Friday, April 13, 2012
My personal decision to create a record of what happened to me in the music business, and explain how I happened to end up on the internet writing about it, is something that irritates some and is of interest to others. I did not start this project thinking everyone would approve or agree. In fact, I have been surprised from the beginning that anyone would pay much attention to what I write here. But after nearly five years I now know that many do.
For those who think they know how the music industry works I can only say this. It works differently for as many individuals who have pursued it. There are no absolutes in the music business, other than the capacity of good and bad that each person brings to it by way of their own experience in it. Like any business it seeks to be profitable, but in this business we are talking about art not screwdrivers or paper boxes. The industry did not create art, art created the industry. But overtime the art has been made a servant to the business which sells and profits from the art.
There is not enough really good music and writing, in my opinion, driving the music industry these days, but rather much that seeks only a profit no matter what it is, and as long as it sells. As a business model this makes sense, as an art form it does not. Because this is true, there are smaller independent labels all over the world that reissue older material of quality. This is good for those who want the music, but it is not so good for those who created it in the first place. In too many back room deals these old recordings are bought, sold, and licensed, to people and companies that have no legal right to them.
As an example, amongst many, is the Chris Lucey album Songs Of Protest And Anti Protest. The record was first released in 1965 by Surrey Records in Hollywood, a bargain line subsidiary of Mira Records owned by Randy Wood and Betty Chiapetta, both formally of Vee Jay Records.
At some point prior to 2002, Ace Records UK claimed ownership of the master by way of an agreement with Betty Chipetta involving some old Stax Records masters from Vee Jay Records. The Songs Of Protest master was supposedly acquired by Ace in that deal. In turn Ace Records/Roger Armstrong leased the master to Joe Foster/Rev-Ola Records UK for a five year period.
In 2002 Songs Of Protest And Anti Protest was reissued as a CD by Rev-Ola Records, which brings me back to my telephone conversations with Steve Stanley in 2003. None of this was known to me at the time of the calls. It is information I learned in those conversations with Steve Stanley over a multi-year period. I learned about Joe Foster and Rev-Ola Records, Ace Records and Roger Armstrong, and the Ace Records deal with Betty Chiapetta. Whereas in the beginning I went from wary to agreeable, the facts of the reissue deal returned me to wary as they unfolded overtime.
One might have thought that Joe Foster would have welcomed the fact that I was found to be alive rather than dead, but this proved not to be the case. Unbeknownst to me in my early communications with Steve Stanley it later became clear that both Joe Foster and Roger Armstrong were put in a quandary by the sudden development that I was in fact alive. They both appear to have believed that dead men can't complain, but then were faced with the predicament that a living one could.
For five years, following Steve Stanley's initial call to me in 2003, Joe Foster refused to communicate with me at all. He did not acknowledge my existence in any way and would not even send me a copy of the CD itself. There were no royalties, not one penny, in fact there was nothing from Joe Foster and Rev-Ola that even indicated that I had a right to expect a single thing from the release of the CD. If anything, Joe Foster took the position that he had done me a favor by simply releasing Songs Of Protest. It was his total and complete rejection of me that became the driving force behind my motivation to come to the internet and take up this subject publicly.
For nearly five years I have written about my own experiences in the music business and have banged on many a head, including Joe Foster at Rev-Ola Records and Roger Armstrong at Ace Records. I have waged a flat out assault on the music industry and against what I find to be reprehensible behavior by individuals and companies. I have been hailed and scorned by scores of individuals for doing what I do here. It is the reason I came to the internet. To have a voice and use it for the purpose I have. I did not come to make friends, restart my career, join social networks, or become popular. I came here to yell about the thievery and deception that many have encountered in the business of music and to spotlight my own personal experiences over nearly fifty years. Say what you will, but what I write about here is not only real but a whole lot worse than I have portrayed it. Some, who know absolutely jack-shit about the industry, and how it really works, have a need to come here and attempt to prove me wrong. But the only thing wrong with what I say here is that I have been too kind.
To those who want to degrade me and shut me up I say don't waste your time. I have done enough to degrade and compromise myself for a lifetime. I have portrayed myself on these pages for years as not only a victim, but someone who did much to victimize myself. But when people show up here with no knowledge of the facts, and attempt to pass themselves off as knowing things that they could not possibly know, I draw the line. There are only a handful of people who know anything for sure about what I have written here, and those people are either dead, in prison, or are unwilling to be forthcoming. This blog is my battleground, and only by sheer determination have I been able to make a single dent in the wall of bullshit known as the music industry and the life I lived in it, and/or as a result of it.
Whether you like me, agree with me, or hate my guts is of no importance to what I do here. Whether you think I was any good, sold any records, or am nothing more than a self obsessed narcissist is irrelevant as well. I am who I am, and I did what I did, and nothing in the way of opinion, character assassination, or praise is ever going to change that.
Each day of my current life is a test of my ability to cope. I am responsible for a 95 year old woman, a 70 year old schizophrenic brother, and making sure that this dilapidated mobile home continues to serve our needs. I had a major operation to remove a softball size aneurysm in the last few years and have 24-hour a day headaches which have gone on for fifteen years. I tend to all things needed here which include cooking, cleaning, plumbing, roof repair, yard care, elder care, being a psychiatrist, a taxi service, etc. I get no time off, no vacation, and no pay, and haven't for nearly twenty years. I have remained clean and sober for nearly 40 years and find myself in awe of the facts which make up my own existence. I don't hardly have the time to spit let alone give a shit about people's opinion of me. So until you are willing to take over my myriad of responsibilities here, I would suggest that you consider what it is that I am really doing each day. On the other hand, if you are looking for a fight, then I'm definitely your man.
Go to part 1 of this blog