Thursday, November 19, 2009


I argued for months with Dennis over the copyright issue concerning the earlier songs I had written before becoming involved with him and his partner George.

I told him that when we'd first decided to work together, the so called RCA recordings, and publishing rights to those songs, had not been brought up as an issue one way or the other.

His current approach, I reminded him, was based simply on his conversations with other attorneys who had convinced him to pursue this new line of thinking.

I offered to split my half of the rights with him, which would have amounted to a quarter of the overall value, but he was not interested in that, and persisted in his demand for half of the full copyright.

I told him again and again, that I did not own the full copyright, in my estimation, and was not going to stick it to the people who had once helped me. But no matter how I tried to explain it to him he maintained his position, saying I could do anything I wanted with those copyrights.

I agreed with him in theory, that this was probably the case, but I wasn't going to do it, because I believed it was wrong. I said they'd put up their money, which was a lot more than Dennis and George had invested, and that the songs and masters were, by default, co-owned by them, period.

Making matters worse, Dennis and George expected the musicians, who'd played on Barrooms, Ten Cent Call, and Outlaw, to rehearse with me for free, and get the band ready to perform live gigs, of which none existed at the time.

I tried to explain that these were union scale studio musicians, who were sought after by others, and could not be expected to work for free, anymore than Dennis and George would do legal work for free. If I couldn't pay them for their time, someone else would.

I said, "No one's gonna work for me for free. I've had that done to me too many times in the past, and I'm not going to do it to these guys. They are not amateur players looking to start a band in their neighborhood garage, they're studio musicians who got to where they are by years of hard work."

Dennis and George just didn't get it, but I finally got them to agree to pay each one of the musicians $50 a rehearsal, but they soon decided they didn't want to spend the money so it stopped.

I thought Dennis and George's time would be better put to use if they spent more of it trying to get a label to release the record, but they hadn't even started down that road.

Dennis in particular, was consumed with gaining as much control over copyrights, and producing a monstrosity of a contract for me to sign, than he was in securing a label to release the record.

I tried unsuccessfully to explain to him that all these parts had to work together or the whole thing would go nowhere.

In the end I began to fall back into my all too familiar territory of watching the latest deal fold under unnecessary demands and pressures, issued forth by lawyers entrenched in thinking that guaranteed failure over compromise.

Maybe Baby demo 1980-81


  1. I appreciate this expansion on the previous post. That one talked about the artistic side and then slipped into the business side, ending with a quick, "again it fell apart." This one adds details that clarify what was a fairly straight forward moral choice while exposing the all-too often seedy side of the legal profession: the willingness to exploit an unethical but not technically illegal loophole.

    The lawyer's attempt to cut out your former partner gives insight into how you might have been treated had you agreed to what was undoubtedly a stacked, anti-artist contract.

  2. It's funny how philistines will spend so much energy trying to bind something up instead of giving it a chance to grow into something worth giving a shit about. If these guys would have understood anything about music, they would have realized the situation they were trying to contract was not conducive to a positive outcome.

  3. it's amazing anybody on the artistic side stays in this business for any length of time. the wolves, sharks, lawyers (pardon the redundancy) on the prowl for their own greedy self-interest are enough to make a grown man wanna SHOOT somebody....