, and I did what I did, and nothing in the way of opinion, character assassination, or praise is ever going to change that.

Each day of my current life is a test of my ability to cope. I am responsible for a 95 year old woman, a 70 year old schizophrenic brother, and making sure that this dilapidated mobile home continues to serve our needs. I had a major operation to remove a softball size aneurysm in the last few years and have 24-hour a day headaches which have gone on for fifteen years. I tend to all things needed here which include cooking, cleaning, plumbing, roof repair, yard care, elder care, being a psychiatrist, a taxi service, etc. I get no time off, no vacation, and no pay, and haven't for nearly twenty years. I have remained clean and sober for nearly 40 years and find myself in awe of the facts which make up my own existence. I don't hardly have the time to spit let alone give a shit about people's opinion of me. So until you are willing to take over my myriad of responsibilities here, I would suggest that you consider what it is that I am really doing each day. On the other hand, if you are looking for a fight, then I'm definitely your man.

Go to part 1 of this blog