Time to grow up
and be a man
But I still kinda miss
just being a kid in a rock&roll band.
Not long after hearing Hal Ross of London Records say, “Hell I’ll release that, the postman dropped off a box of “Until You Do” at my parent’s house. I was packing up for a gig out of town and seeing as we had to drive right by CKY, we dropped off a few records for Jimmy Darin and the rest of the KY Good Guys.
As we left With Winnipeg in our rearview mirror, all of a sudden we heard Jimmy Darin say on the radio, “Ladies and gentleman, a CKY exclusive Until You Do by The Jury” and we almost blew the speakers out of the car radio.
There is no way to describe the feeling you get when hear your record on the radio for the very first time other than to say that it may be better than sex. I would venture a guess that even the biggest stars in the world can still tell you what they were doing and where they were when they first heard theirs.
I remember used sitting in my room for hours just practicing my guitar and dreaming about having a record released. However, I mistakenly thought that once you were a recording artist; you became a member of a very exclusive club and your only problem was figuring out what you were gonna buy next. Unfortunately, dreams and reality have very little in common.My first hint of all this came while I was doing a short tour with Ral Donner, Troy Shondel, and Ernie Maresca but of course, I wasn’t listening.
We were all sitting around Ral’s hotel room having a beer after playing our last show in Regina and he was telling us how excited he was about seeing Bobby Darin the following night at the Copa in Chicago. I never realized that Ral knew he wasn’t in Bobby’s league just as Bobby Darin realized that he wasn’t in Sinatra’s.
Only after having my own record released did I realize that recording artists were not equal. After thinking about it for a few years, I think I may have figured it out. Imagine if you will, a pyramid-like structure that is seven stories high.
On the top floor, you have all the legends, Sinatra, Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Michael Jackson, Elton John, The Eagles, Neil Young, etc.
One level down on 6 you have the “Hall of Famers,” Rod Stewart, Johnny Cash, Dion, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Beach Boys, the Everlys, Chicago, and Bobby Darin to name only a few.
Hanging out on level 5 are, The Guess Who, BTO, Freddy Cannon, Tommy Roe, Bobby Vee, Bruno Mars, The Moody Blues, Ral Donner, Del Shannon, Maroon 5, and a bunch of others who have all scored several top 10 hits.
On level 4 is where you find the Winnipeg groups who have released a few records but haven’t gone national. The Devrons, The Galaxies, The Jury, The Quid, The Shondells, Sugar & Spice, The 5th, Brother and many others.
Level 3 is filled with the hopefuls; you know, the acts who deserve to be signed but for whatever reason, aren’t.
Level 2 is the place where the folks who have just learned to play Louie Louie or whatever the entry-level tune is today when you start thinking about starting a band.
On the very first level, you have all your dreamers. These are the kids who are thinking about buying a guitar so they could become a rock & roll star just as I did many years before when I saw Elvis on TV for the first time.
The reality of the situation is that you better be doing it for the love of music because the money doesn’t start to show up until you get to the 5th level.After releasing “Until You Do,” we knew that it would be a while before the checks would start showing up, but surely Dick Clark would be calling soon to ask us to appear on American Bandstand? While waiting for big things to happen, we went back into the studio and cut “I Tried To Tell Her,” hoping that it would move us one step closer to stardom.
Unfortunately, the only thing rising faster than our records on the charts were our expenses. And oh yeah, where the f**k was the call from Dick Clark?
When “I Tried To Tell Her” slipped off the charts, back into the studio we went and recorded “Back In My World,” but the only thing that was changing was our frustration. Ok, we decided to give it one last big push and not only booked Kay-Bank studios in Minneapolis, but we also changed record companies hoping a smaller label might have more time to promote us.
Out of the Kay- Bank session came “Please Forget Her” which went on to become the #1 Canadian record in Canada and the flip, “Who Dat?” ended up being a cult favorite which was recently listed in a publication as being 50 years ahead of its time. Recently I saw it listed on E-Bay for $125.00 and am now wondering what the hell did with the box of them I used to have. Would you like the Canadian or American version of that tune sir?
I knew my band days were numbered when the butterflies before performing stopped and even though it wasn’t as much fun anymore, I still really enjoyed opening for legends like Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.(shown above). I did though had to laugh after seeing the movie “I Walk The Line.” which portrayed June Carter as a rather saintly person.
After opening for the Johnny Cash Review, I was standing backstage with the Statler Brothers watching Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family perform. The Statlers were bitching and moaning about how much things had changed since June had moved into Johnny’s suite during this tour. According to them, shortly after making that move, she also appointed herself the leader of the band and I guess the Statler’s didn’t appreciate being told what and how to sing by a backup singer. In fact, they were so upset that they used the “C” word to not so affectionately describe her.