Friday, August 7, 2009
(part 191) CLEVELAND DISTRIBUTOR FOR RCA
In Cleveland, Ohio we searched and searched, but could not find "Stay With Me" for sale anywhere. Based on that single fact we headed straight to RCA's distributorship.
My girlfriend's father and I simply walked into the building and found no activity going on whatsoever. There were two guys sitting in chairs behind desks having a conversation, but other than that, nothing.
As we approached them they appeared somewhat surprised to see us there, and asked, "Can we help you?"
"My name is Robert Parker Jameson," I said, "and I'm an RCA artist. I came here to see if you have any copies of my record in stock."
They looked at each other like a spaceship had just landed in front of them, and one of them stammered, "Well, yeah I guess so, who'd you say you were?"
"Robert Parker Jameson," I said again. "and my record is "Stay With Me" on RCA. It's on the radio here in Cleveland. We've been all over town trying to buy the record, but couldn't find a single copy of it in any store, so we came here to see if you even have the record."
They looked at each other again, trying to compute what was going on, and one of them said, "I'm sure we got that record here, uh, yeah, uh, we got that record."
"Well where is it if you have it?" I asked, "We'd like to see it, because I flew here from L.A. and he," I motioned to my girlfriend's father, "flew here from New Jersey just so we could see if you have the record in stock."
I stood there like a statue, with no plans to leave that building without an answer, and at that point, my girlfriend's father was of the same mind.
We waited, and I said again, "I want to see the record. You say you have it here so where is it?"
Since I may have been the only artist who ever came into that building asking to see his own record, the two of them were unprepared for what was now happening, or how to respond to my demand.
They began looking through paperwork on their desks, when one of them eventually said, "Here it is, I got it, it's over there." He pointed to stacks of boxes piled on top of each other and said again, "It's right over there in that stack."
"How many do you have?" I asked.
He looked down at his paper again, studying the print, and announced, "Twelve! We got twelve of em."
I looked at my girlfriend's father and shook my head. "Twelve?" I asked, "That's it? How many did you get all together?"
He looked at the paper again, "Twelve! That's all they sent us."
"So RCA sent you twelve records and that's it?" I asked.
"According to this," he held up the paper, "that's it."
"Where are they exactly?" I asked, "I want to see them."
They looked at each other again. One of them drug himself out of his chair, and went over to the stacks of boxes and searched for the record. "Here they are," he shouted triumphantly, "here they are, I got um."
I walked over to where he was and looked down at a brown box the size of a 45 rpm record and opened it. "Eight," I said, "there are eight records here," I repeated, glancing over at my girlfriend's father.
By now I was getting irritated. I turned to the two guys again and said emphatically, "I want you to call RCA in New York, right now, and ask for the president of the label, Bob Summer, and tell whoever you talk to there that Robert Parker Jameson is standing in your building in Cleveland, and wants to talk to Bob Summer."
They both looked at me like I was completely nuts, but for whatever reason, seemed to think that what I'd asked them to do would be more like entertainment than a problem, and said, "OK!"
One of them picked up the phone and started dialing, and in a few moments began reiterating to someone what I'd said.
"Ok," he said, "they're gettin' em," and handed me the phone.
In a minute or so I heard Bob Summer's voice on the line, "Bobby?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'm here," I replied,
"What are you doing in Cleveland?" he asked.
"I came here to see if "Stay With Me" was in the warehouse." I answered.
"Why?" he replied.
"Because the record's on two radio stations here and doing good, but no one can buy it in Cleveland, because you haven't shipped any records here. I'm standing in the warehouse, right now, with a single box of eight records, and according to the invoice only twelve records were ever sent here."
There was a noticeable pause on the line, and I glanced over at the two guys, who appeared spellbound, as they listened to me talk to the president of the label on their phone.
"Well I don't know what to say to that, Bobby. It must be a mistake of some kind," he said.
"You know," I went on, "I got a call from a program director up in New England a couple of days ago, who told me RCA hasn't shipped any records there either. He said he was going to have to pull "Stay With Me" off the air, because no one could buy the record there. That's why we came to Cleveland, to see if we could buy it here, but we can't."
There was no response. "It's a little hard to sell records, Bob, if the company doesn't get them into stores, if you know what I mean," I said.
"Yes," he replied, "I know what you're saying, and of course you're right. I will look into it and see what the problem is as soon as I get off the phone with you."
"OK," I said, " I just thought I'd come here and find out for myself, so that's why I called you."
"I'm glad you did," he said, "I didn't know this was happening."
"OK," I said again, "Thanks for taking my call and talking to me about this. I guess that's it, Bob."
"Alright, Bobby, you take care of yourself, and I'll go see about this immediately." I handed the phone back to the warehouse guy and said, "Thanks, man, I really appreciate it!"
"No problem," he said smiling, as he took the phone from my hand, "you ought to come by more often. I'll be telling my grandkids about this one."