Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Mick and Andrew in the studio with engineer-Life.com
After some time, we all ended up in the studio with Andrew. Up until then I'd heard nothing about what he wanted to work on with me, so it was a burning question in my mind. For weeks, before ever coming to England, I'd wondered about it, and now I would find out. Andrew said he was going to play me a track that he'd already recorded called "All I Want Is My Baby."
He signaled the engineer to roll the tape and I listened intently to what came out of the speakers. It sounded a bit like a Phil Spector track, but not as well organized. In the middle of the song was a fuzz tone guitar solo, that, at that time, was pretty much off the wall. You gotta remember that this was before many effects were used in recording. It was before most of the feed back guitar players of a couple of years later. I liked the guitar solo, but the song didn't sound anything remotely close to what I did personally. As the tape came to an end Andrew and Mick looked at me in anticipation of my reaction.
"Well what do you think Bobby, is that fucking great or what?" asked Andrew. I was stuck. I didn't want to say the wrong thing, but I didn't want to be forced to lie about my opinion either. "Yeah, well that's pretty cool, Andrew, and I really like the guitar part, who's that playing?" I asked. "A member of a group called The Poets, said Andrew, "named Jimmy Page." At the time the name meant nothing to me because I'd never heard it before. "It's a great track," I said, "but I don't know if it's my kind of song, I mean, like something I'd do." There was an uncomfortable moment of silence. "Well let me play it again," said Andrew, "and show you how the vocal's supposed to go so you can get a better idea of what I want."
"Ok," I said reluctantly.
I felt the world shifting, and I didn't know what to do except go along with him. I eyed Peter and Lee to look for support, but they seemed unaware of my discomfort with the song. Andrew again signaled for the tape to roll and the track boomed out through the studio. He picked up a paper with the lyrics and started singing them for me, and then Mick began filling in with back-up vocals. It was quite a spectacle. I tried hard to concentrate on what Andrew wanted, as I eyed the lyric sheet, trying to sing what he was singing. I felt like shit inside and that old, "I don't want to do this," part of me began kicking my ass.
I just kept bearing down on the work in front of me trying to latch on to the feel of the song, but it was no good. I waved at Andrew to stop the tape so I could talk to him and the studio went quiet. "What's wrong Bobby?' he asked. "Look," I said, "I don't think this is my kinda song. Can I play you a couple of things I wrote so you can get an idea of how I sing?" He looked at me and said "No! I'm not interested in hearing your songs Bobby. I need you to concentrate on this song and get the vocal right, because I know you can do it."
Andrew had said no to my songs point blank. It was like getting slapped in the face, but at the same time, he'd managed to challenged me to work with him. He wanted to get me to go along, so I said, "Ok, play it again." The tape rolled over and over and over. My vocal got better, but I never thought it was much good. To me it just felt disconnected. I was jet lagged and miserable. I was ready to walk out, but stayed. At some point, Andrew suggested recording my vocal with the track so I could get a better idea of what it sounded like by hearing it. I agreed, and we pushed on. After awhile both Mick and Andrew teamed up on background vocals, as I sang the lead. After hours of working, Andrew said that was enough.
"What a relief!" I thought, because I was spent, from both the work and the continuing jet lag. Andrew seemed pleased about what had been done in the studio that day, but I was not. The possible exception to that was when we worked on another song for awhile just to change things up. The song was was called "Each And Every Day" and was written by Jagger and Keith Richards. It was far easier to learn and to sing than "All I Want Is My Baby" which Keith Richards and Oldham had written.
As we gathered our belongings together to leave the studio for the day, I shook everybody's hand and told Andrew I was starting to get it, and with a little more work, could probably record it. He smiled and agreed, and I felt somewhat better as we departed. I don't remember ever talking to Andrew again after that day, and I don't know why. I tried to, but all I ever got were people who worked for him. Not long after that one and only recording session, I was informed that the rough track I'd been led to believe was just for rehearsal was being released on Decca Records as a single, as is. It came out with a lot of publicity, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Jagger and Shrimton
Meeting Mick Jagger was the agenda for the day. I was still wiped out by jet lag, but I pushed it aside as we rode the London taxi to our destination. It looked like an old warehouse when we got there, but then everything in England was old looking to me. I was used to California, where something new popped up every day, so London was an experience everywhere I went.
Lee paid the cab and we found a door that appeared to be the way in, according to the instructions we were given for finding the place. Peter, Lee, and I walked inside and started guessing at how we were supposed to find anyone. We finally reached a point in the hall that was blocked off by a metal fence of sorts with a gate or door for entering.
Seated at a small wooden table on a chair was a very attractive girl with a notebook and pencil, who I guessed was taking names of visitors. It was Chrissie Shrimpton, Jagger's girl friend. She was the first one to greet us. "Hi," I said, "I'm Bobby!" "Bobby Jameson from America," she said, looking right at me. "We've been expecting you. My name is Chrissie." "Ah well yeah, hello! This is Peter Caine and Lee Karsian. They came to England with me, and." I felt like such a jerk. I was mumbling and stumbling like some kind of schoolboy.
"Andrew's in the studio finishing up on something," she said, "but he shouldn't be long. Would you like some tea or coffee?" she asked? We gladly excepted and named our preferences. As she left we all looked at each other, and Peter said, "God is she good looking!" "Yeah!" I said, "I think she's Jagger's girl friend. She's really pretty." I lit up a cigarette and dragged on it trying to look calm, but inside my nerves were on edge and the anticipation of what was coming next was beating my head in.
After a few minutes Shrimpton returned with a couple of cups, and left to retrieve more. When she came back the second time, Mick was with her. I stared at him for a moment, trying to make sure it was him and just blurted out "Hi Mick!" I started walking toward him to shake his hand. Peter and Lee straightened up as if at attention as Mick and I greeted each other.
Strangely enough he was really low key and kind of bashful it seemed. It surprised me, because the only picture I had in my head of him was The Rolling Stones playing "NOT FADE AWAY" and Mick's vocal. So a low key Mick Jagger in person was pretty different than what I had expected. After I introduced Peter and Lee, Mick and I kind of moved off to the side to size one another up. After asking about our flight over, Mick moved directly to the subject of America.
He wanted to know as much as I could tell him in the short amount of time we would have to talk together. He asked about The Beatles and said, "They're really huge over there aren't they?" "Yeah," I said, "but you guys are just about as big." Then the strangest thing happened. Mick said, "No way man, no way." "No, really Mick," I said, "The Stones are just about as big there as The Beatles." He just stared at me, as if he were trying to figure out whether I was bullshitting him or not. "You're having me on mate," he said smiling, "you're just having me on."
I figured, "having me on" was the English version of, "you're putting me on." "No, I'm not," I insisted, "I'm telling you the truth." He then seemed to know I was telling him what I really believed. "Look," I said, "When I was in Cleveland, that's a big city in the US," I didn't know if he knew or not, "they were running a contest on the biggest radio station there, to see who was more popular, The Rolling Stones or The Beatles, and it was pretty much of a tie," I told him, "You guys are really big in America. Like it's The Beatles and you."
He just stared at me. He seemed to be waiting for the punch line that never came. He could not believe what I was telling him, but then again he couldn't not believe it. I'll never forget how surprised I was to find out that day that he really didn't know how incredibly huge The Rolling Stones were in America. The look on his face when I first told him will stay with me forever.