Tuesday, August 4, 2009

(part 187) BILLBOARD AD, RCA, AND DP...


President of RCA Records in 1977-78 Bob Summer

I contacted my girlfriend's father and told him the cost of a full page ad. He agreed to it, and told me he was sending the money, not just for the ads, but enough to pay for the office and his two daughters salaries as well.

At least he was cognizant of the fact that the upkeep of all it was an ongoing issue, so he continued to supply the means necessary to keep it afloat.

Two thirds of my expenditures were the girl's salaries and the upkeep of the office. It came to nearly $30,000 a year.

The first ad was a full page in Billboard. It was an all black background with red lettering, and when you saw it, it jumped out at you.

It said Robert Parker Jameson "Stay With Me" on RCA Records. It was simple and dynamic, because it looked different than every other page in the magazine.

When RCA saw the ad, they weren't all that happy about it, and had had no idea I would be running it, let alone paying for it. I received a telephone call from the president of the label, Bob Summer, and he asked why I'd run it without saying anything about it.

"I was told by your PR department, while I was in New York, that they had no plans to do any advertising, so I decided I would," I said.

There was a slight pause in the conversation. "Well I wish I had known what you were planning," he responded. To which I said, "I thought you'd be glad." "It's not bad," he replied, "it's a good ad. I just wish you would have let me know about it."

This went back and forth awhile and resulted in him saying he would send me a check for the amount of the ad. I guess he didn't want it to get around that I was paying for my own publicity.

After we hashed that out, he changed the subject to DP, whom he said he'd spoken to about my refusal to let him manage me. "You know, Bobby, DP and I are friends and he told me that he felt hurt by your decision to cut him out of the picture."

I knew then what was coming. The president of RCA was going to lean on me about DP. "Look," I said, "I've known him for a long time, and a lot of shit happened between us in the last five or six years. Things you probably don't know about."

"I do know a bit about your history," Summer said, "DP told me some of it, but outside of that, you need to work out your differences with him so we can concentrate on the future. He's only trying to help you succeed, Bobby, and he can't understand why you turned against him."

I sat listening to the president of RCA Records, and couldn't believe what I was hearing. He was telling me, in essence, to agree to have a cocaine dealer manage me, even though I was clean and sober, and had made a decision not to let DP get involved.


President of RCA Records 1977-78 Bob Summer

He was attempting to override my position, for what ever reason, and because of it, I had no other choice but to tell him, "No!" again.

Bob Summer did not like this one bit, and so he went on, "I want you to think about this, Bobby," he said in a now serious low voice, "Give it some more consideration before you shut the door completely. I'd consider it a personal favor."

The conversation ended, and I had the distinct feeling that I'd just been given an ultimatum by the president of RCA Records. I wondered, again, about what he was getting from DP that made this so Goddamned important to him.

The only thing I could come up with was drugs, and possibly sex from DP's lady friend. That added up, in my mind, to two of the big three, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, and that would be enough to control a lot of people. So how much control did DP have?

As I mulled this over in my mind, I knew there was no way I was going to place my sobriety in danger, and let a coke dealer manage me, no matter who he was..or what it cost me.

If the whole thing went in the shitter, I wasn't going to end up getting loaded to save it. I knew these guys didn't give a damn that I was clean, but I did.

I cared so much that I was willing to let my decision kill the whole deal, if necessary. This was a complete change of attitude for me, because I'd always been willing to deal with the devil on music business bullshit, but not this time.

This time was different. I had something of real value to protect, and I wasn't willing to jeopardize it for any deal at any price.

I called my girlfriend's father and told him of my conversation with Bob Summer about DP. Being as conservative as he was, this was somewhat of a bewildering turn of events for him, and he questioned me as to why I thought it was happening.

I told him it was probably drugs and sex, and again, this was a confusing possibility for him to comprehend. I said it was like alcohol. "Once it gets going in your life, you just become a slave to it, like a drunk with a drink." He understood that.

As we talked on, I made it clear to him that we needed to keep promoting the record ourselves and protect what we'd accomplished so far.

"The record's doing pretty good," I said, "it's on a lot of radio stations. So if we keep at it, RCA will go along, if the record looks like it might be a hit. Then all the bullshit will stop."

"Well I gotta tell you, son, I've been in business most of my life, but I've never seen anything like this before." "I know," I said, "it's like a disease in the music business. Think of it as being like alcoholism in any other business, it's irrational, it just doesn't consider anything else except feeding itself."

Later that night when I was alone, I made a list of my current responsibilities. Stay sober, pray, trust God, stay positive, work at my relationship, go to a meeting, spend her father's money wisely, give support to her sister, stay true to yourself, don't panic.

2 comments:

  1. It may have felt like "one step forward, two steps back," but the list at the end shows very serious personal progress. The deck seems already to be clearly stacked against you in this deal, but your new patron (your girlfriend's father) and your own tenacity seem to offer a glimmer of hope in this incredibly frustrating turn of events.

    Your story of DP and his influence prompts one to ask, how can such a corrupt individual wield such power? Having asked such a naive question, however, one is instantly reminded of today's media, politics, and the stranglehold of corrupt corporations in all of our lives. Suddenly, the coordinated machinations of bad actors like drug dealers and music company "heads" (pun intended) are simply par for the course.

    Tim

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  2. Fantastic chapter, Bobby. I read this one twice and needed this message today. We live life on life's terms because the alternative has become unacceptable and even Plan C is only wishful if morbid thinking. Can't wait to read on. Somehow I suspect it's going to be a mixed bag but as you say, it's what happened and that's what needs to be told. - J

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