” SO YOU WANNA BE A ROCK&ROLL STAR “
Time to grow up
and be a man
But I still sorta miss
being a kid in a rock&roll band.
Getting ready to hit the road, the postman dropped off a box of our first release, “Until You Do.” We had to go right by CKY on our way out of town, so I dropped off a few for Jimmy Darin and the rest of the KY Good Guys. With Winnipeg in our rear view mirror, we heard Jim say, “Ladies and gentleman, a CKY exclusive, ‘Until You Do by’ The Jury.” We almost blew the speakers out of the car radio when we cranked it up and sang along.
There’s no way to describe the feeling you get when hear your record on the radio for the 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 tell you what they were doing when they first heard theirs.
I used to sit in my room for hours practicing my guitar and dreaming about that moment. I mistakenly thought that when you had a record out; you became a member of a very exclusive club. Your only problems were trying to figure out what you were gonna buy next. Unfortunately, dreams and reality have very little in common.It was while doing a short tour with Ral Donner, Troy Shondel, and Ernie Maresca that I began to realize that the music world had a tier system. It was while sitting around Ral’s room having a beer after our last show when I realized that recording stars weren’t all equal.
Ral was telling us how excited he was about seeing Bobby Darin at the “Copa” the next night in Chicago. I could tell that Ral didn’t think that he was in Bobby Darin’s league just as Bobby probably didn’t think he was in Sinatra’s.
After thinking about this for years, I may have finally figured the system out. Imagine if you will, a pyramid-like structure seven stories high:
Level 7– This is the top floor and where all the legends are, Sinatra, Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Michael Jackson, Elton John, etc.
Level 6– Is where the “Hall of Famers” reside, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Johnny Cash, Dion, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Beach Boys, Chicago, and Bobby Darin, to name only a few. Perhaps by now though, Neil Young may have moved up to the rare air of level 7.
Level 5– Hanging out here 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 had several hits.
Level 4– This where you find the local groups who have released a few records but haven’t gone national yet, The Devrons, The Galaxies, The Jury, The Quid, The Shondells, Sugar & Spice, The 5th and others.
Level 3– This is the floor of hopefuls; you know, the acts who deserve to be signed but aren’t.
Level 2– This is the place where all the folks who have just learned to play Louie Louie or whatever the entry level tune is today hang out. They, of course, are thinking about starting a band.
Level 1– On the very first level, you have all your dreamers. These are the kids who are thinking about buying a guitar and becoming a rock & roll star just as I had many years before after seeing Elvis on TV for the first time.
The reality of the situation is that you better be doing it for the love of music. The money doesn’t even start to show up until you get to at least the 5th floor.After releasing “Until You Do,” we knew that the checks wouldn’t show up right away, but surely Dick Clark would be calling soon to ask us to appear on American Bandstand. While waiting, we went back into the studio and cut “I Tried To Tell Her,” hoping 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, we went back into the studio and recorded “Back In My World.” However, the only thing that was growing was our frustration. Ok, let’s give it one last big push. We booked Kay-Bank studios in Minneapolis and changed record companies. We were hoping by signing with a smaller label; maybe they’d have more time to promote us.
Out of our Kay- Bank session came “Please Forget Her” which I’m proud to say went on to become the #1 Canadian record in Canada. The flip side, “Who Dat?” ended up being a cult favorite, and was recently listed in a publication as being 50 years ahead of its time. I also saw it on E-Bay the other day 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 sir?
I knew my band days were numbered when the butterflies I used to have before every performance stopped. Even though it wasn’t as much fun anymore, I still enjoyed opening for legends like Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash (shown above). Although I had to laugh after seeing the movie “I Walk The Line.” which portrayed June Carter as rather saintly.
After we had opened for the Johnny Cash Review, I was standing backstage with the Statler Brothers who were pissed. They were bitching and moaning about how much things had changed since June had moved into Johnny’s suite. According to them, shortly after making that move, she also appointed herself the leader of the band. 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 were using the “C” word to not so affectionately describe her.