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 where I was packing up for an out of town gig. The timing was perfect because we had to drive right by CKY on our way out of town so we dropped off a few our records for Jimmy Darin and the rest of the KY Good Guys.
After leaving Winnipeg in our rearview mirror, all of a sudden while listening to the radio, we heard Jimmy Darin say, “Ladies and gentleman, a CKY exclusive Until You Do by The Jury.” We almost blew the speakers out of the car radio as we sang along.
There is no way to describe the feeling you get when hear your record on the radio for the first time other than it was 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 when I used to sit in my room for hours practicing my guitar and dreaming about someday 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 problems were figuring out what you were gonna buy next. Unfortunately, dreams and reality have very little in common.My first hint of how it all works showed up while I was doing a short tour with Ral Donner, Troy Shondel, and Ernie Maresca. However, I, 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 at least 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? (click on the link at the bottom of the page to hear it)
I knew that my band days were numbered when the butterflies in my stomach before every performance stopped showing up. Even though it wasn’t as much fun anymore I still really enjoyed and was thrilled by opening for legends like Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.(shown above).
Watching Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary on PBS the other day reminded me of seeing “I Walk The Line” when they did a segment on the Carter Family. The movie portrayed June Carter as a rather saintly person. However, after opening for the Johnny Cash Review one night, I was standing backstage with the Statler Brothers watching Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family. The Statlers 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 they used the “C” word to not so affectionately describe her.
Artists can see things that we are unable to see until they paint you a picture.
So you’re saying that a man named Barach Obama is not a Muslim, but the folks with similar-sounding names like Kareem Abdul Jabar and Mohamad Ali are?
Your wins and successes may blur together, but your defeats and failures will always remain crystal clear.
How come getting the job done is no longer the #1 job?
How come the least funny person off-air is the one who always tells jokes on the air?
Those who recognize beauty are beautiful.
One can only aim too low.
Paul Cavenaugh: George, I can’t even begin to correct you on so many levels this week. Especially the part about Trump being a great “President”. History will prove that statement incorrect in the future. Corruption has become so rampant, America is now on a par with the 3rd world. Ken LeMann, in my opinion, was one of the best radio talents ever on the air. He is so right about what radio has become. The ‘bottom rung’ of the show-biz ladder! It’s the same corrupt government that allowed that to happen too. (Consolidation)
Geo: I only said that Trump may turn out to be a great president to see if you were awake, Paul. 🙂 Only time will tell. Kinda like Slick Willy was a great president but a terrible human being. George Bush Senior talked a good game about making his time in the White House kinder and gentler and then immediately started the war that we’re still fighting. However, it will be history, not our opinions, that will straighten that all out.
Russ Dodge: Joe Pyne was one of the original shock radio personalities. I remember him telling callers to go gargle with razor blades. When he was on TV, there was a teenage band on the show called The Bantams. He would regularly insult them and they generally ignored the insults or didn’t realize that they were being insulted.
Sharon Henwood: CFTR was the most fun I ever had while getting paid! I went on to a pretty satisfying career with lots of opportunity and growth – heck the Olympics was a world stage – but none of that work held a candle to TR for the great gang of characters and talent you assembled in T.O. I remember being excited that we could think of something, like a crazy spot or promo and have it on the air less than an hour later. No committees, no approval chain, no other opinions; that’s a luxury in most places. So many good and funny stories from a few months at TR, I can just imagine how many you must have from your career in radio. Thanks for telling them. (Don’t Choke The Chicken, Shoot It.)
Geo: Those days at TR were magical, Sharon, and I still have all my memories about them.
Steve Eberhart: Ask any government employee and they can usually tell you the exact date of their retirement. (You Win God)
Geo: Yep, talk about wishing your life away Steve. Well, at least they’ll have what seems like a long one, their clock moves real slow.