Friday, July 31, 2009

(part 186) BREACH OF FRIENDSHIP AND BILLBOARD MAGAZINE



I knew DP well enough to know he wasn't going to accept my position without an argument. He wanted to manage me, period, and he fully expected my cooperation in return for his part in getting RCA to buy my songs and release a single.

I knew, too, that he considered us friends, and that my refusal to do what he wanted, in his mind, would be a breach of that friendship. He would take it to mean I had shit on him, but in reality it just wasn't in the cards. I hadn't talked to him in years.

On the other hand, I was sober and clean, and couldn't see myself being managed by a cocaine dealer, and was well aware that being clean and sober was of little, if any, importance to DP.

In his mind, he probably thought it was temporary, and that I'd get back to my old ways eventually, with his help. Because of this fear, I wanted to stay as far away from him and my old life as I could get, and this was the key reason for my decision.

Each of us had a real position to protect, and that meant there was going to be something else said and done about this further up the line.

When my girlfriend and I got back to her parents' house in New Jersey, I explained to her father and mother what had happened and how I was dealing with it. To say the least, they were impressed with my explanation of the facts and subsequent decision about DP.

I also said that RCA would not commit to any real promotion of Stay With Me, and that if we wanted the record to have a chance, we had to promote it ourselves. "RCA is in a wait and see mode," I said, "and that's not good."

Her father asked me what I thought needed to be done, and I said that running a couple of ads in Billboard Magazine would help. He agreed that it sounded reasonable, and told me to let him know how much it would cost once I got back to L.A. and found out.

After a few more days in New Jersey my girlfriend, her sister, and I headed home to Los Angeles and West Hollywood. All through the flight, I thought about Billboard Magazine and how an ad ought to look and what it ought to say.

A few days later I went to the offices of Billboard. They were located in the 9000 building on Sunset Blvd., some four or five blocks from my apartment.

AImost immediately, I ran into Bill Wardlow, and he was pretty damn happy to see me alive and looking so well. He'd been with Billboard when Tony Alamo had run the Bobby Jameson ad campaign in 1964, so we reminisced about it for a time.

While we were doing that, another Billboard executive entered the office after hearing I was there. Before I could say anything, he began yelling that I still owed the magazine $14,000 for the unpaid bill from the 60's.

Wardlow interrupted him and said emphatically that Tony Alamo and Gordon Gessler were on the hook for that amount, and it had never been an issue that I owed the money to the magazine.

None the less this guy kept ranting. He said he was going to call RCA and let them know who I really was--the crazy guy who jumped off buildings, and that they shouldn't have me as an artist on their label. I do not recall this guy's name, but I guarantee you he was pissed off at me.

After Bill got the guy out of his office, I gathered my senses, and asked him about the cost of running some ads. Wardlow apologized for the guy's outburst, and said if I ran it as an artist ad, paid for it out of my own pocket, I'd get a price break.

This broke down to somewhere between $1,600 and $1,800 for a three color full page. I told him I wanted a black page with red lettering, something that jumped out when you saw it. He agreed that it would have a definite impact and liked the idea.

After a bit more talk, I left Wardlow's office. The guys outburst at me had been another one of those unexpected land mines that had blown up in my face.

Even though I was trying to do the things necessary to make a go of my life, it was now becoming obvious to me that some people just didn't believe it or care. It was another jolt, just like the DP thing had been, and came without warning.

As I walked along Sunset Blvd., back to my apartment on Doheny, I wondered how many others would there be that just felt I shouldn't be given a chance.

My past, all the way back to 1964, had just been thrown in my face by a total stranger, and my career, in his opinion, was a threat to RCA's integrity if, in fact, I was an artist of theirs.

I always knew there were people who didn't like me, but in truth I was shocked by that asshole's attack on me at Billboard. Thank God Bill Wardlow had been there or I would have been thrown out of the place and never allowed to return.

That's what the guy had kept saying to me, "You don't have the right to be here. You didn't even have the right to walk in here." Whew! What a bummer the whole thing was!

5 comments:

paula servetti said...

Tension is building, and the suspense is too. In the meantime, I'm just staring at your gorgeous Photo!!!!!!!!!

forego is my witness said...

