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!