Friday, July 15, 2011
In case you are wondering why I am even bringing up the subject of these Billboard ads, I will explain. Just recently I became reacquainted with my old friend Ralph Molina from Crazy Horse, and one of the first questions he asked me was "Do you still have those Billboard ads that were run on you in the 60's?" I said I didn't, but it prompted me to go to Billboard's archives and dig them up. I thought it was interesting that after four decades Ralph still remembered and asked about them. Of course why wouldn't he, he was there, along with Danny Whitten, and Billy Talbot the day we saw the first one.
So what I am trying to write here is difficult, but I will try to examine the subject of the Billboard Magazine ad campaign run on me in 1964. Those 9 weeks of promotion changed my life forever, and in hindsight, were the catalyst for not only my beginning, but as well, my simultaneous downfall as a recording artist. The truth is, there was no way to live up to the hype.
One has to keep in mind that I am referencing a subject from over four decades ago, when the world as you know it now did not exist. This happened before The Byrds, before Dylan went electric, before all of what eventually occurred on the west-coast with folk-rock, pop-psyche, and the hippie movement's mark on music in the U.S. took place. It was a time of no cell phones, no computers, video tape, or any kind of instant access to anything. There were only a few channels on black and white television, and newspapers, magazines, radio, record players, and reel to reel tape recorders.
Two of the prominent forces in the music industry in 1964, along with AM radio, were Billboard and Cashbox magazines, who reported weekly, on all things related to the music industry. Those two publications were on the top rung of reporting, world wide. They were the last word on what was happening, and was going to happen, in the business of management, A and R, music publishing, distribution, and the manufacturing and sale of records commercially. They were read by everyone involved in or interested in the music business, and were considered the bibles of the industry, with Billboard being the most prominent.
Because what I am saying here is factually accurate, it makes no difference what my opinion is, because facts are not controlled by opinion, they just are what they are, facts. In 1964, The Beatles dominated the world of music, and everyone else was playing catch-up. It was an atmosphere of mind-numbing searches for something or someone to compete with The Beatle's undisputed position.
With this as a rough framework, I will try to explain the abnormality of those 9 weeks of advertising run in both Billboard and Cashbox initially, but which concluded in Billboard only. For the sake of discussion, I was admittedly a nobody at the time, other than a 19 year old kid on the streets of Hollywood with a dream like many others. By chance, I met a person in a coffee shop, and for whatever reason, was picked by him to be the center piece of those ads.
I was initially presented to the world as "The Star Of The Century," by Tony Alamo. I had not been told, nor did I expect to see my name in the pages of anything, let alone in those two magazines on an afternoon in a coffee shop in Hollywood. It was then and there that I saw the ads for the first time, along with four friends, Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina, and Bruce Hinds.
You may think that I must have known about this, but you'd be wrong. Neither I, nor any of the friends I just mentioned, knew about it until we saw it together in the Carolina Pines coffee shop for the first time. I had no arrangement with Tony. If anything, we all considered him a big bullshitter until we saw the ads. The picture used for the first ad was probably snapped in the parking lot of that coffee shop weeks or months earlier without my knowledge of what it's ultimate use would be.
Within a short time, the 2nd ad ran, and then the 3rd. Within weeks people were talking about them saying, "Who the hell is Bobby Jameson, I've never heard of him?" They wanted to know why they couldn't see my face, and why anybody would run ads on someone no one had ever heard of, with no record or label. During the first 8 weeks of ads no record label or actual record was mentioned. It was not until the 9th week that my face, name of the record, and label were shown.
People were not only aware of what was happening in Billboard, but many were immediately put off by it because they saw it as too grandiose, too expensive and arrogant, which it surely was. But what they didn't know, was that there was no record label or record referred to because it hadn't been made yet. To this day I still don't know if Talamo, as a record label, even existed at the time the first ads were run. There was nothing more than a faceless name and no knowledge of who was behind it. The intrigue came from the fact that it kept happening week after week, so people waited, some reluctantly, to see if there would be another one.
End of part 1...to be continued