Sunday, November 28, 2010
(part 218) LEGENDS OF ROCK N ROLL
Back in 1981 or 82, not sure which, I used to see Slim Whitman ads on TV all the time, and made fun of them until I realized that he'd sold ten million albums for ten bucks a whack because of those ads.
Slim Whitman was an old country singer that I was unfamiliar with, other than through the TV ads, but I soon learned to respect him and whoever thought up that advertising scheme.
"Man," I thought, "that's a hundred million dollars minus costs, and they can't be more than, what, ten million?" It was a staggering realization. So much so that I talked to John York about it at length.
I told him I was gonna try and find some people who would put up some front money, maybe three to five thousand, to get some studio time. All I needed from John was help in lining up some players who were willing to record a few songs for free initially.
"We can call it Bobby Jameson and the Legends Of Rock n Roll," I said. John agreed it was a good idea and promised he'd talk to Nicky Hopkins and Gene Clark about it. John had played with Gene in the second Byrds band.
I used my name, not because I thought I was that great, but because I didn't consider myself to be a rock n roll legend. But John, Nicky, and Gene Clark were, and so that's how that name came about: Bobby Jameson and The Legends Of Rock n Roll...
After circulating the idea around town, I was introduced to some people in Century City, who were in the TV advertising business, or so they claimed.
Century City is right next to Beverly Hills and consists of a lot of black glass high rise buildings full of supposedly well off, intelligent, and highly successful people.
I remember meeting with a women and maybe two other guys, at first, and they all appeared quite interested in the idea, particularly when I brought up the Slim Whitman numbers on units sold and the revenue they created through the simple TV adds.
Everybody was familiar with the Whitman ads, even if they didn't like them. They had all seen them, and had probably made fun of them, but they had not thought about how successful they were.
My rap was to get them to focus on how a small amount of start-up money could create a quality product, using name people, that could then be shopped around for further financing to complete a great album that would be sold on TV like Slim Whitman.
I told them I had Gene Clark from The Byrds, which I did, Nicky Hopkins, who'd played with The Stones, Jeff Beck and others, and had been on about a hundred number one records, which I did, and John York who'd played with Gene in the second Byrds Band, and myself.
I said I was the lead singer, and that between us all we had a ton of new and unpublished songs ready to record. I hyped it so hard even I was impressed. I told them we were lining up a drummer but didn't know exactly who it was at that time.
The whole idea was laid out for them on a silver platter, and all they had to do was come up with the initial money to get us into the studio and get three songs recorded and mixed down.
They asked me why we didn't pay for the recording ourselves and then let them hear it before they got involved. "Because we're all broke," I said, "if we had the money to do it, we'd do it. That's why I came to you guys."
I remember this little prick standing in front of me in his expensive office, eye-balling me through his thick glasses like I was a bug or something. "Well I don't know," he said, "you're gonna have to bring us something before we can make a decision about this."
"Do you understand the people I've got for this thing? Gene Clark of The Byrds, Nicky Hopkins, a fuckin legend, and John York of The Byrds?" I asked, now frustrated.
"Well yes, but you want money with no guarantee to us whether this proposal of yours..."
I cut him off! "Hey man," I said, "I have just given you something that is worth a fortune with well known people who are willing to do it, and you're jerking me off over bullshit."
"Well now wait a minute Mr. Jameson," he said, "I am simply proposing good business sense to you..."
I cut him off again. "What you are doing, you dumb shit, is letting something you couldn't put together in your lifetime slip through your fingers because you are too stupid and too cheap to understand what you have right in front of you."
The look on his face, and on the faces of the others in the room, were like portraits of dead people. I knew what was happening. I knew it like the back of my hand. It was more of that good business bullshit I'd heard too many times--where an unbelievable opportunity is right there, but the people looking at it are too arrogant and full of shit to just say,"Hell yes! Lets do it!"