I was thinking, dunno if others have thought the same thing....

My career in music hasn't been a quarter as "interesting" or "important" as yours. (I'm using quotes Bobby because I'm talking as an outsider looking in, as most people reading your blog are. For you, you're writing about YOUR ACTUAL LIFE.)

Anyway, what I want to say is: Ever since discovering your blog, I've thought about making the effort--strictly for myself--to write down my own history, scribe my autobiography. And shit godDAMN everytime I think about the effort itself--let alone dredging up the good, the bad, and the ugly--it seems so heavy. I hope the people who read your work here have a CLUE how difficult a job this is. I hope people can appreciate that what you're doing is NOT EASY AT ALL!!! Not easy in so many ways. Which is why again I just want you to know how much I persoanlly appreciate your VERY hard work. I went from being intrigued about a man who made one of my favorite records of all-time (top 5 for me, and I've got a record collection of 7000+ LPs) to being pulled into a world I had zero clue about, a world that goes so far above and beyond my puny thinkings and musings. I know my thank yous don't pay the bills, Bobby. But the least I can do is express my gratitude to you for opening up my mind. You're a strong man. REALLY strong.

Bobby Jameson said...

As usual, forego is my witness gets to me on a rock bottom level with his comment. I truly appreciate your obvious emotional and moving way of putting your opinion, which I cherish. Thank you for letting me know that you are aware of how difficult it can be to lay yourself bare in public. Sometimes I think that people either have lost sight of it, or never knew it in the first place. I struggle to continue to come here and do this. I tell you things that are personal and painful, because I grew tired of being judged by a world that knew only bits and pieces of the actual history of one person who fought his way through the mire of the music business and life itself. I am an imperfect person with a lot of baggage and I know it, but chose to do this for whatever number of reasons I had, and there were many. What makes it all worthwhile though is comments like this one.

Tim McMullen said...

Back after another brief out-of-town, computer-less visit, and I find myself again echoing "forego": what makes this blog so intriguing and compelling is not simply that Bobby Jameson had an interesting—or exciting or disheartening or shocking—life. It is captivating because of its honesty; it is engaging because of its artistry; it is thrilling because of its serial/cliff hanger delivery; and it is is meaningful because of its insight.

Perhaps this just flows out of Bobby's fingertips without any thought, but I don't think so. This is a finely-crafted autobiography. The diction and the analysis are not random or sporadic. They are carefully constructed. Sure, they may have an occasional typo or mechanical error (everybody does—just think about how prolific Bobby really is), but the occasional typo does not belie the fact that these are meticulous, scrupulous, inspired creations.

There is also the baring of the soul to consider. Most autobiographies, certainly "celebrity" autobiographies (most of which are ghost-written) are created to either titillate the prurient interest of the tabloid trackers with juicy tidbits of celebrity dirt, or they are written to avert or dispel such sleaze and make the subject seem more admirable. Either way, they seldom offer any insight into real life or the entertainment business. The Bobby Jameson story offers both.

To reflect so deeply and personally on actual events and feelings, to relive so completely personal triumphs and disasters, is absolutely gut-wrenching and heart-breaking as well as occasionally heart-warming. However, it is also personally rewarding. The act of creating has a powerful payoff— psychologically, intellectually, spiritually, and, yes, even physically—that helps to explain why someone like Bobby Jameson, recently resurrected from self-imposed obscurity, would continue to withstand the personal pain (and the occasional attack—although I haven't seen too much of that lately) in order to continue this exploration of past and self.

As a writer and a creative writing teacher, I can only affirm forego is my witness's point: writing of this calibre is extremely difficult to produce. Period! But to sustain it at a regular pace for several years is simply remarkable—not to mention writing poetry, creating videos, posting bulletins, and maintaining correspondence and comments on at least two blogs and various sharing sites (MySpace, YouTube, Blogger, etc.).

May the story continue up to the present and on into the future for many years to come.
Tim

Sharon said...

I started to write my life story and got two chapters done. It is correct, it is very difficult to do and to have the self discipline to write almost every day, especially when you are ill, is nothing short of phenominal. I truly don't know how you do it.